Shanghai Gallery, 2010.

Four decades ago, this month — August 1980 — I set out on a wild adventure. To work at Radio Beijing in China. That trek would be impossible today. Looking back to that incredible journey is provoked by the recent dangerous collapse of the U.S.-China relationship that seemed so promising then.

Are we prepared?

When my husband and I started to plot our move from our winter home in a mountain village in Oaxaca, Mexico to our Long Island, New York home, it began — like all travel — in our imaginations. In early March, when we heard about the Corona virus, spreading like a firestorm through New York City and Long Island, we felt privileged to be self-quarantined in our pueblo, some thirty minutes from Oaxaca’s capital city and historic center. …

Ahmaud Arbery murdered by White Supremacists while jogging in Satilla Shores, Georgia on February 23, 2020. Not until the video surfaced and went viral were the perpetrators arrested.

The horrible hate crime against Ahmaud Arbery, like all the cases of citizen and police brutality against people of color captured on video in recent years, has provoked me to think about my long, uncomfortable, painful, shocking and shameful journey to absorb the lessons of racism in the U.S. As a white woman, an immigrant (from Canada with its own history of racial annihilation and discrimination, a granddaughter of white settlers on the Canadian Prairie), who eventually migrated to the heart of media work in New York City.

Back in the early 90s, during years when I was working as…

On a bleak winter’s day in early 1975 — just after my 32nd birthday — I made the most radical and feminist decision of my life. I arranged to have an operation that would leave me sterilized. To get my “tubes tied.” While I shared this with a few close friends at the time I soon learned to avoid discussing it because it was so defiant of social expectations. Unnatural in a world that defined giving birth and motherhood as the most natural act. After all, I was raised during an era of patriarchal culture that saw little value in…

By posting a short documentary I made 40 years ago on my archival website, I learned profound lessons about the healing power of the world’s most maligned religion.

Papa Zaka by Gerard Valcin, featurerd in the first major exhibit of Haitian art in the U.S. at the Brooklyn Museum in 1978; Papa Zaka is one of the spirits in the Vodou pantheon
  • Hi, My Name is John… I’m also from Haiti. I seriously in need of some answers now. Thank you. Kind Regards

John’s message popped up a few days ago on the “Comments” page of my archival website where I have posted descriptions and clips of dozens of my TV and radio documentaries along with my published articles.

I created this website back in 2011 to “house” forty plus years of my work…

Mario Gonzales, Niels Moleiro, African Diaspora Exhibition, Museum of Black Civilizations, Dakar, Senegal
  • “Wow” is the word for “yes” in Wolof, the lingua franca in Senegal — one of many words from African indigenous languages that made it into the American linguistic mainstream during slavery.

Yellow taxi Oaxaca

When we first began staying for months at a time in our pueblo, we began querying how to lease or buy a used car…but Oaxaca is already choking on pollution and congestion. It doesn’t need one more car. More importantly, we are gaining insight into the culture via the taxi drivers.

Sí, sí, canela, pero ¿qué tipo de chile? Pasilla? chile de agua? chilhuacle rojo? costeno?

Yes, Yes, cinnamon, but what type of chili?

We are flying down the highway to our mountain village some forty minutes from Oaxaca City. It’s a road with axle-snapping potholes and this is evening…

Thank you to the writers who nurtured my mind and soul in 2018 — a list, descriptions and ruminations

It is the season for reflection. Another year timed out. Which events will become part of life’s trajectory? Our story? What signifies? Which memories will become fixed? Endless political and moral crises? Creative projects? Hate crimes? Success at something? Economic woes? Special time with loved ones? Environmental catastrophes? Celebrations of life chapters? An illness? Adventurous travels? A family crisis? Peak experiences? A broken heart? Making a surprising connection with a two or four legged creature? Losing a beloved? Transformation? Disappointment? Failure?

For me, year end reflection — taking stock — has come to include, besides all of the above, the…

Barcelona. Photo: The Guardian

The graffiti screams and shocks. A human silhouette sprayed in black on a wall with a red target blasted on its head and the words “Why call it the tourist season if we can’t shoot them?” This is Barcelona where militants have slashed tires and set fire to tourist buses; where hotels have been paint-bombed and demonstrators filled the streets in a growing resistance movement to mass tourism that many locals see as destroying their city. An article in Euro News states: “The problem has a name: “terramotourism” or tourism earthquake.”

“Will your son be living with you?” she asked, tucking some grey hair behind her ear.

It was 1994. Stephan and I, after years of renting, were searching for an apartment to buy in Manhattan. Although charmed by the garden apartment of this curious owner, I offered my smuggest smile while Stephan clarified, “I’m her husband. Let’s go.”

Stephan is sixteen years younger than I am. That year I was 51. He was 35. By then, we had been together for twelve years. We no longer thought daily about how odd we looked together as a couple. Our friends had…

Gail Pellett

Director, producer of documentary films for PBS, features for NPR, author "Forbidden Fruit - 1980 Beijing," articles for Washington Post, Mother Jones, & more

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store