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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Liza Jessie Peterson is an actress, poet, playwright, and arts-educator who’s been working with adolescent boys and girls incarcerated on Rikers Island for the past 18 years. Her fierce, funny, powerfully written new book is All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids At Rikers Island. The loving and specific portraits she paints of her students highlight the cruelty of the systems (economic, school, police, prison) that fail so many young black men, landing them and keeping them in prison.

In this episode we talk about cultural icons and the realities behind them, hip-hop, the trauma of poverty and the tragedy of the American prison system, and how to make impossible situations better. 

Liza Jessie Peterson Quote:  People are dealing with traumas. Poverty is a traumatic  experience.  I don’t have the answers, and there’s not a one bullet solution.  But definitely education. Resources in the community.  There need to be after school programs.  There need to be job opportunities for parents  so that they have a way to support their children.  I think there also needs to be in place resources and organizations  that support the men and women who are coming home from prison  so that they can acclimate into the community and maybe be instrumental in counseling the young people so that they don’t wind up  where they just came from. Instead of building another prison bed, how about  a community center? 


Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Marie Gottschalk on solitary confinement

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.