General News (81)

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture(NMAAHC), was appointed the new Secretary of the Smithsonian on Tuesday. According to, Bunch is the fourteenth person to hold the position in the Smithsonian’s 173-year history, and the first African American.

As Secretary, Bunch will manage the administration of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 21 libraries, and the National Zoo. He is also responsible for its $1.5 billion annual budget. Bunch succeeds David J. Skortonwho announced his resignation in December.

“Lonnie has spent 29 years of his life dedicated to the Smithsonian, so he knows the institution inside and out,” said David Rubenstein, the chair of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on Tuesday. The Board met at the Supreme Court earlier in the day unanimously elected Bunch as Secretary.

“He’s also highly regarded by members of Congress and highly respected by our donor base,” Rubenstein added, while also citing Bunch’s “incredible character” and his leadership of the NMAAHC as major assets.

“You’re going to make a historian cry,” Bunch said when he spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. “This is an emotional moment, because the Smithsonian means so much to me personally and professionally.”

Bunch was the first curator for the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in the 1980s and previously served as president and director of the Chicago History Museum from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, Bunch came to the Smithsonian to steward NMAAHC from conception. He shepherded both the David Adjaye-designed structure, did tireless fundraising, and helped build up and curate the museum’s collection from scratch.

The museum has been such a huge success that tickets are still largely required more than two years after opening, with visitors staying for hours longer than at other facilities. In its first year of operation, NMAAHC welcomed nearly 2.4 million visitors and was the fourth-most visited Smithsonian institution.

“It tells the unvarnished truth,” Bunch told DCist on the one-year anniversary of the museum’s opening. “I think there are people who were stunned that a federal institution could tell the story with complexity, with truth, with tragedy, and sometimes resilience.”

Over his tenure, Bunch and his team of curators made it a point to continue building a collection for the museum’s future, including acquiring artifacts from the Black Lives Matter movement, and to integrate D.C.’s own rich history into the fabric of the museum.



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“It is ironic that a man who used taxpayer dollars to buy a $30,000 dining room table for the federal agency he leads wants to raise rent on poor people,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) asserted in a statement on February 25.

Richmond was reacting to a new proposal by HUD Secretary Ben Carson that would triple the rent of low-income Americans receiving federal housing assistance.  A story by a local ABC station demonstrated that the poorest families in the Los Angeles projects in Tacoma currently pays $50 in rent a month. If Carson’s proposal were to pass Congress, that rent would rise to $150 a month.

“Secretary Carson’s immoral, ill-advised proposal is the latest example of the Trump Administration’s war on poor people… thankfully this proposal would require Congressional approval before it can become law, and the Congressional Black Caucus will work with our colleagues in Congress to oppose it and other related measures. The Congressional Black Caucus will also continue to stand up and speak out for the underprivileged and underrepresented,” Richmond added. 

In an April 25th statement, Secretary Carson said that the “system we currently use to calculate a family’s rental assistance is broken and holds back the very people we’re supposed to be helping.” Carson maintains that his new proposal would be “simpler, more transparent and predictable.”

President Trump did not make changes in federal housing policy a particular priority during his campaign. So far, Carson has not offered too much detail about what his overall plans for the agency are.  But anecdotal policy offered indicates a massive rollback on assistance to the poor. There are currently over 40 million people living below the poverty line in the United States. 

“HUD-assisted households are now required to surrender a long list of personal information, and any new income they earn is ‘taxed’ every year in the form of a rent increase. Today, we begin a necessary conversation about how we can provide meaningful, dignified assistance to those we serve without hurting them at the same time,” Secretary Carson added.

Carson, 66, who spent his career as a surgeon, had no specific expertise in federal housing policy before staring the job as President Donald Trump’s HUD Secretary.

In addition to Carson latest proposal, the Trump Administration is proposing making changes to Medicaid and nutrition programs that would result in less assistance to the homeless population in the U.S, and provide less food assistance to children.



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Here’s a flashback for you… read this and let Trump’s vacation time sink in.
This was originally published on May 8, 2012.


“Some of our viewers are complaining, they get frustrated, even angered, when they see the first family jetting around,” St. Louis TV reporter Larry Conners said to President Obama at the White House during an interview on April 12th. So, Conners asked President Obama a pointed question: how much time are you spending on vacation?

“The economy is a big issue and concern for folks,” Conners said to the President.  Viewers complain, “you’re out of touch, that you don’t really know what they’re experiencing,” the reporter said.

On May 1st, Florida Rep. Allen West complained of President Obama’s “wining and dining” at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also used President Obama’s down time and golf outings as a campaign issue.  On April 27th, House Speaker John Boehner demanded President Obama reimburse taxpayers for trips on Air Force One to North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa.

“This is the biggest job in the world and I’ve never seen a president make it smaller,” Speaker Boehner complained.

But did Boehner, Conners, Romney or West stop to compare President Obama’s vacation time to other Presidents?

Calls to several Presidential libraries reveal that President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was on vacation more — 1,020 days — than any U.S. President since Herbert Hoover and possibly more than any other President in history.

Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was in office 12 years from 1933 to 1945, was on vacation less days than President Bush at 958 days.  Calls to several Presidential Libraries reveal that no President can come close to Bush’s 1,020 days on vacation in an 8 year period.  Even Lyndon Johnson, who spent 484 days at his ranch in Texas and at Camp David during his presidency, came in under Bush’s vacation time.  Some claim the cost of Bush’s frequent trips to Crawford, Texas cost taxpayers upwards of $20 million, but the numbers are hard to confirm.

A recession started in 2001 as Bush took office after 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton Administration from 1993 to 2000.  Bush began wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and presided over the loss of 4 million jobs.  The debt when Bush left office was $10.6 trillion.  In 2005, the Washington Post noted President Bush’s frequent vacations in a piece titled Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record as Bush took the longest single vacation — 5 weeks — of any President in 36 years.

President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

Bush passed Reagan in total vacation days in 2005 with three and a half years left in his presidency. Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his 8 year presidency.  Bush spent 487 days at Camp David during his presidency and 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch, a total of 977 days.

When you add the days President Bush spent at Kennebunkport, Maine, he spent a total of 1,020 days away from the White House — close to 3 years.  At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036).  Representatives at the Nixon and Johnson Libraries indicate those two Presidents were on vacation less than 1,000 days during their terms.

President Obama has been on vacation 78 days from 2009 to 2011.  At the three year mark into their first terms, George W. Bush spent 180 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and Ronald Reagan spent 112 vacation days at his ranch in California.  Of course, staff was around all three Presidents on vacations and all White House aides argue that the commander-in-chief is never “out of touch” with work.

Calls to the Eisenhower and Truman Libraries reveal that those Presidents were not on vacation for more than 1,020 days.  Eisenhower was on vacation for 456 days during his 8 years in office.  When asked on whether President Herbert Hoover’s vacation days could be over 500 for 4 years a historian at the Hoover Library said, “No chance. Everyone agrees he was a grinder — he was the kind of guy for whom a vacation was rare — his vacation days were less than 50.” Hoover was in office from 1929 to 1933.  Frequently Hoover either drove himself on brief trips or was driven by a military attachment or took the train.

President Obama was on vacation for 26 days during his first year in office (2009).  Ronald Reagan spent 42 days on vacation during his first year in office (1981). President George H.W. Bush was on vacation less than his son, 40 days, in 1989, his first year in office.  President Obama was on vacation less in his first year in office than the previous three Republican Presidents.

No President since Reagan was on vacation less than Bill Clinton. Presidents Clinton and Carter vacationed the least of any of the last seven chief executives.

All Presidents point out that work is being done on vacation.  FDR’s Presidential Library included the following note with their information on President Roosevelt’s vacations: “It should be noted that no sitting modern president, including President Roosevelt, can ever take “a vacation.” Simply being away from the White House does not constitute a vacation.  In President Roosevelt’s case, even while relaxing at Hyde Park, Warm Springs, or on a fishing cruise, he received mail, reviewed dispatches, signed and vetoed legislation, met with political and world leaders, and delivered press conferences and speeches.  During wartime, his periods of true relaxation were even fewer.”



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The right-wing-never-happy-always-whining Freedom Caucus joined with more moderate Republicans on Friday to sink the farm bill on May 18 in spectacular fashion. The latest floor fiasco featuring a GOP bill going down was a massive embarrassment for Republican leadership in the House.  

That’s probably a good thing for people who are poor in America and who want to eat.  The bill contained work requirements for food stamps in the same way Republicans have required work requirements for Medicaid expansion benefits in many red states. 

“Republicans are putting forward Paul Ryan’s farm bill to drastically cut funding from food assistance programs dedicated to helping our country’s most vulnerable families. Food is not a luxury. Being hungry is not a choice. I’ll be voting NO on this terrible bill,” tweeted Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) on May 18. 

The Farm bill crashed and burned by a vote of 198-213 as Freedom Caucus demanded a “build a wall” immigration vote in exchange for support for the bill. Speaker Ryan, who is retiring at the end of the year, won’t grant that vote. 

“This farm bill is loaded with corporate welfare and subsidies. It’s a big-government, anti-market swamp creature that puts special interests ahead of the American people. Every conservative should oppose it,” wrote Rep. Justin Amash (R-IL) after voting against the legislation. 

“There’s a grotesque irony that ’s ‘Farm Bill’ will take away school lunches from 265,000 kids. GOP lawmakers top priority – after tax cuts for Wall St – is making more American kids go hungry. No wonder Congress has a 15% approval rating,” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on May 17. 

Also on May 17, Rep. Keith Ellison wrote that, “The GOP’s Farm Billwould force as many as 2 million Americans off of SNAP food assistance. We should not be shaming people who are in a rough patch in their lives out of accepting the food they need to get by and get back on their feet.”

The bill was accurately seen by many as a welfare reform package that Ryan attempted to pass before he departs Congress.  Given that that’s what he has spent most of his time doing during his career in the U.S. House, few were surprised.  




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Most of my thoughts in the order that I thought them while watching the second season of She’s Gotta Have It S2 E7 #OhJudoKnow on a sunny Tuesday morning in Southern California while sitting —again--  on my pink, velvet couch.  (I’m procrastinating on going to the gym.) 

For the slow folk: SPOILER ALERT!!!!! 

Wait. We’re in Puerto Rico. I’m not mad at it. But like…. How did we get here? Was a trip ever mentioned? 

LOL. Puerto Ricans hate Christopher Columbus too. They’re just like us. 

Mars needs a show on the History Channel. His take on PR history is amazing! I would watch this all day. 

And yes, America, we do need to take down the Christopher Columbus statues. Along with the rest of the confederate monuments. 

Travel note: unless it’s a dude with a proven history of good taste, NEVER let a man pick the accommodations. Men don’t have the same standards as women. 

Winny tried to slip in that handcuffs and Nutella. LOL. 

Also, his jail flashback? I love Fat Joseph Cartenga. 

Mars in day-glo swim trunks is awesome. Also, I need to know more about the tradition of the seven dips in the ocean. And this seems to be a holiday. Cause there are fireworks. Which holiday is this?

Aww. Mars vulnerability in his prayer. “I’m down to learn if you’re down to teach me.” 

Ok. They’re walking around PR giving money away to organizations in Puerto Rico. And this is dope. I’m not mad at highlighting PR, or showing what’s happening on the ground in PR. It’s interesting and the cinematography is beautiful. I’m just trying to figure out how it fits in to the actual plot of the story. 

Ok. We’re picking up the eviction storyline from like five episodes ago. 

ROSIE PEREZ looks great! 

Awww! Poor Shemecca. These butt shots are a never-ending tragedy. 

Wait. WHAT? When did Shemecca become Winnie’s girl? 

“Where did you get a pair of those hazel eyes? Jamestown?” Wait. Is that a slavery joke? 

Ma Duke says Nola and Mars are like honey and molasses. They are. I think they would be horrendous in a relationship at this point. Ain’t a bit of responsibility between the two of them. 

Mother wisdom: The paintbrush must tell the truth of who we are. You are not serving your blessing. Your blessing is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As an artist, I receive this. 

Wait. When did Nola’s show get confirmed? I know she was working on it, but like when did it happen? This is frustrating. 

 Free Africans in PR? What?? I need to go read. 

I love learning about the Afro-Puerto Rican culture and seeing all these beautiful, fluffy-haired black people and seeing all the Africa in Puerto Rico. And hearing this soulful music. Spike Lee is learning me something good today. And I need to go back to Puerto Rico and not just walk through Old Town and shop/eat. That said… 

There is no story here. It’s a bunch of beautiful, culture-filled scenes cobbled together. Like, if Spike wants to make a documentary about Puerto Rico as seen through the eyes of various characters he’s created over the years. I’m down for it. But doing it in the middle of another story is…. I appreciate the information. Just not the time/place for it. 

Ok. Mecca is talking about liking Winny and having issues with him running a burlesque club. But like, this conflict NEVER goes anywhere. They keep introducing conflicts and storylines that don’t go anywhere.  Whyyyyyyy?

The woman dressed as Oshun? Beautiful. And I’m probably expected to know who Oshun is, but honest to God, before everyone started making all the references after Lemonade came out, I had no real idea. Like, I knew of the orishas in theory, but not in any detail.  

Everyone keeps telling Nola that she is Oshun’s daughter and I don’t get the significance of this. I do not know what this means. I need someone in the story to spell it out for me. 

What ritual is Nola performing where she is dancing in white. I know it’s a ritual because of the white and the circle and the drums and the chanting. The lack of context is killing me here. Also, Africa is everywhere. 

Nola looks so beautiful. She’s a pretty woman. But something about travelling makes her even prettier. I thought she was extra pretty in the Vineyard scenes too.  Also, the blond in the yellow shirt is gorgeous too. 

These shots of Nola and Mars sitting by the water are amazing. People with melanin look so beautiful in white. The drone shot is amazing. 

I’m so confused by Rosie’s confession that Mars’s father is Mookie. Like you been lying to this man about his father for all these years and he has like no reaction to this? It defies logic. Like, his reaction is to have a question, then all laughs? Huh?

 Also, I get that she’s in character from Do The Right Thing for the father to be Mookie, but this is bizarre. 

I love this scene where Mars pays his respects to Roberto Clemente and other famous Puerto Ricans. 

Yeah. I just need Spike to go ahead and do a Puerto Rico documentary. Cause this was beautiful and informative, but plotless. 



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Most of my thoughts in the order that I thought them while watching the second season of She’s Gotta Have It  S2 E9 #IAmYourMirror on a sunny Tuesday morning in Southern California while sitting —again— on my pink, velvet couch.  (I’m procrastinating on going to the gym.) 

For the slow folk: SPOILER ALERT!!!!! 


Ok. So Nola’s art show came to fruition. Look. You never know with this series. Just because something is being built up to happen, does not mean it will happen.

My God. DeWanda’s skin look amazing. Shout out to her Mama and whoever is on lighting. 

“Yennifer Clemente” looks like Beyonce circa Austin Powers.  

What is the significance of the face mask?. A guy was wearing one at the Prince Party – was that Spike?—and then someone else, the fisherman, had one on in Puerto Rico. And then now Nola has re-painted Opal’s portrait with a goddess wearing one. 

Miss Ella talking about “don’t worry about the rent” is the most illogical sh— ever. No one who is a landlord says that. 

Awesome that Rockeletta Moss has a nice looking man. But is he really “elusive”? We’ve heard no mention if her love life thus far. This isn’t a reveal to the audience, but it seems to be to Nola. I’m happy she got love in her life, but where did this come from?  I get the feeling that a lot of story was written, shot and cut this season. Time? Episodes? Slow? Something that was supposed to happen didn’t happen.

The reactions to the art behind the curtain are so varied. I guessed that it involved a lynching just because the  therapist mentioned “strange fruit”. And I guessed it was a woman because most of the men—not all—were smiling when they came out the room. 



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At the beginning of this year, I saw a meme on Facebook where a young man mentioned that over the past year, he had learned to stop “aspiring to sit at tables where he had to bring his own chair, squeeze in between folks and repeatedly convince people that he deserved to be there.”


That was the most accurate description I had ever read about being an undesirable demographic in information technology.


 You’d think I would have figured out that by virtue of being a black woman over the age of 40, it would have occurred to me during the nearly two years and 40-plus interviews I endured before being promoted to my current position that I am really not the demographic employers are currently searching for. In all honesty, I did start to get the picture around the one year mark when I noticed that I and one other older black female were still interviewing long after most of the other people on the “promotional” list had been hired by other departments.

In civil service, you are interviewed in groups based on your score, so you tend to see the same people repeatedly until you, or they, are hired. I could tell when we were now interviewing with candidates from the “open” list, people not currently employed by the city, who tended to skew younger, male and mostly anything other than black, most of whom got hired before I did. It also did not escape my notice that I was hired by someone that knew me by reputation, knew several of my past supervisors and thus knew what she was getting in terms of my skillset, experience and work ethic. Sixteen years after I first started on my path to systems analyst, I had finally arrived.

You would think I would have caught on that in IT, what I do (end-user, deskside support, or Break/Fix) is thought to be a young man’s game. Ideally, the young man will be Asian, Indian, white, Hispanic, rarely black, or if so, generally African or Afro-Caribbean. There is also a current belief among hiring managers that the millennials they so crave are willing to work harder and for less money than more experienced job seekers.

Female personal computer techs are rare; I saw my first in 2001. Craig, who brought her on at the bank where I was working as a temp clerk, also saw in me a capacity for working with computers. By the time I had been working there for a few months, Craig caught on that I was eager to learn and began to teach me to do simple support for my group. He was the first person to encourage me towards a STEM career, which I was going to find out was very rare, and for that I will always be grateful.

 You would think that I had started to figure it out when I enrolled in a trade school in November 2001, shortly before my 30th birthday. During the seven months I spent there, learning PC repair and networking and earning two beginning certifications for PC repair, I started to notice that women were already unusual in this career field. In my class of just over 20, I only recall there being three women. Being a socially awkward introvert, I could easily pick up on some slight discomfort with my presence in a space not traditionally thought to be one for me. My nerdy side did most of the talking while I was there. I had no issue with either the work or displaying my mastery of whatever new concepts we learned, which does NOT help you win friends or influence people, especially in an industry where networking is crucial. And no one likes to be shown up by someone they think shouldn’t be there, even if the intent was not to show anyone up. The experience of being spoken over, or conversely, ignored, would come up again in four years, as I finally started working in Systems.

In IT, perception is everything. I am still taken aback when people are surprised that I am essentially a PC tech. I started by learning basic code on an Apple II series in 1985, but I didn’t stop there. When my older sister brought her first PC home from college, I entered the world of software installation and minor repair. Every assignment I accepted as a temp during the ’90s, I made it a point to learn everything I could, until that fateful day I was told that there might actually be a career in this for me.

Of course, no one knows your history when they first meet you. They can only work off of their perception and expectations. No one expects to see a middle-aged black woman when they call for computer help. Your co-workers and bosses don’t always know how to respond either. I’ve had my assistance refused while an employee waited for the real techs (i.e. younger males) to arrive. I’ve had work I had done consistently and well for years taken away from me and given to a male co-worker, with no explanation. I’ve had work I was doing overlooked because of a younger male colleague’s relentless self-promotion. I’ve been shut out of job-critical information because while my co-workers had no issues sharing resolutions to common issues with each other, whenever I asked a question, I was considered incompetent.

These are just the incidents that would fit in this word count.

It is exhausting to be in a space where you constantly feel that you have to prove yourself. Such is life for those in career fields where your presence is not only unexpected, but mildly unwelcome. But I am blessed because I love what I do, and God granted me the perseverance to endure to get the job I wanted and a thick enough skin to deal with the frustrations that come with it.



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I’m one of those people who live in a neighborhood where anytime I get an “out for delivery” email/text/raven for any package that won’t fit into my mailbox, I know it means it’s time for me to head home. I will either receive the package personally or be present to witness it NOT being delivered even though the particular carrier says it has been. And this isn’t just because packages in my neighborhood grow legs—they have—but, as noted, I’ve been on the receiving end (this is a pun) of a “delivert” notice for a package that absolutely was not delivered. I could be sitting on the front steps and get a notice saying that a package was left at the front door literally while I was sitting there.


But also, packages in my neighborhood can get held for ransom, in a sort of “your package was safely delivered” extortion plot. Allow me to tell you a ridiculous story. Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it go.


I bought the house that I currently live in back in 2012. Like most people who buy homes, especially in expensive areas like Washington, D.C., I was a little house poor at first and it took a little while to fully outfit my house. Because I already lived in a two-bedroom apartment before buying my three-bedroom, three-floor home, I had most of what I needed, but at some point, I determined that I needed a much bigger desk in order to build out the space that housed all of my music production equipment, i.e., keyboards, MIDI controllers, interfaces, etc.

One of the homies had a similar setup in his home with a very nice and spacious L-shaped desk, so I took to Al Gore’s internets to try to find me something reasonable after scouring furniture stores and realizing I wasn’t finna pay $1,000 for a sturdy, high-quality desk. Nope. I needed a functional, mid-to- “won’t fall apart in the next 5 to 7 years” quality desk. That brought my price range to under $2o0. I didn’t see anything at IKEA and I checked out every manner of Nötah;dlfj;o777gn. I hit up Target because, let’s be real; even God probably shops at Target and I know if I can’t find it there, it doesn’t exist.

Well praise Jehoshaphat because sure as shootin’, I was able to find a reasonably priced, L-shaped desk, online, for $149. I ordered it, paid the cost to be the boss and received my delivery date. I was told it would come in two parts. This is very important.

Day of delivery, I went to work because I had a job that required me to do so. I got an email that told me my package was delivered. It didn’t say that package one of two had been delivered, just that my package was delivered. I assumed that the whole thing was dropped off as one. I got off work and moseyed on home only to find no package at the front door. Or the back door. Or inside my house (granted, I lived alone so that one was a stretch but I was looking for it like that was a possibility).

I waited. I called Target and they basically said, “You got got, huh?” I love Target so instead of being mad I just told them, “I hope not. I’ll never leave you, btw.” The next day, my doorbell rang early in the morning and I got what amounted to package two of two, and another notification saying my package was delivered. So I had one of two boxes, half a desk and no idea what happened to my other box.

That was until a few days later when I saw a note on my door that said, “I picked up your box for you, give me a call!”

Le whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

I called the number and it was a neighbor who didn’t live on my street who I’d met twice. What he told me over the phone is that because packages have a tendency to grow legs in our neighborhood that he drives around and picks up packages for folks he knows (even loosely) and then drops them back off when he can tell folks are home. But I never seemed to be home, which was odd for me because I had been home every day that week. Then he hit me with the point of it all.

“You know, most folks appreciate that I pick up their packages for them. It’s a service that I think makes us feel like more of a community. Since I helped you out, if it wouldn’t be too much, I sure could use a six-pack of something ... Beck’s.” Yes, my package was held hostage over a German lager. And because I wanted my package and wasn’t sure how a person who did something I didn’t ask for asking me to pay for a service I never ordered would respond, I took my happy ass on over to the grocery store and copped me some Beck’s, took it to him, got my package and my desk is still standing to this day.

What’s the lesson to learn from all of this? I’m glad you asked. I’m not sure there is one. Sometimes packages grow legs, other times the delivery service just doesn’t. I’m not sure you can game-plan for extortion. I did let him know that I wouldn’t need him to get my packages moving forward.

Mostly I just wanted to share. I got a “your package has been delivered” notice today and was upset I missed the “out for delivery” and sped home praying it would be there. It reminded me of the time it wasn’t and how that turned into friendly neighborhood nonsense. Sharing is caring.

Always keep a six-pack of Beck’s.



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Eat, Pray, This Can’t Be Love

John Singleton. Dead at 51. Stroke/Hypertension.


Nipsey Hussle. Dead at 33. Murdered.

Phife Dawg. Dead at 45. Diabetes.

Paul Bromley. Alive at 35. Overweight and spiritually confused.

Is my clock ticking?

Sounds morbid right? Anxious? Yeah, I know …

As a black man living in America, thinking about my mortality has become a new daily obsession. It seems like there are a million different ways to kill a black man before his time and each form of death appears to be violent, painful and destructive.


I’m scared.

Statistics show that black men have the worst health among all other races in America. We suffer from the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rate. We live 7.1 fewer years than other races. Forty percent of black men die prematurely from cardiovascular diseases. Forty-four percent of black men are considered overweight and 24 percent of us are considered obese. Suicide and homicide are also leading causes of death for black men between the ages of 15-34.

While it is true that institutionalized racism, the impacts of mass incarceration and lack of access to health services, care, insurance and education all play a role in contributing to the sad state of black men’s health, there is another major contributor that many people in our community would rather not talk about or even acknowledge. And that’s the problem—our silence. When it comes to matters of mental and physical health among black men, many of us fail to engage in meaningful or preventative conversations until the problem has already occurred.

Growing up, there were two constants in my life: being fat and being saved. In our house, you could never have enough food or enough Jesus. Both represented love. On Sundays, you ate. On Sundays, you worshiped. When you mourned, you ate. When you mourned, you prayed. When you were happy, you ate. When you were happy, you gave God the glory. You ate what you were given, you wore what you were told and you worshiped the one and only true living God that you were told was the one and only true living God. You didn’t question God. You didn’t question your food. You didn’t question your elders. To do so was considered disrespectful.

Yet, I questioned everything but was forced to do so in silence. I never felt like I had control over my body, my mind or my spirituality. Even though we watched family member after family member become diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and suffer from obesity, we didn’t talk about it or do anything to change the way we ate or took care of ourselves. I was silenced until I ballooned to 280 pounds as a 17-year-old.

Coming of age, I dealt with issues of depression, the definition of masculinity and bullying. When I tried to talk to those closest to me about my issues, the only solution I was given was to “pray about it.” So, I did. I prayed to God and nothing happened. Because nothing happened, I became even more depressed. Because I was depressed, I overate. Because I overate, I gained more weight. Because I gained more weight, I was bullied and became more depressed. Because my prayers didn’t end the bullying, I became resentful of God. Becoming resentful of God killed me spiritually, and the food I was consuming to mask that bitterness and resentment was slowly killing me. It was a vicious cycle of food and silence from me and my family about my health, obtaining therapy or how we ate.

The unhealthy spiritual, mental and dietary habits that I learned as a child followed me into adulthood. I continued to yo-yo in weight until I reached 310 pounds, the heaviest I have ever been. I struggled through depression and spiritual spite until I almost lost my life, my family and my mind. Everyone around me saw this happening, yet everyone was silent. Not wanting to talk about or acknowledge what my learned actions and habits were doing to my body and my promise, people offered me only thoughts, prayers and chicken wings. My life was out of control.

As an adult, I realize that the only thing promised in life is death. I look at my wife and our beautiful children and the thought of my early demise literally brings me to tears. Who is going to hold my wife at night and make her feel protected when she is afraid? Who is going to lift her up, tell her she is intelligent, make her feel beautiful when the parasites that feed on the self-esteem of black women attack? Who is going to prepare my son to embark upon this world as a black man? Who is going to teach him emotional intelligence? Who is going to show him how to respect and love black women? Kodak Black? And my daughter—can she be a daddy’s girl if her daddy is no longer here? Whose girl will she be? Will I be here to tell her she is smart and beautiful every day so that the first time she hears that from a man it won’t be from somebody’s musty nephew who is only out to use her for her body? Will she know that in ALL matters, it is her body and her choice ALWAYS?

Or …

Will I allow my family to go through life mourning my early demise because I couldn’t say no to a pork chop sandwich? Will I go through life bitter, depressed and spiritually depleted, making way for the stresses of the world to consume me because I never took the time to figure out my own personal relationship with God or to obtain therapy to supplement my prayers?

No. I don’t receive that. I don’t receive that for myself, I don’t receive that for my family and I don’t receive that for any other black man in America.

Black men in this country live in a space that was literally created to violently suck the life from us and discard our black bodies like trash. We don’t have the time or the room for self-sabotage. Nobody is coming to save us. We must begin the uncomfortable work of dealing with issues of obesity, breaking generational cycles, questioning and seeking practices of spirituality and religion, unlearning the demonization of mental health maintenance and challenging the silent yet loud unwillingness of those closest to us to acknowledge how problematic and detrimental sweeping matters of health under the rug can be.

We have to start looking beyond the instant gratification a meal can bring to see how certain diets can affect our future or even make it so that we don’t have one. We have to teach our young men how to deal with stress and mental illness outside of tithing and prayer because sometimes, prayer alone isn’t enough. The same God who created the heavens and earth also created therapy, exercise and medication. Love is an action word. You can’t just say you love someone and expect them to believe you without actions. We have to start loving one other enough to be full, complete people mentally, physically and spiritually as if our lives depend on it.

Because they do.



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Sweet Home Alabama?

I have a complicated relationship with Alabama because Alabama is a complicated place. Though I’ve lived less time there than anywhere else in the world that could be considered home (fall of 1993 through spring 1997 and only two summers, ever), it is also the state where I went to high school and where my parents live and where my father is from. I love driving from Atlanta (another location that is home for similar life and family reasons) to Huntsville, Ala., because the route my family often takes is very scenic and because I love seeing the “Alabama the Beautiful” sign as you cross from Menlo, Ga., into Mentone, Ala., on Georgia State Road 48 that becomes Alabama State Road 117. Alabama, actually, is quite beautiful.


But the state isn’t just its lands; it is also its people and its history, and Alabama is a state fraught with the worst of both. When outsiders think of Alabama, many think of racist white people, slavery and all-around, good ‘ol American racism, and they aren’t entirely wrong. I lived in northern Alabama, home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and less popularly known Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research park in America (and the fourth largest in the world), specializing in research and development in a vast array of industries, from aerospace to biotechnology. It is by far the most educated part of the state and no other part comes close and yet, Confederate flags are never far away and cotton fields decorate the fringes of the city. Huntsville is still in Alabama, even if it doesn’t have the same “feel” as what people think of the rest of the state.


Still, I like it there. I like being at my parents’ house and listening to the outdoors. They don’t live in the red-clay outdoors of my father’s youth but in a city that still manages to quiet down in the evenings. I love visiting my father’s childhood town, where I used to play with my cousins and walk for miles a day just to go get something from the actual, factual country store, just to walk miles back to the house because we had nothing else to do and all of our time was ours.

Time has always moved slower in Alabama to me, no matter what part of the state I’ve been in. And that’s always been a good thing. My family is all through the state, from the north to the south, the east to the west. We are Alabama, but the good parts. Not the parts that hate black people and bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham or the reason Montgomery had to hold a bus boycott or Bull Connor and his ilk or the people who made Bloody Sunday a part of civil rights history in Selma on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

And we’re definitely not the people from Alabama who decided that a woman has no right to her own body. I’m not surprised that Alabama passed into law HB 314, the “Human Life Protection Act,” a measure banning nearly all abortions in the state except in cases where the mother’s health is in peril. The super conservative government of the state wants to take down Roe v. Wade because why should a woman make a decision for her own life? I’m not surprised the state of Alabama is happy to take on that battle.

This is a state where judges (and future state chief justices) fight for the right to post the 10 Commandments in courtrooms despite the separation of church and state being a tenet of the very Constitution white people love so much. The right to bear arms? Absolutely! It’s in the Constitution. The stewards of government respecting the rights of its citizenry? long as it doesn’t impede on the desires of those stewards. In Alabama, Jesus is white, the only religion is Christianity, and we’re all Baptists or Methodists. And the Bible says thou shalt not kill. So you shalt not—unless the people you kill don’t deserve the same rights you have, which is almost nobody but white men in power, apparently. In Alabama, the female governor signed away her own right to choose her own destiny. In Alabama, who is entitled to rights is a moving target for everybody but white men in power. Even the rights of their wives are up for debate.

In Alabama.

My nephew is a junior at the same high school in Madison, Ala., that I graduated from. At this point next year, he’ll be a few weeks away from graduating and beginning a new chapter in his life. I want him so far away from Alabama that he’ll lose his accent. I want him to get out and experience life in new places. He wants to be a pediatric neurosurgeon, and though his top choice, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has one of the best medical schools in the country, so do others. I’d love for him to go to an HBCU like Morehouse College (for obvious reasons) or Howard University (because it’s in Washington, D.C., where I live). I’ve asked him to research and apply to at least one other top-tier school because his grades are amazing and many of those schools can relieve your whole financial burden pending household income. He’s thinking about Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Mostly, though, I just want him to leave Alabama. It’s not only because I want him to experience life; it’s also because I want him to try out a place where the state hasn’t spent its entire existence trying to tell everybody who isn’t a white man that they don’t matter. I know many southern states fit that bill, and even though Georgia isn’t much better (I know), as we say in the A, once you leave Atlanta, you hit Georgia. And he’d be in Atlanta with family. I just want him to be in a place that loves him more than Alabama will ever pretend to. That might not be a totally fair reading of the state, but I’ve read a lot of books and I’m not that far off.

And yet I still have told a family I know who is moving to Huntsville that it’s a nice place, in Alabama. I love the state and always will, but a large part of that love is personal nostalgia and my own family history. It might be Alabama, but to me, it is also Tuskegee, Alabama A&M, Miles, Stillman and Oakwood. It is Muscle Shoals. We roll big body ’Lacs and Caprices. And red dirt and Mason jars. And like much of black history in America, it’s full of survival and overcoming injustice. It’s a hotbed of the civil rights movement. It is Chambers County and the town of Five Points, where my family is from. It’s Madison. It’s my best friend and where he met his end, but also his mother and son. It’s my family and the lives they’ve carved out successfully and happily. It’s love. But the hate part is ingrained in the fabric, too.

And again, Alabama is beautiful. I’d wager that all of us from there who have sat on a porch or ruined a white shirt in the red dirt or driven through the state from Huntsville to Mobile would say the same. It’s ours. Even if everybody else thinks Alabama is a place to go and die at the hands of some KKK member, we know that’s not true. We also know that it isn’t a state for everybody, including some of us. It’s not a state for me and hasn’t been in the 22 years since I left. I enjoy visiting but Alabama has often been quite clear that I don’t belong there long term.

Because just as much as I love seeing that “Alabama the Beautiful” sign on the way in, something almost always happens to ensure that I’m equally excited about seeing that Georgia sign on my way out, reminding me that Georgia’s (or anywhere else for that matter) on my mind.

I have a complicated relationship with Alabama because Alabama is a complicated place.



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Last weekend, I was invited to a brunch hosted by Ebele Okobi, who is Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, and was my de facto tour guide and event planner during my week abroad. There were nine of us there—an African diasporic reunion of black people scattered throughout the globe but settled in London. Among the many conversations we had was a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the variances within the “brands” of racism, which then segued into the ways each country with an African slave-owning history currently reckons with its past. (Brazil pretends it didn’t exist at all, America acknowledges its existence but denies the existence of any sort of foundational residue from it, etc.)


And, well, I’m embarrassed to admit that it was here that I learned, for the first time, of the Congolese genocide, where up to 10 million people were killed during Leopold II’s 23-year-long rule of the Congo Free State, and countless others were systematically raped, tortured, dismembered and displaced.


Perhaps I was taught this in some history class decades ago and just forgot. Either way, that was the most American I felt in my time there.

This sort of cruelty that people with power exhibited towards vulnerable people—a process equal parts systematic, structural, intentional and gleeful—existed wherever colonization did, and still does today. It is not a uniquelyAmerican trait. But it is an American trait, more essential to our construction and our collective zeitgeist than Babe Ruth. There have been stretches in American history, of course, when the central driving force behind legislation and policy and law have been more empathetic and less antagonistic. But in the span of our history, these moments are outliers. Perhaps even anomalies. If America was honest about who and what it is, we’d sell the snapshots and postcards of the men and women smiling during lynchings at the Cheesecake Factory.

I am reminded of this history this week, as the state of Alabama passed a set of abortion-related measures and restrictions that would seem to be pointless (“Why would they do this?” an otherwise sane person might ask) if you hadn’t yet realized that the punishment is the point. This isn’t about preserving “life.” They—the governor who signed this bill, the legislators who created it, the people who voted for them, and the governors, legislators and constituents in each state where similar laws are being drafted up—just want to enact pain. They want to punish women. For possessing sexual agency. For wanting bodily autonomy. For enjoying sex. For not having babies. For having babies. For not possessing what they believe to be the birthright privileges of whiteness and maleness. It’s petty. It’s punitive. It’s vindictive. They want women—particularly women who are black or brown and/or poor—to suffer.

The silver lining here is that this realization can and should be freeing—as any compulsion to compromise, to “reach across the aisle,” to build a bridge, to extend an olive branch, or to find common ground should be set ablaze and stuffed into a cashew-shaped canoe.

You can’t sway a sadist when your pain is their greatest pleasure. You just build more canoes.



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1. Because reserving an entire section of the store for Memorial Day soirees, crispy cabaret linens, post-prom line-up BBQs and Kenny Lattimore jazz cruise brunches on skinny rivers proves that someone at Macy’s clearly did their research and knows we’re approaching prime “niggas throwing and/or attending parties where you’re mandated to wear all white” party season.

2. Because from now on, I think we should just refer to all displays of all-white clothing in department stores as the “Lattimore.”


3. Because the Lattimore in this Macy’s even has the blackest of mannequins.

4. Because from now on, I also think we should just refer to black mannequins as the “Unsullied.”

5. Because while as grating as it is when someone grants a white person a mythical invitation to “the cookout” as a reward for just not being a terrible person—AND WHY ARE YOU INVITING EXTRA PEOPLE TO COOKOUTS ANYWAY WHEN YOU KNOW THAT THE MEATS ARE ALREADY SPARSE AND ALL YOUR BLACK ASS BROUGHT WAS SOME PRINGLES???—no one would dare extend that offer to a white party.

6. Because the only white people you’ll find at white parties are Uber drivers and Dirk Nowitzki.

7. Because that might be irony but I’m kinda scared to call it that because I’m not quite sure if it is and I don’t want to get irony-shamed.

8. Because this Lattimore even has age and behavioral diversity. You have the awkwardly printed vests for cat daddies and Kappas. The white polo shirts for niggas who have to work the day of the party and won’t be able to go home and change. The ripped Levi’s for fuckboys and Libertarians; the linen shorts for retired fuckboys and Republicans; and a short-sleeved hoodie contraption for Drake and Cory Booker.

9. Because this Macy’s also has a deal where if you buy over $100 worth of clothing, you get an access code to a specifically curated cookout playlist that Macy’s partnered with Spotify and Questlove to create.

10. Because I totally made that last one up but you believed it was true because if the Lattimore exists then anything’s possible.



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My daughter is now 10 years old. This means in eight years she’ll be off to Spelman College in Atlanta to become the best she can be at the best HBCU in the country. I remember announcing on this here website that her mother was pregnant. Oh, how time flies. While my daughter can go wherever she wants—and I will be fine with whatever she decides to do with her life as long as it’s what she wants to do—if you ask her right now, she’ll tell you Spelman. Look at gawd.

This means I need to make her HBCU-ready. Or at least make sure she ain’t like waaaaaay too many folks I know who went to HBCUs who weren’t up on various parts of the game. It was quite illuminating. One thing that I learned at Morehouse College is that even though it’s a black school, so many of our experiences were vastly different. I know we are not a monolith but you’d think some things translated across the African-American diaspora. Well, since I’ve found that to be untrue, I will ensure that my children are prepared to not be outsiders to any of the more standard facets of black culture so that there will be no blackness shaming up in nobody’s dorm as niggas break out the decks of cards. Here are seven black-ass things I will make sure my chirrens are up on.


1. How to play Spades

My kids will not be the ones who don’t know how to count books or even understand how the game is played. They will know how to play Joker-Joker-Deuce-Deuce, know proper Card Slap Etiquette and how to score. Basically, one weekend a month, my home will be a Spades camp. Feel free to send your kids if you don’t know how to play. I will accept cash or money orders and I’m not going back and forth with you niggas about it. Also, Uno.

2. How to do the Electric Slide

At no point will they be outsiders at weddings, funerals, cookouts, family reunions or random warm, sunny days on the yard. Where there are two or more gathered in the name of blackness, a line dance is threatening to break out.

3. The significance of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go”

Black staple. Call it the Urban Swingline. See what I did there? My chirrens will know how to bust out the Electric Slide to this song AND KNOW this means its time to go at the club, or it’s time to really enjoy yourself at the cookout. But most importantly, they will know the best time to unleash the song. Dracarys! Do you see what I did there?

4. Cameo’s “Candy” for the same reason as “Before I Let Go”

And because Beyoncé really does care about the people, she put them both together in one song so everybody can win at the same damn time. By the time my kids are in college, presumably at HBCUs, I believe Bey’s version will be the pre-eminent version.

5. At least the whole first verse to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

I know maybe one person who knows the entire second and third verses of this song. Most of us just hum. But anybody making you sing past the first verse is a masochist anyway, so as long as they have the first verse down we Gucci and I’ve done my job.

6. The black classic movies

Brown Sugar, Coming to America, The Color Purple, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, The Best Man, Boomerang, Boyz N The Hood ... I could keep going. There will be watch sessions of them all. Multiple times. Won’t be nobody talking about, “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LOVE JONES!” to my kids. No siree, Bob.

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

This will happen. Because it must happen. Because it will always be one of the most important books ever. They will also read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and pretty much as many of the books on my black shelves as possible.

I know there are as many different ways to be black as there are black people on the planet. But my kids won’t be deficient in any of the aforementioned ways dammit.



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In response to the White House instituting what has been called a “gag rule,” Maryland hopes to be the first state to opt out of the federal Title Xprogram to protect its abortion providers from restrictive measures and funding cuts.

In February, the Trump administration announced that health care organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion referrals will no longer receive federal family planning money under Title X. On Saturday (March 16), the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that aims to end the state’s inclusion in the program. It now faces a vote with the state Senate. If passed, reports ThinkProgress, the law will require Maryland’s governor to use state money to fund the family planning program.

Established in 1970, Title X provides $286 million in funding for programs that provide services like birth control and mammograms, and screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer. Under the new federal regulation, providers will be able to discuss abortion with patients, but they cannot specify where one can be obtained. Clinics will no longer be obligated to counsel women on all available options if they are pregnant—meaning they can omit abortion from conversations. Previously, a clinic could not receive federal funding unless all options were discussed. In addition, providers who offer abortions must perform the procedure in a separate facility from other services.

Earlier this month, 22 states, including Maryland, filed lawsuits to block the rule from being implemented. Maryland is, however, the first state to use legislative action to push back against the new rule. 

Reports Think Progress:

The Maryland Department of Health receives between $3 million and $4 million dollars annually from the federal government under the Title X program, [Planned Parenthood of Maryland lobbyist Robyn] Elliott said. The state doles out these federal dollars to various providers, including eight Planned Parenthood clinics. Should the administration’s rule barring abortion providers from participating in Title X take effect, the state would no longer be able to dispense federal dollars to these clinics.

Maryland’s population is nearly one half people of color, with Black residents making up 30.8 percent of the state and Latinx accounting for 10.1 percent. And based on national numbers, women of color are disproportionally more likely to receive care that is funded via Title X.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Shane Pendergrass (D), told ThinkProgress, “We want to make sure Marylanders who get family planning services under Title X have access to the very same methods as people with private insurance. It’s that plain and simple…. Because of the federal rules, they will no longer have that access under Title X. So it’s time to walk away from the federal Title X dollars.”



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In an effort to foster what it calls “self-sufficiency,” the Trump administration is looking to bring major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. As a result, an estimated 755,000 people could lose benefits. Two new studies show the detrimental impact that would have not only on individuals but the nation’s economy, too.

When President Donald Trump released his budget proposal for 2020 on March 11, it included a cut of $220 billion over the next decade for SNAP. This is in addition to a rule announced in December to impose stricter work requirements for those seeking hunger relief through SNAP.

A new study from think tank Mathematica published last week (March 14) examines the characteristics of those who would be impacted by this rule change and found it would hit those with the lowest income hardest. The study analyzed the 1.2 million SNAP recipients and determined that 88 percent live in “deep poverty,” which the study defines as at or below 50 percent of the poverty level; close to 80 percent live alone; 11 percent worked; and the average monthly SNAP benefit was $181 per person.

According to the study:

Under the proposed rule, an estimated three-quarters of these SNAPparticipants would be newly subject to a three-month limit on their benefits, according to USDA. Some of them would increase existing work to an average of 20 hours per week, find work or meet the work requirements by participating in an employment and training program or workfare (unpaid work through a state-approved program). However,USDA estimates that two-thirds (755,000 people in 2020) would not meet the additional work requirements and would therefore lose eligibility after three months.

A study from another think tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP),analyzed the impact on the entire United States’ economy. It determined that the proposed budget cut, if passed, would lead to a loss of 178,000 jobs by 2030, as a result of reduced consumer spending. It looked at last year’s job market and determined that every 1 billion spent by SNAPrecipients helped support 12,748 jobs. Adds Mother Jones, “CAP estimates that taking away benefits could shrink the GDP by $18.3 billion over the next ten years.”

There are 16.4 million households and more than 34 million people who rely on SNAP benefits in the United States, according to data from the U.S.Department of Agriculture. White Americans are 38.9 percent of that group, Black Americans are 24.9 percent and Latinx are 11.8. AsColorlines previously reported, food insecurity and SNAP participation are disproportionately high among queer and trans people of color.



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The United States Supreme Court will soon decide if the family of a Mexican teen migrant who was shot and killed by a border agent will be allowed to sue for damages, CBS News reports. 

The main question the plaintiffs hope will be answered in Hernández v. Mesa is if the shooting death of the teen is considered a “violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures,” according to CBS. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is meant to protect against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Court will also examine the case to determine if his Fifth Amendmentrights were violated, which says that no one should be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

CBS reports that Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca was 15 years old when he stood on the Mexico side of the border between El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juarez back in 2010. Agent Jesus Mesa was across from Hernández on the U.S. side when he shot and killed the boy. The agent said people were throwing rocks at him when he fired his gun, shooting Hernández twice. The boy died immediately, according to El Paso Times.

The Supreme Court previously heard arguments in this case in 2017, according to CBS. However, the case was returned to lower courts for more hearings.



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As wealthy New York families drove east to the Hamptons over the holiday weekend, the Shinnecock Indian Nation protested their presence via billboard, The New York Times reported.

Standing six-stories high, the billboards sit on the main highway that all drivers heading to the Hamptons must use. While the signs reportedly show ads for watches and reminders to drive safely, among other things, the Shinnecock tribal seal sits atop the billboards, 60 feet in the air. The message is simple: the Hamptons actually belong to the Shinnecock Indian Nation.


The jurisdiction doesn’t allow billboards, and state officials reportedly pushed back with legal action against the Shinnecocks. The Times reports that a state judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt construction on the two electronic signs. But the tribe, which is native to the land now called Long Island—including the ground on which the billboards sit—is standing its ground.

“We don’t recognize their authority on our sovereign lands,” Bryan Polite, the tribe’s chairperson, told The Times. The tribe expanded on that point in a statement posted to Facebook today (May 28). From that statement:

The state’s lawsuit against Shinnecock officials is a thinly veiled attack on the Shinnecock Nation and our right of self-determination. Throughout our history, our lands and economic future have been taken from us by the state and the surrounding community. Our goal is simply to generate revenue to provide for our people. The state has a long history of bulldozing Indian lands and Indian people to get what it wants. We will fight against the most recent effort to attack our tribal sovereignty.

The Shinnecock Nation sees the start of summer as the perfect time to protest, and the highway as the best venue to get the word out. It also sees the billboards as a way to create much-needed revenue for the tribe.

“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity because of the fact that billboards are not allowed in the Hamptons. On our land, we feel we had a captive audience with the highway traffic,” Lance Gumbs, vice chair for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, told Newsday.

As of now, Newsday reports that the tribe has no plans to remove the billboards.

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Iconic author Toni Morrison has earned a lifetime’s worth of awards and honors for her contributions to literature, and today (May 22) she is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Fiction. The Gold Medal—the organization’s highest honor for excellence in the arts—is awarded to artists who have achieved eminence via their entire body of work.

Morrison’s eminence cannot be overstated. At age 88, the author has penned 11 novels that confront race and culture head-on, including 1987’s “Beloved,” which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In a thesis that argued for the best literature ever produced, The New York Times praised the book, writing that in “less than 20 years after its publication, [“Beloved” has] become a staple of the college literary curriculum, which is to say a classic.”

In addition, Morrison, who is also the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, at Princeton University, has also been awarded with the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Prize in Literature, among many other distinguished honors.

In honor of the storyteller, who is also an Academy member, the Academy wrote that, “Toni Morrison has, over the years, shaken us out of the ruts of our ordinary perspective. She has allowed us to walk through various shades of the national experience, always incisively, provocatively, generously.”



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Vida,” the dramatic series about two estranged Latinx sisters, Emma and Lyn, who are forced to return to their old neighborhood in East Los Angeles where they learn a shocking truth about their mother, returns for its second season on Starz tomorrow (May 23). Starring an all-Latinx cast and writing room, the show features storylines that cover topics like assimilation, discrimination and homophobia, all from a place of personal cultural experience.

Ahead of the premiere, showrunner and co-creator Tanya Sarachospoke with The New York Times for an article today (May 22) about the “authenticity police,” Spanglish and colorism.

Just as “Vida” likes to keep it real, so does Saracho, both on screen and in the interview. When talking about how she wants the series to look and feel, she said it was important to get it right:

A lot of times when we watch our communities represented on the screen, it feels like a museum piece. Like we’re coming to watch a safari. But that’s an outsider’s point of view.

Also our skin color—I find that TV Whitewashes our different shades; they wash the diaspora out of us. Latinx—we are all subtones and undertones, and they just wash it out with a blue, or something bright. Or they brownface us even more. They just saturate us. I wanted it to look like us, but also to give it that prestige of an indie film.”

Saracho says that often, Latinx writers face criticism about their authenticity: “You’re not brown enough, you’re not light enough, you’re not Mexican enough. Your Spanish is not good enough.” Which brings her to the use of Spanglish, which is sprinkled throughout the script to add another layer of complexity to the series:

There are opinions on the type of Spanglish we use. It’s so complicated because it’s a made-up way of communicating and there’s not one uniform way. There’s no dictionary that you could look at. It’s how we communicate…The fact that we get the words desmadre and chingona on the key art and teaser art, to me it’s radical. It’s revolutionary because not even every Latino is going to know what desmadre is—it’s something like a “hot mess.” Mexicans and Mexican-Americans haven’t gotten a chance to see themselves like that in key art.

Another group who rarely sees themselves on TV are Afro-Latinx people. To fix this gap in storytelling, Saracho is working on a new show called “Brujas,” which has all Afro-Latinx writers. Until then, “Vida” looks to address the issue. “In this season of ‘Vida,’ I wanted to touch on the notion of being prieto, and how colorism is alive and well in the Latinx community,” Saracho said. “All that is our shame, our stuff that we haven’t aired out that much. And I love when we get to air it out.”



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Jacqueline "Kendra" Johnson and K.N. Aisingioro joined The Khaliseum
Dec 4
Katchidae talks Rap, Growing up playing sports, Kissing Actors, & Never Begging #ShortyRocNYC via The Shorty Roc NYC Show

Katchidae talks Rap, Growing up playing sports, Kissing Actors, & Never Begging #ShortyRocNYC

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Nov 28
The Rebel Poet talks Poetry Career, Divorce, Healing, Dating, + More #ShortyRocNYC via The Shorty Roc NYC Show

The Rebel Poet talks Poetry Career, Divorce, Healing, Dating, + More #ShortyRocNYC

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Nov 28
Lyricah Love talks Music Career, past Record Deal, Meeting Dr Dre, + More #ShortyRocNYC via The Shorty Roc NYC Show

Lyricah Love talks Music Career, past Record Deal, Meeting Dr Dre, + More #ShortyRocNYC

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Nov 28
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Maggie Montague of Secured Financials Talks Tax Prep, Grant, & Bookkeeping via The Shorty Roc NYC Show

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Maggie Montague of Secured Financials Talks Tax Prep, Grant, & Bookkeeping

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Nov 28
Versotay talks Gold Teeth, Waist So Lizzo Challenge, Management, Jealousy, + More #ShortyRocNYC via The Shorty Roc NYC Show

The #ShortyRocNYC Podcast Season 5 Episode 4Versotay talks Gold Teeth, Waist So Lizzo Challenge, Management, Jealousy, + More #ShortyRocNYC

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Nov 28
Nikki Terry and King Shorty Roc are now friends
Nov 20
Nikki Terry is now a member of The Khaliseum
Nov 20
King Shorty Roc’s blog post was featured
Atlanta, GA - [November 19th 2023]
Renowned singer, model, and actress Qioki, hailing from Bakersfield, CA, has officially inked an exclusive management deal with GDE Management. The agency, known for its commitment to…
Nov 19
King Shorty Roc posted a blog post
Atlanta, GA - [November 19th 2023]
Renowned singer, model, and actress Qioki, hailing from Bakersfield, CA, has officially inked an exclusive management deal with GDE Management. The agency, known for its commitment to…
Nov 19
King Shorty Roc updated their profile
Nov 16
LQ was featured
Nov 16
Yung Rus is now a member of The Khaliseum
Nov 7
Pinoy SEO Services Philippines updated their profile
Oct 17