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Category Archives: The Post-Racial Life

On Teaching Racism

Not sure why the cashier in this story thought it her duty to indoctrinate the child in her own racism…

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Girl, 2, defends choice of doll to cashier: “She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor”

Two-year-old Sophia was told she could pick out a “special prize” — anything she wants — after she successfully completed potty training.

She was thrilled, and of course, headed straight for the doll aisle when she walked into Target with her mom, Brandi Benner, on Friday afternoon. Scanning the aisles, Sophia passed a row of baby dolls and headed for the “big girl dolls.” One doll in particular caught her eye: a little black girl dressed in a white lab coat, wearing a stethoscope around her neck.

“When she picked [the doll] up and saw that she was a doctor it was game over,” Benner told CBS News. “She got so excited.”

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! I want this one. I want this one,” she shouted.

Smiling, Benner picked up the doll, “Oh, absolutely.”

She still had some money left over, so she picked out a Jeep for her new doll to ride around in. Together, Sophia and her mother walked to the cash register to check out. As always, Sophia offered to “pay” for the items — and by pay, she means put the toys on the conveyer belt.

She was greeted by the cashier, who asked, “Are you going to a birthday party?”

Confused, Sophia ignored the question and continued to stare at her beloved prize.

Then the cashier pointed to the doll, whose name is Megan, and asked if she picked her out for a friend.

Benner spoke up, explaining to the cashier that Sophia was getting a reward for using the potty.

“I am not ashamed that’s how I did it, because it works,” joked Benner about using the doll as incentive for potty training.

The woman gave Benner a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, “Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?”

At that point, Benner recalls she was starting to feel protective of Sophia, hoping she wouldn’t understand why the woman was questioning her choice of doll. But just as she was about to speak up, Sophia interjected, “Yes, please!”

The cashier replied, “But she doesn’t look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you.”

Sophia responded, “Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?” her mother said.

The cashier simply responded with an “Oh, that’s nice.” She finished ringing up the family and they were on her way. Sophia didn’t think twice about the exchange, unlike Benner.

The mother of two — Sophia, 2, and Isabelle, 7 months — wanted to share the story with her Facebook friends.

“This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters. Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful,” Benner wrote in a post that has since gone viral with more than 201,000 shares.

While Benner is happy people are spreading the message, she feels it’s sad that it had to be said in the first place.

“It’s sad that such a small act has become national news,” she said. “In a sense it shouldn’t be surprising that a kid of one color wanted a doll of another — that shouldn’t be such a huge thing.”

Fortunately, her daughter wasn’t fased by it.

“What if she had been older — like 7, 8 or 9?” Benner asked. “Then she would have experienced more of the world and been more aware of cultural ‘dos and don’ts,’ and maybe would have second guessed [herself]. She maybe wouldn’t have been so quick to stick up for herself.”

Benner just hopes her daughter keeps her spunky spirit, and her dream to become a doctor.

Sophia first learned the word “stethoscope” from the TV cartoon “Doc McStuffins.” And her pediatrician allows the little girl to play with the tools in her doctor bag, which led to her desire to work in medicine someday.

That’s why, to Sophia, the doll’s skin tone doesn’t matter — all that matters is that she helps people, just like Sophia wants to do.

 

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Trash Can of History – NOLA Finally Begins Removal of Confederate Statues

A bit of “History” which should have been removed a long time ago – These statues are nothing more than the symbols which divide America.

Putting these “memorials” up is no different than putting up a statue of Hitler in front of a synagogue.

The protesters were carrying candles? Surprised they weren’t burning crosses.

New Orleans Begins Removing Statues Commemorating the Confederacy

New Orleans on Monday began removing four statues dedicated to the era of the Confederacy, capping a prolonged battle about the future of the memorials, which critics deemed symbols of racism and intolerance and which supporters viewed as historically important.

Workers dismantled an obelisk, which was dedicated to the Battle of Liberty Place and was erected to honor members of the “Crescent City White League” who in 1874 fought against the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.

The workers were dressed in flak jackets, helmets and scarves to conceal their identities because of concerns about their safety, The Associated Press reported.

Pieces of the monument were put on a truck and hauled away.

Other monuments expected to be removed include a bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in a traffic circle, named Lee Circle, in the city’s central business district since 1884; an equestrian statue of P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate general, and one of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

Citing security risks and threats to contractors seeking to do the work, the city would not reveal details about the removal of the other statues.

The monuments were erected decades after the Civil War ended by people who wanted to demonstrate that the South should feel no guilt in having fought the Civil War, the mayor’s statement said.

“The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” Mr. Landrieu said. “This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly — choose a better future.”

The debate over Confederate symbols has taken center stage since nine people were killed at a black church in South Carolina in June 2015. South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag, which flew at its State House for more than 50 years, and other Southern cities have considered taking down monuments.

After moving the statues into storage, New Orleans will seek a museum or other site to house them. The city said it gained private funding to relocate the statues, though it did not say how much money it secured or identify its source.

The opposition to the monuments’ removal — expressed in op-ed articles, social media posts and shouting at public meetings — was vigorous. A group opposing their removal said it had collected 31,000 signatures for a petition.

Demonstrators gathered for a candlelight vigil on Monday as workers removed the Liberty Place monument.

Robert Bonner, 63, who said he was a Civil War re-enactor, protested the monument’s removal. “I think it’s a terrible thing,” he told The A.P. “When you start removing the history of the city, you start losing money. You start losing where you came from and where you’ve been.”

The removal happened on Confederate Memorial Day, which is formally observed by Alabama and Mississippi to commemorate those who died in the Civil War.

An organization dedicated to preserving monuments in New Orleans, the Monumental Task Committee, opposed removing the statues.

In a statement on Monday, Pierre McGraw, the group’s president, said the removal process had been “flawed since the beginning” and that the use of unidentified money reeks of “atrocious government.”

“People across Louisiana should be concerned over what will disappear next,” the statement added.

In December 2015, the City Council voted 6-1 to take the statues down. In January 2016, a federal judge dismissed an attempt by preservation groups and a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to stop their removal.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in BlackLivesMatter, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Color Lines – Appearances Can Be Decieving

Race in America is a amorphous thing. Most likely what “classification” you fall into will be based on your looks.

I have a family relationship with the Shinnecock Tribe, and from the pic below, knew this author’s mother, and possibly her father. The Reservation is pretty small, and all of the teens often gathered together at the beach. There was a NYC connection as well. I am not Native American (Not one drop according to my DNA test), however one of my Uncles married a Native American and lived on the reservation. I spent a number of summers both working and visiting the Reservation and am an Honorary Member of the Tribe. Which doesn’t mean anything in terms of identity, but does mean because of my Uncle’s marriage I have a few cousins there.

My family has everything from blonde haired, blue eyed to deepest ebon. The first of which caused a lot of problems back in the day. As a teen, I struggled with the existence of both black and “white” relatives. To understand that, you have to understand the historical context of the 60′ black “awakening”.

I don’t share Ms Joseph’s thoughts about Donezal. The only thing I see there is a tragedy.

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I'm also black. And I don't hate Rachel Dolezal

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I’m also black. And I don’t hate Rachel Dolezal

I am white, I am black, I am Native American. And I know what it’s like for people not to see all of who I am

On a hot, humid New York City morning in 1980, I stood with my mother in the checkout line of an A&P supermarket near our home. As she pushed our groceries along the cashier’s belt with me trailing behind, mom realized she had forgotten her wallet at home, but she had her checkbook. Leaving me standing alone in the line for a moment while she saw the manager to have her check approved, the clerk refused to bag our groceries and hand them to me. She was black, and I was white. “These groceries belong to that woman over there,” the woman nodded towards my mother. “They ain’t yours.” Confused, I said, “But that’s my mother. I’ll take them for her.” She looked me up and down. “No,” she said, her voice cold.

The clerk refused to believe that indeed I belonged to, and came from, my black mother, until mom returned to find me choking back tears. She gave the clerk a tongue lashing, which was not her style, and we left the market.  Later, mixed Native American and black children threw stones at me near my home on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation as I rode my bike. They yelled, “Get off our land, white girl!” These painful and strange experiences gave me my first taste of racial prejudice, and they have stayed with me all these years.

I am a child of many nations. I am white, I am black, I am Native American. I am West Indian, German, Irish. Brown and light together — integrated, not inter-racial, because race means nothing when you come from everywhere.

This Sunday’s New York Times Race-Related section ran a fascinating piece on DNA and racial identity by West Chester University professor Anita Foeman. For the past decade, she has asked hundreds of people to take part in ancestry DNA tests, and to date, over 2,000 have participated. “But first,” she wrote, “I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.”

Those results are often startling to the subjects and rife with racial stereotypes, Foeman found. According to her studies, some who came up with surprise Asian heritage in spite of looking white or brown noted, “That’s why my son is good at math!” Others who explored African heritage responded, “I thought my biological father might be black; I heard he liked basketball.”  Many of us harbor deeply-rooted prejudices that we aren’t even aware of, until it matters to us.

I don’t remember what mom said that day in the supermarket, but I can tell you that while she had been the object of many, many racist remarks and challenging situations in her life, she was not entirely prepared for what happened that day. That’s not to say she didn’t talk about the reality of how our family was different from others. To try to address the dearth of literary references to kids who looked like me, my mother physically altered my childhood books, using markers to make one parent brown and other other white, while the child originally drawn remained white-appearing, like me. But the scene in the supermarket still took her by surprise.

Confrontations over race can still catch Americans unprepared, such as when Rachel Dolezal, the now-former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, appeared on the media radar. Dolezal, who stopped by Salon recently to talk with me on her book tour, was born white but identifies as black and calls herself “transracial.”

Dolezal was “outed” two years ago by her biological parents for not being black as she had claimed, and subsequently resigned from the NAACP. She became a polarizing figure under heavy media scrutiny as she appeared to dodge questions about her unconventional chosen identity. She has been unable to continue to work as a university instructor of African and African American art history, and to this day is despised by many observers, black and white, for posing as a black person.

My Salon colleague D. Watkins, an African American writer from Baltimore, wondered why Dolezal couldn’t just “use her whiteness to advocate for black people,” rather than making up and living in her own fantasy world where race and ethnicity no longer cause any social or political delineations. He is one of many to hold this opinion, and it’s one I agree with.

Rebecca Carroll wrote for Dame in 2015 about what she calls Dolezal’s “apocalyptic, White privilege on steroids” with a palpable anger shared by many people of color. When I talked to my childhood writing mentor Barbara Campbell, a former New York Times reporter who is African American and has two multiracial sons, she wondered about Dolezal with a mix of anger and genuine confusion. “What is wrong with that woman? I feel empathy for her, because she is clearly delusional, but she can step out into the world as a white woman any time she wants to stop being ‘black.’ Black women don’t have that luxury.”

Campbell explained that growing up in St. Louis, she had many light-skinned relatives who resembled Dolezal and could “pass” for white, but otherwise lived their lives as people of color. “They would go to ‘work white,’ because they could earn more money and get better-paying jobs, but then they would go home and be black.”

But this Dolezal thing — this is a horse of another color entirely. Why, wondered many, would someone white want to live within the very real challenges of being black in America, when she had a choice? Dolezal’s explanation? She doesn’t define herself by race, just a feeling of affinity with the black culture she’s always had.

As one might expect, the last few years have been tough since her exposure, she told me, noting her newly adopted legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which she claimed was a “gift” to her by a Nigerian man. When she arrived at our offices, it was hard to know what to think, or believe. Frankly, it was hard to feel any animosity at all, despite the vitriolic sentiments many of my dark and light-skinned family, friends and colleagues had for Dolezal. She arrived carrying her beautiful, light brown baby son, Langston Hughes (Yes. Stop. That’s his name. What can you do?), who was cared for by her adopted black sister, Esther. Dolezal appeared like any other tired, working mom. I offered her coffee, and empathy, rather than taking an adversarial approach.

I did suggest, however, that some of the passages in her new book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” were outrageous and possibly specious. Dolezal shrugged. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with or believe me,” she said. Among her claims: she grew up living in a tee pee in Montana (my Native American percentage shudders). She was beaten by her parents and forced to weave and wear a coat loomed from dog hair. She identified with people of color from an early age, after reading her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines, and spread mud on her face to try to feel what it was like to have brown skin. Dolezal has said some very polemical things, some — dare I say — dumb things, that do not make her a sympathetic figure. Comparing her white Montana childhood to what chattel slaves experienced, even if indeed she was miserable, is a stretch by any measure, and engendered rightful animus from real black folks…Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

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The Church of the Really Feel Good!

The Right Reverend Feelgood is going to have a high time with a literally euphoric congregation!

Old Hippies never die…They just huff away.

At Denver’s Newest Church, Marijuana Is The Holy Sacrament

“We are all ‘high’ priests,” said a member of the International Church of Cannabis.

The International Church of Cannabis will open its doors in Denver on April 20, a day marijuana enthusiasts everywhere have memorialized as a sort of “high” holy day.

The church is not your average house of worship, for obvious reasons. But the religion it preaches, members say, is no joke.

Members of the church are known as Elevationists. Their faith holds that “an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated and deepened with ritual cannabis use,” according to the church’s website.

“We do not believe in authoritarian structures, nor do we profess the arrogance of knowing God’s mind,” Elevationist Lee Molloy told The Huffington Post. “There are no Grand Poobah’s or High Priests ― well, we are all ‘high’ priests ― rather, we are all on our own quest to be the best self we can be, and to give back to the community with our talents and labor.”

Church members refer to cannabis as “the sacred flower,” which Molloy described as “a gift from the Universal Creative Force.”

Ritual use of cannabis has a long, well-documented history dating back over 3,000 years, according to Mark S. Ferrara, an associate professor of English at the State University of New York and author of Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis.

“In low dosages, such as those achieved by inhalation and through tinctures, cannabis produces a mild euphoric effect employed by shamans and herbal healers across time and culture,” Ferrara writes.

One of the earliest recorded mentions of cannabis comes from The Vedas, a set of ancient Hindu texts. To this day, many people in India enjoy a drink called bhang, made from the leaves of the female cannabis plant. Adherents of Rastafari, an Africa-centred religion that formed in Jamaica in the 1930s, also use marijuana to aid in meditation and community bonding.

As Molloy puts it: “When we ritually take cannabis our mind is elevated and we become a better version of self.”

Marijuana is legal in Colorado, with some caveats. Residents cannot smoke or consume the plant in public ― including at “social clubs” ― which has posed some challenges for the church’s organizers.

“We are being forced to jump hoops by the City,” said Molloy in an email to HuffPost. For now, all programming and ritual cannabis use will be by invitation only. Programming will include guest speakers, comedians, artists, musicians and film screenings. Visitors can come to the church between 12:00 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily to see the space, but no burning will be allowed in the building during those hours, Molloy said….Read the rest Here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J74ttSR8lEg

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Muslim Woman Faces Down England Trumpazoids

The “English Defense League” is the UK’s version of the US’s Trump neo-Nazis.

They decided to throw a big bash, and demonstrate on the streets of Birmingham, doing the usual terrorizing of little old Muslim ladies by screaming invective and racial slurs…

And along came this woman…

Whoops!

This Muslim Woman Faces Down Islamophobes in Iconic Image of Defiance

An image of a woman staring down a hate group has become a social media phenomenon. It’s reassuring proof of Britain’s defiance of racists and xenophobes.

Maybe she should have handed the guy a Pepsi.

A Muslim woman who was pictured this weekend calmly facing down an anti-Muslim demonstrator with an expression of amused contempt has become a social media phenomenon.

The woman was confronting a protestor from the so-called English Defense League, on the streets of Birmingham, England’s second largest city. The EDL is a far right group which describes itself on its website as “a street movement from the English working class” which is “the forefront of the counter-jihad”, refers to Islam as a “barbaric evil cult,” and frequently organizes demonstrations to protest immigration and multiculturalism.

Tweeting the photograph, Birmingham Member of Parliament Jess Phillips wrote: “Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate?” Her tweet had been reposted 10,000 times by Monday morning.

The woman pictured has been identified as Saffiyah Khan, a Birmingham resident. She told the BBC that when the picture was taken, she had stepped forward to defend a woman wearing a hijab who had been surrounded by a group of men.

She said she had initially been happy “to stay out of the way”, but “stepped forward” when another woman shouted “Islamophobe” at members of the EDL who had gathered in Centenary Square.

“A group of 25 quite big-looking EDL lads surrounded her,” she said.

“I stepped forward and identified myself as someone who supported her and contradicted them.”

Khan, who was born in the U.K. and is half-Pakistani, half-Bosnian, said she “wasn’t intimidated in the slightest”.

She added: “He put his finger in my face. It was very aggressive. A police officer was there and the man took his finger out of my face. I wouldn’t have responded violently.”

“I don’t like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town,” Khan said.

The EDL demonstration attracted around 100 people, and was condemned by political leaders of Birmingham city council. The city has a 22% Muslim population in comparison to a national average in the U.K. of around 4%.

Birmingham central mosque hit back at the protest in truly British style by organizing a tea party.

 

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Dead End in the Red Zone – Why Red States Have Endless Poverty

Welcome to the South, boy!

Problems of the white wing Republican dominated.

Image result for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Gleaming Downtown Hides a Secret

Why It’s So Hard to Get Ahead in the South

In Charlotte and other Southern cities, poor children have the lowest odds of making it to the top income bracket of kids anywhere in the country. Why?

Shamelle Jackson moved here from Philadelphia, hoping to find work opportunities and better schools for her four children, who range in age from two to 14. Instead, she found a city with expensive housing, few good jobs, and schools that can vary dramatically in quality. “I’ve never struggled as hard as I do here in Charlotte,” Jackson, 34, told me.

Jackson isn’t alone. Data suggests that Charlotte is a dead-end for people trying to escape poverty. That’s especially startling because the city is a leader in economic development in the South. Bank of America is headquartered here, and over the last two decades the city has become a hub for the financial services industry. In recent years, Charlotte and the surrounding area, Mecklenburg County, have ranked among the fastest-growing regions of the country. “Charlotte is a place of economic wonder in some ways, but it’s also a city that faces very stark disparities, and that increasingly includes worrisome pockets of real deprivation,” said Gene Nichol, a professor at the UNC School of Law who has completed an extensive report on local poverty. Some of these disparities bubbled to the surface in September, when protests erupted after a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, was shot and killed by police.

Charlotte ranked dead last in an analysis of economic mobility in America’s 50 largest cities by the Equality of Opportunity Project, a team of researchers out of Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty. Children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution in Charlotte had just a 4.4 percent chance of making it to the top 20 percent of the income distribution. That’s compared to a 12.9 percent chance for children in San Jose, California, and 10.8 percent change for children in Salt Lake City. These statistics are troubling because mobility is essentially just a formal term for the American Dream—the ability to find a good job, provide for children, and do better than one’s parents did. Rather than making it into the middle class in Charlotte, poor children, who are majority black and Latino, are very likely to stay poor.

In some ways, Charlotte is indicative of a more widespread problem in the region. Map out the data from the Equality of Opportunity Project and you’ll find that much of the South has low mobility rates. The chance of a child moving from the bottom to top quartile in Atlanta is 4.5 percent, the chance of moving up in Raleigh is 5 percent, and the chance of moving up in New Orleans is 5.1 percent.

These are among the lowest odds of advancement in the country. “The South really does struggle,” said Erin Currier, who directed the financial security and mobility project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew found that mobility lags in states including Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and North Carolina.

There’s no obvious reason why cities in the South would perform so poorly across the board. After all, economies like those in Charlotte are booming. In other places with significant economic growth, such as San Jose, this prosperity seems to be widely shared (or at least it was between 1980 and 2012, the time period over which children were tracked in Chetty’s data). In cities across the South though, economic success seems not to have trickled down to lower-income populations.

Chetty and colleagues say that there are a few key factors that play into where people struggle with economic mobility. These areas tend to be more racially segregated, have a higher share of poverty than the national average, more income inequality, a higher share of single mothers, and lower degrees of social capital, which means people interacting with others who can help them succeed, according to Nick Flamang, a predoctoral fellow with the Equality of Opportunity Project.

All of these indicators are present in Charlotte, and throughout much of the South. Segregation took root in the early 1900s, and was reinforced by Jim Crow laws and redlining in the later part of the century. It remains a problem today. The white, affluent population lives in a wedge south of the city. The census tracts north and west of the city are where the low-income people live, and those people are predominantly black and Latino.

The South also has among the highest poverty rates in the country. Mississippi ranks last, Louisiana is 49th, and North Carolina is 39th in the country when it comes to the percentage of people living below the poverty line. While Southern poverty has traditionally manifested itself in rural areas, cities are now home to some of the worst poverty in the region, according to Nichol. “If you look at census tracts, the deepest poverty in North Carolina is right in the middle of Charlotte, the middle of Greensboro, middle of Winston-Salem, the middle of Raleigh,” he said.

Indeed, concentrated poverty is becoming a pressing problem in Charlotte. The Brookings Institution data shows that in 2000, just 2 percent of poor families lived in a census tract with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher in Charlotte. That percentage had climbed to 10 percent by 2012. According to Nichol’s work, 17 census tracts in Mecklenburg County had poverty rates higher than 40 percent, a dramatic increase from 2000, when just four did. I visited neighborhoods like Lockwood, just north of downtown, where homeless people hung out at the gas stations and the small box homes had bars on their windows.

Concentrated poverty is related to another factor Chetty and his colleagues mention: social capital, which is essentially the mechanism that allows people to interact with others and become a part of broad networks that can lead to opportunity. It can help people get hooked up to first jobs, internships, and scholarships. Without these types of connections, children are more likely to take a similar path to their parents. For those who live in areas of concentrated poverty, this means they don’t learn about opportunities that might get them out of poverty, or about people in different income brackets.

Latasha Hunt, 36, is an example of what it means to lack social capital. She grew up in northern Charlotte, far from the wealth of the city’s south side. Her parents did ok, she told me—her mother worked in manufacturing and her father worked for the school system. But growing up, she didn’t know people who went to college or who worked in finance. Almost no one at her high school went to college—they all ended up getting a job right out of high school, or going to jail, she told me. Neither Hunt nor her two brothers went to college. Her brothers are both barbers, she now works in customer service at a local nonprofit. She doesn’t think she’s better off than her parents were.“My generation is struggling,” she told me. “We work every day, but it’s like we’re working just to pay for daycare.”

Hunt is a single mother, which creates its own unique challenges. She juggles taking care of her two children and working a full-time job. Many other women in Charlotte experience similar issues; in North Carolina, 65 percent of African-American children live in single parent families, according to the Kids Count Data Center from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jackson, who moved from Philadelphia, told me she lost her job in Charlotte because of “single mom stuff.” She was frequently tardy to work because she had to drop kids off at school or pick them up when they were sick, attend parent-teacher conferences, and otherwise take care of her family….Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

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A black Samurai in Japan? The Hidden Story of Yasuke

A black Samurai in Japan in the 16th Century? Truth is stranger than fiction as the story of Yasuke is planned to hit the Big Screen.

 

Forgotten Tale Of Japan’s First Black Samurai Bound For The Big Screen

The Japanese revered the African former slave in the 16th century.

There is very little recorded history on Yasuke, the young African man believed to be Japan’s first black samurai, but his story may soon be told on the silver screen.

Lionsgate has asked screenwriter Gregory Wilden, the creator of the 1986 film “Highlander,” to write a script for an action drama based on Yasuke’s centuries-old story, according to the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

The Lionsgate film “is based on the true story of an African whose journey to Japan comes with conflicting background stories,” Widen told Deadline last week. “The one I’ve chosen is that he was a slave soldier after the fall of Abysinnian Bengal, a black kingdom run by Ethiopians.”

In that story, Yasuke was sold into slavery and “found himself in the care of Alessandro Valignano, an Italian missionary,” Widen explained.  “They formed a bond, and when there were complications in Rome, he was sent to Japan and took Yasuke with him,” he added.

Yasuke was an African slave in his early 20s when Valignano brought him on a missionary trip to Japan in 1579, according to historical accounts that Oxy reviewed. He stood out there because of his tall stature and dark skin and he soon became a local celebrity. His real name is unknown, but locals called him Yasuke in Japan ― likely a Japanese version of his birth name.

When Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga learned of Yasuke and his impressive strength, he hired the young African as a feudal bodyguard. Under Nobunaga, Yasuke quickly rose in the ranks to become a well-respected samurai warrior who spoke fluent Japanese.

“They presented him with a blade, and he went to work,” Widen told Deadline.

Parts of Yasuke’s story lived on in a 1916 Japanese children’s book called Kuro-suke, about a young, black samurai who often dreams of his parents in Africa.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Black History, News, The Post-Racial Life

 

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