Black Voices

DCP 82 What’s In It For The Culture: Dr. Christina Greer

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 20:00

Transcribed by: Taji Senior

September 23,2021 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:03] Welcome to Dear Culture, the podcast that gives you news you can trust for the culture of your co-host Gerren Keith Gaynor, managing editor at theGrio

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:11] And I’m your special guest co-host theGrio politics editor and associate professor of political science at Fordham University, Dr. Christina Greer. And this week, we are asking, Dear Culture , what in the world is going on? 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:31] What in the world is going on in indeed, but first, Dr. Greer, we at theGrio call you C.G. and so your family. So I’m going to call you C.G. for the rest of the show, if that’s OK with you. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:41] That is more than OK with me. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:44] We’re so happy to have you, C.G. Obviously, my girl, Shana, my vivacious, beautiful co-host, isn’t here with us this week. She’s on vacation. And, you know, taking time out for yourself is important and we support that here at theGrio. But first, before we get into a very important episode talking about what’s happening here in the US and around the world, I want to first talk about the Emmy Awards. Now, the Emmy Awards had a record 37 nominations and many people were left upset because not one actor won an Emmy this this past Emmy Award and twenty, twenty one and only two wins. And it was in writing and for producing. That was Michaela Coel, who won for her beautiful writing and her show, I May Destroy You on HBO. And Rupaul won a record 11th Emmy for Rupal Drag Race, which we all love so much, so entertaining, and so lots of them. But I was left disappointed to not see more black and brown winners. Given that it was a historic number of nominees, I expected to at least see Lovecraft country on HBO when some awards and also M.J. Rodriguez, who did a phenomenal job playing Blanca Evangelista on those shows, is now off the air. And I was expecting to see at least one major win, especially her being the first black transgender woman nominated for lead actress in a drama. And so many people felt like this was yet another Oscars. So white and our IRI’s watching. Our dear friend Marc Lamont Hill flipped from him, saying that we should stop expecting to be disappointed or be mad means that we have an expectation and we shouldn’t have an expectation for institutions that we have said consistently, do not censor us and are racist in many, many times. I know you probably have opinions about this. What did you think about the Emmy Awards? Were you expecting to see some more wins? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:50] No, I mean, sadly, I wasn’t. You know, the needle moved. Yes, we have nominations, but yeah, you know, you and I both know that the the talent in the black community is is far and wide, and it never seems to be recognized adequately and sufficiently at these awards shows. So, you know, Byron Allen is listening, the owner of the grill. Maybe we need to just have our own awards shows to really highlight the incredible acting. You know, and I’m not trying to take away anything from McKayla, Cole and Rupal. Let’s also be clear. McNicol clearly could have won for best acting. And I made sure you I mean, she you know, even from chewing gum, she was shut out. And so it feels like the Color Purple moment all over again. Remember the Oscars many, many, many years ago? You know, to be color purple is to be nominated and then you walk home with nothing. And we saw that again with Lovecraft country. We have so much talent in the black TV and movie world that just still isn’t recognized. And so, you know, Ted LASO and mayor of this town, those are great hacks, great shows. They’re fun and entertaining. But something about the jurors when they’re deciding who actually gets to take on these awards. Surprise, surprise. It’s not black actors. And we know, Gerren, that these awards, they do matter. Right? Not just for someone’s ego, but this affects your price point. Right. This affects your next gig and how much you’re able to make and negotiate when you’re going up, you know, for your next television show on whatever network it may be to say that I was an Emmy Award winner, not just an Emmy nominee. And so now you’re messing with our money. And that’s where I have a problem, because it’s it’s not just about something on the shelf. It’s really about the longevity of people’s crafts. And so, sadly, I think so many viewers are accustomed to seeing black actors perform brilliantly and be shut out. The fact that Michael K. Williams, the late, great Michael K. Williams, did not have a posthumous Emmy, you know, or hadn’t been didn’t have Emmys from previous roles that he had had Boardwalk Empire, The Wire shoot. His little quick stint on community was brilliant. So. I mean, my interest in the Emmys wanes every year, I like to see black people dressed up and supporting one another, but it’s gotten to the point where we know that if we look to these award shows for our validation, we will be sorely mistaken and we will be searching for quite some time. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:05:25] I also want to shout out Debbie Allen because she got the governor’s award and it was a long time coming. She actually, I believe either was the first, but I think she was the first black woman to get the governor’s award. I don’t want to make sure we shot her out as well, because she’s just a staple not just in Hollywood, but especially in black America. But see what else is on your mind this week? Well, I mean, you 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:47]  Definitely shout out to Debbie Allen. Obviously, I loved her ever since Fame to say nothing about her cameos on The Cosby Show and A Different World. And, you know, Amistad that she helped bring to the screen. I mean, she has just always been, I think, a household name and even thinking about what she did during covid, making sure we were all moving on Tuesdays. And you know what she does with The Black Nutcracker, this is my critique of the Emmys, is not to take away from all of the black talent that was recognized, even the nominees. It’s just a critique of the larger sort of system that refuses to go the full length. But other than that, I mean, I think honestly, Jane, what I’m thinking about this week, I do want to recognize and circle back to something you said about Shawna, you know, leading the way and taking some rest. I think, you know, September is a really hard month for a lot of people, especially a lot of your listeners. You got kids going back to school. A lot of us are now mandatory back in person, either in the office or in the classroom. And I think the fact that we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and watching the news and dealing with, you know, January six 2.0 last Saturday for those people who were in D.C. and thinking about all the ways that this country still has a long, long way to go, I always say we have to normalize rest. And I think that Shauna is leading the charge this week by taking some rest. I hope you do the same, but I think that’s that’s where I am. I definitely feel September always feels like treading water for me because I’m back in school teaching. There are all the meetings and board meetings and everything seems to be collapsing in September. And so I just want to kind of remind our listeners that you are not alone if you need to. You know, I love a nap for those people who were, you know, listening from New York when our mayor de Blasio said that he took naps and everyone around him, you know, was a grown man who takes naps, I was like, kudos to you, de Blasio. Like, I critique you on a lot of things, but I’m right there with you and taking a nap. So a little power nap, 10 minutes little followed that 30 minutes. Little nap roulet, you know, don’t set your alarm clock goes like I think that, you know, we have to just make sure we as black people especially and explicitly make sure we we get rest with all that’s going on in the world and our communities and our families. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:08:10] Amen. Rest is also a form of liberation. So I definitely agree. But let’s switch gears a bit, because I’m so happy we have you we have your beautiful expertize and knowledge on so many things happening in the US and across the globe. We have Texas all but completely banning abortions, a chaotic withdrawal from a 20 year war in Afghanistan, raging wildfires, devastating floods. And even the White House is trying to get Nicki Minaj on the phone to educate her about vaccines. To simply put, it is been a lot. And I know we could all use your brilliant mind on these matters to make sense of things. And more importantly, why is important to black America. So let’s get into it, shall we? So first, the biggest news story, I would say this week has been what’s happening at the southern border. A Haitian migrants, as many as reportedly sixteen thousand have come to the border trying to seek refuge from what’s happening in Haiti. Obviously, a lot has happened in Haiti. There’s been the assassination of their former president. There was the earthquake that has killed over two hundred thousand people. And then also just really just decades of continuous tragedy is happening in Haiti. First, I want to ask you, what were your initial thoughts when you saw those images and the video of a Border Patrol mistreating, putting that lightly, mistreating Haitian migrants at the border? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:50] I mean, my heart just just it felt like someone just used it really tightly. You know, I couldn’t tell if I was looking at something from twenty twenty one or some sort of movie recreation from the eighteen hundreds. You know, when you see a man on a white man on a horse with a whip. As a black person, that that brings in a lot of images when you know, the level of and we actually I don’t know the level of desperation that people at the border feel. Right. And so this myopic view that so many people have when they talk about immigration and we don’t ask ourselves why would people risk life and limb to try and cross into the United States knowing that we don’t we don’t welcomed with open arms, why would people subject themselves to such danger and death? Right. What have we as a nation done to their home countries to make people risk their lives to come into this nation? And so seeing that picture, knowing that so many of those men on those horses didn’t even see those young men and women as human beings, they just saw them as these entities to be stopped, to be killed, to be whipped, to be subdued into submission. And there’s a lack of humanity that. Is so poignant in those pictures, but I think that there’s a lack of humanity when we think about Haiti. Full stop. You know, like France, where’s the money? The U.S., you all have been playing games and using Haiti as your personal football for far too long. Where’s your accountability and culpability? You know, and not just shouting, I’m Bill Clinton and his, you know, bungling of Haitian politics, but, you know, so many leaders before him and after. And then we think about just the level of desperation because we’ve had earthquakes, we’ve had hurricanes. We know that so many people are still trying to live, not just survive, but to thrive, you know, and just the legacy of such a beautiful culture and the folks that we have in the Haitian diaspora, not just in the United States, but obviously in countries throughout the Caribbean. Who are watching as their loved ones are trying to not only bring attention to what’s going on on the island, but a level of humanity that doesn’t seem to have existed in this country ever, even when we think about Cubans as economic refugees or political refugees and Haitians as economic refugees and even setting up that dichotomous relationship to say that one group is more deserving to be here than the other. And we know that, you know, I wrote a book called Black Ethnics. We know why that is right. We know about population control. We know about phenotype and coloration and who is a desirable immigrant and who isn’t. We’re not talking about the six hundred fifty thousand Canadians who just roll across the border every year, white Canadians and just incorporate themselves into American society seamlessly. And so we focus on the southern border, not the northern border, but to see that Whipp Jahren and then to see people debating. Well, I mean, it wasn’t a whip. It was you know, I forgot the term they’re using now instead of whip. It doesn’t matter. This is a man who had the picture I’m thinking of in my head who had nothing and is just trying to make a life for himself and his family or just survive. And there’s just no humanity at the border right now. And I think a lot of people are waiting to hear from not just Joe Biden, but Kamala Harris, because this is actually where descriptive representation does matter. You came to the black community and you asked us for your vote and you said with a wink and a smile that you would be eyes and ears in that administration to make sure that black people, you know, had a voice and a seat at the table. This is the time that we don’t need her to go to the border and say, don’t come. This is the time that we need her to remember that she is a child of not one, but two immigrants, one from an island in the Caribbean. And she needs to see. Haitian immigrants and refugees as deserving, and I know that that’s a lot to put on just her shoulders, it needs to be a whole administration. It needs to be a whole change in the ethos of our nation. But I’m starting with the number two, and I need her to get into the president’s ear and figure out a way that we can. Solve this crisis, I mean, and I know that’s a lot to put on her plate because we haven’t been able to solve it before, but where we are in this nation and how we’re treating people at the border, not just from Haiti, but from all of the Latin American, you know, Central American countries, we now have to recognize that there is no such thing as illegal immigration. Right. We’re all legal here technically, but we know that this has been the history of the United States. We’re a nation of immigrants. We’re a nation of refugees. And so now we can’t all of a sudden start being picking and choosing because they’re not from Europe. And so I just the whole framing of the conversation really does break my heart because I think it just goes to a deeper, deep seated, rooted antiblack racism that is inherent in this country. That makes it really difficult for us to to see a solution in sight. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:15:06] Absolutely. You mentioned, you know, immigrants who are deemed desirable and and how race has played a role in and possibly in how the U.S. treats Haitian immigrants versus other immigrants. And this is something that our White House correspondent April Ryan posed to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki this week. 

April Ryan [00:15:28] Haitian that left in 2010 and traveled to South America and now trying to travel here or the ones who left after this earthquake. Either way, what is there for them to go back to these planes and taking them back? The nation is in unrest. The president was assassinated there. Gangs, the people are scared to death, scared of democratic rule is not necessarily in place. The people are calling, particularly those here and this nation calling for the elections not to be held for time because of unrest there. And then you also have the issue of earthquakes. So what is there to go back to? What are you deporting them back to? 

Jen Psaki [00:16:08] Well, April, I will say that our objective and our focus is not only in implementing current immigration policies. We have also been working to provide a range of assistance, working closely with officials from the government as individuals are going back to Haiti to provide a range of financial assistance, to provide a range of technical assistance that is ongoing. And we certainly support and want to be good actors and supporting Haiti during a very difficult time, as you noted, with a government that is still working to get back to a point of stability with recovery from an earthquake. And that’s why we have a range of programs, options, as well as financial support in place. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:16:48] And essentially, Psaki’s response on behalf of the administration is that they there they don’t that there is not one policy that is for Haitian migrants versus others and that things are pretty chaotic. There was a kind of a pivot to former President Donald Trump and kind of blaming his administration for some of the issues like backlog’s. But we are seeing Haitians being deported in droves back to Haiti. Many people feel that that is inhumane. Members of Congress, Senator Schumer and even the freshman Congressman Emanuel Jones, have called out the administration for these deportations. Do you buy the White House’s response as to why things are happening the way that they are right now? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:34] No, and a lot of immigrants obviously are fleeing countries that have political instability. A lot of immigrants that we’re seeing refugees are are dealing with the fallout of climate change and the effects of climate change. And we know that that’s that’s one of the key elements of some of the refugee Haitian refugees that we see coming trying to to enter into the United States. I mean, we know that every year during hurricane season in the Caribbean gets more and more intense. And for those of us who believe in an African diaspora, I really do worry about what that means for black people in a global space. We know that. People in Haiti have been dealing with political instability on and off for decades. You couple that with not just earthquakes, but also hurricanes. And we do have this recipe where I think that there needs to be I’m not going to use the word priority, but there needs to be a distinction between what has gone on and what continues to go on in Haiti. And the same way that we figured out how to give certain groups burying designated statuses. We need to do the same right now because their levels of desperation, I think that we’re seeing and if nothing else, the bare minimum freeze. The deportations do not send people back to a nation that won. Many of them have not been back to you in years. So they’re going to a country that they know and love. But it’s some don’t speak the language. Some no longer have family there. It’s literally like me just picking you up and dropping you off in South Korea. But good luck, right? And you know, no one you don’t speak the language and you have no bearings and in some ways not a real connection to the land. And then you’re doing so and dropping people off in a place where the infrastructure just isn’t there. So at the bare minimum, I would ask the the administration to halt the deportations to end and not put people in in jails and prisons while we’re waiting for their cases. But to let them still work and pay taxes and be productive members of society like they have been so that they can actually support loved ones on on various islands, because as we know, people have had to disperse. And so people, family members, not just Haitians and family members, not just still in Haiti, but in other neighboring islands who are just trying to to make a living and survive and possibly thrive if possible. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:20:09] Now, let’s switch gears and talk about covid, because we’re still in the pandemic. It’s just never ending. Recently, President Biden issued a new mandate, a vaccine mandate for government workers and businesses that have contracts with the government. Pfizer has approved their vaccine for kids ages five through 11, which is a really breakthrough moment for us as we talk about covid and how we deal with that in schools. And we’ve also, unfortunately, have reached a new milestone. Six hundred and seventy five thousand Americans have now died from covid, and that is now more passed the amount of Americans who died from the Spanish flu in the 1920s. So what are your thoughts about where we are right now in this moment, in this pandemic? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:58] Well,Gerren, I don’t know what the end looks like. I mean, there’s so many people who still don’t even believe that Cuba is real. There are people who will believe the most ridiculous, inane information on the interweb and spread. That is fact. I feel so badly for parents who have to send their children to school unvaccinated because, you know, in so many places the vaccine isn’t available for the five to 11 year olds. So they’re literally just taking a gamble with their children every day as we get more and more people digging in their heels, not wearing masks, refusing to get vaccinated when they could and should, and just not being part of really wanting to work together collectively to solve this issue. And it’s become this partizan dividing point where this is common sense, you know, to say nothing of, you know, we have far too many black people who just don’t believe in science and far too many black people with platforms who are spreading misinformation. And we know that covid is disproportionately affecting us and our communities in very specific ways, but we just can’t afford it. And you mentioned six seventy five, six hundred seventy five thousand Jarrin. I mean, that’s and counting, right? I mean, we haven’t hit up winter yet and flu season. The reason why we didn’t have a bad flu season last year was, by and large, a lot of people were on lockdown and or masked up when they had to go out. But we know now people, you know, waxed and waxed and ready to roll. And so in the wintertime, we’re going to have a lot more people who are just physically on the streets interacting with folks. A lot of people are exhausted. They’re not washing their hands for 20 seconds like they used to. They’re not wiping down surfaces like they were before. They’re not taking the same precautions. And so we know that flu season this year could be a lot worse than last year coupled with these changing variants. I think what we’re Ammu like we were on we have Delta, but now we also have the new variant, like there’s so many different types of variants because also people moving around. Folks are traveling internationally and domestically, so it’s this this little covid stew that we’re brewing up, but we know these numbers are real. When you look at who’s actually still contracting the type of covid that lands you in the hospital and ultimately on your death bed. Those are the unvaccinated people who seem to be putting everyone else in jeopardy. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:23:19] Now, we have to talk about we touched on this a bit last week’s episode, but I got to hear your take on the whole Nicki Minaj saga. She went on Twitter. She essentially said that she is still doing her research and she does not plan on taking the vaccine until she does that. And she implied that taking the vaccine could somehow make you impotent. And this is something that the CDC had to debunk on her time line. Doctors of black doctors across the country, even the minister of health of Trinidad, which is her native country, had to speak out on this issue and talk about how much of a waste of their time it was to have to fact check her because she tweeted this out to her over twenty two plus million followers. And even the White House invited Nicki Minaj to come on the phone, even though she had erroneously said that the White House invited her to the White House. And they were like, no, actually, we just wanted to get her on the phone with with the health secretary to talk about the facts about the vaccine. What did you think about that? I know you thought it was irresponsible, but I just wanted to hear your thoughts. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:34] Well, you know, my sister’s an M.D. doctor, and so I’ve seen what her life has looked like for the past year and a half. I’ve seen the toll that it’s taken on her physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I’ve seen the stress it’s put on my nieces and her husband who have had to support my sister as she has literally just been surrounded by death for a year and a half. And, you know, she’s doing vaccine outreach and education to the black population in Philadelphia. So the amount of work that my sister and so many other doctors, especially black doctors, have done, you know, on top of just being at work, all the external stuff for education that they’ve been doing for black communities has been above and beyond. So to disrespect that level of work and dedication for these black doctors, I’m already calling you Nicki Minaj, too, when you find that we are talking about Nicki Minaj constantly and it’s not about her music, you need better people around you. We keep talking about your brother and his improprieties. We’re talking about your husband and his sexual misconduct. And now we’re talking about you in the vaccine and misinformation in 22 million people. I feel like you need to focus on the music. And I’m not trying to do is shut up and dribble type comment, but it’s like you got way too much drama swirling around you for nonsense and not the craft. So focus on that. And number three, shout out to our friend. And you know, your family member, Joy Reid, who used her platform. Joy was very clear. Joy was like, I only have two plus million followers. I don’t have twenty two million followers. But week after week, Joy’s been bringing on black doctors, black female doctors in particular. That particular day that she called out Nicki Minaj, she happened to have two white doctors on the show. And of course, Nicki made it about, you know, she’s shucking and jiving for the man. It’s like, no, she actually cares about black people and has done the research. And I have talked to people who have dedicated their lives to making sure that the health, safety and welfare of American citizens is their utmost priority, not someone who’s doing independent research on the interweb. What does that even mean? Gerin when we keep seeing, you know, folks, I keep hearing that, you know, and I have some some friends who who aren’t vaccinated, like I’m doing my own research. I’m not anti facts. I’m just doing my own research. And it’s like. On what? On what? What what? Like are you dissecting mitochondria? Like, are you going back and opening up your ninth grade textbooks from honors biology? What exactly is the research that you’re doing? Because here’s the research I’m doing. All the beds in the hospital right now are filled with people who are vaccinated, the people who were dying are the people who are vaccinated. Hey, that’s research. That’s data. That’s quick data. I don’t need to go deep into the interweb to find out. Well, you know, there’s five cases of people who took Moderna who had an adverse reaction. I was like of the millions of people who took it. Yeah, it’s called statistics. That’s exactly what happens. You know, there are lots of people who get hit by cars when they cross the street, like you’re just not going to walk outside and crossing a crosswalk or you’re not going to drive a car anymore. I mean, so this this level of I don’t want to just be a sheep, you know, and I’m going to do my own thing is so dangerous when we’ve seen what this virus has done to our community especially. And so I think Joy calling her out was the right thing to do. I felt badly for the minister of health in Trinidad because as we see the numbers spiking on Caribbean islands, because they rely so much on tourism as their economic viability, many islands don’t have a choice but to let in people who could possibly bring coronavirus to their shores. And the exhaustion and exasperation you heard in his voice, spending an entire two days researching this story to just make sure that he came to the citizens of Trinidad and the world to say that this is nonsense. This is actually there is no basis in this. And we can’t have black men, especially not taking the vaccine, because you heard from your cousin’s friend that something happens with impotence. If you take this vaccine, stop it. And Nickey, at a certain point in time, you know, you’re not 18. You’ve got to grow up. Like if you’re going to actually say these things to the American public, I need you to have some gravitas and some real fact behind what you’re saying, because twenty two plus million followers is a real thing and not all of them are in the United States. In Trinidad, they are around the world. And we cannot have people around the world listening to someone who’s done her own research on the interweb. That doesn’t make any sense to me. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:29:11] Exactly. And some of y’all who are out here doing research are really just looking for an excuse, anything to make you not want to take the vaccine. And so I just encourage everybody to please learn and more importantly, trust science, trust doctors, trust the experts. I know as a journalist, that is crucial for us to trust the people who are put in the medical industry, elected officials. Obviously, we know that there’s a complicated history when it comes to medicine and black people. But come on, we’re not the only ones taking this vaccine. This is not some scheme to take us off the planet. Please give X, right? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:48] And if so, why are all the rich people taking it? If it’s some scheme to eradicate, you know, people of color, it’s like, well, then all of the wealthy people have already taken it. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:29:57] So and some of them have gone to black neighborhoods to get the vaccine. So talk about it. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:02] And I think honestly, during the the most and this is we talked about this before. This is part of the dangerous residual effect of Donald Trump. He is the one who really made not trusting science a mainstream phenomena because he doesn’t trust facts, didn’t trust journalists, didn’t trust science. And so now you have far too many people who may not necessarily support the former president, but he made that whole ethos of ignorance palpable and acceptable in mainstream conversation. And I think that is a long standing effect of his tenure, that we will have to try and tangle for decades to come. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:30:37] Indeed, speaking of that very topic of Donald Trump and the impact of his administration, let’s talk about what’s happened in Texas. They passed, I believe, as SB eight was essentially is an anti-abortion bill that now prohibits abortions after six weeks. But more importantly, there is this part of the law that now allows an everyday citizen to sue a physician or anyone who aids in said abortion and allows them to file suit against them for, I think, a minimum a minimum of ten thousand dollars. Sanjay, what’s going on 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:23] Besides a war on women? You know, what really frustrates me is that so many of these men who have been working on this legislation during this isn’t just something that somebody came up with last week, like, oh, this is interesting. This is part of, you know, Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973, not passed, but litigated in 1973, Supreme Court case from the state of Texas. That’s that’s not a coincidence. And there have been people who have been working on overturning Roe v. Wade since 1973. They’ve been trying to have test cases in states and counties all across the country, primarily in the south, because you’re a little more conservative down there, especially with your state houses and certain judges. And now we’re just seeing the fruits of their labor kind of come to fruition. I mean, what really frustrates me is, you know, talking to my sister about this, who’s an OBGYN, it’s people not following science, you know, not to get too much into, like, you know, eighth grade sex ed, but like, hey, guess what? A woman’s period comes every four weeks. So for a lot of women, they don’t know that they’re pregnant until they miss a period. Right. And so six weeks, very few women know that they’re pregnant before six weeks. By the time you figure out, OK, this is what needs to happen, I can’t have a child because there is no social safety net. You’ve defunded public education. You don’t care about prenatal care. You clearly don’t care about the environment. You don’t care about my housing or my safety. I’m supposed to put them in schools that have shootouts every day. I mean, all the ways the Republicans have defunded the social safety net. You just want to make me have a kid, but then drop me off on the curb and good luck, then raise it yourself. So it’s like they’re not the pro-choice, the pro-life party. They’re the pro birth party. They’re going to make you have a baby. And then they did you. And there is no such thing as pro-life because you damn sure believe in the death penalty. You believe in, you know, one of the lawmakers who was like, we should put women to death if they have an abortion make. That makes sense. Please, sir. Right. And so it’s not about that. It’s really are you pro-choice? Are you anti choice or are you do you believe in a woman’s right to choose that she has autonomy over her own body and can make her own decisions? Or do you not believe that? Do you believe that the government should control a woman’s body, whether she is eighteen years old, sixteen years old, thirty five years old or forty five years old? That is what you’re saying, that a woman does not have the choice to make decisions for herself, her body and her family? My and her future. And make this decision without the government intervening, because none of these men who are pushing this legislation, they’re not trying to help out with the baby, they’re not trying to survive on it. They’re not trying to make sure that you’re having a healthy environment for this child. They just want to make sure that they are in control of who comes in this world. And then they then that’s it. And so my biggest concern, Gerre, is that this is this is Texas. This isn’t some bootleg tiny little state. This is the state of Texas. It worries me that places like Mississippi and Louisiana and Alabama and Kentucky and Tennessee, all these states that are going crazy over mask mandates and vaccinations, I fear that their state houses and their courts will try and follow suit. That is my big concern. And then we start moving a little northward and we start hitting up Sunbelt states and we start moving up to the Midwest. And then before you know it, we’ve got a whole nation that doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:34:57] And let’s quickly talk about the Supreme Court, because I mentioned the implications of the Trump administration. Obviously, he was able to nominate three Supreme Court justices to the Supreme Court and obviously that conservative majority allowed this bill to stay. What do you think this conservative majority means for the future of abortion rights and women’s rights? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:35:21] You know, I think it’s pretty clear when we look at someone like Amy Barrett that, you know, just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you support women’s rights. Right. I think it’s also a situation where we have to be clear that we have to remember that George Bush. Nominated Roberts and also Alito, so of the Supreme Court, justices were looking at five actually were put in place by Trump or Bush and neither of them won the popular vote. So we we also, as political scientists, we you know, we asked about public opinion, the vast majority of people in this country, women especially, but also men, believe that abortion should be up to a woman to choose. And so we have these nine appointed, not elected individuals who are making decisions for three hundred thirty million people. And we have very little recourse once they’ve once they’ve made their call, and so I think the fear is that that Roe v. Wade 2.0 will make its way to the Supreme Court. And I think women’s rights will be rolled back by a woman on that court in ways that we just we did not anticipate we’d see after the passage or after the litigation of Roe v. Wade in nineteen seventy three. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:36:40] So as if, you know, a migrant crisis at the border, a global public health pandemic, abortion now under siege. On top of all of that, we’re seeing the impacts of hurricanes and climate change in America. Most recently, we saw the devastating impact of Hurricane Ida and other extreme weather events. I think about Louisiana, because Louisiana was hit so incredibly hard from Hurricane Ida. I think about Hurricane Katrina and just how long it took to rebuild and in many, many cases not have even rebuilt since then. And to have another devastating hurricane, predominately black and brown communities are are even more destroyed and disheartened by what’s going on. And The New York Times reports that thirty eight thousand customers are still without power. Racial minorities bear a disproportionate burden of negative health and environmental impacts, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which found that black people are 40 percent more likely than other groups to currently live in places where extreme temperatures are driven by climate change, resulting in higher mortality rates. So what are your thoughts about climate change? Do you think that we are even taking climate change seriously enough, particularly because it impacts us? Yeah, well, 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:38:07] I mean, but if we’re real about it, so many of the climate change activists who don’t get the shine and the reputation, it’s black people, you know, from their local communities who have been thinking about recycling. Or when we think about the activists in Flint and parts of New Jersey who care about water quality, you know, small changes that could have been made on the government level that weren’t. And now we have full crises in towns large and small. The way climate change affects black people, I mean, the fact that black neighborhoods in certain cities are hotter than others, areas like that can’t be, and it’s like what? We have fewer trees and we can take the temperature. And I mean, I first learned about that from the former mayor of Stockton, Mike Tubbs, who talked about climate change and black people in a very accessible, concrete way to help black people understand. It’s like where the front line, right, where the ones who live in the low lying parts of the city, we’re the ones who have families on the islands. We’re the ones who live in cities where our air quality is worse. We’re the ones who have childhood asthma. We’re the ones who live closest to the highways. We’re the ones who live closest to the distribution centers where all the trucks come in and out. Right. We’re the ones who live next to the Superfund sites where all of a sudden, you know, parts of Louisiana, it’s like, why does everyone outside of Baton Rouge have, you know, high rates of a particular type of cancer because of either dumping of, you know, particular chemicals or living next to a particular type of plant. So we’re on the front lines of it. And I think a lot of local activists have been doing the best they can with very limited resources. But I think, you know, places like the Grio that highlight the work of people across the country, black people specifically who are doing this work is just one small step to getting us to fully understand how this whole picture fits together, how it fits together with Haiti and a refugee crisis at the border, how it fits together with, you know, what we’re seeing with young people in cities and lead lead paint poisoning. You know, like why do we still have issues that we thought were litigated 50 years ago, still occurring in major cities? You know, why is it that black folks are being forced out of cities? And for some it’s literally for their health and safety. But then what does that then mean for the economic viability for their families moving on as these property values continue to rise and we’re no longer there to take advantage of it. So it’s a larger economic structure, but it is also a way that we have to to look at how we’re interconnected to not just our relatives in the South and our relatives in the Caribbean and our friends and family in major cities. But this is across all 50 states that we have to be aware of it. And I think, you know, podcast’s like you and Shawna’s do your culture, some of the work that I try and write about is really a way to just get us to, to really prioritize of. In addition to all the other things that are on our plate, we haven’t even talked about police brutality, we haven’t talked about inequities, we haven’t talked about sort of the financial fallout from covid for black people, all these other things. But we also have to keep climate change and those effects at the forefront of our minds. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:41:25] Yeah, because the impact of climate change is happening now, is happening every day. It’s so serious. I really want us to really tap into this and. Shout out to the community leaders who are ringing the alarm on this issue, but, yeah, to your point, there’s so much for us to worry about. There’s so much on our plates, which is why, again, we need to rest and take care of ourselves, take care of our bodies, take care of our minds. But thank you so much for bringing your expertize. I couldn’t think of anybody better to help me had this conversation because it’s a lot to unpack and you do it so effortlessly. But staying informed and aware means having the knowledge to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and having the power to hold the people we elect to office who are here to serve and protect us accountable. And you can also stay up to date on our website 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:42:30] Well, thank you so much for having me, and we also want to remind our listeners to support your local black businesses and donate to your local organizations and religious institutions. The business that will be highlighting this week is Ellis Island Tea, founded in 2008 by Naila Ellis Brown. Ellis Island tea was inspired by her great grandfather’s home country of Jamaica and her family’s delicious secret recipe. Ellis Brown has since made history as the owner of the largest black woman owned beverage company in the United States. You can pick up some Ellis Island tea the next time you’re in Target, Sam’s Club, Costco or any other major retailer. To learn more, visit Ellis Island Tea Dotcom. The bureau has published a list of 50 plus black businesses to support during the coronavirus pandemic if you’d like your business to be featured. Email us at info at the Grio Dotcom. That’s Guerreiro Dotcom. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:43:25] Thank you for listening to Dear Culture. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review and subscribe to the show where every listen to a podcast and share it with everyone you know. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:43:34] And please email all questions, suggestions and compliments. We love those two podcasts at theGrio Dotcom. The Dear Culture Podcast is brought to you by theGrio and Executive produced by Blue Telusma and co-produced by Taji Senior and Abdul Quddus. 

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Categories: Black Voices

High school janitor sentenced to 60 years for hiding camera in girls bathroom

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 18:20

Police linked the phone to Derremy Jerrell Walker because of his tattoos

A former janitor at Oviedo High School in Florida has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for planting a camera inside a girls’ bathroom.

Derremy Jerrell Walker, 31, was arrested in February 2020 after he was busted for video voyeurism of a minor, PEOPLE reports.

Derremy Jerrell Walker (Credit: OVIEDO POLICE)

In November 2019, two girls at the high school found a cell phone under the sink in a stall that was recording and reported it to faculty members, who contacted police. A man is seen at the beginning of some of the videos setting up the phone to actively record. Police linked the phone to Walker because of his tattoos and clothing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida said in a news release on Wednesday:  “On the date the girls found the phone, it had been recording video for about 15 minutes before they discovered it. In each of the three instances, Walker had angled the cellphone’s camera in an effort to capture the genitalia of those in the stall.  School administration officials and law enforcement officers were able to identify eight of the 12 students unknowingly captured in the videos Walker created.”

The statement continued, “This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Walker reportedly recorded at least four videos on different days in November 2019. One recorded a woman inside a teachers’ lounge bathroom, and three of the videos captured images of nine different teens inside the girls’ bathroom, per the report. 

Walker was fired from his custodial job at the school in February 2020 and charged with eight counts of video voyeurism of a person younger than 16 and one count of voyeurism involving a person older than 19, the Orlando Sentinel reported. 

Oviedo High janitor arrested for filming girls in school bathrooms, police say

— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) February 25, 2020

According to the DOJ, Walker put the phone in the same spot over several days inside the girls’ restroom and “each time creating a one-hour video of students in that stall.”

“Further analysis revealed Walker had also set up a surreptitious cellphone camera to record in the school’s faculty bathroom earlier that month,” per the statement.

In July, a federal jury has found Walker guilty of “two counts of using, or attempting to use, children to produce sexually explicit videos.”

“Mr. Walker did more than just produce horror; he stole the innocence and trust of these young victims,” said FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson. “We are pleased with the sentence handed down in this case and will continue efforts to protect the children in our communities from sexual exploitation and abuse.”

In addition to serving 60 years, Walker must register as a sex offender and will serve a lifetime term of supervised release. 

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Categories: Black Voices

R. Kelly’s attorney compares singer to Martin Luther King in closing arguments

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 17:50

Nine women and two men testified during the trial, alleging the disgraced singer sexually abused them. 

R. Kelly’s lawyer compared him to civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the closing argument of the singer’s federal racketeering trial in Brooklyn. 

Attorney Deveraux Cannick noted on Thursday that prosecutors have a responsibility to prove Kelly’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — in the same way King fought for constitutional civil rights, TMZ reports. 

Cannick quoted from King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, telling jurors the civil rights leader called on the government to be fair to all Americans. 

“Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press,” Cannick quoted King. He said King fought for civil rights in an effort to make the government “be true to what’s on paper.”   

R. Kelly (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

Nine women and two men testified during the trial, claiming Kelly sexually abused them. 

Cheryl Mack, the mother of music producer London on da Track, served as Kelly’s assistant from 2013 to 2015, as previously reported by theGrio. During the trial, she tearfully testified that she witnessed the Grammy-winning singer humiliate young women. She also said Kelly withheld pay on occasion and bullied her into signing false apology letters.

theGrio reported that the witness previously referred to as Jane Doe took the stand and said she caught Kelly giving late singer Aaliyah oral sex on the back of a tour bus in the early 90s, per The Huff Post

The witness, who identified herself as just “Angela,” was the tenth witness to testify. She told the court that she worked as a background dancer for Kelly. She claims that she and another woman were playing a pranking game while on tour. At some point, they decided to prank Kelly. Angela claimed she “slightly opened the door and saw Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual situation.”

Kelly and Aaliyah were illegally married in August 1994. At the time, Aaliyah was 15 and Kelly was 27. Kelly’s former road manager Demetrius Smith testified that Kelly married Aaliyah to avoid jail time because he believed Aaliyah was pregnant with his baby, theGrio previously reported

“For decades, the defendant recruited and groomed women, girls and boys for his own sexual gratification,” Elizabeth Geddes, a lawyer for the prosecution, told the jury. “With the help of his inner circle, he slowly isolated his victims, set rules, and exacted punishment.”

She continued: “It is time to hold the defendant responsible for the pain he inflicted on each of his victims. It is now time for the defendant to pay for his crimes. Convict him.”

The prosecution told jurors that Kelly should pay for the “pain he inflicted on each of his victims.”

Kelly is on trial in Brooklyn, New York for crimes including racketeering, sex trafficking, sex with minors, sexual abuse, knowingly infecting another with a sexually transmitted disease, and bribery. He also faces similar charges in other states.

In his home state of Illinois, he’s charged with aggravated sexual abuse, child pornography, enticement of a minor, and obstruction of justice, according to The Los Angeles Times.


In Minnesota, Kelly faces charges of prostitution and solicitation of a minor. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

This article contains additional reporting from Matthew Allen and Brenda Alexander.

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Categories: Black Voices

Denzel Washington shines in teaser trailer for ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 17:42

Washington stars alongside Frances McDormand in the Shakespearean tragedy.

Denzel Washington is tackling the William Shakespeare classic of Macbeth.

Apple and A24 released a trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth. The film will be released in theaters on Christmas Day and become available for purchase on streaming via Apple TV Plus on Jan.14, 2022. Joel Coen adapted the classic for the upcoming film.

Coen’s take on the play has Washington starring as Lord Macbeth. Frances McDormand stars as Lady Macbeth in the black and white film. Just as in the play, the film chronicles the couple’s murderous ploys as they seek power over Scotland and how their method has disastrous results. 

Denzel Washington during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) 610530

The trailer includes clips of large black birds flying throughout the sky, Washington as Macbeth traveling through the desert, a hand lifting a crown from the ground, and Lady Macbeth looking over her shoulder in fear. There’s minimal dialogue in the 56-second trailer, with only a witch’s voice that utters one of the most iconic lines from the play: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

In addition to Washington and McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth stars Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead and In The Heights) as Macduff, Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit) as Lady Macduff, Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter) as King Duncan, Harry Melling (Harry Potter and The Queen’s Gambit) as Malcolm and Ralph Ineson (The Green Knight) as the captain, among others. 

The film marks Coen’s directorial debut by himself. He typically directed alongside his brother Ethan. It’s also the first for Ethan to not work side-by-side with his brother. Coen did seek the help of peers he’s worked alongside before for the film. McDormand, Coen’s wife, has starred in several of the brothers’ films.

Two-time Oscar winner McDormand recently won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Nomandland. She also won the Best Actress award for Fargo.

Honoree Denzel Washington speaks onstage during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

In an interview with Deadline, Coen spoke of how easy it was to get Washington on board for the film.

“Maybe five or six years ago, Denzel and I had lunch together and we talked very generally about, it would be cool to work together at some point, if the right thing came along for him and for us,” he said.

“So, when we were casting this movie, it was very much…Denzel? And it was [like you heard a] click. I got together with him at, again for lunch in LA, and I said, what about doing Macbeth? And he was like, yeah, cool…He also has a long history of doing Shakespeare, and everything felt right about it and it wasn’t like he needed to think a long time about it at that lunch. It was like, yeah, okay, so know, what do we do?”

McDormand also sang Washington’s praises, telling the outlet: “It couldn’t have been more perfect, actually. There aren’t many actors, contemporaries of my age, that could handle the character but also who consistently does theater the way Denzel does. Even though he and I, the majority of the time we’re working on film, we have also been really committed to doing theaters our entire careers. And he had recently done The Iceman Cometh, which is a huge monster of a memory job. We were like, oh, he can probably pull this off, just technically.”

Variety predicts that The Tragedy of Macbeth could be nominated for Best Cinematography at the 2022 Academy Awards. The film will serve as the opening for the 2021 New York Film Festival.

Watch the trailer below:

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Categories: Black Voices

Toronto university will offer course on Drake, The Weeknd

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:39

“Deconstructing Drake and The Weeknd” at X University will explore the careers of two of Toronto’s most successful artists.

X University in Toronto is launching a course early next year that explores the careers and impact of two of the city’s biggest artists, Drake and The Weeknd

Writer and podcaster Dalton Higgins is set to teach the class, titled, “Deconstructing Drake and The Weeknd.” According to NowToronto, it will be part of a Selected Topics in Media course, which features topics that change annually. 

Higgins is a music professor in residence at the Creative School who noted his class is part of a movement injecting hip-hop into academic pedagogy. 

“On the U.S. college and university scene, there are all kinds of courses being taught about rock, folk, pop artists like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen – so why shouldn’t there be a course about Drake and the Weeknd right here in Toronto?” Higgins asks NowToronto

X University in Toronto is launching a course early next year that explores the careers and impact of two of the Canadian city’s biggest artists, Drake (left) and The Weeknd (right). (Photos: Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp)

“On American college campuses, there are easily more than 300 hip-hop courses being taught about artists like Jay Z, Outkast, Beyoncé,” he maintained. “Many Ivy League universities, including Harvard and Cornell, have fully embraced hip-hop education, so we can do the same here.”

According to Higgins — author of the 2012 book about Drake called Far From Over — his class will also explore the greater Toronto music scene.

“When you have two Black artists born and bred in Toronto who perform rap, R&B, and pop, and who are arguably well on their way to becoming billionaires at some point in time, there is apparently a lot to learn,” he said, asserting that both men achieved success despite a local culture that does very little to support Black artists. 

“Are they doing things a little differently?” Higgins queried. “What’s their business acumen and entrepreneurial zest like? Did race, gender, class, faith play into any of this?”

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A post shared by Dalton Higgins (@daltonhiggins5)

In the “Deconstructing Drake and The Weeknd” class, Higgins said, he and the students will “peel back the layers on some of that [too]. My expectation is that students will ask tough questions about their music, race, class, subject matter, music production, lyrics.”

Higgins shared more information about it on his Instagram nearly a week ago, where he wrote, “Nevertheless, it’s time to get our Canadian rap & R&B icons recognized & canonized academically or otherwise. And it is CRITICAL for scholars, historians, to examine the Toronto music scene that birthed Drake/Weeknd and helped create the conditions for them to become mega-successful.” 

X University was formerly known as Ryerson University, but it adapted the X as a placeholder until it is renamed. Egerton Ryerson was a Canadian educator and minister whose beliefs are credited with creating the residential school system, which displaced thousands of indigenous people in the early 1900s.

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Categories: Black Voices

Daymond John announces date for Black Entrepreneurs Day 2021 and offers advice for new business owners

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:30

The FUBU CEO stopped by theGrio’s ‘Cleared Up’ series ahead of the event to debunk some viral Twitter myths and impart some wisdom about entrepreneurship

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Black-owned businesses were statistically hit hardest and were largely shut out of the early rounds of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) relief.

This time last year, many businesses were forced to close their doors, but Black Twitter saw opportunities to open new ones. A viral post that was shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter read: “Take $150 from your stimulus and buy a LLC. Now that you’re a business owner, apply for a PPP grant. Now you have 5k and a small business. Do something you love and thank me later.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

While this advice may have led some people to unintentionally or intentionally engage in fraud, there were some aspiring entrepreneurs who actually used it as an opportunity to finally take their first step toward business ownership. But now what?

In the latest episode of our explainer series Cleared Up, host Tatianna Mott and founder of the iconic FUBU clothing line Daymond John offer up some more in-depth advice about what it takes to start a business.

“I founded Black Entrepreneurs Day last year in the middle of all the craziness,” shares John, reflecting on the unrest and destruction of several local businesses following the May 2020 public slaying of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. “I realized that a lot of young adults– or even adults –should not be out there burning businesses, they should be building them because this is a great time and there’s a lot of opportunity out there.” 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Black Entrepreneurs Day (@blackentrepreneursday)

Black Entrepreneurs Day is a free global live stream that aims to provide guidance and inspiration to the next generation of rising entrepreneurs, and John has partnered with Chase for Business to bring it back this year on Oct. 14, beginning at 7 P.M. EST and streaming live on Facebook from the legendary Apollo Theater in New York.

The event will include Game Changer Conversations presented by The General, featuring Shaquille O’Neal, Tyra Banks, Michael Strahan, Marcus Samuelsson, Rev. Run, and Janice Bryant Howroyd, plus a live musical performance by Khalid.

Now through Sept. 28, Black entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country can apply for a $25,000 NAACP Powershift grant to be awarded as part of Black Entrepreneurs Day. But, just as merely registering for an LLC and applying for a loan is not enough to run a successful business, John warns against relying on large grants and loans to catapult a brand new business.

(Credit: Getty Images)

“One of the top reasons why small businesses initially fail is actually over funding,” John suggests. “People think that money can solve the problem and often money can highlight your weaknesses…It’s really understanding your paperwork, understanding your customer, understanding your product and making all those mistakes small. Then when you have money, it will help you. Money is supposed to only fuel something you already have.” 

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A post shared by Black Entrepreneurs Day (@blackentrepreneursday)

Those who view the telecast will be able to connect with the entrepreneurs by submitting questions through the Black Entrepreneurs Day website via Yappa. John will answer the questions live.

“What’s encouraging is that funding for US-based Black entrepreneurs is way ahead of where it was last year –nearly four times in fact,” Yappa co-founder Jennifer Dyer shares with theGrio.

“Yet investments to Black-founded start-ups compared to overall venture funding is still just a very small fraction. The growth there is trending upwards, but we understand from personal experience that the hurdles go beyond getting in the room to pitch,” Dyer said. “This is exactly why we are proud to be a part of Black Entrepreneurs Day again this year. This event provides a platform to have these conversations, share valuable anecdotes and resources for small business and entrepreneurs as they seek their own successes.”

Check out Episode 4 of Cleared Up now for more information on what it takes to start a successful business, and visit Black Entrepreneurs Day to register for the Oct. 14 live stream and/or apply for a $25,000 NAACP Powershift grant.

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Categories: Black Voices

Maxine Waters blasts mistreatment of Haitians, compares to slavery

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:56

The images of Haitian migrants pursued by Border Patrol agents on horseback, Waters says, “takes us back hundreds of years.”

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters said at a press conference Wednesday that the treatment of Haitian migrants is “worse than what we witnessed in slavery.”

She opined that the images of Haitian migrants being pursued by Border Patrol agents on horseback “takes us back hundreds of years.” 

California Rep. Maxine Waters (center) speaks during a news conference Wednesday in Washington D.C. on the treatment of Haitian immigrants at the U.S. border in Texas. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“Cowboys with their reins, again, whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water,” she described aloud, “where they’re scrambling and falling down when all they’re trying to do is escape from violence in their country.”

“I’m pissed,” Waters added. “I’m unhappy, and I’m not just unhappy with the cowboys, who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them. I’m unhappy with the administration.”

Haitians fleeing violence & the lack of a credible government in Haiti are being treated like animals. U.S. government cowboys on horses used whips on Haitians as they sought refuge. Why are we following the Trump policies? This horrendous treatment of Haitians must STOP NOW.

— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) September 21, 2021

"I’m unhappy, and I'm not just unhappy with the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them. I'm unhappy with this administration," Rep. Maxine Waters says at a news conference on the situation at the U.S. southern border.

— ABC News (@ABC) September 22, 2021

Waters further criticized President Joe Biden‘s administration and its foreign policy, comparing it to that of his Republican predecessor, asking, “What the hell are we doing here?”

“I want to know, in the first place, who’s paying these cowboys to do this work?” Waters said Wednesday. “They’ve got to be gotten rid of. They’ve got to be stopped. It cannot go on.”

“We are here, and we are organized, and we are saying to the president and everybody else, ‘You got to stop this madness,'” Waters said.

At a wet, outdoor press conference on a rainy day, the longtime legislator was joined by other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Caribbean Caucus, the Haitian Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus to condemn the treatment of the migrants. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

“We cannot and must not look away in this moment,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said. “Haitian lives are Black lives, and if we truly believe that Black lives matter, then we must reverse course. The Biden administration must immediately and indefinitely halt all deportations of Haitian migrants.” 

“It must affirm and guarantee the right to due process for those seeking asylum,” she maintained, “and it must use every resource available to support those fleeing this humanitarian crisis on the island.”

Thousands of Haitian migrants have come to the border city of Del Rio, Texas in an attempt to enter the United States. 

Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund theGrio this week “the images we saw of Border Patrol agents on horseback menacing and corralling Black migrants like cattle raises for so many of us — especially for Black people — the most painful, hideous images of slave patrols from the most ugly periods of this nation’s past.

“It is unconscionable,” she said, “as are the mass deportations of desperate migrants back to Haiti — a country ravaged by a catastrophic earthquake this summer and by the assassination of the country’s leader.”

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Categories: Black Voices

Ariz. mom dies from COVID 12 days after welcoming daughter

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:32

COVID-19 killed Denise Cotton less than two weeks after she underwent an emergency C-section to deliver Kara, her daughter.

A Phoenix, Arizona woman has died less than two weeks after giving birth to her daughter.

Denise Cotton tested positive for COVID-19 in August after going to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She first tested negative, but returned three days later when her symptoms worsened. The 36-weeks-pregnant Cotton tested positive on her second visit. 

The 31-year-old underwent an emergency C-section to deliver her child, and she remained in the hospital. Cotton ultimately got worse, and on Sept. 13 — 12 days after she gave birth to baby Kara — she died. 

In a effort to help raise funds to care for their newborn daughter, Cotton’s boyfriend, Mike Jerome, wrote of his love: “Due to Covid she was not allowed visitors and was not even allowed to hold her newborn baby girl. She seemed to go back and forth. some days she would make progress and others she would worsen.” 

COVID-19 has killed Arizona resident Denise Cotton less than two weeks after she underwent an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter. (Photo:

“Unfortunately,” Jerome continued, “on 09/13/2021 her body would stop responding to treatment and she started to decline quickly. So much so that life support was removed and she passed away that day at 1:10 pm. She left behind her daughter Kara who is is now doing much better and being cared for me by her father. Caring for a newborn is a full-time job and I have not been able to work while I care for her.”

“Denise was loved by many people and brought love and joy to all she came across,” he shared. “It was her friends who prompted me to start this page so they could help and show some love back.” 

Jerome told a local news affiliate Cotton was not vaccinated during her pregnancy. “Obviously looking back, I wish she had gotten vaccinated sooner,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended vaccination for pregnant women as studies have shown it to be safe for them, and it may provide some antibodies for their babies. 

(Credit: Michael Jerome/GoFund Me)

“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in an statement last month. “The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.”

According to reports, more than 150 pregnant women have died from COVID-19. 

Jerome told Fox10 Phoenix he tells his newborn daughter every day how much her mother loved her. “It’s hard, he said, “because I see her mother in her face when I look at her.”

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Categories: Black Voices

Whoopi Goldberg here to stay on ‘The View’ after signing new deal

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:23

 Goldberg will remain “The View” for at least four more years, through Season 28 of the panel talk show, now in its 25th season.

Whoopi Goldberg will remain on The View for at least four more years, through season 28 of the panel talk show, now in its 25th season. 

Variety is reporting that sources say Goldberg has signed a “sizable new deal,” but ABC has declined to comment. 

The Academy Award-winning actress — currently on a panel that includes Joy Behar, Sara Haines and Sunny Hostin — has been a hostess on The View since 2007. Conservative and sometimes controversial co-host Meghan McCain departed in August.

“The View” hostess Whoopi Goldberg is shown on the red carpet at the recent 2021 Met Gala celebrating “In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion” at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

The popular show is planning to have a line-up of conservative guest co-hosts as it takes time to fill McCain’s seat. Her mother, Cindy McCain, will appear as a guest co-host on Oct. 6. 

As for Goldberg, she’s still actively acting, in addition to her co-hosting duties. She recently appeared in the mini-series adaptation of the Stephen King book, The Stand. She also appeared in the Epix series, Godfather of Harlem

The 65-year-old recently opened up about cancel culture, noting that there was a time, for five years, when she found it hard to find work after a joke she told about then-President George Bush backfired. According to her, The View revived her career.

Whoopi Goldberg during the Tribeca Talks at the 2019 Tribeca TV Festival at Regal Battery Park Cinemas on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Tribeca TV Festival)

“I would describe that situation as a lot of people covering their backsides because the joke was never about him,” Goldberg explained. “But no one ever stood up and said, ‘Hey, here’s what actually happened.’ And they put it in the newspaper. And you notice, they’d never seen what I exactly said, or what I said at all. But all somebody has to do is say you said it. I feel like the truth doesn’t seem to matter as much these days.” 

“Lucky for me,” Goldberg asserted, “Barbara Walters offered me a job and said, ‘Hey, would you like to do this?’ And I was like, ‘You know, I’m not in favor of the general public.’ She said, ‘You’ll be perfect.’”

The View is the number-one series among daytime TV network and syndicated talk shows and news programs, according to The Hollywood Reporter

This article features additional reporting from theGrio’s Jared Alexander

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Categories: Black Voices

Deported Haitians try to rush back into plane amid anger

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:10

A security guard closed the plane door as some deportees began throwing shoes at the plane, yelling, “This is abuse!” and “How is this possible?!”

Dozens of migrants upset about being deported to Haiti from the U.S. clashed with authorities while trying to rush back into a plane that landed Tuesday afternoon in Port-au-Prince.

A security guard closed the plane door just in time as some deportees began throwing shoes at the plane, yelling, “This is abuse!” and “How is this possible?!”

The group that included men and women had disembarked from the second of four flights that arrived on Tuesday, with some temporarily losing their belongings in the scuffle as police arrived. Among those trying to get back on the plane was Maxine Orélien, who blamed Haiti’s prime minister for the situation.

“What can we provide for our family?” he said. “We can’t do anything for our family here. There is nothing in this country.”

Haitians deported from the United States try to board the same plane in which they were deported, in an attempt to return to the United States, on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Orélien is among the hundreds of migrants whom the U.S. began deporting to Haiti starting Sunday, with several more flights scheduled in upcoming days. Many of them left their country after the devastating 2010 earthquake and now worry about how they will find jobs and housing and provide for their families in a country of more than 11 million people where about 60% earn less than $2 a day.

Haiti also is struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti’s southern region in mid-August, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying or damaging tens of thousands of homes.

Those deported with young children are especially worried about the recent spike in violence in Port-au-Prince, with gangs controlling roughly one-third of the capital. Kidnappings have become increasingly common, with targets ranging from young schoolchildren to nuns to impoverished families.

Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit, said in a statement Tuesday that it was outraged by what it called the U.S. government’s inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers. It also called for an immediate halt to all Haiti-bound flights.

“During a challenging and dangerous period for Haiti, it is unthinkably cruel to send men, women and children back to what many of them do not even call ‘home’ anymore,” the group said.

Haitians deported from the United States recover their belongings scattered on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Haiti’s ombudsman-like Office of Citizen Protection also said it was concerned about the fate of the migrants, especially women and children, and asked for a moratorium on flights as it criticized Haitian leaders for the state of the country.

“One of the causes of this situation, considered a tragedy, remains the bad governance that has gripped the country for several decades,” it said. “And today, we are witnessing a deterioration in living conditions due to the irresponsibility of the current authorities in the protection and implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.”

Meanwhile, the future of thousands of migrants who remain along the Mexico-Texas border is in limbo. U.S. expulsion flights are expected to continue while Mexico was flying and busing some of the migrants away from the border. So far, more than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants had been removed from an encampment at Del Rio, Texas.

The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former U.S. President Donald Trump in March 2020 that allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. U.S. President Joe Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but let the rest stand.

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Categories: Black Voices

Methamphetamine use among Blacks has surged nearly tenfold, data shows

The griot - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:09

More than one-fifth of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. now involve methamphetamines, and Blacks’ use of it has skyrocketed.

New research shows that methamphetamine use is surging among African Americans. 

Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, co-authored a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry, published on Wednesday, that found methamphetamine use increased tenfold among Black individuals. Risk factors included lower socioeconomic status factors, criminal justice involvement and comorbidities.

A detective holds crystal meth confiscated alongside firearms as part of a drug raid. According to new research, methamphetamine use is surging among African Americans. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Street names for it include meth, blue, ice and crystal. It can be smoked or injected, and injected meth use has doubled nationwide, according to the study. 

Dr. Stephen Taylor told NPR the nation’s focus on the opioid crisis — which has primarily affected white, rural communities — has taken attention and resources from the sharp rise in methamphetamine use among communities of color. 

Methamphetamine Use, Use Disorder, and Overdose Deaths Among US Adults via @JAMAPsych part of @JAMANetwork

— Frank Sotzik (@WordsByFrank) September 23, 2021

Important reporting by @BrianMannADK for @NPR. If you're looking for more info on this issue, @RockefellerInst's @LeighWedenoja examined and visualized the rise in methamphetamine use and overdoses:

— Joel Tirado (@TiradoComms) September 22, 2021

“Those communities have been confronting a massive increase in addictions to and overdose deaths from methamphetamine for a long time,” he said.

Methamphetamine use has also increased among Native American populations. Winnie White Tail, who runs a treatment clinic for the Arapaho and Cheyenne community in Clinton, Oklahoma, says use of the drug is “deeply entrenched across the community, not just in Native communities. It’s readily available. It’s easy to get,” per NPR.

More than one-fifth of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. now involve methamphetamines. Deaths from the drug have increased because much of the supply is contaminated with fentanyl. 

There is no medical treatment for methamphetamine addiction. Experts contend that more high-quality treatment and counseling services are desperately needed. 

Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy urged Congress to approve $10.7 billion to fund drug treatment. Regina LaBelle, acting director of the office, wrote, “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones to the overdose epidemic.” 

As previously reported, legendary Digital Underground rapper and producer Shock G died this summer of an accidental drug overdose of fentanyl, ethanol (alcohol) and methamphetamine. 

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Categories: Black Voices

FDA backs Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk

The griot - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:46

More regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin.

The U.S. moved a step closer Wednesday to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to senior citizens and others at high risk from the virus as the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the targeted use of the extra shots.

A droplet falls from a syringe after a person was injected with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger people with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high-risk for COVID-19. The ruling represents a drastically scaled back version of the Biden administration’s sweeping plan to give third doses to nearly all American adults to shore up their protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

However, more regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened a two-day meeting Wednesday to make their own, more specific recommendations about who should get the extra shots and when. And in their first day of discussions, some experts were so perplexed by the questions surrounding the rationale for boosters that they suggested putting off a decision for a month in hopes of more evidence.

The uncertainties were yet another reminder that the science surrounding boosters is more complicated than the Biden administration suggested when the president and his top aides rolled out their plan at the White House last month.

The FDA decision Wednesday was expected after the agency’s own panel of advisers last week overwhelmingly rejected the Biden plan. The panel instead recommended boosters only for those most vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19.

The timing of the FDA decision was highly unusual given that the agency typically takes action before the CDC convenes its own experts.

The CDC panelists heard a series of presentations Wednesday outlining the knotty state of science on boosters. On one hand, the COVID-19 vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. On the other hand, there are signs of more low-grade infections among the vaccinated as immunity wanes.

Ultimately the committee must decide who is considered at high enough risk for an extra dose. Data provided by Pfizer and the Israeli government suggests a strong case for boosters in people 65 and older, but there is less evidence that extra shots provide much benefit for younger people with underlying health conditions.

Several CDC advisers agreed boosters are also important for keeping health care workers on the job.

“We don’t have enough health care workers to take care of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Helen Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “They just keep coming.”

The CDC has already said it is considering boosters for older people, nursing home residents and front-line health care workers, rather than all adults.

Ashia Rivers, 17, of Havre De Grace, Maryland, gets her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization and other global health advocates are opposed to wealthy nations dispensing a third round of shots when poor countries don’t have enough vaccine for their first doses. And many independent scientists say that the vaccines continue to perform well against the worst effects of COVID-19 and that their ability to curb the overall trajectory of the epidemic is uncertain.

U.S. regulators will decide at a later date on boosters for people who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. If Pfizer boosters are authorized this week, U.S. regulators indicated the shots would not be recommended for people who got a different brand of vaccine initially.

The across-the-board rollout of boosters proposed by the White House was supposed to have begun this week. Some questioned whether President Joe Biden had gotten ahead of the science by announcing his plans before government regulators had reached any conclusions.

Despite the resistance in recent days, some top U.S. health officials said they expect boosters to eventually win broader approval in the coming weeks or months. Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend that “this is not the end of the story.”

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

Other administration officials noted that the FDA decision covers tens of millions of Americans and that seniors and other high-risk groups would have been the first to get boosters even if extra shots had been authorized for the entire population. Seniors were in the first group of Americans eligible for vaccination last December.

The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by asking.

The U.S. is dispensing around 760,000 vaccinations per day on average, down from a high of 3.4 million a day in mid-April. About 180 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or 64% of those who are eligible.

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Categories: Black Voices

Black Twitter calls out Nicki Minaj for implying husband’s accuser is white

The griot - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:35

Jennifer Hough, Kenneth Petty’s accuser, appeared in her first on-camera interview on ‘The Real’ Wednesday morning. Petty was convicted of attempted rape in 1994.

After a bombshell interview on The Real, Black Twitter is calling out Nicki Minaj for implying that her husband’s accuser was white in a resurfaced audio clip from Queen Radio.

Jennifer Hough, Minaj’s husband’s accuser, appeared on The Real on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to share her story. When Hough was 16, she reported to the police that Kenneth Petty led her into a home in Queens and raped her at knifepoint, theGrio previously reported. Petty was arrested, charged with first-degree rape, and served four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted rape in 1994.

Recently, Petty also pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in California, as he is required to register in every state he resides in.

Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty attend the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs)

Despite all of this, Hough is claiming that both Petty and his wife Minaj have been harassing her for years to change her story. Hough shared her perspective in an emotional sit-down on The Real. Moments after airing, viewers went to Twitter after seeing that Hough was not white, as Minaj had previously suggested when hinting towards the situation.

In a resurfaced clip from Minaj’s Queen Radio in 2019, she said, “…something that he was wrongly accused of doing when he was a 15-year-old…all because he didn’t have $7K to get himself bailed out. Because when you’re in the hood you don’t have that kind of money and neither does your family. And when the alleged accuser wrote a letter to the judge asking to take these recanted statements, she was told that she would go to jail for 90 days, allegedly.”

Then she added, “but white is right,” implying that Hough was white and had the leg up in the legal system white privilege can provide.

“But white is right” Nicki Minaj really wanted y’all to believe Jennifer Hough was a white woman to pretend her husband’s offense was racially motivated…. there’s no defending this smh

— Jess {fan acc} (@britneyxmariah) September 22, 2021

Twitter users and some Minaj fans are disappointed in the rapper and are letting her know on social media. One user wrote about Minaj’s involvement in harassing Hough and the danger of her utilizing the country’s history of falsely acceding Black men.

They wrote, “this is still the most evil part of her involvement imo. she very publicly lied about this woman being white knowing the history black men have with being falsely accused of sexual assault in this country. calculated and sick in the head.” Rapper Nicki Minaj attends the Oscar de la Renta show on Sept. 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Many fans are confused as to why Minaj would involve herself and speak so publicly about the case in the first place. Another user wrote, “She should’ve NEVERRRR talked about this. Especially being that she wasn’t there when it happened, she should’ve never opened her mouth to defend that man.”

She should’ve NEVERRRR talked about this. Especially being that she wasn’t there when it happened, she should’ve never opened her mouth to defend that man.

— bryson. (@iambrysoncarter) September 22, 2021

Watch a clip from Hough’s emotional sit-down from The Real, below:

Kenneth Petty’s sexual assault victim Jennifer Hough speaks on her conversation with Nicki Minaj and harassment.

— Rap Alert (@rapalert4) September 22, 2021

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Categories: Black Voices

Rep. Adams threatens to vote against spending bill over HBCU funding

The griot - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:29

“We can’t build back better unless we build our HBCUs back better,” said Adams.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) says she won’t vote for President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan in its current form because it lacks proper funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). 

“We can’t build back better unless we build our HBCUs back better. Promises made must be promises kept,” Adams recently told Punchbowl News.

(Credit: Rep. Alma Adams/Facebook)

Biden proposed a total of $55 billion for HBCUs in March but in the current version of the budget reconciliation bill, that amount has been slashed. As reported by Insider Higher Ed, HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are slated to receive “$27 billion in tuition subsidies, $1.45 billion for institutional aid and $2 billion to improve research and development infrastructure,” the outlet writes. 

Adams and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) recently wrote to the heads of the House and Senate education committees requesting $40 billion in funding, but the request was denied, The Hill reports. HBCUs have historically been underfunded.

Students walking on the campus of Howard University. (Photo: Jessica Floyd)

“1890 Land-Grant Universities, like all historically black colleges and universities, are suffering during this pandemic. The USDA should promptly provide them with the funding they need to provide for their students and faculty, as well as the farmers and larger communities they serve,” said Congresswoman Adams in a press statement last year.

“Additionally, finalizing the implementation of the Carryover Equity Act is a major issue of equality and fair treatment under the law for the nineteen 1890 Land-Grant Universities. These institutions, especially during this time of financial crisis, deserve a swift resolution to this decades-long injustice they have faced under the existing law. While our HBCUs are stronger than COVID-19, they need a hand up right now. I ask that USDA act promptly to provide desperately needed funding and guidance to these schools so that they can continue their mission to educate the farmers and agricultural researchers of tomorrow.”

A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Adams and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott would direct money to renovate and modernize buildings at more than 100 of the nation’s historic Black colleges and universities, theGrio previously reported.

North Carolina @RepAdams says she is a "no" vote if changes aren't made to how HBCU's are funded in the reconciliation bill.

Adams says she spoke to @VP Harris about this and that she agreed it's a problem. @NCCapTonight @SpecNews1CLT @SpectrumNewsDC #ncpol

— Reuben Jones (@ReubenJones1) September 21, 2021

Scott and Adams, who was a former professor at Bennett College, wrote an opinion piece for The Hill in which they said the bill — called the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act — represents a good investment in HBCUs and the American people.

The bill would help schools preserve buildings on their campuses with historical significance and provide high-speed internet and support for virtual teaching. Additionally, support for community health services and coronavirus vaccinations are included in the package. 

“HBCUs have always been agents of excellence in education for students of color. They’re a smart enough investment to bring the two of us, a Republican senator and a Democratic congresswoman, together as lead sponsors,” they wrote. 

The leaders of HBCUs designated as 1890 land-grant institutions by Congress sent a letter to Rep. Bobby Scott, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chair Sen. Patty Murray, asking for infrastructure funding for HBCUs in Biden’s spending package, Insider Higher Ed reports.

“Our universities have produced some of the nation’s greatest minds and the funding proposed would allow us to continue producing scholars,” the letter said. “We hope that we can count on your support of this request by adding significant funding for our institutions through the budget reconciliation process. Conversely, failure to include such investments would leave a significant gap as Congress and the Biden-Harris administration seek to rebuild our nation’s public infrastructure.”

Adams believes the current language in Biden’s bill will fail to dedicate revenue to both HBCUs and MSIs separately.

Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), said in a statement that more “financial investments must be made” and that HBCUs “should never be put in a position to compete against the more well-resourced institutions that have higher endowments and team of grant writers ready, willing and able to siphon off the funding that the Biden administration imagined would help our institutions.”

According to the Washington Post, there are about 800 MSIs and 107 HBCUs in the U.S.

HBCUs are responsible for nearly 20% of all African American college graduates and nearly 25% of African Americans with a STEM degree. 

*This article features additional reporting by theGrio’s Biba Adams

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Categories: Black Voices

What It's Like To Co-Parent With An Anti-Vaxxer During COVID-19

Huff Post Black Voices - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:18
Plus, the advice divorce attorneys give parents clashing over the coronavirus vaccine.
Categories: Black Voices

Woman Allegedly Raped By Nicki Minaj’s Husband Details How The Couple Harassed Her

Huff Post Black Voices - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:13
Jennifer Hough, who is suing the "Starships" rapper and Kenneth Petty for witness intimidation, said she is "tired of being afraid."
Categories: Black Voices

Melvin Van Peebles, Pioneering Black Filmmaker, Dead At 89

Huff Post Black Voices - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 16:12
The groundbreaking director ushered in the “Blaxploitation” wave of the 1970s and influenced many filmmakers.
Categories: Black Voices

Michigan Father Files $1 Million Lawsuit After a Teacher’s Assistant Cuts His Daughter’s Hair

Ebony Magazine - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 16:06
A Michigan father whose 7-year-old daughter’s hair was cut in school without her parents’ knowledge has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school district, NBC News reports. Also, included in the suit are a teacher’s assistant and a librarian. Jimmy Hoffmeyer alleges his daughter’s constitutional rights were violated, according to the lawsuit. Hoffmeyer is…
Categories: Black Voices

Melvin Van Peebles, godfather of Black cinema, dies at 89

The griot - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 16:00

His family said in a statement that Van Peebles, father of the actor-director Mario Van Peebles, died Tuesday evening at his home in Manhattan.

Melvin Van Peebles, the groundbreaking playwright, musician and movie director whose work ushered in the “Blaxploitation” wave of the 1970s and influenced filmmakers long after, has died. He was 89.

His family said in a statement that Van Peebles, father of the actor-director Mario Van Peebles, died Tuesday evening at his home in Manhattan.

“Dad knew that Black images matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth?” Mario Van Peebles said in a statement Wednesday. “We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”

Sometimes called the “godfather of modern Black cinema,” the multitalented Van Peebles wrote numerous books and plays, and recorded several albums — playing multiple instruments and delivering rap-style lyrics. He later became a successful options trader on the stock market.

Mario Van Peebles, from left and Melvin Van Peebles arrive at the screening of “The Producers” at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Opening Night at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

But he was best known for “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!” one of the most influential movies of its time. The low-budget, art-house film, which he wrote, produced, directed, starred in and scored, was the frenzied, hyper-sexual and violent tale of a Black street hustler on the run from police after killing white officers who were beating a Black revolutionary.

With its hard-living, tough-talking depiction of life in the ghetto, underscored by a message of empowerment as told from a Black perspective, it set the tone for a genre that turned out dozens of films over the next few years and prompted a debate over whether Blacks were being recognized or exploited.

“All the films about Black people up to now have been told through the eyes of the Anglo-Saxon majority in their rhythms and speech and pace,” Van Peebles told Newsweek in 1971, the year of the film’s release.

“I could have called it “The Ballad of the Indomitable Sweetback.” But I wanted the core audience, the target audience, to know it’s for them,” he told The Associated Press in 2003. “So I said `Ba-ad Asssss,′ like you really say it.”

Made for around $500,000 (including $50,000 provided by Bill Cosby), it grossed $14 million at the box office despite an X-rating, limited distribution and mixed critical reviews.

The New York Times, for example, accused Van Peebles of merchandizing injustice and called the film “an outrage.”

But in the wake of the its success, Hollywood realized an untapped audience and began churning out such box office hits as “Shaft” and “Superfly” that were also known for bringing in such top musicians as Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes to work on the soundtracks.

Melvin van Peebles arrives at the ‘Lawless’ Premiere during the 38th Deauville American Film Festival on September 5, 2012 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Many of Hollywood’s versions were exaggerated crime dramas, replete with pimps and drug dealers, which drew heavy criticism in both the white and Black press.

“What Hollywood did — they suppressed the political message, added caricature — and Blaxploitation was born,” Van Peebles said in 2002. “The colored intelligentsia were not too happy about it.”

In fact, civil rights groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Congress of Racial Equality coined the phrase “blaxploitation” and formed the Coalition Against Blaxploitation. Among the genre’s 21st century fans was Quentin Tarantino, whose Oscar-nominated “Django Unchained” was openly influenced by Blaxploitation films and Spaghetti Westerns.

After his initial success, Van Peebles was bombarded with directing offers, but he chose to maintain his independence.

“I’ll only work with them on my terms,” he said. “I’ve whipped the man’s ass on his own turf. I’m number one at the box office — which is the way America measures things — and I did it on my own. Now they want me, but I’m in no hurry.”

Van Peebles then got involved on Broadway, writing and producing several plays and musicals like the Tony-nominated “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” and “Don’t Play Us Cheap.” He later wrote the movie “Greased Lighting” starring Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott, the first black race car driver.

In the 1980s, Van Peebles turned to Wall Street and options trading. He wrote a financial self-help guide entitled “Bold Money: A New Way to Play the Options Market.”

Born Melvin Peebles in Chicago on Aug. 21, 1932, he would later add “Van” to his name. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1953 and joined the Air Force, serving as a navigator for three years.

Directors Mario Van Peebles and Melvin Van Peebles attend the Variety 6th Annual “10 Directors To Watch” party during the 2005 Sundance Film Festival January 25, 2005 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

After military service, he moved to Mexico and worked as a portrait painter, followed by a move to San Francisco, where he started writing short stories and making short films.

Van Peebles soon went to Hollywood, but he was only offered a job as a studio elevator operator. Disappointed, he moved to Holland to take graduate courses in astronomy while also studying at the Dutch National Theatre.

Eventually he gave up his studies and moved to Paris, where he learned he could join the French directors’ guild if he adapted his own work written in French. He quickly taught himself the language and wrote several novels.

One he made into a feature film. “La Permission/The Story of the Three Day Pass,” was the story of an affair between a black U.S. soldier and a French woman. It won the critic’s choice award at the San Francisco film festival in 1967, and gained Van Peebles Hollywood’s attention.

The following year, he was hired to direct and write the score for “Watermelon Man,” the tale of a white bigot (played by comic Godfey Cambridge in white face) who wakes up one day as a black man.

With money earned from the project, Van Peebles went to work on “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!”

Peebles’ death came just days before the New York Film Festival is to celebrate him with a 50th anniversary of “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” Next week, the Criterion Collection is to release the box set “Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films.” A revival of his play “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” is also planned to hit Broadway next year, with Mario Van Peebles serving as creative producer.

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The post Melvin Van Peebles, godfather of Black cinema, dies at 89 appeared first on TheGrio.

Categories: Black Voices

‘Our Kind of People’ Creator Karin Gist On Why Black People Need to Be “Beautiful and Sexy and Free” on TV

Ebony Magazine - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 15:53
The name Karin Gist may not ring immediate bells but do trust that you know her work. As a writer, producer, and showrunner, she’s had a hand in some of your favorite shows like Girlfriends, where she got her start, even One Tree Hill and Revenge (now you know why you dug those shows), as well as House of Lies, Grey’s Anatomy, Star, and,…
Categories: Black Voices