Cowboys to visit African American history museum after Redskins game

After the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field this Sunday, they’ll stay in the Washington, D.C. area an extra day to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Fort Worth Star-Telegramreported.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it was a great opportunity “because of proximity.” Additionally, Dallas has a bye after the Redskins game and doesn’t need to get back and prepare for another opponent.

“It means so much to the players but also the National Football League and our game,” Jones said. “Here we are in the nation’s capital and (we) wanted to take the time to do that. We are making a big effort to go over there.”

Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said players had talked about their desire to see the museum, the largest in the country dedicated to the African American experience.

“It’s huge, I’m excited for it,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “I think it’s going to be a great trip. We are going to learn a lot and see some things. I think it’s going to be great for our team, great camaraderie.”

Prescott is black, and he drew criticism in the offseason for supporting Jones’ stance against players kneeling for the anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans.

The museum has been open since September 2016 and sits on the National Mall, close to the Washington Monument. The lower floor is dedicated to the history of African migration to North America, slavery and segregation, while the upper floors honor African American art, music, sports and culture.

And the Cowboys won’t be the first team to visit. When the Golden State Warriors were in town to play the Washington Wizards last winter, they took local kids to the museum.

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Is Sarah Lucas Right for the #MeToo Moment?

In subway advertisements throughout the city, the artist Sarah Lucas appears in a self-portrait, tomboyish and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Selfish in Bed.” Rhetorically or symbolically, she is turning the tables on millenniums of female inequality, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

You’ll see that image at “Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel,” her career survey at the New Museum, along with a giant portrait-as-wallpaper, as you get off the elevator on the fourth floor: It captures her seated, her feet firmly on the ground, woman-spreading (if there is such a thing). She is fully clothed, wearing jeans and flat-soled boots and staring you down.

Everywhere you go in the New York art world, on social media, at gallery openings and other public gatherings, people are remarking that “Au Naturel” is the perfect exhibition for this moment. In some ways this is true: Ms. Lucas is all swagger and bravado and confidence.

The self-portraits are one of her weapons. Instead of sexualized, made-up or fantastic portraits, hers are plain, androgynous and deadpan. And the exhibition, with its 150 objects — many of them sculptures created in plaster, or from women’s stockings and tights stuffed with fluff — is populated with penises and with cigarettes penetrating buttocks, rather than the breasts and vulvas modern artists used to demonstrate their edginess. At just the right moment — the #MeToo moment — Ms. Lucas shows us what it’s like to be a strong, self-determining woman; to shape and construct your own world; to live beyond other people’s constricting terms; to challenge oppression, sexual dominance and abuse.

For a certain generation, at a certain place and time — Britain, post-70s feminism, under the rule of Margaret Thatcher (nicknamed the “Iron Lady”) — this turnabout seemed possible.

A detail of “Mumum” (2012), a cluster of breastlike forms made of fluff-filled stockings.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
“Bunny Gets Snookered #1” (1997), a slouching form mimicking a limp half-body.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
Image
Self-portraits as weapons: An installation view of some of Ms. Lucas’s self-portraits.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

Ms. Lucas emerged in the 1990s with the YBAs (Young British Artists), a group that included Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and didn’t focus on a particular medium or style. They were postpunk — which is to say, more focused on attitude than aptitude — with a Generation X nihilism and malaise, and the clear message that anything, artistically, could be borrowed, stolen or sampled. In fact, one of the criticisms that swirls around Ms. Lucas’s work is that it looks an awful lot like that of other artists, including the stuffed doll sculptures made by the German Surrealist Hans Bellmer in the 1930s.

Fair enough. Ms. Lucas’s “Bunny Gets Snookered” series, from 1997, offers a gallery of stuffed pantyhose forms slouching on their own chairs, mimicking skinny, limp half-bodies that borrow from the soft-sculpture aesthetic of Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama and, less often mentioned, the African-American artist Senga Nengudi. (In fact, Ms. Lucas’s “Mumum” from 2012, a cluster of breastlike forms made from fluff-filled stockings closely resembles a work by Ms. Nengudi currently in the exhibition “The Un-Heroic Act: Representations of Rape in Contemporary Women’s Art in the U.S.” at the Shiva Gallery at John Jay College.)

But Ms. Lucas is great in this mode, borrowing from this soft-sculpture vocabulary but upping the ante by adding “tough” materials like concrete-block pedestals, cigarette butts or broken eggs. (An entire museum wall is covered with the remains of a cathartic, collective egg-throwing performance by women, an act perhaps envisioned as female ejaculations.)

The galleries are filled, perhaps overfilled, with bulging tubes and protuberances that suggest body parts and desires — as well as fears and phobias — possibly for sex or death. In 2000, Ms. Lucas mounted an installation at the Freud Museum in London, titled “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” — after Freud’s 1920 essay — that is on view here; it includes dangling light bulbs that vaguely resemble body parts, but also pokes at Freud with feminist aplomb.

“Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” from 2000, includes dangling light bulbs that vaguely resemble body parts.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

A wall text suggests that the rooms littered with broken or orphaned fixtures and furniture might relate to bombed-out ruins in distant lands, the results of the gulf wars engaged in by the United States and Britain in the ’90s. There are a lot of toilets lying around the galleries that hark back to Marcel Duchamp’s scandalous “Fountain” (1917), a repurposed urinal, but also proving that women can make puerile, potty-humored art, too.

In the same vicinity, a photograph of a filthy toilet with the words “Is Suicide Genetic?” painted in excremental brown, furthers the vulgar existentialism of Ms. Lucas’s work. The photograph, with its perspective tilted down the toilet bowl, recalls the scene in the film “Trainspotting” (1996) in which a character retrieves drugs that have gone down a public toilet. Other works throughout the show reflect the retching, hard-partying antics of London’s art scene at that moment.

Sculpture here is what you choose as much as what you make. Things in your immediate vicinity — toilets, clothes, food, furniture — can be memorialized as art objects, as fetishes, talismans, or what psychoanalysts called “transitional objects,” like security blankets.

Ms. Lucas’s most famous object is also here, providing a title for the exhibition: “Au Naturel” (1994) is a simple but powerful sculpture. A dirty folded mattress slouches against the wall, like a seated human body. Inserted into rough openings on the surface of the mattress are two oranges and a cucumber, suggesting male genitalia, and two honeydew melons and a scuffed bucket, representing a woman. The work is effective, drawing from the Ed and Nancy Kienholz school of deadpan sculpture, made with junk or household objects, but also Picasso’s way of sketching bodies or still lifes with a few deft objects or lines. Its title suggests sexy, pastoral nudism. The reality is starker, grittier and a bit depressing.

“Au Naturel,” from 1994, is simple yet powerful.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
The museum’s galleries are filled, Martha Schwendener writes, “with bulging tubes and protuberances that suggest body parts and desires — as well as fears and phobias — possibly for sex or death.”CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
A detail of “One Thousand Eggs: For Women” (2017), which covers a museum wall.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

And yet, this monument of ’90s grunge art stopped me for a moment. I have always thought it was a brilliant work, simultaneously celebrating the possibilities of sculpture and deflating its pretensions.

But “perfect for this moment?” I’m not sure. In an age of fluid gender identities — it feels, well, binary. Sex here is still an act between a woman and a man, underscoring old ideas and not just of heterosexuality and “heteronormative” politics. It feels emblematic of the YBAs: They were radical in the sense that they were white working-class kids in Britain who cannily snookered the art system and became rich, famous and iconic. But this stance has serious limitations.

I never thought I’d be asking this, but at what point does punk white culture start to feel privileged? In a wall text Ms. Lucas describes those hard-living days in London, walking the streets in the early morning with a hangover coming on, wondering, “if this is all there is, this world here,” and “if this is it, given infinite possibility, why is it so shabby?” And “if we’re so keen to be alive, to survive, why the self-destructive behavior? Why the smoking, drinking, drugging?”

One of Ms. Lucas’s new works, “Vox Pop Doris” (2018), a pair of 11-foot-tall thigh-high platform boots cast in concrete, is on view in the museum’s main lobby. CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

In this era, post-Brexit, when thousands of people have died in recent years attempting to reach the safety of “shabby” London — or any toehold in Western Europe — the message here, of being white and bored and disaffected, feels dissonant. A video made in 2015, when Ms. Lucas represented Britain in the Venice Biennale, captures her lying on the floor of a palazzo in Venice, the water lapping at the steps, reading the poetry of another erstwhile British bad boy, D.H. Lawrence. It feels elegiac, cozy, luxurious.

On the one hand, it’s thrilling that the New Museum and the show’s curators, Massimiliano Gioni and Margot Norton, have devoted three floors to a woman’s work. Ms. Lucas remains a wonderfully bold and subversive model for women in this #MeToo moment. Her career should be the ultimate rallying cry for female rage, striking out in an age that demands that women grab back.

But the question posed by Ms. Lucas in the ’90s nags: Is this all there is? She was part of one cultural correction around class and gender in Britain and now we’re in another, with disintegrating borders, genders and species categories — even glaciers — in which white European ennui feels almost like a luxury product. A spate of recent stuffed-stocking sculptures carries on Ms. Lucas’s bodily abstractions and obsessions, generally continuing in the same vein as before. In this sense, Ms. Lucas’s art feels like an important historical springboard from which to expand beyond the intrepid and irreverent platform of the Young British Artists, into the next millennium.


Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel

Through Jan. 20 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org.

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To some, Nov. 6 is all about Trump

MASON, Ohio – For months, a loud and acrimonious campaign for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District has played out in the Cincinnati area between incumbent Republican Steve Chabot and his challenger, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval.

Gordon Marsh, shuffling across a strip mall parking lot, was quick with a blunt assessment. “I’m voting against Chabot,” he said. “I’m not crazy about Pureval, either.”

But Marsh said his choice had little to do with the local candidates or issues.

It was all about Donald Trump.

“I’m going Democrat all the way,” Marsh said gruffly before stomping into a Best Buy. “They need the seats. My position right now is that he is a lousy president and a lousy person.”

Less than a month from the midterm elections, dozens of congressional races are tightening as campaigns make their final push. Democrats are aiming most acutely at nearly two dozen seats held by Republicans but won in 2016 by Democrat Hillary Clinton, figuring those are the easiest to pick off.

The next ring of interest are districts the president won, but narrowly. In those districts, located mainly in the suburbs and exurbs such as those outside Cincinnati, Des Moines and Greensboro, North Carolina, the president’s shadow is looming so large that it obscures everything else.

The president has sought to make the election revolve around an improving economy and the dire results he says would emanate from a Democratic takeover of one or both chambers of Congress. But he has also contended that he is on the ballot – and voters in those districts agree.

Trump’s ability to dominate the political conversation has put congressional candidates from both parties in a tricky spot.

For Republicans, the risk is sticking close to a president with immense star power among the MAGA faithful but who is radioactive to other voters. For Democrats, the options are attacking Trump and appearing to be members of a “leftist mob,” or staying mum and turning off voters eager for an aggressive check on the president.

“I don’t believe anymore that all politics is local,” said Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at the University of North Carolina. “Politics has stopped being local for a good while. Increasingly, national issues, national perceptions take over.”

North Carolina’s 13th District stretches from the suburbs north of Charlotte to Greensboro. Battered by the loss of the state’s textile industry, the region features a strong mix of left-leaning voters in the cities, conservative rural voters and a bipartisan mix in the suburbs.

Republicans were ordered to redraw the district in 2016 following a gerrymandering lawsuit. Trump won the district in 2016 by 9 points – his smallest margin in a North Carolina Republican district.

The Republican incumbent, Rep. Ted Budd, is a gun store owner seeking reelection after he emerged from a 17-person primary in 2016. Kathy Manning, a Greensboro lawyer and community organizer, is making her first bid for elected office.

Manning has steered away from addressing the president directly and insisted that voters are talking about “kitchen table issues.” Still, without mentioning Trump by name, she said voters are fed up with the atmosphere in Washington.

“They can’t stand what’s going on,” she said. “They don’t like the incivility. They don’t like that people are unwilling to compromise.”

Budd, however, has embraced Trump wholeheartedly, while conceding that his style is different from the president’s.

North Carolinians on both sides of the party divide say Trump not only is a significant part of the decision between Budd and Manning, but has also changed the tenor of local politics.

On a rainy Tuesday night last week, as voters gathered at a forum for local candidates in Salisbury, Anthony Smith, a pastor at Mission House Church, said he sees the race between Budd and Manning as a referendum on the president’s policies and rhetoric. The same is true for every race in the 13th District, he said.

“Trump more was a catalyst to energize something that was already there, that never left our culture,” he said. The timbre of the races has become more contentious in the past two years, sometimes devolving into name-calling and animus, Smith said. In August, tempers flared after someone defaced a Confederate monument that stands just outside city hall. Later, Ku Klux Klan fliers tied to rocks were thrown into yards in suburban neighborhoods.

Andrew Poston, a 25-year-old teacher, said he leans Republican but would have trouble voting for anyone who wouldn’t be a check on Trump.

“Do I hope the Democrats take the house? No, I don’t. But I hope that this extreme political climate we have melts like snow over the next few years,” he said. “I hope cooler heads prevail.”

Halfway across the country, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District includes Des Moines and suburban and rural areas west and southwest of the city. The number of Democratic, Republican and independent voters is nearly equal. Trump won by only 3 percentage points in 2016.

Republican incumbent David Young, the mild-mannered grandson of a farmer and a preacher, is the opposite of Trump in style, comfortable hosting low-key forums and roundtables where he talks about the nitty-gritty details of a pending farm bill.

Seeking to unseat him is Cindy Axne, a political newcomer and small-business owner who casts herself as the Washington outsider and Young as a politician who works for corporations and not for Iowans. If elected, she would be the first woman to represent the district in Congress.

Young rarely invokes Trump – saying he’s different, both stylistically and morally. He’s not accountable to Trump, he says, but to “the people in the 3rd District” – although he did speak at the president’s recent rally in Council Bluffs

Axne has drawn on the energy released by opposition to the president. She casts the race in stark terms: “The heart and the soul of the country is at risk.”

For Des Moines Democrat Penny Murphy, the race is less about the candidates than the president.

“Just making sure Donald Trump does not win in 2020, that we capture the seats that are open. We are very worried,” Murphy said.

Staying at home on Election Day is not a choice, Murphy said as she ate lunch at Palmer’s Deli & Market in Des Moines.

“We are trying to turn the tide in Washington and have some balance,” she said. “He darn well has come close there to reversing everything Obama has done.”

Charles Ruby, 55, said he usually ignores the midterm elections. But this time around, he voted early, stopping by on his motorcycle at a polling site in Adel, a small town outside of Des Moines. The “whole Kavanaugh debacle,” he said, is his prime motivator for voting.

“This is the most important election. As a conservative, we have to win this one,” he said shortly after he voted. “Even if you don’t agree with Trump, you got to stick with the Republican Party.”

Ohio’s 1st District includes Cincinnati’s Hamilton County and, since 2010, when the state legislature redrew the lines, traditionally conservative Warren County.

The incumbent, Chabot, was first elected in 1994. A folksy, family-values conservative, Chabot has held his seat for 22 of the past 24 years. Trump took the district in 2016 by 6 points.

The district’s realignment gave Republicans a tight hold on the seat for a few years, but urban sprawl reaching into Warren County has helped make the 2018 election surprisingly close. Challenger Pureval, 36 years old and the son of Indian and Tibetan immigrants, has anchored his campaign in the contrasts between his agenda and the incumbent’s. But he largely keeps Trump out of his message.

“My folks want me to focus on health care, the economy and infrastructure,” he said. “That’s exactly what I plan to do.”

Until very recently, Chabot also kept his distance from the president. In March 2016, when Trump was the front-runner to capture the Republican nomination, the congressman penned an open letter to the candidate urging Trump to “stop saying thuggish things.” His campaign and allies, however, have engaged in raw personal assaults, at one point seeking to tie Pureval to Libyan terrorists.

Nonetheless, Ohioans said the president was at the center of their decision.

Parking his car outside a downtown Cincinnati bank branch, Michael Southern admitted he did not know much about either Chabot’s or Pureval’s platforms. When he votes in November, it will be based on each candidate’s stance on the president.

“I don’t agree with [Trump’s] politics at all,” Southern said. “Both his opinions and tactics, and the comments about women, African Americans, people with disabilities, equality across the board.”

Justin Kittle, a registered Republican walking his dog downtown, said he disagrees with many of Pureval’s positions. “But that doesn’t shut him down completely for me. Chabot has been in for a long time. I don’t mind change.”

But again, the president was key.

“I am for the president, and I’m happy that he’s a business guy instead of a politician,” he explained. “I would want to see a Republican in office to keep his politics going.”

Cannabis is legal in Canada — here’s what you need to know

Recreational marijuana is legal as of today, but the vision of what a pot-permissive Canada looks like remains somewhat hazy.

There’s still a lot we don’t know, including what will happen to the illicit dispensaries that popped up in cities across the country in recent years. But here’s a look at what we do know as Canadian consumers buy legal cannabis for the first time. 

How will people buy pot?

How people purchase legal cannabis depends on where they live.

There is one constant across the country: Online sales are available in all provinces and territories, whether via private retailers or through government-run websites. E-commerce giant Shopify, which will manage online sales for four provinces, is confident its system will be able to handle the volume.

But there are distinctions across the county with respect to age limits and retail models. Minimum age limits for purchasing and consuming cannabis vary, but most provinces mirror their rules for alcohol.

What’s the latest where you live?

Can I grow marijuana at home?

In most provinces and all territories, adults are allowed to possess four marijuana plants per household for recreational use. That’s the limit the federal government imposed when it passed the Cannabis Act in June.

Quebec and Manitoba are the two holdouts. Both fiercely opposed that decision and enacted their own rules banning growing cannabis plants at home — a move some lawyers argue could eventually result in a constitutional challenge.

How much will it cost? 

Much of the success of Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana will be pegged to the price Canadians end up paying per gram of legal weed. Should legal cannabis turn out to be more expensive than pot on the black market, there may be little incentive for Canadians to quit buying from their current source.

A recent McMaster University study suggested that the sweet spot for consumers — the price where they’d buy legal weed instead of turning to the black market — was $10 to $12 a gram.

Prices could change, but for now, it looks like retail prices in New Brunswick will range from $8-$16 per gram; between $8.21-$14.55 per gram in the Northwest Territories; between $6-$13 in Newfoundland and Labrador; and prices will start at $8 per gram in Yukon. 

Ontario’s new PC government has been quiet on prices, but said it aims to set them at a rate that would be competitive with illicit dispensaries.

In Quebec, a spokesperson for SQDC, the provincial crown corporation responsible for cannabis sales, told CBC News it has yet to announce detailed pricing, adding that a lot of items would retail starting at $7 per gram.

Could there be a weed shortage?

According to Health Canada, there are currently more than 120 licensed cannabis producers in the country — with many based in Ontario and B.C.

Several companies rapidly expanded ahead of legalization, but one of Canada’s top cannabis producers recently said labour shortages and supply chain issues may cause “sold out” signs to pop up at pot stores soon after it becomes legal. 

“I’m concerned about the supply side,” business consultant Sarah Stockdale said of pot e-commerce. “The tech that the government has is set up to handle the load on the servers, but are Canadians going to be waiting a really long time to receive their shipments when they’re used to Amazon? If they have to wait one to two weeks will they turn to the black market?” 

How does legalization work at the border?

Despite some changes at the state level, pot possession is still illegal under U.S. federal law. Ahead of legalization, Ottawa warned Canadian travellers that “previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S.”

One day ahead of legalization, a U.S. border official noted that nothing had changed in that regard, saying: “If you’ve been the subject of a violation of U.S. laws, that will still make you inadmissible to our country.”

What’s remains unclear is whether travellers will be questioned more frequently about past cannabis use.

There’s also going to be some changes for people coming into Canada, CBC’s J.P. Tasker reported. An official speaking on background told CBC News that Canada Border Services Agency guards will have to ask every traveller about pot possession. Travellers arriving by air should expect to see a question about cannabis use on declaration forms.

What can I take on a plane?

People flying within Canada will be able to pack up to 30 grams of cannabis. But travellers should remember they still can’t bring weed aboard international flights.

Check out this primer on age restrictions and travelling with pot: 

How could this affect my job?

It depends on your field and your employer. Ahead of legalization, many Canadian companies updated cannabis policies — especially companies where employees work in high-risk positions.

Both Air Canada and WestJet have prohibited recreational cannabis use for pilots and those in “safety-sensitive positions.” Rules for police officers vary widely across the country: Calgary’s police service forbids cannabis consumption outright, while Vancouver’s requires officers to self-evaluate whether they are fit for duty.

Experts say policies will likely evolve in the months following legalization.

How ready are employers for legal weed? 

CBC News Network’s John Northcott speaks to employment lawyer, Soma Ray-Ellis 5:16

What are the rules around driving?

Under new legislation passed in June, police can conduct roadside saliva tests of drivers they suspect to be under the influence of drugs. How drivers will be treated depends on how much THC, the primary psychoactive substance in pot, is found in their blood.

  • Drivers with between two and five nanograms in their blood could face a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Drivers with either more than five nanograms, or who were drinking alcohol and consuming cannabis at the same time, could face steeper fines and jail time.
  • People convicted in the most serious cases could face 10 years in prison.

In August, Statistics Canada reported nearly five per cent of Canadians — about 1.4 million people — said they had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed cannabis within two hours of driving.

The new rules around impaired driving are expected to face legal challenges.

A pot investment company CEO and former Liberal Party treasurer says he’s putting up $25,000 of his own money to challenge Canada’s drug-impaired driving laws. 3:15

What are the health effects of using cannabis?

Expect more research around cannabis and health — both in terms of health benefits and potential risks — in the years ahead. For now, campaigns are underway to try and educate people about cannabis and health, particularly groups deemed at risk of dangers linked to cannabis consumption, including pregnant women and children.

The federal government has a website outlining the health effects of cannabis use, including both short-term effects (like impairing your ability to drive) and longer-term effects (including potential lung damage). CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art took a deep dive into issue and asked medical experts to answer your questions about pot. 

The outreach effort won’t stop once pot is legal: Health Canada alone is slated to spend more than $100 million over six years on awareness, public education and surveillance, The Canadian Press reported in September.

What else do you need to know? 

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Thousands flock to Bernie rally in run-up to 2020

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders owns a national profile that most of his potential rivals have yet to develop. | Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

Elections

The Vermont senator rips Trump at an appearance in Bloomington, Indiana.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bernie Sanders can still draw a crowd.

Touching off a nine-state midterm election blitz here Friday, rally-goers clad in T-shirts from Sanders’ 2016 campaign cheered as the independent senator from Vermont reprised his progressive credentials on student debt, health care and the minimum wage. And they jeered along with Sanders as he mocked Trump — a prelude to a potential 2020 campaign.

Story Continued Below

“Now Trump, he’s a very, very tough guy,” Sanders told about 3,000 people in this college town. “He’s a very, very strong guy when he tears little children at the border from the arms of their mothers. What a tough guy. But he ain’t such a tough guy when he has to deal with Putin … He is not such a tough guy when he has to deal with his billionaire friends in Saudi Arabia, who just tortured and murdered a courageous journalist.”

No longer the curiosity that he was when he entered the 2016 presidential primary — with his then-meager fundraising base and Hillary Clinton’s near-inevitability staring him down — Sanders now wields one of the most coveted email lists of progressive voters and donors in the country. He owns a national profile that most of his potential rivals have yet to develop.

And while Sanders may run into a buzz-saw as early as Saturday, when he visits the less hospitable early primary state of South Carolina, he proved here Friday that he remains a popular force on the left.

The rally — and a brisk march that Sanders led from the rally to a voting center blocks away — opened Sanders’ nine-state blitz ahead of the midterms, with planned appearances in the early 2020 nominating states of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina. But his first and last appearances, in Indiana and California later this month, are freighted with significance, as well: Sanders won the Indiana primary in an upset in 2016, and his prospects in 2020 would rely on a large delegate haul in California, where Sanders campaigned for weeks in his losing race to Clinton.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager and closest political adviser, said Friday that he does not know whether Sanders will run in 2020.

But caught up in the throng of supporters surrounding Sanders as he led supporters to the voting center — with the crowd spilling from the sidewalk onto the street — Weaver said, “From my perspective, this is an auspicious start.”

By the end of his tour, Sanders will have visited 32 states since the 2016 election. He has raised about $1.8 million for fellow candidates, with that total to exceed $2 million by the end of the election cycle.

“Back in the [2016] primaries, just prior to that, people almost thought we were conspiracy theorists,” said Laurie Cestnick, a former Sanders campaign volunteer and founder of Occupy DNC Convention, which held dozens of protests during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Now, she said, “I think the awareness [of Sanders] is just there, where it wasn’t before … I think he has a far greater chance.”

If he runs in 2020, the challenges will be stiff. In part because of Sanders’ prodding on issues ranging from health care to the minimum wage, the Democratic Party has shifted closer to his leftist profile since the 2016 election, and Sanders will almost certainly face opposition from other high-profile progressives.

“It’s a different environment for him: The landscape for progressive Democrats has shifted pretty substantially, and largely in our favor,” said Arshad Hasan, a Sanders delegate in 2016 and former executive director of the activist group Progress Now. “But that’s a double-edged sword … You’ve got Bernie, who has a much higher profile than he did four years. But at the same time, there’s more room” for other progressive candidates to run.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Democracy for America was part of an unsuccessful effort to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president, before ultimately endorsing Sanders. This year, Warren is poised to enter the race, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only senator to endorse Sanders in 2016, is mulling a run.

While Charles Chamberlain, DFA’s current executive director, said his members’ support for Sanders is “definitely strong,” he added, “Will he be the choice of our membership for the presidential race? I think that’s an open question.”

In 2016, Chamberlain said, “It was [Sanders] versus Clinton. What we’re going to be looking at in [2020] is Bernie Sanders versus 20 other people.”

In an expansive 2020 presidential field, Sanders is likely to be squeezed not only by progressive rivals, but by many moderate Democrats who continue to keep their distance from him. Earlier this week in Indiana, Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly cut a campaign ad criticizing “socialists” and “the radical left” for positions on health care and immigration, while moderate Democrats in South Carolina, where Sanders will be on Saturday, have responded tepidly to his pre-election tour.

“If Bernie wants to run again, as he is definitely thinking about, then it’s clear that he has to approach it differently than he did the first time,” Hasan said. “I think the first time, he really kind of made it about, ‘There’s two visions of the Democratic Party: progressive and not,’ and that was kind of his singular analysis.”

Now, Hasan said, “One of the things that he’s really come to learn is that there are so many different factions and flavors of the Democratic coalition.”

In addition to the three early nominating states that Sanders will visit, his tour will take him to Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and California. The last stop is critical to his 2020 chances, with Sanders’ advisers believing the weeks he spent campaigning there in a losing effort in 2016 — effectively his last stand of the primary campaign — could pay off with a large delegate haul in 2020.

Sanders has used the midterm election cycle to lay groundwork for a 2020 campaign in subtler ways, as well. In recent months, he has expanded his focus on foreign policy — a perceived weakness in 2016 — articulating his brand of progressivism not only as a domestic matter, but as a vehicle to counter authoritarianism abroad. More significantly, he has used the midterm elections to align himself with several prominent African-Americans, whose lack of support in 2016 hobbled Sanders in the South.

This year, he has supported all three African-American Democrats running for governor in November. In addition to backing Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland, Sanders delivered a crucial endorsement to Andrew Gillum, now Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, when few thought Gillum could prevail in the primary.

Still, Sanders has a ways to go to overcome his landslide loss to Clinton in South Carolina and his failure to gain traction with African-American voters in the South.

Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist who worked for Clinton’s campaign in 2016, said he’s doubtful Sanders can significantly expand his coalition.

“With the potential of several other candidates being African-American, and there’s some talk about a possible Latino or two to also be in the race, I think that presents a real challenge for Sen. Sanders and a lot of other people who are entering the race,” he said.

Sanders has demurred when asked about his 2020 plans, telling CNN recently that “we will see what happens.” But the effort to distinguish Sanders from the rest of the burgeoning Democratic field has been ongoing since the 2016 election, with Sanders’ supporters casting his economic populism as a 2020-ready alternative to Trump’s.

Larry Cohen, a former head of the Communications Workers of America who now chairs the board of Our Revolution, a political offshoot of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, said that in 2016, “Working people weren’t feeling listened to.”

“Bernie was [listening], and Bernie is,” Cohen said. “He’s authentic, in terms of decades of saying working people matter … People may not agree with him, but they don’t doubt he means what he says.”

Mississippi Democrat says he’d be ‘senator for everybody’

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mike Espy is doing a balancing act as he runs for U.S. Senate in Mississippi.

As an African-American Democrat, Espy needs a strong voter turnout among black people, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population. But he can’t win without some white support in a conservative Southern state where voting patterns tend to break along racial lines. While most black votes go to Democrats, the white majority leans Republican.

Even as prominent African-American politicians, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, have traveled to Mississippi to endorse him, the 64-year-old Espy says he is reaching out to all audiences with a unifying message.

“I don’t care about race or religion or gender or party or sexual orientation or disability,” Espy told a diverse group of supporters at a recent reception in his Jackson campaign office, carefully pausing between each category.

“I’m going to be the senator for everybody,” he said.

Espy, a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary, is one of three candidates trying to unseat Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith next month. The race could have national repercussions as the GOP tries to maintain its slim Senate majority.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to serve temporarily when longtime GOP Sen. Thad Cochran retired amid health concerns in April. The winner of a special election will serve the last two years of the six-year term.

President Donald Trump campaigned for Hyde-Smith at an Oct. 2 rally in northern Mississippi, telling a cheering crowd: “A vote for Cindy is a vote for me.”

Espy grew up in Yazoo City in a prominent family that has operated funeral homes in the rural Mississippi Delta for 100 years. An attorney, he’s been a familiar face in Mississippi politics for a generation. In 1986, he became the first African-American to win a U.S. House seat in the state since Reconstruction. In 1993, he became President Bill Clinton’s first agriculture secretary.

Espy resigned the Cabinet post in 1994 amid a special counsel investigation that accused him of improperly accepting gifts. He was tried and acquitted on 30 corruption charges, but now the Mississippi Republican Party is running an ad that calls Espy “too corrupt for the Clintons” and “too liberal for Mississippi.”

Espy said he refused to accept offers of plea deals.

“I put my reputation on the line, went through a trial, went through 70 witnesses against me, went through the special prosecutor who spent $26 million against me and I was found not guilty. Because I was not guilty,” Espy told The Associated Press. “In fact, I was so not guilty, I was innocent.”

Espy said he was also trying to maintain his own political viability when he refused any plea deal.

“I wanted to run for office one day,” he said. “I didn’t want any misdemeanor charge over me at all.”

Mississippi hasn’t sent a black man to the Senate since Reconstruction or a Democrat since Ronald Reagan was president.

The South has been a Republican stronghold for two decades, and Republicans hold all but one statewide office in Mississippi. But Espy supporters point to signs of hope for Democrats this year in a U.S. Senate race in Texas and governors’ races in Georgia and Florida. They also point to Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in a 2017 special U.S. Senate election in Alabama.

Hyde-Smith served 11 years as a Democrat in the state Senate before switching parties in late 2010. Running as a Republican, she won statewide races for agriculture commissioner in 2011 and 2015. Bryant said he chose her as Cochran’s temporary successor because he considers her a solid conservative.

Another Republican is also trying to topple Hyde-Smith: tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who nearly defeated Cochran in a bruising 2014 Republican primary. Besides Espy, the other Democrat in the special election is Tobey Bernard Bartee, a former military intelligence officer who’s running a low-budget campaign.

Party labels won’t appear on the ballot, and if nobody wins a majority Nov. 6, the top two will advance to a Nov. 27 runoff. Espy is aiming for the runoff, hoping that Republicans will be splintered enough to prevent Hyde-Smith from winning outright.

Vicki Slater, a white attorney who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2015, is backing Espy, who says he supports broad access to health care and a $15 minimum wage that he says could primarily help single mothers.

“He’s running against a woman,” Slater said. “But you know what the sad fact of life is? It’s that some men are better for women on women’s issues than some women are.”

Slater said troubling questions were raised about Supreme Court nominee, and now justice, Brett Kavanaugh, during his Senate confirmation. Hyde-Smith, the first woman to represent Mississippi in either chamber of Congress, tells voters she has a 100 percent record of supporting Trump. She supported Kavanaugh on the Senate floor and voted to confirm him.

Espy said Christine Blasey Ford was “believable” when she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in their teen years; Kavanaugh vehemently denies it. Espy also says Hyde-Smith voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation out of party loyalty.

“As your senator, I’m not going to let anything or anyone rush me to judgment,” Espy said in a campaign email. “Not Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. Not anyone from either party. Because when we put party first, all it does is divide us.”

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

These politicians went on the offensive, but not in a good way


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) greets people following a town hall event at Belkin Family Lookout Farm, in Natick, Mass. (Steven Senne/AP)
October 20 at 8:00 AM

This week brought us an exceptional number of head-smacking incidents involving powerful politicians (and those who hope to be) doing things to aggravate or insult entire swaths of voters — just three weeks before the midterm elections no less. The Fix looks at a few moments that surely caused everything from mild campaign staff heartburn to worries that long-term detrimental precedents had been set.

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and black voters

Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate has been under significant criticism after the Associated Press reported that 53,000 voters — most of whom are black — had their registrations put on hold because they don’t pass the state’s “exact match” system. As Georgia’s secretary of state, Kemp oversees the registration process.

But the latest story related to voter suppression in Georgia came after Kemp’s official secretary of state website featured an informational video informing residents how to vote. In the video, a white boy was allowed to vote early while a black girl was not — for lacking voter identification.

The visual was an unhelpful reminder of concerns over whether Republicans were trying to suppress minority voters — presumably Democratic votes — perhaps especially those of black women, who are expected to come out in droves to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has the potential to be the nation’s first black female governor.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) and Native Americans

The Massachusetts Democrat hoped to settle the debate with President Trump and others about her Native American heritage by releasing a DNA report showing that a distant ancestor actually was Native American. The move was interpreted as an attempt to put the story behind her — and garner a million-dollar donation from Trump to a nonprofit helping Native American women — before Warren officially launches her 2020 presidential bid. But the lawmaker was mocked by many, especially conservatives, and criticized by some Native Americans for attempting to claim a community that does not claim her and that she has not advocated for on Capitol Hill.

“There’s a whole host of things we can get into: education, health care, all of these things that need to be addressed, but we can’t get to them when you have someone like Elizabeth Warren going out there and trying to make Indian Country a political issue,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a member of the Cherokee tribe, told the Fix.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D.-N.D.) and female survivors

A few weeks after voting against Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court in the wake of sexual assault allegations, the North Dakota Democrat listed, without permission, the names of women who survived sexual assault and domestic violence in a newspaper ad criticizing comments made by her opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer.

Heitkamp, who was already trailing Cramer in her bid for reelection, has been counting on women disgusted with Trump and Kavanaugh — and Cramer’s defense of them — to be victorious on Election Day. She apologized for the mistake, but some women in her state believe the damage can’t be undone.

Lexi Zhorela, a Bismarck resident included on the list of 127 women, wrote on Facebook that she was “beyond FURIOUS.”

Many of the women “didn’t want our name spread across the news for everyone to see,” she wrote explaining that those listed risk retribution from the men they’ve accused of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Rep. French Hill (R.-Ark.) and black voters

The Arkansas Republican hopes to maintain his seat in the state’s most urban district, but a super PAC’s effort to help him win black voters has drawn more negative attention to his campaign than positive. The group, Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, created a radio ad featuring two black women suggesting that if Democrats take over the House, they would treat black men accused of sexual assault worse than Kavanaugh, an affluent white man, was treated by his critics.

Hill distanced himself from the ad, calling it “appalling,” but to some black voters, it was the latest example of what some on the right will do to insert identity politics into the midterm elections in the worst way.

Bernie draws thousands as 2020 decision looms

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders owns a national profile that most of his potential rivals have yet to develop. | Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

Elections

The Vermont senator rips Trump at a rally in Bloomington, Indiana.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bernie Sanders can still draw a crowd.

Touching off a nine-state midterm election blitz here Friday, rally-goers clad in T-shirts from Sanders’ 2016 campaign cheered as the independent senator from Vermont reprised his progressive credentials on student debt, health care and the minimum wage. And they jeered along with Sanders as he mocked Trump — a prelude to a potential 2020 campaign.

Story Continued Below

“Now Trump, he’s a very, very tough guy,” Sanders told about 3,000 people in this college town. “He’s a very, very strong guy when he tears little children at the border from the arms of their mothers. What a tough guy. But he ain’t such a tough guy when he has to deal with Putin … He is not such a tough guy when he has to deal with his billionaire friends in Saudi Arabia, who just tortured and murdered a courageous journalist.”

No longer the curiosity that he was when he entered the 2016 presidential primary — with his then-meager fundraising base and Hillary Clinton’s near-inevitability staring him down — Sanders now wields one of the most coveted email lists of progressive voters and donors in the country. He owns a national profile that most of his potential rivals have yet to develop.

And while Sanders may run into a buzz-saw as early as Saturday, when he visits the less hospitable early primary state of South Carolina, he proved here Friday that he remains a popular force on the left.

The rally — and a brisk march that Sanders led from the rally to a voting center blocks away — opened Sanders’ nine-state blitz ahead of the midterms, with planned appearances in the early 2020 nominating states of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina. But his first and last appearances, in Indiana and California later this month, are freighted with significance, as well: Sanders won the Indiana primary in an upset in 2016, and his prospects in 2020 would rely on a large delegate haul in California, where Sanders campaigned for weeks in his losing race to Clinton.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager and closest political adviser, said Friday that he does not know whether Sanders will run in 2020.

But caught up in the throng of supporters surrounding Sanders as he led supporters to the voting center — with the crowd spilling from the sidewalk onto the street — Weaver said, “From my perspective, this is an auspicious start.”

By the end of his tour, Sanders will have visited 32 states since the 2016 election. He has raised about $1.8 million for fellow candidates, with that total to exceed $2 million by the end of the election cycle.

“Back in the [2016] primaries, just prior to that, people almost thought we were conspiracy theorists,” said Laurie Cestnick, a former Sanders campaign volunteer and founder of Occupy DNC Convention, which held dozens of protests during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Now, she said, “I think the awareness [of Sanders] is just there, where it wasn’t before … I think he has a far greater chance.”

If he runs in 2020, the challenges will be stiff. In part because of Sanders’ prodding on issues ranging from health care to the minimum wage, the Democratic Party has shifted closer to his leftist profile since the 2016 election, and Sanders will almost certainly face opposition from other high-profile progressives.

“It’s a different environment for him: The landscape for progressive Democrats has shifted pretty substantially, and largely in our favor,” said . But at the same time, there’s more room” for other progressive candidates to run.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Democracy for America was part of an unsuccessful effort to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president, before ultimately endorsing Sanders. This year, Warren is poised to enter the race, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only senator to endorse Sanders in 2016, is mulling a run.

While Charles Chamberlain, DFA’s current executive director, said his members’ support for Sanders is “definitely strong,” he added, “Will he be the choice of our membership for the presidential race? I think that’s an open question.”

In 2016, Chamberlain said, “It was [Sanders] versus Clinton. What we’re going to be looking at in [2020] is Bernie Sanders versus 20 other people.”

In an expansive 2020 presidential field, Sanders is likely to be squeezed not only by progressive rivals, but by many moderate Democrats who continue to keep their distance from him. Earlier this week in Indiana, Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly cut a campaign ad criticizing “socialists” and “the radical left” for positions on health care and immigration, while moderate Democrats in South Carolina, where Sanders will be on Saturday, have responded tepidly to his pre-election tour.

“If Bernie wants to run again, as he is definitely thinking about, then it’s clear that he has to approach it differently than he did the first time,” Hasan said. “I think the first time, he really kind of made it about, ‘There’s two visions of the Democratic Party: progressive and not,’ and that was kind of his singular analysis.”

Now, Hasan said, “One of the things that he’s really come to learn is that there are so many different factions and flavors of the Democratic coalition.”

In addition to the three early nominating states that Sanders will visit, his tour will take him to Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and California. The last stop is critical to his 2020 chances, with Sanders’ advisers believing the weeks he spent campaigning there in a losing effort in 2016 — effectively his last stand of the primary campaign — could pay off with a large delegate haul in 2020.

Sanders has used the midterm election cycle to lay groundwork for a 2020 campaign in subtler ways, as well. In recent months, he has expanded his focus on foreign policy — a perceived weakness in 2016 — articulating his brand of progressivism not only as a domestic matter, but as a vehicle to counter authoritarianism abroad. More significantly, he has used the midterm elections to align himself with several prominent African-Americans, whose lack of support in 2016 hobbled Sanders in the South.

This year, he has supported all three African-American Democrats running for governor in November. In addition to backing Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland, Sanders delivered a crucial endorsement to Andrew Gillum, now Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, when few thought Gillum could prevail in the primary.

Still, Sanders has a ways to go to overcome his landslide loss to Clinton in South Carolina and his failure to gain traction with African-American voters in the South.

Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist who worked for Clinton’s campaign in 2016, said he’s doubtful Sanders can significantly expand his coalition.

“With the potential of several other candidates being African-American, and there’s some talk about a possible Latino or two to also be in the race, I think that presents a real challenge for Sen. Sanders and a lot of other people who are entering the race,” he said.

Sanders has demurred when asked about his 2020 plans, telling CNN recently that “we will see what happens.” But the effort to distinguish Sanders from the rest of the burgeoning Democratic field has been ongoing since the 2016 election, with Sanders’ supporters casting his economic populism as a 2020-ready alternative to Trump’s.

Larry Cohen, a former head of the Communications Workers of America who now chairs the board of Our Revolution, a political offshoot of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, said that in 2016, “Working people weren’t feeling listened to.”

“Bernie was [listening], and Bernie is,” Cohen said. “He’s authentic, in terms of decades of saying working people matter … People may not agree with him, but they don’t doubt he means what he says.”

In Conversation: Artist Profile on Darius Moreno

By Jade Flint, Culture Editor

Vivid memories of go-go, early 2000’s streetwear turned fashion, and the parties that surrounded it all describe the environment that artist, Darius Moreno, was raised in. Although classically trained at Duke Ellington High School and Parsons School of Art and Design, his affinity for the ghetto-fabulous shines through in his colorful artwork. In an ever-changing D.C. landscape, Darius Moreno and his work serve as a nostalgic reminder of what once was Chocolate City.

 “Being that you recently graduated from Parsons, how well did your classwork reflect your real life interests?”

“Parsons was a great opportunity. But it wasn’t like a lot of black students and stuff. Especially in my major, it was only one other, two other students in illustration. So I would just take a lot of time to work on personal projects. Like the reason for me doing the bare minimum at school was because my teachers didn’t understand my work a lot of times. Like being the only black student in the classroom, they just assume like ‘oh this is different, so unique.’ So they wouldn’t know how to critique it necessarily. I didn’t really take offense to it, I just took it as a way like ‘I could do what I want because you guys can’t check me so.”

“Can you explain the impact that social media has had on your career?

“Uh, social media *laughs*. Honestly like, I hate to say it, but it kinda saved my career in a way because like before I started posting on Instagram, I really started posting on Tumblr. And Tumblr was where I got a lot of notice and reposts and stuff like that, reblogs. So that kind of put my work out there a lot. And then like I didn’t even have a Twitter until like two years ago, foreal. But they like knew all that stuff. ‘Your artwork is all over and stuff.’ And I would see people like make their little icon or avis as like my work or whatever.”

“No, it really is. I’ve encountered your work, like as I was researching for this interview, I encountered like the Lisa Raye image that you did. And I’d seen that on Tumblr like years ago and didn’t even know who it was credited to at the time. “

“Yeah because honestly when I was posting on Tumblr at first, I used to just not even tag my stuff. I was just posting where I could get in. Then I realized I had to like tag my stuff ‘cause I had an incident my first year of school where somebody tried to claim it as their own. So I started making sure I had to like type my name and stuff like that. My first two years, I was just doing a lot of pieces influenced by like movies that are around the culture of hip-hop in general. And just like anything I felt that was like pretty or like themed around things kind of like going unnoticed or nostalgic that were related to me or people like me. Especially being in an environment like Parsons where it just wasn’t a lot of black culture.”

“So how would you define the black aesthetic being that your work is so heavily influenced by it?”

“I would say the black aesthetic is ever-changing. It’s always changing but I also feel like the black aesthetic is the aesthetic that starts it all to be honest. It all starts from where you grew up whether you’re from Georgia, DC, New Orleans, North Carolina. If you grew up in a kinda [impovrished] neighborhood, you have something to say. I feel like a lot of the most popular art comes from the hood. I would describe it as ghetto fabulous. That’s how I would describe it in regards to my own work.”

“Would you identify yourself as like a black artist specifically, a queer artist specifically, or do you just prefer to be an artist?”

 I prefer to just be an artist, but at the same time, I like being identified as a black artist and a queer artist, you know? ‘Cause that’s what I am, that’s what I represent. Lotta times, I don’t even paint people outside the black community, lotta times to be honest. Like I’ve only done one or two pieces of like white people. And I hated them *laughs*. So yeah, I would definitely identify myself as a black artist, a queer artist. Also, I guess an artist of Hispanic heritage because I do have a Puerto Rican mother.

“How do you feel about white artists getting opportunities over ones that you feel that, given that you’re within the culture, you should have access to in regards to the recent Twitter scandal at the Blacksonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with the white curator for hip-hop?’

“That’s super problematic because like you said, there are many like black curators, I’m sure, would’ve done a better job of like portraying like the hip-hop community in the museum. I don’t necessarily think that it doesn’t have anything to do with them ‘cause like, you can’t base like who can relate to anything based off the color of their skin. At the same time, an opportunity like that, an opportunity that’s huge like that should only be within our own community”

“What led to the dolls that you have recently been making?”

Actually like in school, so I guess three years ago now, I took a 3D class, and we had to make toys or whatever. And everyone in the class had to make different variations of their toys or whatever. And I decided to make like dolls. The teacher didn’t like it at the moment because it was like I didn’t follow the directions. People were making like puppets and stuff like that, and I kinda made like a pole and stripper. It went really well in the end. Like I didn’t really know who I was like creating these for, but on my Instagram, white people really loved it. And I didn’t even realize how much I enjoyed making those dolls. Like taking on a different medium is like refreshing. So yeah. But I really enjoy making toys and dolls, because I was also very influenced by dolls growing up. Like I loved dolls. I loved Barbies, Bratz dolls, the Brandy doll, all that stuff. I loved action figures, still do have action figures.”

“Yeah, have you ever seen the cartoon ‘The PJs’?

“Mm-hm, definitely inspired by ‘The PJs,’ yeah.”

“Yes! That’s what they remind me of. If that and Barbie had a baby.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was going for. I really wanna go into stop-motion eventually. Like short films.”

I’m very excited to see what you do with that medium. ‘Cause stop-motion, it’s not used as much as it could be and I think the way that you’re gonna use it is gonna be immaculate.

 “Yeah. Yeah like I think stop-motion is definitely under appreciated. Like I really hate how everything is CGI at the moment. So it makes everything look the same after a while. Like some things they should reconsider like especially stop-motion. Like I love films like Coraline, Paranorman, and then like [inaudible], a lot of like Tim Burton’s stuff. So yeah, I love stuff like that. Because it comes off kinda creepy but it’s still really cool to watch”

Yeah, I think we’re so obsessed with the beautiful. It’s kinda nice if they have a little imperfections to them, you know?

“ Exactly, yeah. I like that, I like that. It comes off more organic.”

Rapid Fire Questions: If you had to have one Lil’ Kim song to open your biopic, what would it be?

Drugs (which is mine too!)

What’s your favorite episode of ‘The Boondocks’

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Do you have a favorite Rico Nasty song?

Smack a B*tch

Would you consider DC the south?

Yes, Because I feel like a lot of people in DC appreciate southern music more than like up-north music.

“Lastly, what is something that you miss about the DMV area that’s been lost in the past 5 years?”

“Hm, lost in the past 5 years? Honestly, I don’t even know because I’ve like been to the DMV area. I don’t live there anymore. But I miss things like parties and functions and go-go in general. Like I don’t know even think they’re still really a thing like when I was a kid.”

Artists, like Darius Moreno, Rico Nasty and Goldlink are arguably the last children of the DMV to really have lived the culture at its heights. Through their work, we get a soft glimpse of the ghetto fabulous looks and gogo music that reigned supreme years prior to the gentrification that we see today. We should look to them for the preservation of the culture but also for how we will evolve next.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

African American Chamber celebrates 20 years of service

DORIS CARSON WILLIAMS

Twenty years ago, a group of Black businessmen hit on the idea of forming an African American Chamber of Commerce to help grow small businesses and foster relationships among them, and with the corporate and public sectors. It was chartered in 1998 and hasn’t looked back—until last week, when the Rivers Club hosted a celebration of those 20 years.

Doris Carson Williams, who was hired away from the Carnegie Museums to be the chamber’s first director—now president and CEO—said the evening was very special because she got to see old friends and members that she hasn’t seen for some time.

Samuel Stephenson, the chamber’s first board chair and the current chair, gave a brief history of the organization’s formation. Chuck Powell, formerly with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, spoke about the politics involved and about mimicking a successful model developed in Atlanta, and Chester Engineers founder Robert Agbede spoke about his search for a director and hiring Williams.

“We also paid homage to members who have passed, and we recognized the women of the chamber,” said Williams.

“But it was kind of surreal because when I spoke about the programming we’d put together like the diabetes series we did— Highmark CEO David Holmberg walks in. I talk about corporate engagement—Frank Coonelly from the Pirates walks in. But CCAC President Quintin Bullock took it over the top talking about our Junior Chamber of Commerce because he had testimonials from the kids.”

Also in attendance were the current and former Allegheny County executives, the mayor, the former director of the federal Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise, among others. Greg Spencer, the chamber’s second chair, talked about its importance both from the standpoint of a executive at EQT and as the owner of a small business.

What does Williams remember about the last 20 years?

“I remember thinking I’d do this for three or four years and go back to the corporate world. I didn’t realize that once you’re in it, you’re in it. People will make promises based on you, so you have to follow through. Hopefully we made a difference from small businesses that what it was about,” she said.

“The fun part was engaging the corporate community, getting them involved—because you had to sell it. The hard part was raising the money. I’d not had to do that before, but I learned how and had good people to help me—building relationships and never missing an opportunity to say thanks.”

And as the evening closed, she did just that, recognizing New Pittsburgh Courier Editor and Publisher Rod Doss for the paper’s support over the years.

“Where would we be without the Black Press,” she said. “Rod was there from the beginning—our first event had H.J. Russell from Atlanta. Rod was the first to cover our story.”

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