Community honors George Floyd; rally comments, graffiti strike a nerve

BAR HARBOR — The national furor over the death of a Minneapolis man at the hands of police surfaced here this weekend when an anti-police epithet was spray painted on downtown buildings Saturday night and some of the speakers at a Sunday rally criticized police in a way that some felt crossed a line.

“Us and everyone else in the country are going through a really hard time right now,” Police Chief Jim Willis said Monday. “We understand that, we understand that people need to do what they need to do, and we certainly don’t want to discourage any of that. We work hard at building our relationships, and I think it helps get us through troubled times.”

George Floyd of Minneapolis died in police custody last Monday. The four officers who were present were fired from the department and on Friday one was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Indivisible MDI organized a small local vigil Friday. “This week, Americans watched a 10-minute video in which we witnessed police officers murdering Minnesotan George Floyd in broad daylight as he begged them to stop, and onlookers pled with the officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck,” the group said in a statement.

Organizers of both that event and a rally Sunday afternoon said demonstrations of solidarity should be accompanied by meaningful action.

“Although we pride ourselves on caring about these issues, we do very little to make systemic, meaningful change,” said Alex Burnett, a Mount Desert Island High School student who organized the Sunday rally.

The plan for the event came together quickly, he said. “On Saturday, I realized that we needed to show solidarity and be there for Black people and people of color in our community.”

There wasn’t time to line up planned speeches; he put an announcement on social media Saturday saying that the gathering would be held Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Village Green, and that everyone should wear masks.

Meanwhile, Saturday night, the graffiti appeared on the side of a toy store near the police station, and on buildings at the town athletic fields on Main Street. By Monday, it had all already been cleaned and painted over.

“As far as who did it, what I can say it it’s under investigation,” Willis said. Anyone with information related to the incident is encouraged to contact the police department.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited under the current state rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus; Saturday’s rally easily topped that, but almost all participants were wearing masks and made efforts to leave a safe distance between groups.

At the rally, Burnett said, “a couple people volunteered to speak, and after they spoke, I offered the mic to anybody who wanted to.”

Comments from a recent MDI High School graduate who has been living in Portland critical of police sparked some attendees to leave. Other speakers stood up for local police; many others have emailed or called the police department, or left gifts or meals, to express their support, Willis said.

“The graffiti sucks, nobody likes to see that,” resident Bo Greene, who spoke at the rally, told the Islander Monday. “But to focus more on the graffiti than on the murder that we all watched at the hands of someone in blue, I think is a mistake.

“I would jump in front of a train for Dave (Lt. Dave Kerns), and other officers, and I know they would for me,” she continued. “I can appreciate them for everything they do and still challenge them to stand up” and denounce police brutality. “And that’s what I do with the ones that I’m closest with.”

Burnett said the microphone was offered to anyone who wanted to speak.

“A lot of people spoke, most of them white,” he said. “Although I am super grateful for everyone who spoke, it’s necessary that, as white people, we amplify the voices of those who are marginalized. As a community we need to decentralize the white narrative and put our energy into giving power and space to Black people in our community.”

“Every white person has a responsibility to seek out resources to help them understand, recognize, and learn about the racism within themselves and built into the fabric of our society. The resources and materials are there; it is our responsibility to act and learn.

“Read books by black authors,” he continued. “Watch movies by black directors. Support black artists. Do your research and educate yourself, your friends, your family. Talk to your white peers. Redistribute our wealth; instead of buying from Amazon, buy from a black-owned business.

“There is so much we can and must do. Black people have been doing this work since the very beginning. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves on how to take down systemic racism in this country. We do that by learning from, and listening to, black communities.”

Another demonstration is in the planning stages sometime in the next two weeks, Burnett said.

Willis recalled hearing a story from a police chief who had had an officer-involved shooting at his agency many years ago.

“I remember him saying that he had to stand up in front of the community and say, ‘This is going to take your patience and trust, but we’re going to look into it.’

“And he said, ‘The key to the whole thing was when people believed me.’ And it worked out and it diffused the negative energy.

“I think we have that here” on Mount Desert Island, Willis said. “I sure hope we do. If people are feeling otherwise, I’d encourage them to give us a call so we can get together and understand each other and move forward.”

Liz Graves

Liz is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Islander since 2013. She grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor. [email protected]

Liz Graves

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The Local and National Music Industry Participates in #TheShowMustBePaused in Observation of Black Lives Matter

Since the killing of George Floyd over Memorial Day Weekend by Minneapolis Police on May 25, some companies in the music industry have responded by saying they will observe “Black Out Tuesday” or #TheShowMustBePaused this Tuesday, June 2. Business for participating companies or artists will stop on this day to commemorate the Black Lives Matter protests and call attention to the enormous role black musicians and artists have played in the music industry. As of June 1, Live Nation, Sony, Columbia Records, Capitol Records, Warner Records and TikTok have announced they will participate, among others.

#TheShowMustBePaused was created by Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, black women who are executives in the music business and call on the industry that has “profited predominantly from Black art” to take a stand.

“It is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent,” said Thomas and Agyemang in a statement on their official website.

Artists and companies are participating in different ways — some postponing music releases, others promising to communicate with their coworkers —  with the same goal of taking time away from production to focus on community.

As of Monday, June 1, some Denver groups and organizations have joined the movement. iZCALLi announced on their Instagram page they will participate in Black Out Tuesday, as well as Unsigned Unheard – 5280 , and the Fillmore Auditorium, that shared Live Nation’s promise to take June 2 to “work together with our employees and colleagues on actionable next steps that will continue to engage and spark consistent action in fighting racism.” Gabriel Mervine and his band cancelled their online performance at Dazzle Presents June 2, and The Bluebird Theatre also released a statement.

It is likely Black Out Tuesday will extend throughout the week and weeks to come as more artists and businesses join the movement. Interested musicians, fans or music lovers can learn more  here at #TheShowMustBePaused’s website. 

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The Music Business Is Holding a ‘Blackout.’ But No One…

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As cities and industries react to the killing of George Floyd and other black victims of police brutality, artists, executives, and companies from across the music business will participate in a day of silent protest — though a lack of clear messaging from the major labels makes its meaning open for interpretation.

Organizers of the planned June 2nd event asked the industry to “not conduct business as usual” and instead spend time reflecting on how to support the black community. The original statement was posted toward the end of last week and quickly gained momentum over the weekend. By the end of the weekend, the three music majors Warner Music Group, Sony Music, and Universal Music Group had all pledged support alongside many of their flagship labels, though others in the industry expressed confusion at the message’s intent.

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“Your black executives, artists, managers, staff, colleagues are drained, traumatized, hurt, scared, and angry,” Jamila Thomas, Senior Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records, wrote in a statement to music industry colleagues on Instagram on Friday, co-launching a hashtag called #TheShowMustBePaused and labeling the day Blackout Tuesday.

Thomas and her partner in the initiative, former Atlantic Records employee Brianna Agyemang, made a formal call to action, asking those who work in music, entertainment, and show businesses to “pause” on Tuesday because “the show can’t just go on, as our people are being hunted and killed.”

“#Theshowmustbepaused is an initiative created by two black women in music in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exist from the boardroom to the boulevard,” the duo wrote. “Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the black communities that I’ve made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.”

“I don’t want to sit on your Zoom calls talking about the black artists who are making you so much money, if you fail to address what’s happening to black people right now,” Thomas wrote. “That’s the only ‘rollout plan’ I want to discuss. And it’s not solely on the ‘urban department,’ Black label heads, Black Presidents, & black employees to navigate. Your silence is noted.”

Columbia Records was one of the first labels to publicly issue a statement independent of Thomas and Agyemang’s initiative. “We stand together with the Black community against all forms of racism, bigotry and violence,” the label wrote. “Now, more than ever we must raise our voices to speak up and challenge the injustices all around us.”

A flurry of social media posts from record labels and other industry employees soon followed. Some labels advised specific actions. Interscope announced that the company would “contribute” to organizations that are focused on bailing out protestors “exercising their right to peacefully assemble” and aiding lawyers in the fight for judicial changes, and that it would help non-profits working towards “economic empowerment in the Black community.” (A rep for Universal Music Group, Interscope’s parent company, did not reply to a request for comment or clarification on how much the label would contribute.) Interscope, which promised to not release any new music during the week of June 1st, also suggested that their followers text “FLOYD” to 55156 to voice opinions against police violence and/or donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, as well as look into Color of Change, Winning Justice, and the ACLU.

Capitol Records said it will make a donation to Color of Change, which wants to “end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.” Both Atlantic and Warner Records encouraged followers to text “FLOYD” to 55156, add their names to the Justice for George Floyd petition at change.org, and donate to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund.

While Epic, Columbia, and Republic were among those who shared that their teams would proudly recognize Blackout Tuesday, the labels did not publicly provide any sort of instructions or calls to action. Columbia pushed that Tuesday was “not a day off” and was, instead, a day to “reflect and figure out ways to move forward in solidarity” — echoing the words of Rob Stringer, CEO of its parent company Sony.

“Many of you have phoned or emailed me to discuss what we can say or do as a company in reaction. We are obviously going to respond but actions are louder than words,” Stringer wrote in a memo to employees. “In the short term, we will be rolling out a company donation policy to relevant organizations and causes throughout this week. As a company, we will observe Blackout Tuesday. However, we are still determining the best ways to approach Tuesday. It should not just be a day off as it needs to be more meaningful than that.” (A rep for Sony declined further comment.)

“Everyone can take a day out from their jobs,” Warner Music CEO Steve Cooper wrote in a memo. “Please use this time to concentrate on helping yourself and others – whether that’s dealing with your own feelings, supporting your friends and colleagues, or taking action.” (A rep for Warner Music declined further comment.)

“We strongly support protest initiatives such as Blackout Tuesday and other valuable and heartfelt non-violent protests,” Universal Music CEO Lucian Grainge said in a staff memo. “But, as we know, protest is just a start, not a solution. Real and constructive change — lasting change — requires sustained focus and unwavering commitment over time.”

“There’s a massive movement going on in the country right now. Why are they starting their own branded movement?” – Joe Steinhardt, Don Giovanni Records

While Grainge laid out some initiatives, including the formation of a “UMG Task Force to accelerate our efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice,” multiple employees across the music industry expressed confusion on their respective company’s goals for Tuesday, while critics assailed the lack of a specific call to action.

Joe Steinhardt, owner of Don Giovanni Records and a teacher at Drexel University, tells Rolling Stone — from the scene of a protest in Philadelphia on Monday — that he believes the movement is an “ignorant and misguided way” to protest, adding that what the labels should be doing is supporting the already existing efforts and initiatives that had been active such as Black Lives Matter.

“Everyone at their fucking offices should clear out anonymously, not as a promotional effort, not with your Sony logo at the bottom of it; get in the streets,” Steinhardt says. “I’m in the streets; most of my artists are in the streets. Anyone who can should anonymously be joining the movement. There’s a massive movement going on in the country right now. Why are they starting their own branded movement?”

“They’ll donate money, but where is that coming from? Their artists,” Steinhardt adds. “How about you make your business makeup reflect this issue, who works in your buildings? Who’s included? We can all laugh at the NFL [statement] yesterday, but the music industry has been just as laughable. What the fuck is a cultural blackout? Culture is what Donald Trump goes to censor. Why are we self-censoring?”

Jessi Frick, founder of fellow indie label Father/Daughter Records, tells Rolling Stone her label won’t be taking part in the day because of the lack of clarity from major labels who’d initially shared the message, adding that her label had already paused promotion on music since last week in light of the protests and would be speaking with other indie labels to discuss more strategies and initiatives to contribute.

Thomas and Agyemang did not reply to requests for comment. As such, it’s unclear where the ideas between the duo’s original intentions and the messaging from the major labels coalesce.

“The music industry shutdown thing feels tone deaf to me” – Bon Iver

“[Thomas and Agyemang] put up their site with way more information than any of these major labels shared in their instagram posts,” Frick says. “The way those posts read to me made me think, ‘Read the room.’ The way it was first put out there wasn’t something I wanted to participate in; getting offline didn’t seem right. If you have a platform and you’re able to get information out, you should use that. Most of these labels have been profiting off the backs of black musicians from the very start, and this just felt like something they should be doing all the time, not just when there’s pressure on them to do so.”

Although appreciative of the industry-wide anger towards injustice and police brutality, Chris Anokute, former SVP of A&R at Island Def Jam who now runs the artist development company Young Forever, expressed that the movement should not end at trending topics and hashtags. “This is not a copy and paste, using the same language and/or words that I see on every corporate post over the last few days,” Anokute wrote. “And all due respect, but black people and most people who care in your organizations have been DISCONNECTED all week from business as usual, so don’t placate us with one fucking day! We are pissed off.”

“I want to commend whoever the individual(s) are that came up with ‘BLACKOUT Tuesday.’ We appreciate you and respect your leadership. I stand with you, behind you, in front of you, wherever I need to be,” Anokute wrote on Instagram. But, “I honestly don’t know what Blackout Tuesday is, so I can’t observe something until I know its origin, who it came from, where it came from, so I know its real intention,” Anokute adds to Rolling Stone. “I can’t take someone’s word for it. That’s the problem today.”

Bon Iver, one of the only artists to speak against the movement, wrote on Twitter that “the music industry shutdown thing feels tone deaf to me” and asked followers to “participate in our actual world.”

Outside of the #TheShowMustBePaused plan for June 2nd, several figures in the music industry have written to political leaders in response to the George Floyd police killing. Last week, music attorney and artist advocate Dina LaPolt sent a letter to the Hennepin County Attorney, copying Congressmember Karen Bass — chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus — Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and record executive and host of the Wrongful Conviction podcast Jason Flom. In it, they demand that the officers involved in the death of Floyd be immediately arrested and charged with first degree murder.

“While the swift action of Mayor Jacob Frey is a necessary first step, I expect and demand that these officers are arrested, charged, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Anything less would constitute a serious miscarriage of justice,” LaPolt wrote. “This is another example of another unarmed African American man killed in police custody, while Americans are left with no confidence that justice will be served. George, his family, the black community, and the American people deserve better.”

Sources close to Tuesday’s plan say more initiatives from the industry are on the way and will be announced shortly.

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In Minneapolis, African refugees see American dream in tatters

African refugees living in Minneapolis were already struggling with their “American dream” when George Floyd died in police custody.

Now their dream is in tatters and they have joined their African American “brothers” in the streets to protest racism in their adopted homeland.

“I came here for freedom. My country was at war,” said Tiha Jibi, who arrived from South Sudan at age 15.

“I end up having two boys, 10 and six, who are afraid because we are not white,” she said, full of rage.

Leaving her family and her country was hard, as was the journey to get to the United States, but she was determined to pursue her own American dream of peace, equality and democracy.

Now, she realizes, “it’s all a lie. Now we have to face that reality.”

That’s why she has been marching to protest the death at the hands of a white police officer of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man whose killing has sparked nationwide protests and clashes with police.

“I came here as a refugee but not as a white refugee,” she said. “My permanent home is the US and my permanent color is black. I have to protest.”

The state of Minnesota, where Minneapolis is located, has the highest percentage of refugees per inhabitant in the whole country, with two percent of the US population but 13 percent of its refugees, according to the most recent census.

Among them are a large number of people from the Horn of Africa — Ethiopians and Somalis — whose presence in the marches was noticeable because of the colorful robes worn by the women.

– ‘Dehumanized’ –

A Somali American mother and her child stand during a protest in Minneapolis against the death of Ge...

A Somali American mother and her child stand during a protest in Minneapolis against the death of George Floyd — Minnesota has the highest percentage of refugees per inhabitant in the US, and many are from the Horn of Africa

kerem yucel, AFP/File

Deka Jama, a 24-year-old woman who came to the United States from Somalia in 2007, showed up with friends, all of them veiled, to protest the discrimination that met them in their new homeland.

“We thought that everyone would be equal, that we would not be judged by religion, by color, by our dresses. That’s not how we were welcomed,” she told AFP.

She feels a close affinity to African Americans, many of them descended from slaves and who have been Americans for generations.

There is “something connects us,” she said. “We are all dehumanized, regardless of our cultural differences. We have to be here for them.”

Minnesota’s Somali community has a source of pride, though, in Ilhan Omar, a 37-year-old born in Mogadishu who was elected to Congress in 2018.

But she too has been the target of racial abuse, death threats and slander. Last summer, President Donald Trump said that she and three other women of color in Congress should “go back” to their countries of origin.

For the past week, Omar has often been asked to comment on the situation. She has not held back from telling people that, beyond acts of police violence, Americans have to address the core issue of inequality in the country.

– Poverty –

“So many people know a social and economic neglect,” Omar said on Sunday.

According to Minnesota Compass, a website that tracks the state’s demographics, families from Africa are particularly hard hit.

In 2016, 12 percent of the population of Minnesota was living under the poverty line, but that number rose to 31 percent among the Ethiopian community and 55 percent among Somalis.

That has meant that for many refugees, an important facet of the American dream — social mobility — has broken down over time.

And the riots that have followed some protests have not helped their plight, since some of the looted businesses were immigrant-owned.

“I am very disappointed, very disappointed,” Ahmed, a 42-year-old who arrived from Ethiopia a decade ago, said as he took in the blackened ruins of a burned building.

President Donald Trump told Representative Ilhan Omar pictured and three other women of color in ...

President Donald Trump told Representative Ilhan Omar, pictured, and three other women of color in Congress that they should “go back” to their countries of origin

Stephen Maturen, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

For him and many others, the major concern is for their children.

One Ethiopian woman, who asked not to be named, said she has four sons and worries that, when they grow up, they too could be subjected to the type of police brutality that took the life of George Floyd.

“This could happen to our children,” she said, encouraging protesters marching below on a highway.

You have to support this movement, she said, “to stop racism, for the future.”

Citywide lighting begins Monday night to recognize festivals canceled due to COVID-19

MILWAUKEE — Buildings throughout downtown Milwaukee will recognize cultural groups whose annual festivals have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis with the #MKEitShine campaign.

Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 is encouraging buildings and landmarks to illuminate their facades with colors representing each cultural festival during its originally scheduled festival dates. Patriotic colors will be encouraged citywide to welcome visitors during the rescheduled dates of the Democratic National Convention.

Beginning Monday evening, June 1, 600 EAST Wisconsin, 833 East Michigan, Discovery World, Fiserv Forum, Gas Light Building, Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown, Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, Lakefront Brewery, MGIC, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee County Historical Society, Milwaukee County Parks Mitchell Park Domes, Northwestern Mutual, The Pfister Hotel, Schlitz Park (#MilwaukeeFamous sign), SpringHill Suites by Marriott (when reopened) and U.S. Bank Center will be lit in a rainbow of colors to salute PrideFest.

WHEN:          

  • PrideFest: June 1 – 7 (colors: rainbow)
  • Polish Fest: June 12 – 14 (colors: red and white)
  • 3rd of July Fireworks: July 3 – 5 (colors: red, white and blue)
  • Bastille Days: July 9 – 12 (colors: red, white and blue)
  • Festa Italiana: July 17 – 19 (colors: green, white and red)
  • German Fest: July 24 – 26 (colors: black, red and gold)
  • Black Arts Festival: Aug. 1 (colors: blue, red, yellow and green)
  • Democratic National Convention: Aug. 10 – 20 (colors: red, white and blue)
  • Mexican Fiesta: Aug. 21 – 23 (colors: green, white and red)
  • Irish Fest: Aug. 28 – 30 (colors: green, white and orange)

WHERE:       

  • 600 EAST Wisconsin
  • 833 East Michigan
  • Discovery World
  • Fiserv Forum
  • Gas Light Building
  • Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown
  • Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
  • Lakefront Brewery
  • MGIC
  • Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Milwaukee County Historical Society
  • Milwaukee County Parks Mitchell Park Domes (will only be lit on Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • The Pfister Hotel
  • Schlitz Park (#MilwaukeeFamous sign)
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott (when reopened)
  • U.S. Bank Center
43.038902 -87.906474

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Heat Check: ‘Black Joy Is Radical’

Nubya Garcia’s latest single “Pace” is all about diving into the many layers of joy. Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of the artist

Nubya Garcia’s latest single “Pace” is all about diving into the many layers of joy.

Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of the artist

If you saw the first Heat Check Live on NPR Music’s Instagram this past weekend, you rocked with us for a live DJ set of all your favorite new songs. Afterward, New York-based artist Linda Diaz, whose work has been featured on Heat Check before, reminded us why we create spaces for the playlist to exist: “Community is invaluable. Black joy is radical,” she wrote.

With the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery erupting into protests across the country and the world against racism and police brutality, the joy of being Black has felt stolen and replaced with the reality of being Black.

Heat Check cosigns many artists of color, specifically Black artists, whose music stands out so much that it doesn’t deign to fit in anywhere else. This playlist expresses all emotions and gives reason to rhyme.

To celebrate radical Black joy in a time of great pain, here’s a round-up of new tracks from the worlds of jazz, R&B and rap, all to remind you that they can’t hijack happiness. Because we deserve it. Stream Heat Check in it’s entirety each week on Spotify.

Nubya Garcia, “Pace”

London-bred saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia has the kind of convincing panache listeners would just follow anywhere. The sonic peaks and valleys of “Pace,” Garcia’s latest single, do little to allow the listener to nestle into a groove for too long — it goes from mellow, warm and spongy to hurried and hectic. For Garcia, this composition is all about diving into the many layers of joy.

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Savannah Cristina, “Comfortable”

Even when ease feels hard to come by and even harder to maintain, Savannah Christina’s “Comfortable” cradles and confides in a few moments of balance. There’s power in letting the walls down.

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KeiyaA, “Hvnli”

I’ll admit I’ve had KeiyaA’s Forever, Ya Girl marinating on my personal playlist for a while, but haven’t focused in enough to pinpoint which of the 16 tracks really send me soaring. Much like the recent masterpieces by Solange (A Seat At the Table) or Kamasi Washington (The Epic), KeiyaA’s album colors outside the lines and humbly shines light on the nooks and crannies of Black existence.

If I have to pick one track as a primer to this project, the warbling keys and billowing melodies on “Hvnli” is a great start.

And my soul loves carelessly / My God’s always there for me (Heavenly) / And my love is heavenly (Heavenly).

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Caleb Giles, “Diamonds”

With range, perspective and a conviction behind his cadence, Caleb Giles has the ability to usher in a Renaissance of New York rap. As he spells out on “Diamonds,” even with serpents in his garden now, the Bronx emcee prioritizes the months and years of harvest ahead.

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Lil Yachty and Tierra Whack, “T.D. (feat A$AP Rocky and Tyler, The Creator)”

Lil Yachty’s third studio album Lil Boat 3 docked this past week after weeks of hints and build up, officially completing the Atlanta rapper’s trilogy. Although the 19-track bounce house of sounds still hits in that jovial and disorienting fashion Yachty’s come to be known for, it’s Tierra Whack who gets the last laugh. Gliding over a sample of “Tokyo Drift” courtesy of The Teriyaki Boyz (yes, from The Fast and the Furious movie circa ’06), the Philly rapper easily takes the boys to the cleaners with her haywire wordplay.

“I did it all with the passion, I’m a god in this fashion / N****s tryna fit in with their arms in the jacket / Had to pull myself together like it’s all elastic.”

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TeaMarrr, “I’m That (feat. Rapsody)”

TeaMarrr and Rap don’t mince words with this one. Not in the slightest. With a growl and a grin, the Boston-born artist flips relationship roles and assumes the power position on both sides.

“I lick my lips like LL Cool J / I play the game but it ain’t not 2K / Take a sip like, ‘Oh oh bay-bay’ / I’m smooth like rosé and I / Shoot it like Carmelo and I got that whine, Merlot / Red bellow, your booty sweet, come cuddle / My net worth Billy — Gates!”

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New Orleans African American Community suffers due to Covid-19.

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO)- The numbers are decreasing. New Orleans officials are reporting fewer deaths and cases, giving doctors a chance to start thinking about the future.

In fact one local doctor is working on a new initiative, focusing on the disproportionate affects to the African American community due to Covid-19.

Each day that goes by we are hopeful that we are one day closer to finding a vaccine but, until that day, doctors are doing what they can to help educate the impacted communities.

“So, we started this initiative called, the Skin You’re In: Coronavirus and Black America. The purpose is to provide authoritative, accurate information on Covid-19 to African Americans, so that there is a counter balance to the fake and false and information,” said Dr. Thomas LaVeist, Tulane’s Dean of Public Health.

Dispelling the myths and rumors, Dr. LaVeist is making sure that the African American Communities are aware of what’s going on.

“Early on, we discovered that earliest numbers were showing about 70% of the deaths were African American, where about 32% of the state’s population is African American. So, it was a mystery why is that happening,” explained Dr. LaVeist. “It became clear that we needed to figure out what needed to be done first. What really is the diagnoses and we think it’s really matter of who is exposed and who is holding occupations that put them at greater risk of exposure.”

Recently Dr. LaVeist was appointed Co-Chair on Governor John Bel Edwards’ Health Equity Task Force.

“The way we have divided our work is into three phases. One phase, is what can we do right now while we are still in the middle of this crisis? What can we do to make things better in real time? The next phase is, when we come out of this pandemic how do we insure we are better than we were when we went into the pandemic? And then, the last phase is look back. To look back on what we did and take an assessment on what we did right, what we did wrong what we could do better the next time because there will be additional disease outbreaks.”

Dr. LaVeist is hopeful that his initiative will reach the New Orleans African American Community now, before future pandemics.

New York’s Public Theater Benefit, Drama Desk Awards…

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New York’s Public Theater has postponed its virtual event We Are One Public that was set to take place on June 1 in place of its annual live gala.

“In this time of national trauma, when the Covid crisis has so disproportionately impacted the Black community, when the injustices of our way of life have been made so clear, it just feels wrong for us to sail ahead with our event,” the theater’s statement says.

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We Are One Public was set to be hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and directed by Kenny Leon. Honorees included Sam Waterston and Audrey and Zygi Wilf.

The list of presenters included Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, Danielle Brooks, Glenn Close, Elvis Costello, Claire Danes, Danai Gurira, Anne Hathaway, Oscar Isaac, Nikki M. James, John Leguizamo, Audra McDonald and Sandra Oh.

The Public’s postponement came just a couple of hours after the 65th annual Drama Desk Awards on Sunday night was also called off and rescheduled for a later date.

“The Drama Desk celebrates all that’s outstanding in the work of New York’s diverse theater artists and craftspeople,” Drama Desk co-presidents Charles Wright and David Barbour said in a statement. “We regret the postponement of our awards ceremony tonight but, as an organization committed to the principle that all voices must be heard, we stand together with our black colleagues against the racial injustice and violence in our nation and city. We are grateful to Spectrum News NY1 for its comprehensive news coverage of this painful moment.”

The annual theater event was going to take place virtually. The awards, hosted by NY1’s Frank DeLella, were going to include appearances by James Corden, Beannie Feldstein, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, Jane Krakowski, Andrew Rannells, Ali Stoker, Cynthia Nixon and Susan Stroman.

Read the Public Theater’s full statement below:

We have made the decision today to postpone our virtual event: We Are One Public which was scheduled for tomorrow night, June 1. In this time of national trauma, when the Covid crisis has so disproportionately impacted the Black community, when the injustices of our way of life have been made so clear, it just feels wrong for us to sail ahead with our event. We deeply believe in our theater, and in the importance of the work we do, but this is not the moment to focus on the Public. This is a time for mourning and reflection. Kenny Leon, our board member and the director of this event, and Oskar will release a brief video message on our website at 8pm on Monday.

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor have demonstrated in horrific fashion the racism upon which our country was built. We mourn the loss of these Black men and women, and are grieved and outraged by their deaths. The Public was founded as a theater by, for and of the people, yet it has taken us far too long to proclaim the simple truth: Black Lives Matter. We must stand in solidarity with Black artists, Black staff members, and the Black community. We must do more, much more, to fight the racism that infects every institution in the country, the Public included. We must recognize that the Public itself must change, if we wish to live up to our own ideals. If “We Are One Public,” then the pain and oppression being visited on the Black community must also be our pain. Out of this crucible we will all either become better or become worse. The Public is determined to be on the side that fights racism and inequality manifested inside and outside of our walls. We will release a fuller statement of accountabilities and actions in the coming days. Words matter, but not as much as actions. We will hold ourselves accountable, and if you feel we are falling short, we will listen.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Call the Cops on the Cops’: Palestinian Activist Discusses Events that Preceded Murder of African American Man

Palestinian-American author and justice activist, Linda Sarsour. (Photo: File)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In a Facebook post that was circulated widely on social media, Palestinian-American author and justice activist, Linda Sarsour confronted misinformation about the circumstances that led to the murder of an unarmed African American man at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, MN, on May 25.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation on the internet about the store owner and the details of the events that unfolded before George Floyd was murdered,” Sarsour said in reference to the Palestinian-American family that owned the store, near which Floyd was killed by the police.

“Floyd was arrested after he allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a convenience store,” CNN had reported, citing police sources. 

“Outrage grew after the first video surfaced showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. The 46-year-old, who was unarmed and handcuffed, died after the arrest.”

A new video of the murder showed three officers kneeling on Floyd, who clearly was gasping for air while imploring the police to stop. “I can’t breathe, man,” Floyd can be heard saying. “Please, let me stand. Please, man.” 

“I spoke to Mahmoud Abumayyeleh, the owner of Cups Food and local patrons and community members,” the well-known activist Sarsour said in her post she published on her Facebook page on May 29.

“The Store owner is Palestinian American and he was not present at the store and was not the one who called the police,” Sarsour explained, adding that the one who actually called the police was a “17-year-old African American teen.”

The young employee made the call in accordance with a “state policy that requires stores to call the police in the case of counterfeit bills.”

“This is routine and the police come, ask patrons about the bill to trace its origination. The police confiscate the counterfeit bills. Should be no arrests, no violence,” she wrote.

 Tragically, that was not the case in Minneapolis, as the police apparently violated what should have been routine conduct, leading to the murder of the African American man.

The store clerk was “absolutely traumatized” by the murder she witnessed following the arrival of the police, according to Sarsour.

“This same young woman called the owner, Mahmoud to tell him that the police are brutalizing George,” Sarsour wrote, adding that the Palestinian store owner instructed the black teen to “call the cops on the cops.”

“Nephew of the store owner who was also at the store was seen in a video yelling to let George go, and was pushed away by one of the Asian cops,” she wrote, asserting that “Cups Food has footage that George was NOT resisting arrest.”

According to Sarsour, “Cups Food owner is in touch with George’s family lawyer and has given a donation to the family to help cover some of the funeral costs.”

“We can argue that police should have never been called, it wasn’t worth it and that would be my position. But they were and MURDER/DEATH should never have been the result and that is the issue here.”

“Mahmoud and his family are well respected. He hires local, he supports the local community,” she wrote, referencing a testimony from one of the local young folks who patron Cups Food.

I know I might take a lashing for this, but I don’t give a fuck. I like how people that are not even from that hood have…

Posted by Deon Price on Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sarsour wrote that anger, for now, should remain “focused on .. the cops who killed George Floyd, the powerful people who are protecting them and the systems that need to be dismantled.”

Floyd’s murder has sparked protests in Minneapolis and calls for accountability. Police brutality and often murder of African Americans at the hands of the police is a recurring event that often goes unpunished. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)