You’ll Be Seeing Some Very Compelling Work at the Frye Art Museum in 2018, Thanks to the James W. Ray Awards

Veronica Lee-Baik, Giselle Deconstruct, 2017.

Veronica Lee-Baik, Giselle Deconstruct, 2017. TIM SUMMERS

Since 2014, the James W. Ray Awards—administered by The Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium and with support from the Raynier Foundation—has been shelling out the out the big bucks—about $80,000—to three artists working in different genres (like visual art, dance, and literature) in Washington state.

This year, two artists will receive $15,000 each, and one artist will get a sweet chunk of change—$50,000—to live the dream. In addition, all of the recipients will be able to present their work at the Frye Museum, as well. In fact, one of last year’s James W. Ray Award recipients, Tlingit artist Alison Marks, has a fantastic solo show currently on display at the Frye right now.

Anyway, enough context. And the recipients are…

Jane Wong, Overpour, 2016. Cover art: Tessa Hulls.

Jane Wong, Overpour, 2016. Cover art: Tessa Hulls.

Poet and literary artist Jane Wong is this year’s James W. Ray Distinguished Artist. Her work focuses on migration, violence, and “forgotten histories.” Her 2016 debut collection, Overpour, prompted critic Rich Smith to write: “Wong’s precise and gritty-gorgeous images pass over you one by one like the most intense screen saver you’ve ever seen.”

The award will help Wong, who’s also a curator for poetry collective Margin Shift, complete two manuscripts: a second book of poems, and a collection of nonfiction essays about her family, its subjects ranging from her time working in the family Chinese take-out restaurant, to her father’s gambling addiction.

Installation view of Latent Home Zero.

Installation view of Latent Home Zero. CHRISTOPHER PAUL JORDAN

Tacoma-based visual artist Christopher Paul Jordan, along with collaborator Arnaldo James, will receive $15,000 to develop a series of collaborative public murals across the island of Trinidad and Tobago called Mission Black Satellite.

Jordan helped organize a “die in” at the Tacoma Art Museum’s Art AIDS America show in 2015 to protest the lack of representation of black artists in the exhibit. His recent installation, Latent Home Zero, was set up at the Olympic Sculpture Park this past fall, and dealt with black perceptions of displacement and home.

Veronica Lee-Baik, Giselle Deconstruct, 2017.

Veronica Lee-Baik, Giselle Deconstruct, 2017. TIM SUMMERS

Finally, Veronica Lee-Baik, the other “Venture Project Award” recipient, is a performing artist and founder of The Three Yells dance company in Seattle. She choreographed Giselle Deconstruct, a ballet that debuted at On The Boards in early 2017 that dealt with the rise in suicide rates among Asian-American women.

Her project, to be called A Crack in the Noise, will be a collaborative work blending elements of ballet and modern dance, and will include other mediums like written text and origami, to raise awareness around issues of immigration.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Healthy questions: For measuring region’s health outcomes, questions are complicated

At the same time and the other end of an educational spectrum, health care professionals across the country are expanding that query beyond individuals to make it apply to states like North Dakota and Minnesota. The answers usually draw from any number of metrics commonly applied to population health and, by most of those metrics, both Upper Midwest states are in fairly good shape. But depending on who you ask, the diagnostic question could take on a much larger scope.

Grand Forks Public Health director Deborah Swanson has seen her role expand with a growing consciousness of health. She remembers when the job was mostly focused on communicable diseases, or illnesses that spread from one person to another. Now, as she parses through a recent community health study done by her office in cooperation with Altru Health System, Swanson says the mindset of public health reaches far beyond.

“We think of ourselves as the chief health strategists,” Swanson said. “We’re involved with bringing people together around a number of issues.”

Whereas the department might have once centered on initiatives fighting infectious diseases like influenza, hepatitis and HIV, it now includes a heightened discussion of concepts like affordable housing, income inequality and educational attainment levels—as well as a raft of mental health items that fall under the category of behavioral health. Substance abuse and addiction have been an area of especially great focus in Grand Forks, where previously existing problems with drugs and alcohol has been compounded by the national opioid crisis.

Two staff members have also been brought on board to oversee the county’s response to substance abuse. Michael Dulitz, a specified opiate response project coordinator, and Curtis Scanson, social detox coordinator, now fill roles that likely would not have existed at the public health center of a generation ago.

Dr. Ed Ehlinger is the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. He takes a wide view of what it means to be healthy, especially when talking about the general public.

“Most people want to talk health and then they go into health care,” Ehlinger said. “Health care is just a small piece—a very important piece—but a very small piece of what makes individuals and communities healthy. Public health takes into account medical care but also takes into account all the other factors that influence health.”

Ehlinger is a proponent of a more holistic vision of health that can sound more like an approach to civics than a trip to the doctor’s office. Among the concepts he lists as falling under the umbrella of health are things like voters’ rights, public transportation and disparities of wealth and income. For Ehlinger, the idea of community—and, specifically, of individuals feeling connected to each other—is at the root at much of what we think of as societal health.

“There are other ways to address what we call the ‘diseases of disconnection and despair,’ ” he said when discussing addiction. “You need to start building, on a community level, resilience, a sense of connection and belonging.”

Back on the west side of the Red River, public health is the domain of Mylynn Tufte, state health officer for the North Dakota Department of Health. Tufte was appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum in February and has overseen the state’s population health efforts since then.

Her summary of that work is a little less expansive than that of Ehlinger, but she’s still quick to point to the number of moving parts involved.

“There are a million ways to measure health outcomes,” she said.

The field is broad, but Tufte tries to distill things. When prioritizing her department’s initiatives, Tufte says she’s been “moving (our department) and the state to talk about health in a very simple way.”

“We’re asking what are we doing to improve both the length of life for North Dakotans and the quality of life for North Dakotans,” she said. “If what we’re doing is not meeting those two parameters—we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Physical signs

Philosophical approaches aside, it’s some of those more tangible pieces that local officials look to when answering the big questions about societal health.

Some of those indicators include the ways and numbers in which people die. For both North Dakota and Minnesota, as for most of the country, lifestyle factors play a key role in the fatal diseases that affect the population.

North Dakota’s top causes of death closely mirror those of the nation as a whole, with heart disease and cancer ranking first and second respectively through 2012-16. In descending order, state residents also died from Alzheimer’s disease, chronic lung disease, strokes and diabetes.

Minnesotans faced a similar roster when summarizing causes of death in 2014, though cancer was more prevalent than heart disease. Both states counted accidents as their third-highest cause of death.

The timing of death is another indicator of note. Ehlinger highlights total life expectancy, infant mortality and maternal mortality as factors he looks to as some of the “ultimate measures” for gauging societal health. He said Minnesota does well in keeping overall infant mortality rates low relative to the national average. But the state has marked disparities among its ethnic populations, with more infants dying within the American Indian and African American communities. It’s also recently seen an uptick in maternal death rates, which had previously been decreasing through the 1900s.

That statistic is concerning, but when Ehlinger generally compares the state to its neighbors, he says Minnesota is doing well for itself, a status he attributes in part to a strong economy.

One particular metric he highlights is the state’s fight against obesity. Ehlinger said Minnesota’s obesity rate has “not gotten worse, but flattened,” a status he said has yet to be attained by neighboring states, including North Dakota.

“Few states have been able to bend the curve like we have with obesity,” he said.

Ranking the states

Tim Wiedrich is the section chief of the North Dakota Health Department’s emergency preparedness efforts. He echoed Tufte’s description of the many ways health can be measured before pointing to a composite strategy used in a national state-by-state ranking conducted annually by the nonprofit United Health Foundation.

“The way they approach it, there are multiple things that define a score,” Wiedrich said, listing variables such as rates of obesity, tobacco usage, and health system accessibility. According to the foundation’s most recent ranking, North Dakota was the 11th healthiest state in the country for 2016, up one place from the year before. Minnesota was ranked fourth healthiest for the second year in a row and has been among the top six states since 1990.

The ranking named Hawaii the healthiest state in the country for the fourth year in a row. Mississippi came in last place. That state has never risen above the 48th spot in the foundation’s annual listing.

North Dakota has seen more fluctuation—which may be due in part to its small population—but Wiedrich says the state has hovered around eighth or ninth place since 1992. He flagged three items, namely a high level of babies born at healthy weights, the lowest number of drug deaths in the country and one of the highest rates of immunization for children, as helping to lift the state’s overall ranking. North Dakota also performs well in other categories, such as its low levels of air pollution and violent crime.

Other metrics are less rosy. The state comes in just one place away from last for occupational fatalities. It ranks 34th in the country when measuring rates of obesity. And Wiedrich said North Dakota came in “dead last for the country” for excessive drinking.

“We’re the least healthy, in terms of alcohol consumption, of all 50 states,” Wiedrich said.

Many, if not most, of the metrics included in the ranking fall under a more preventive approach to health that’s increasingly embraced by practitioners and state officials alike. Several touch on the handful of behavioral items described by UND medical school Dean Joshua Wynne, who said they only “sound easy—they’re tougher do,”

For Tufte and Ehlinger, who both stress the role of social connectivity in maintaining health, the best answer might be to not go it alone. That’s a strategy that Swanson said has long been in play for public health officials—she says it’s only more recently that it’s been adopted by the wider net of local partners. Ehlinger underlines that point and takes that even farther.

“I believe that health is a community issue,” he said. “Individually, you cannot be healthy unless you have a healthy community around you.”

Anti-Racism Speaker: Trump’s Focus on Race Takes Focus Off His Policies

By Leonard Lewis IV –

trump(TriceEdneyWire) – President Donald Trump’s political strategy really is not something new, according to anti-racism speaker Tim Wise, who recently visited New Orleans. At a public lecture at Xavier University, Wise explained how the president’s strategy is to distract his supporters from his policies by fueling tensions around racism.

“If Donald Trump attacks the right people that his base doesn’t like, he does not have to actually foresee the things he promised in his campaign,” Wise told attendees at Xavier’s Administration Auditorium on Nov. 29.

The president’s current legislative attempt at tax reform, Wise explained, is Trump’s latest attempt to distract the public. Experts have calculated that the new Republican party tax plan could generate huge tax cuts for the rich by ending the alternative minimum tax, which would have saved even Trump millions on his taxes, based on looking at Trump’s last public tax returns from 2005. Wise explained that the GOP tax reform plays into what America has done for years, which is to create policies that favor the rich. What Trump is doing with tax reform has been similar to his tactics with other policies since he started his term in office. Some of things that were promised in the campaign were affordable health care and education, better roads, and lastly better jobs.
“The GOP tax plan does not help his base which are middle-class working people, it actually hurts them,” Wise said.Wise’ education on antiracism stems long before his rise as a prominent speaker on the topic. He grew up in Nashville, Tenn. during the civil rights era amidst riots and protests. He said he remembered his grandmother being sympathetic to the Freedom Riders but was disappointed she did not get involved and that she was more upset that the movement was an inconvenience to her, because it made it more difficult for her to get around Nashville.

Wise, who graduated from Tulane University in 1990, received antiracism training from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in New Orleans. His efforts resulted in books on his work in anti-racism, and in the documentary “White Like Me: Racism and White Privilege in America,” which he co-wrote and co-produced. Wise has been named one of the 25 visionaries who are changing the world by Utne Reader. Wise now sees his work intersecting with what is happening in America since the election of Donald Trump. He explained how Trump’s base voted, as Trump’s campaign pitted Black and Brown people against white people.

“If you still support Donald Trump today, you did not vote for him based off his political strategy and your economic concerns but because he made the right enemies and you like the fact that he attacked Mexican, Muslims and Black folks,” Wise said. Since Trump’s election, he has continued this tactic, Wise said, by targeting mostly African-American football players and branding them as unpatriotic. “Players kneeling has nothing to do with the flag or military,” Wise said. “No solider took an oath to a stupid flag, anthem, or song. They took an oath to the constitution of the United States and if that is being violated via the Fourteenth Amendment, each solider should be kneeling too,” Wise said.

In coordinating Wise’s visit to New Orleans, Xavier officials said they felt it was important to hear a leading critical voice on race, who happens to be white. “I think Tim Wise speeches are very raw and uses language and examples that everyone can understand,” said Amber Davis Prince, the director of Xavier Campus Activities.

Davis Prince, “Also he speaks against the foolishness the president puts out there.”

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Wise: Trump’s Focus On Race Takes Focus Off His Policies

By Leonard Lewis IV

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Louisiana Weekly

Tim Wise

(Trice Edney Wire) – President Donald Trump’s political strategy really is not something new, according to anti-racism speaker Tim Wise, who recently visited New Orleans. At a public lecture at Xavier University, Wise explained how the president’s strategy is to distract his supporters from his policies by fueling tensions around racism.

“If Donald Trump attacks the right people that his base doesn’t like, he does not have to actually foresee the things he promised in his campaign,” Wise told attendees at Xavier’s Administration Auditorium on Nov. 29.

The president’s current legislative attempt at tax reform, Wise explained, is Trump’s latest attempt to distract the public. Experts have calculated that the new Republican party tax plan could generate huge tax cuts for the rich by ending the alternative minimum tax, which would have saved even Trump millions on his taxes, based on looking at Trump’s last public tax returns from 2005. Wise explained that the GOP tax reform plays into what America has done for years, which is to create policies that favor the rich. What Trump is doing with tax reform has been similar to his tactics with other policies since he started his term in office. Some of things that were promised in the campaign were affordable health care and education, better roads, and lastly better jobs.
“The GOP tax plan does not help his base which are middle-class working people, it actually hurts them,” Wise said.Wise’ education on antiracism stems long before his rise as a prominent speaker on the topic. He grew up in Nashville, Tenn. during the civil rights era amidst riots and protests. He said he remembered his grandmother being sympathetic to the Freedom Riders but was disappointed she did not get involved and that she was more upset that the movement was an inconvenience to her, because it made it more difficult for her to get around Nashville.

Wise, who graduated from Tulane University in 1990, received antiracism training from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in New Orleans. His efforts resulted in books on his work in anti-racism, and in the documentary “White Like Me: Racism and White Privilege in America,” which he co-wrote and co-produced. Wise has been named one of the 25 visionaries who are changing the world by Utne Reader. Wise now sees his work intersecting with what is happening in America since the election of Donald Trump. He explained how Trump’s base voted, as Trump’s campaign pitted Black and Brown people against white people.

“If you still support Donald Trump today, you did not vote for him based off his political strategy and your economic concerns but because he made the right enemies and you like the fact that he attacked Mexican, Muslims and Black folks,” Wise said. Since Trump’s election, he has continued this tactic, Wise said, by targeting mostly African-American football players and branding them as unpatriotic. “Players kneeling has nothing to do with the flag or military,” Wise said. “No solider took an oath to a stupid flag, anthem, or song. They took an oath to the constitution of the United States and if that is being violated via the Fourteenth Amendment, each solider should be kneeling too,” Wise said.

In coordinating Wise’s visit to New Orleans, Xavier officials said they felt it was important to hear a leading critical voice on race, who happens to be white. “I think Tim Wise speeches are very raw and uses language and examples that everyone can understand,” said Amber Davis Prince, the director of Xavier Campus Activities.

Davis Prince, “Also he speaks against the foolishness the president puts out there.”

At Stanford in Washington, arts are inside and outside the classroom

Questions about the role of the press and social media, history and memory, ideological past and future are all rich subjects to explore in a classroom in the nation’s capital. They are also the questions that artist Xiaoze Xie, the Paul L. and Phyllis Wattis Professor of Art at Stanford, poses in his public exhibition Confrontation and Disruption, on view at the Art Gallery at Stanford in Washington through March 31, 2018.

Visitors view the exhibition Xiaoze Xie: Confrontation and Disruption on view at the Art Gallery in Stanford in Washington’s Sant Building.

Visitors view the exhibition Xiaoze Xie: Confrontation and Disruption on view at the Art Gallery in Stanford in Washington’s Sant Building. (Image credit: Micaela Suminski)

The exhibition is a key part of the innovative interdisciplinary arts program that is an integral piece of the experience for students at Stanford in Washington (SIW), a fully immersive residential program for juniors and seniors that includes internships, academics and cultural events. The arts program provides students with a framework for understanding historical trends and contemporary issues they encounter both within and beyond their Washington classrooms, known as the Bass Center.

Throughout the fall quarter, the 24 SIW students have experienced the ways in which various art forms reflect and document social upheaval, including participating in a conversation with playwright Karen Zacarias, ’91, and actors after seeing her play Native Gardens about gentrification; listening to jazz performed by leading young artists; and viewing Xie’s painting of the front page of a newspaper featuring a photo of struggling refugees.

“From SIW’s inception in 1988, generations of students have benefited from the vision and support of Helen and Peter Bing, ’55, who established and endowed our cultural program, enabling students to attend the Washington National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, along with theater and dance performances and field trips to historic sites,” said Adrienne Jamieson, the MaryLou and George Boone Centennial Director of SIW. “In recent years, we have built upon this extraordinary access to Washington’s cultural institutions, enabled by Helen and Peter, to develop educational content, often in partnership with creative leaders from the performing and visual arts. Our jazz and blues program, for example, has provided our students with a sense of the complexities of the African American experience in Washington and beyond and has been adapted for public audiences at the Kennedy Center and the National Portrait Gallery. Exhibitions in the art gallery, such as Xiaoze Xie’s, have frequently gone hand-in-hand with specific coursework, internships and the overall experience of students living and learning together in the Bass Center.”

News, politics and access

This fall, students across offices on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies and think tanks, and in journalism have been coping with the rapid-fire nature of political communication and a constantly shifting policy agenda. Discussing the daily news in the center’s dining room is a breakfast tradition at SIW, setting the stage for what students are likely to encounter at their internships. Seeing how Xie memorializes these same headlines in a large-scale painting encourages students to pause and consider the long-term challenges often discarded with the next news cycle.

Painting by Xiaoze Xie titled December 4, 2012. I.H.T. (International Herald Tribune), 2014.

Painting by Xiaoze Xie titled December 4, 2012. I.H.T. (International Herald Tribune), 2014. (Image credit: Alex Jamison)

Relevance to the D.C. context and to current hot button issues is also a feature of the fall course Art, Business and the Law taught by Nancy J. Troy, the Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art at Stanford. In the interdisciplinary course, students learn how, for example, national memorials give voice to a range of often antithetical points of view, how government responses to artists’ treatment of the American flag have sometimes challenged First Amendment protections and how politically motivated attempts at censorship have impacted the visual arts.

Troy is as enthusiastic about these topics as she is about the Washington location that makes them especially vivid. “Washington has many fabulous art museums that don’t charge admission fees, there are hugely important archival resources to support art historical research, and vibrant arts offerings elicit an enthusiastic response from Stanford students who have an opportunity to gain firsthand experience of Washington’s many cultural institutions,” she said.

Looking and listening

The Art Gallery at SIW is one of four university art galleries open to the public and the only one that is not on the main Stanford campus. It occupies the ground floor of the Sant Building, an addition to the original Stanford in Washington Bass Center, and students walk through the exhibition space several times a day on the way to class. The gallery hosts a series of art exhibitions and public lectures each year, often featuring works and talks by Stanford faculty and alumni.

Exhibitions by well-known Washington area artists have also been incorporated into the gallery’s schedule, and the artists and curators frequently give talks or attend informal dinners with students and faculty. Recently, Eric Denker, senior lecturer at the National Gallery, served as guest curator for an exhibition of the work of renowned Washington painter and teacher Jack Boul in celebration of the artist’s 90th birthday. Over 160 works from museum and private collections were on display and several public lectures and panel discussions were delivered by artists and the curator. Washington area schoolchildren have participated in the gallery’s educational programs, including exhibitions of work by beloved children’s author and artist Eric Carle and Bart Walter’s bronze cast sculptures of African wildlife.

“Newspapers, often skimmed in a hurry, discarded once consumed, may not immediately strike viewers as art, which is savored slowly, revisited time after time. But Xie transforms news into poetry as he blurs the lines between painter, writer, commentator and critic. … As the United States questions its ideological past and future, Stanford in Washington exhibits Xiaoze Xie’s works at a formative time and fitting place in the nation’s capital.”

—Micaela Suminski, ’17 (SIW fall ’15)

SIW Program Coordinator
Confrontation and Disruption catalog

Along with the visual arts, SIW weaves together music across time periods to highlight some of the similarities among diverse political and social movements. Playwright and SIW teaching artist Tom Minter created Blues for a Royal Flush in 2014, a play with music that captures the personal struggles, societal constraints and political challenges that African American artists faced in segregated Washington during the first half of the 20th century. Blues has been performed in part or in whole for multiple groups of SIW students six times since the original production, sometimes with a broader audience at the Kennedy Center or the National Portrait Gallery and often at the Bass Center.

Most recently, Minter adopted a similar approach to orchestrate a jazz brunch at SIW for students and alumni titled “From U Street to Copasetic,” performed by some of Washington’s most impressive jazz artists. The jazz brunch was in conjunction with a Stanford evening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture where students and alumni toured Washington’s celebrated new Smithsonian museum.

Through SIW’s partnership with Opera Lafayette, the fall students learned that the music of over 400 years ago could also be improvisational, emotional and reflective of changing notions of class and personal expression. Conductor and Artistic Director Ryan Brown organized a performance and conversation around the work of Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi with a group of young vocalists and musicians from the U.S. and Europe who were in rehearsal for a production at the Kennedy Center. As lutenist Thomas Dunford seamlessly transitioned from a 16th-century love song to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” students remarked at the surprisingly “modern” style and sound they recognized in Monteverdi. And indeed, as students learned from Brown and the other artists, Monteverdi’s love songs were among the early works by a composer who performed in public for people who were not part of a royal court, and improvisation was a key aspect of their appeal.

Jamieson considers this “captive audience” at the Bass Center to be one of the keys to the success of the SIW arts program. Students can not only experience and learn about the music, but also ask questions of the performers in an intimate setting. As Stanford alumnus and current JD candidate at Columbia Law School Mitchell Hokanson, ’16 (SIW spring ’15) said, “At Stanford in Washington, we not only go to the opera – the opera comes to us.”

In Jamieson’s words, “Along with their internships and classes the arts program enables students to envision how people have chronicled, considered and coped with societal change over time. And in the process, students often develop an appreciation for the unexpected from the melding of voice and lute at the Bass Center to a dramatic aria on the grand stage of the Kennedy Center. We trust that these students, our future leaders, will create an enduring space for the arts in their lives.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Offers a Plumber-Welder or Trades Worker with Mesothelioma in Maryland Tips to Ensure They Hire the Most Capable Lawyers for Compensation

Please do not gamble when it comes to mesothelioma compensation in Maryland. Before you hire a lawyer to assist with a mesothelioma compensation claim please call us first anytime at 800-714-0303.”

— Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA, December 11, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “In our experience-people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Maryland do not spend enough time or effort making certain they hire one of nation’s most skilled mesothelioma attorneys for their financial compensation. Frequently people facing a mesothelioma diagnosis—and what to do next-will act impulsively when it comes to hiring a lawyer. Hiring an unqualified lawyer can have disastrous results when it comes to mesothelioma compensation for the diagnosed person in Maryland or their family as we would like to explain anytime at 800-714-0303.

“In most instances the very best mesothelioma attorneys in the United States will not only want to talk to a person with mesothelioma in Maryland about their potential financial compensation-more often than not they will take on the person’s case and work it-especially if the diagnosed person is a plumber, electrician, a skilled trades worker or a US Navy Veteran in Maryland.” http://Maryland.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

If the Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center had one vital compensation tip for a skilled trades worker or a US Navy Veteran with mesothelioma in Maryland it would be– if they can have one of the nation’s most skilled, experienced and capable mesothelioma attorneys or a team of this caliber of attorneys handling your mesothelioma financial compensation claim in a state like Maryland, the chances for the best possible financial compensation results improve dramatically. When the group says, ‘the best possible financial compensation settlement’ they are talking potentially about hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional compensation or more because the attorneys they hired actually-knew what they were doing, they were very competent, and they worked the case to get the maximum value for their client. http://Maryland.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

According to the group, “We also want to emphasize it is specific information about how or where a person with mesothelioma was exposed to asbestos that makes a mesothelioma compensation claim potentially so valuable. Further, it is very likely a plumber, electrician or skilled trades worker with mesothelioma in Maryland might have had exposure to asbestos in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Virginia. Asbestos exposure in additional states can dramatically increase mesothelioma compensation.

“Please do not gamble when it comes to mesothelioma compensation in Maryland. Before you hire a lawyer to assist with a mesothelioma compensation claim please call us first anytime at 800-714-0303.” http://Maryland.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

The Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center want’s efforts for people with mesothelioma is a statewide initiative available to a diagnosed victim anywhere in Maryland including communities such as Baltimore, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Bowie, Rockville, Hagerstown, or Annapolis.

For the best possible mesothelioma treatment options in Maryland the Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center strongly recommends the following heath care facilities with the offer to help a diagnosed victim, or their family get to the right physicians at these hospitals.

* National Cancer Institute Bethesda, Maryland: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment.
* Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Baltimore, Maryland: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/
* University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center Baltimore, Maryland: http://umm.edu/programs/cancer

High-risk work groups for exposure to asbestos in Maryland include US Navy Veterans, power plant workers, shipyard workers, manufacturing workers, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, machinists, or construction workers. Typically, the exposure to asbestos occurred in the 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s. http://Maryland.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

According to the CDC the states indicated with the highest incidence of mesothelioma include Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Washington, and Oregon.

For more information about mesothelioma please refer to the National Institutes of Health’s web site related to this rare form of cancer: https://www.cancer.gov/types/mesothelioma.

Michael Thomas
Maryland Mesothelioma Victims Center
800-714-0303
email us here

Tickets on sale for 100 Black Men annual scholarship gala

Tickets are now on sale for the Greater Auburn-Opelika area chapter of 100 Black Men of America’s annual Black Tie Scholarship Gala at Opelika’s Bottling Plant Event Center on Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the event are $50, with proceeds benefiting the five $500 scholarships presented to area students.

“We have a commitment to provide scholarships to students,” said Andre Richardson, vice president of 100 Black Men of America’s local chapter. “At the scholarship gala, we give out five $500 scholarships to students who desire to continue their education.”

The scholarships are given to students with a 2.5 GPA or higher, Richardson said, and over the last two years, there have been multiple recipients with GPAs surpassing 4.0.

“The scholarship is like a donation. It does help a little to get them started,” he said, adding that many apply the funds to purchase textbooks and other related materials. Richardson said several recipients have called in the past to thank donors for their generosity, informing them of how much the scholarships have helped.

Richardson said the group’s goal is to bring in 200 participants to the event, with each attendee paying the $50 ticket fee.

“We hope there’s lots of participation,” he said. “We’re blessed to give back to the community.”

Event tickets are available for now through Nov. 23. Payment may be mailed to 100 Black Men of America at 650 Jeter Avenue in Opelika. For more information about the event or to inquire about sponsorship packages, contact Richardson at decarloeud@gmail.com or 334-524-0187.

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Libraries Reach Out to Young Black Men

Demetria Tucker (center) serves teens at the Pearl Bailey Library in Newport News, VA. Below: a poster from the Pearl Bailey Library. Photo and poster art courtesy of the Pearl Bailey Library.

Demetria Tucker (center) serves teens at the Pearl Bailey Library in Newport News, VA.
Photo and poster art courtesy of the Pearl Bailey Library.

When Demetria Tucker arrived at Newport News, VA, in 2008 as the senior family and youth services librarian at the Pearl Bailey Library, getting teens into the building was not a challenge.

The facility, located in a predominantly African American neighborhood, was “inundated” with teens after school looking for access to the Internet, she says. But the group dynamics were disruptive, and gang behavior was spilling over into the library.

Poster from the Pearl Bailey Library.

Poster from the Pearl Bailey Library.

“How could we combat some of that and empower them with the necessary tools to become productive adults?” she asked herself. “We wanted to provide programs and resources to help them make positive choices.”

So she went straight to the teens who seemed to be leaders among their peers and elicited their help in redesigning a space in the library—nicknamed the “chill spot”—just for them. She taught them to play board games, created a chess club, and organized a teen advisory committee and book clubs to find out what the teens would want to read.

“Kids want to see and read things that are relatable to them,” Tucker says. Now the teens are the best advertisement for the library—literally. Members of the advisory committee are pictured on posters that hang around the neighborhood and draw in other young people. “We had to start out with what their interests were,” says Tucker, “and then move forward.”

Building a bridge

Tucker’s work at Pearl Bailey is evidence of the growing push to give minority youth, particularly those in low-income communities, reasons to visit their school or public libraries—and to increasing the variety of materials that draw them into reading.

The shift is inspired in part by the work of Sandra Hughes-Hassell, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she coordinates the School Library Media Program in the School of Information and Library Science. Tucker was one of her students.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell (left), author Brian Pinkney (center), and UNC donor Gene Story. Photo courtesy of UNC/School of Information and Library Science

Sandra Hughes-Hassell (left), author Brian Pinkney
(center), and UNC donor Gene Story.
Photo courtesy of UNC/School of Information and Library Science

Hughes-Hassell interviewed young African American men when she began conducting research on the issue in 2011. Teens of color “are not seeing themselves reflected in the literature, in the curriculum,” she says. “They want adults in schools and libraries to address issues of race and racism. They want educators and librarians to bring their lived experiences into the classroom.”

Those experiences can include clashes with law enforcement, deaths of unarmed young men, and the racial violence that has erupted in Ferguson, MO, Baltimore, and other communities. These events make the work librarians like Tucker are doing more necessary, Hughes-Hassell says. “Cases like Trayvon Martin—[the teens] want people to understand that affects them deeply,” she says.

Before books can engage with some of those topics, they need to feature diverse characters or be written by someone of color, Hughes-Hassell notes. Xandi DiMatteo, the teen librarian at the Central Library in Rochester, NY, says that sometimes her quest to find African American or Latino protagonists is more important than the book’s content.

“If there is a hint of a racially diverse character, I’m buying it,” she says. With funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Hughes-Hassell’s program—along with the School of Library and Information Science at North Carolina Central University—organized an invitation-only summit in 2012 that brought together more than 40 educators, public and school librarians, school reformers, and others with the common goal of improving library services for African American youth, particularly males. The participants were responding to another report that same year from the Council of the Great City Schools, which described the achievement gap for African American males as a “national catastrophe.”

A summit report, “Building a Bridge to Literacy for African American Male Youth,” cited statistics on low achievement among African American males and outlined specific steps the library community can take to improve literacy outcomes among young black men—not just for school, but also for the rest of their lives. “Poor test scores are not the worst consequence of illiteracy for these young men,” the report said. “Recent research shows that lack of adequate reading and writing skills can set the stage for a continuance of intergenerational poverty, crime, and substance abuse.”

Discussions of cultural competency

“Building a Bridge to Literacy” has also become much more than a conference summary. Hughes-Hassell’s team created a website with resources and a series of 10 professional development modules  that librarians, teachers, and other youth-serving professionals can use to adapt their services to be more appropriate for the students in their schools and communities.

“You are now seeing people talking about the idea that librarians need to be culturally competent,” she says. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offers a webinar called Cultural Competence in the Library, and ALA offers the Great Stories Club grant program to create reading and discussion groups targeting underserved teens. Since 2006, 670 libraries in 49 states have participated in the program, involving more than 30,000 children and young adults, from age 12 to 21. A new round of grants this year is expected to reach 8,000 young adults and explore topics such as the “origins of teenage violence and suicide” and “the role of creative arts in dealing with change and transformation through novels, memoirs, and nonfiction books.”

Karen Lemmons, a library media specialist at Detroit School of Arts, a performing arts-focused high school, was hoping to win one of those grants so she could start a book club for the young men in her school. “I’ve had some of them blatantly tell me, ‘I don’t like to read,’” she says.

Karen Lemmons, library media specialist at Detroit School of Arts, reads The Pact with high school students. Photo courtesy of Karen Lemmons.

Karen Lemmons, library media specialist at Detroit School of Arts,
reads The Pact with high school students.
Photo courtesy of Karen Lemmons.

Like the majority of the nation’s librarians, Hughes-Hassell is a white female. Early in her career, as an elementary school teacher in rural Virginia, she recognized the gap between the curriculum she was trying to teach and the students in her class. “I know that if I had understood culturally relevant pedagogy, I would have been a better teacher,” she says.

Librarians, she says, should first confront their own feelings and prejudices about race and examine their current collection to see whether African American authors are represented. Who are the authors and illustrators who are invited to speak in the school or public library? Whose books are displayed and whose posters are hanging on the walls? Librarians can also consider what authors they follow on social media and look at how diverse the group is, Hughes-Hassell says.

Finding the right reading hook

Street lit, or urban fiction, is one genre intended to give young African Americans books that represent their culture. Hughes-Hassell says that for some teens, those books are the “first time they’ve ever seen themselves” in a work of fiction. But the story lines are typically very dark and give a limited portrayal of what it’s like to grow up as a young African American male or female in the United States.

Lemmons says she avoids bringing much street lit into her collection because as a school librarian, she has to focus on how the literature supports the curriculum. While she says some of those books might provide a “good hook,” she tries to steer students toward a broader range of titles. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” she says.

One book that resonated with Lemmons’s students is The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream (Riverhead, 2002), a nonfiction book about three young men from the streets of Newark, NJ, who support one another in their quest to become doctors. The book, she says, provides the kind of message that can inspire young people because it describes how the three persevered toward their goals despite coming from a rough background and not always having the highest grades.

Books in which the characters—whether fictional or nonfictional—overcome obstacles are also examples of what Alfred Tatum, the dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, calls “enabling texts” because they speak to issues that students care about. “An enabling text is one that moves beyond a sole cognitive focus—such as skill and strategy development—to include an academic, cultural, emotional, and social focus that moves students closer to examining issues they find relevant to their lives,” he wrote in an article for the reading and language arts learning program Hampton-Brown Edge. Too often, he says, texts for struggling readers merely reinforce their image of themselves as struggling readers.

High-interest/low-literacy (hi-lo) books—with easier vocabulary but with themes that would appeal to older students—are also designed to lure reluctant or struggling readers into reading.

Teachers at schools such as Eagle Academy for Young Men in Queens, NY, one of six schools created by the organization 100 Black Men of America, know how hi-lo books can reach boys who come from a lower socioeconomic bracket and are reading below grade level. Eighth-grade English teacher Vivett Hemans says her students do have access to the public library, “But will they go?”

Hughes-Hassell says that hi-lo books might have a place, but librarians who only offer those to youth are making assumptions about the teens’ reading levels. While some African American students might not be reading at grade level, many simply are rejecting books that don’t seem to address their interests or the issues they care about.

“Rather than being focused on Lexile levels or reading levels, librarians need to be focused on identifying powerful, compelling and meaty texts,” Hughes-Hassell says.

Hemans instituted D.E.A.R. time in her classroom, or “Drop Everything and Read,”  an initiative cosponsored by the National Education Association, designed to make reading an established part of a child’s life. Books with eye-catching covers and relevant topics are displayed prominently, from J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon’s Voices from the March on Washington (Boyds Mills, 2014) to Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin’s Zora!: The Life of Zora Neale Huston (Clarion, 2012). Hemans’s students also read Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, and each student is provided with a copy to annotate or mark up.

DiMatteo adds, however, that librarians also should not assume that urban teens are only interested in reading about familiar people and places and “books about kids from the city.”

Author Kekla Magoon (left) at the “Building a Bridge to Literacy” conference with participants Julius Walker (center) and Andrew Truesdale. Photo courtesy of UNC/School of Information and Library Science

Author Kekla Magoon (left) at the “Building a Bridge to Literacy”
conference with participants Julius Walker (center) and Andrew Truesdale.
Photo courtesy of UNC/School of Information and Library Science.

Empowering teens

The work libraries are doing to provide culturally relevant programming also extends beyond finding the right literary selections. At the Uniondale Public Library on Long Island, NY, librarian Syntychia Kendrick-Samuel began offering vocal coaching to teens as part of an “empowerment” program focused on the arts. Taught by accomplished music teachers, the group—called the Dewey Decibels—has had opportunities to perform, and, on a survey, the teens said they want the program to be offered again.

“It was wonderful to see a mixture of shy and not-so-shy teens take the stage and perform before strangers,” Kendrick-Samuel wrote in SLJ. “The larger goal was to empower young people with a greater sense of self-esteem and positive emotional growth.”

At the main library in Durham, NC, teen librarian Faith Burns focuses on giving the teens that come into the branch—most of them African American males—a comfortable, welcoming place.

“I have tried to consistently let them know that I care, that they and their voices matter, and that I’m here, for whatever they need,” she says. “I think that this is the first step—and a step in the right direction—for working with a group of young people whom society traditionally discounts and sets aside.”

Burns has focused on getting the students help with their homework and hosted a poetry workshop with the Durham Library Foundation.

“One teen eloquently wrote about natural hair, another his feelings on the shootings of African American men by police officers. I was moved by each teen’s performance,” she says. “My goals are to give them more opportunities to express themselves.”

At John Hancock College Preparatory High School in Chicago, where 95 percent of the students are Hispanic, librarian Timothy Toner says through his “book talks,” he asks students to think about the last book they enjoyed reading, even if it was Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series (Abrams) or something with animal characters by Richard Scarry.

“It puts them back in that frame of mind when reading was pleasurable,” says Toner. He notes that some kids may think they don’t like to read because adults only recommend books they think are appropriate, whether or not kids are interested in them. “When a whole class comes in to hear me pitch books, I will apologize to them, informing them that at some point, some well-meaning teacher or parent derided their book choice, and it was as if someone reached inside them and snuffed out a candle,” he says. “Many students, especially boys, will nod involuntarily.”

His most effective strategy, he says, is finding a student who is passionate about a book.

“I slowly and carefully feed that zeal with positive feedback, and then walk away. I let the newly minted evangelist do their good work,” he says. “The problem is, of course, you can’t count on those students being around as often as needed.”

Hughes-Hassell adds that the variety of educational opportunities libraries are currently adding, such as maker spaces and science exhibits, are responsive to young African Americans’ cultural strengths and give the library an alternate image to that of a place where students must sit still and be quiet. But it’s also an equity issue, she says. If STEM-focused after-school programs or maker spaces are available in school and public libraries serving white students, they need to be equally available in minority neighborhoods.

In Rochester, DiMatteo works hard to program author visits for teens—often using as much as half of her budget to schedule the events, even though she says some of her coworkers are surprised that teens even show up. But the visits, DiMatteo says, are some of her best-attended events, and she knows that most local schools don’t have funds to offer such opportunities. “The quality of the interactions is so great,” she says. “The teens connect with the authors. They get on their Facebook pages.”

Quinton Garriss, who graduated this year from Heritage High School in Newport News, is one of those teens who has not only found his local library to be a welcoming place, but now does some of that book evangelism work with other youth in the community. Shortly after moving to the city when he was 13, he met Tucker at the Pearl Bailey Library and became part of the teen advisory committee.

A young boy he met recently told Garriss that he didn’t like to read, but that he did like Batman.

“All he knew about Batman was from what he had seen on TV, so I encourage him to read the Batman graphic novels that we have at the library,” Garriss says. “I felt that I made a difference in encouraging him to read.”

Khalid, the Teenager With 5 Grammy Nominations: ‘They Got It Right This Year’

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Khalid, the breakout pop-soul and R&B singer, was not yet 16 when he tweeted a stray thought: “I want to go to the Grammys one day.” It was early 2014, and he didn’t even mean as an artist, let alone one who was nominated. “Just to watch, just to see,” he recalled on Tuesday of his mind-set then.

Now 19, Khalid will make his first trip to the ceremony — on Jan. 28 in New York — as a five-time nominee, up for awards including best new artist, best R&B song (“Location”) and song of the year (for his guest feature on Logic’s suicide prevention song, “1-800-273-8255”).

The industry recognition caps a year in which Khalid Robinson went from an everyday teenage misfit to an internationally known one, carrying the relatable-outcast torch alongside artists like Lorde, Alessia Cara, Lil Uzi Vert and Julia Michaels (all of whom are also up for Grammys).

Jon Caramanica, writing in The New York Times, said Khalid’s debut album, “American Teen,” “most vividly recalls the promise embedded in the soundtracks of John Hughes films — that an outsider’s story might in fact be the thing that can unify and move millions.” That was certainly the case for “Location,” the three-times platinum single that peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its follow-up “Young Dumb & Broke,” which also reached platinum status and has been streamed more than 290 million times on Spotify.

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Khalid – “Young Dumb & Broke”CreditVideo by KhalidVEVO

He has also been a near-constant presence on the award show circuit, including the MTV Video Music Awards and the BET Awards, and has proved himself a cross-genre chameleon with appearances not only on “1-800-273-8255” but also Alina Baraz’s “Electric,” Calvin Harris’s “Rollin” and Marshmello’s “Silence.”

Over the phone on his way to the airport not long after the Grammy announcement, Khalid was ebullient and bursting with praise for his fellow nominees as he discussed the diverse crop and looked back on his dreamer days. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

So how did it feel? Where were you this morning? Take me through it.

I woke up at like 5:30 in the morning in L.A. It was one of those anxious moments, like Christmas, where you wait to go see what’s under the tree. I was very excited, but it doesn’t feel all too real right now. Not long after seeing the nominations, I got a phone call from my mom congratulating me — that was very special. She was screaming on the phone, telling me how proud of me she was and how all my work paid off. And [saying] that she has to go find a dress for the award show.

So she’s your date then?

Definitely.

Take me back to January 2014, when you wrote a tweet about wanting to go to the Grammys. What was your life like then?

I was in high school in New York — I think I was a sophomore. I was very confused with where my life was heading, but I knew that whatever I did, music was going to be involved. I didn’t know if I’d be singing my own songs or writing for others. I was super into Broadway. I don’t even remember tweeting it. It was just off of energy.

In 2015, that’s when I started writing music. I didn’t remember the tweet until 2017. I couldn’t have prepared myself for the roller coaster that I just rode this whole year. Even as a young boy who was very confused, I put that out in the world, and it came true.

How many times do you think you’ve performed “Location” this year? Are you sick of it yet?

I wouldn’t say I’m sick of it — it changed my life forever. But I’ve performed it a lot. Every time I feel a special energy to see everybody in the audience sing every single word super loud. It’s almost like that song is competing with “Young Dumb & Broke” at the shows — some days “Location” will be louder, some days “Young Dumb & Broke” will be louder. They love “Silence,” with Marshmello, too.

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Khalid – “Location”CreditVideo by KhalidVEVO

When you look at the slate of best new artist nominees — none of whom are white men — what does that tell you about where music is right now?

I feel like music is in a place where — I mean, I feel like it’s crazy that I’m nominated. I’m not the most attractive, I’m very young — I’m only 19, and I am an African-American artist. The categories are just filled by so many versatile artists — minorities — who accept their own individuality. Uzi is insanely good and super creative. I’m so glad he’s nominated, because it’s a win for hip-hop music. SZA is a win for R&B and hip-hop. Julia Michaels, so amazing — a win for pop music. Alessia Cara, a win for soul and pop.

And what about where the Grammys stand in general? They’re always fighting the criticism that they’re out of touch.

They definitely got it right. They got it right this year. All the way down from rock to hip-hop to R&B to pop, they got it right. There’s so many amazing songs in 2017. I’m very excited to see who wins, because it’s tough — every song is good.

Do you have personal favorites among the nominees, people you’re really rooting for?

Oh, Kendrick. Kendrick Lamar deserves a Grammy. He’s one of the biggest, most influential rappers of my generation.

How are you going to celebrate tonight?

I’m actually heading to Chicago. I’m probably just going to chill with my best friend. I don’t want to psych myself out, and I don’t want to step away from normalcy. I’m not really the type to — I’m only 19, so I can’t pop bottles at the club.

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