Fear of a Black Planet: Under the Republican Push for Welfare Cuts, Racism Boils

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to celebrate Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with Republican members of the House and Senate on the South Lawn of the White House December 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)President Donald Trump speaks during an event to celebrate Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with Republican members of the House and Senate on the South Lawn of the White House December 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

“Never tell anyone,” my mother hissed, “that we’re on welfare!” I sputtered, “Okay.” She let go, angrily. People shuffled to the window where a tired man scanned their papers. That was 1982. Passing a poster of President Reagan, she shot him the middle finger. Later I realized, he rose to power by branding women like her “welfare queens.”

Republicans talk of prosperity, dignity and self-reliance. Peel back the rhetoric, and racism boils underneath.

In late 2017, Donald Trump smiled as the GOP passed its Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill. The Republicans want to slash Medicaid, food stamps and welfare. The deficit their tax bill created will be used to justify it. Yet, why attack the needy? In American conservativism, the internal enemy of the nation is the idle poor — specifically, the poor of color.

Republicans talk of prosperity, dignity and self-reliance. Peel back the rhetoric, and racism boils underneath. Tax cuts and calls to end welfare are dog whistles for white supremacy. The real effect of their policies is that people will suffer and thousands will die as they fall through gaping holes in the safety net.

Deadly Math

Every day, I see homeless people ask for money. Every. Day. On the street or lurching in a train, they shake cups for loose coins. Most of us look away. A few give wrinkled bills. Many wince with disgust — mostly, I think, because we’re afraid of becoming them. We already live such precarious lives.

How do we justify poverty in a land of abundance? The US is the wealthiest nation in history. The annual federal budget is nearly $3.5 trillion. All of us pour into it. Our paychecks are slivered. Corporations cough up cash. Even undocumented workers pay taxes. Yet, out of 326 million people, 43.1 million live in poverty.

In the Deep South, Midwest Rust Belt towns and public housing, people cling to food stamps and Medicaid. These needed programs lie on the Republican chopping block. President Trump has pushed drug testing for food stamps and work requirements for Medicaid. Rep. Paul Ryan wants to cut Social Security and Medicare.

I’ve known this rhetoric my whole life because it was aimed at me.

Again, why attack the most vulnerable? Maybe it’s because the poor vote less. When they do, they vote for Democrats. Maybe it’s because Republicans — like all of us — don’t just see with their eyes, but also with their ideology.

The GOP is led by a business elite that does not have a natural base. Since the 1970s, it has allied with Christian Evangelicals, jingoists and racists to ride reactionary movements to power. It fuses our class and racial hierarchies to cut off interracial, working-class solidarity. It is kept going by feeding their voting base with political “red meat” via Fox News and other right-wing outlets, which channel resentment at immigrants, the poor and especially the poor of color.

The GOP employs a Manichean ideology with two poles, opposed but bound together. On one end, there is the job creator who comes off like Hercules in a business suit. He is smart, decisive and a straight, white male. “I will be the greatest job producer that God ever created,” Trump promised. He is exhibit one on how privilege warps self-image. In a Mar-a-Lago portrait he commissioned, our president looks like Alexander the Great crossed with Fabio.

On the other end, conservatives see the poor as expecting hand-outs for nothing. Sen. Orrin Hatch recently said, “I have a rough time wanting to spend … trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves … and expect the federal government to do everything.” He was followed by Sen. Charles Grassley, who opposed the estate tax because the rich invest, unlike the poor who “are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

The modern GOP think the poor are parasites. They inherited the idea from older conservatives, schooled in Social Darwinism and eugenics. It is deeply familiar. I’ve known this rhetoric my whole life because it was aimed at me.

When Non-White Means Non-Human

“Blacks are lazy.” “Blacks complain.” “Blacks always want a handout.” I heard it all before and hated it. My mom came home, bone-tired from work. My aunts, uncles and friends were wrung dry from work. I was always told to work “twice as hard.” We were running from a stereotype: the “parasite coon.”

Racism bends vision into pre-set images. The underlying spectrum is from fully human whites to animalistic non-whites. At the bottom, in the right-wing worldview, Africans are still framed as monkeys; bestial, lustful and stupid.

The white racial imagination changes with the level of control over Black bodies. In the Antebellum era, the Southern planter class promoted the docile Black as proof of slavery’s beneficence. “Mammy” happily served her master. “Uncle Tom” happily served his master. “Sambo” did too. They were portrayed as pets, kept by a superior race.

After the smoke of the Civil War cleared, the white racial imagination, fueled by fear of free Black people, created more menacing imagery. The rapist, Black male brute was a threat. The wanton Black jezebel was a threat. The “coon” was a sambo gone bad; he was lazy, cynical and mean.

“Bad” Black images rose with white fear. The Black Codes were written with the pen of white panic. The Ku Klux Klan rode at night to kill freedmen and reclaim the land. As the Radical Republicans sent troops to guard Black voting rights, property and bodies, former Confederates hated federal soldiers for forcing racial equality. “State’s rights” transformed into a call to arms for white supremacy.

In 1877, Reconstruction collapsed. Federal troops left the South. White militias killed, raped and beat Black people who tried to vote. Southern Redemption had begun — a political cycle of Black freedom confronted by white backlash. It used “bad” Black imagery like the Brute or Parasite Coon. It was violent. It spoke the language of state’s rights and small government.

D.W. Griffith romanticized this terror in the 1915 film Birth of a Nation. In it, Gus, a Black federal soldier — a brute — tries to rape a white woman. In the state house scene, Black men put dirty feet on desks; they eat chicken, drink, fight and act loutish. They were “coons” in power. The white audience cheered the Ku Klux Klan, chasing them out to “redeem” the white man’s country.

I saw Birth of a Nation in a college film course, and watching it, a tension tightened my chest. Here was the myth that lay in the heart of the US. Here were the characters that racists saw when they looked at me, my family and friends.

Beware of the Dog Whistle

It is an iconic photo. I always wonder at it. In 1957, soldiers guarded nine Black teens walking to school in Little Rock, Arkansas. White Southerners spat slurs as if the Civil Rights Movement was a Second Reconstruction. Eighty years after Northern occupation, federal troops were back in an attempt to force at least a semblance of Black equality.

Each political invocation of the “bad” Black heralded a cut to social programs.

Today, a memorial stands to the Little Rock Nine at the Arkansas capital. When they integrated the school, each step inside was a literal and symbolic trampling of open racism. Alongside African Americans’ legal victories was a cultural one: White supremacy — if not defeated — was somewhat delegitimized.

When the white backlash came, politicians could no longer speak in bald racism. Republicans, who were moribund after decades of Democratic dominance, used a Southern Strategy to corral racist Democrats. In exchange for this new voter base, the GOP cleaned up bigotry with euphemism.

Lee Atwater, a Republican strategist for Ronald Reagan and George Bush, spelled out the mechanics. “You start out in 1954 by saying, nigger, nigger, nigger,” he breezily instructed. “By 1968 you can’t say nigger. So, you say forced busing, states’ rights. You’re getting so abstract now that you’re talking about cutting taxes … and a byproduct is Blacks get hurt worse than whites.” It was a cruel calculation. The Black poverty rate was higher and the need for social programs, greater.

So, when Nixon called for “law and order,” the Republican voter heard “Blacks.” When Reagan praised state’s rights and attacked “welfare queens,” the Republican voter heard “Blacks.” When Bush hammered Michael Dukakis with the infamous Willie Horton ad, Republican voters saw “Blacks.”

Each political invocation of the “bad” Black, whether the parasite-coon, brute or baby-making jezebel, heralded a cut to social programs. Poor Blacks got hurt worse than poor whites. They also got hurt with them. President Johnson’s 1964 War on Poverty had saved millions of lives. What was not being saved was the idea of welfare itself. Republicans gave it a Black face, even though most welfare recipients had been (and still are) white.

After campaigning against “welfare queens,” Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” He cut payments to the working poor, cut a million people off food stamps and cut job programs. He then gave tax breaks to the wealthy.

Fifteen years later, President Clinton in his 1996 State of the Union said, “The era of big government is over.” Seven months into that term, he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act; it ended welfare as entitlement, limited benefits and forced work requirements. He then repealed parts of the Glass-Steagall Act and let big Wall Street banks play in the markets.

In 2005, George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security. He was stopped cold by Democrats and a disbelieving public.

The Republican Southern Strategy of displacing racism onto the welfare programs of the federal government satisfied the GOP’s business elite. It did not help their base, who were trapped on both ends. Over them was a top-heavy GOP whose business leaders and donors were destroying the very social programs the white poor needed. At the other end, they were trapped by their own racial bias against “big government.”

Donald Trump was the Redeemer of White Supremacy. He promised to save Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security for the “deserving poor” — down on their luck white people.

What racist voters could not see in the footage of federal troops protecting Black children going to school in Little Rock, Arkansas, was that the soldiers were not just protecting everyone’s right to attend public institutions. They were protecting the very possibility of having them.

Fear of a Black Planet

“It’s not a bigger government we need,” Obama said at his 2013 State of the Union. “It’s a smarter one.” I cringed as he spoke. The first Black president felt he had to soothe a public raised on the racial stigma of big government, assuring them that he wasn’t going to sell white people into slavery to pay off the federal debt.

Just a year before, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich launched a short-lived candidacy by calling Obama “the most effective food stamp president in American history.” He was asked about it and squirmed like an eel.

Months later, Pat Buchanan bellowed on TV, “Barack Obama is a drug dealer of welfare.” He contrasted him with candidate Mitt Romney’s work ethic. Romney, who was caught on a hot mic saying, “There are 47 percent of the people … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe government has a responsibility to care for them.”

Again, race works its magic between the lines. Again, the parasite coon is a shadow in the text. After Obama’s 2008 victory, fear of a Black planet became a rising rage. A Black democratic pollster, Cornell Belcher noted on Roland Martin’s show, “You saw a spike in racial aversion…. Whites see it as we’re losing power to them.”

It was Birth of a Nation again, only this time, federal troops didn’t just attempt to force racial equality, but also obeyed the commands of a Black president. Each news cycle brought fresh proof that the US was slipping out of white hands. A Latina was on the Supreme Court. Confederate statues were torn down. Black people rioted and protested in the streets.

When Donald Trump glided down the escalator, he was a one-man Ku Klux Klan coming to the rescue; he was the Redeemer of White Supremacy. He promised border walls. He promised “law and order.” He even promised to save Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security for the “deserving poor” — down on their luck white people.

They needed it. Blatant white supremacy, left behind by global capitalism, had hit a nadir. Deaths of despair hit a Heartland ruined by opioids and joblessness. Seeing no future, they turned to Trump — who, having no plan, turned to the GOP — who tried to “solve” this problem with a tax cut for the wealthy.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if this or that Republican is personally racist. They can toast marshmallows on a burning cross for all it matters. The GOP cannot credibly take a race-neutral position when the overarching history of its politics is based on racism. The effects of its policies are race specific. And class specific. And deadly.

We won’t see them, and we won’t know their names, but people will die. Quietly. Invisibly. Ten thousand of us will die. Economist Lawrence Summers analyzed the Congressional Budget Office report that 13 million people will leave Obamacare when the individual mandate is repealed. He said on CNBC, “When people lose health insurance, they’re less likely to get preventive care, defer health care they need and they’re more likely to die.”

Ten thousand. Ten thousand. I repeat it. Not just a number. It’s someone shaking with fever. It’s someone fighting for breath. It’s getting a phone call that someone you loved died, far away and alone because they couldn’t afford treatment.

How many people have they killed? On my laptop, a video plays of the GOP cheering the tax bill. I turn it off, go outside and see a line of people waiting for free food at the Macedonian Church. Old men, workers, a neighbor I know, all wait with carts. A mother stands with them, trying to hold two squirming kids. She’s tired. I look at her and see across 30 years to my childhood and the moment I learned to be silent.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith – review

It’s hard to work out what posture to adopt while reading Feel Free. Zadie Smith is so eager to entertain she’ll undercut a meditation on Joni Mitchell, Wordsworth, Seneca and Kierkegaard with a sausage roll gag. But you can’t just sprawl around being entertained — your participation is demanded too! 

Smith constantly exhorts her readers to “go up to Notting Hill” and see the security arrangements of the super-rich, to marvel at a Jay-Z freestyle she found on YouTube. Recalling a sex scene from The Buddha of Suburbia that titillated her Kilburn comprehensive way back in the early Nineties, she urges: “You can go look it up now if you like; I’ll wait.” Thanks!

The digital era has produced an entire “first-person industrial complex” of subjective writing but Smith is rare in that she seems just as interested in the second person. “I feel this — do you? I’m struck by this thought — are you?” is how she summarises her way of writing in the foreword to her second collection of essays (the first was Changing My Mind, 2009). 

She humblebrags that this is because she has no real qualifications, no particular expertise — her evidence is always intimate. “My hope is for a reader who, like the author, often wonders how free she really is, and who takes it for granted that reading involves all the same liberties and exigencies as writing.” Feel free to disagree. 

The essays range across climate change, Facebook, a Schopenhauerian reading of the Charlie Kaufman movie Anomalisa, Justin Bieber, joy, etc, and are mostly drawn from American magazines such as Harper’s and the New York Review of Books. Even allowing for the fact that Smith lives in New York (she teaches at NYU), the lack of British publications damns our own media. 

Writing for an American audience means there’s less she can take for granted. Smith has never been a political writer but the vandalism of her homeland (and the US) is turning her into one. “I thought a library was one of the few sites where the urge to conserve and the desire to improve — twin poles of our political mind — were easily and naturally united,” she writes of the closure of Willesden Green library. 

Waking up to Brexit at her in-laws’ house in Northern Ireland (she is married to the Northern Irish poet Nick Laird) she is appalled by “the extraordinary act of solipsism that has allowed this long-brutalised little country to become the collateral damage of an internal rift in the Conservative Party”. The idea that racially heterogeneous societies are fated to fail is self-evidently ridiculous to her as a bi-racial woman. 

The most revelatory essays here interrogate her own changing reactions to a changing world. She used to ridicule Joni Mitchell; now she can’t listen to her in public for fear of weeping. Writing about the film The Social Network (she doesn’t do social media), she wonders if the Zuckerbergian formatting of our personalities is rendering obsolete the private person, “a person who is a mystery to the world and — more importantly — to herself”. 

She is energised by the emerging racial consciousness in the US but highly critical of the call (by the artist Hannah Black) for the curators of the Whitney Biennial to “destroy” a painting of the murdered black teenager Emmett Till by white artist Dana Schutz, on the grounds that “it is not acceptable for a white person to transmute black suffering into profit and fun”. 

Her argument is nuanced but in the end she can’t escape the view that such racial essentialism is “no more sophisticated than the antebellum miscegenation laws”. 

There can be no greater existential threat to a writer so insistent on the possibility of imaginative connection, so generous and curious with regard to her readers. Besides, looking at other artists of colour in the same exhibition, “I realised I resent the implication that black pain is so raw and so unprocessed — and black art practice so vulnerable and invisible — that a single painting by a white woman can influence it one way or another.”  

In an experimental essay comparing dancers to writers (Fred Astaire to Nabokov; Beyoncé to Joan Didion) she re-tools choreographer Martha Graham’s advice for dancers as advice for writers: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.” It’s not your business to decide whether that expression is good or worthwhile. “It’s your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” I feel this way — do you? 

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Indie Memphis to screen at least two movies per week in 2018

The Jane Goodall-plus-chimpanzees documentary “Jane,” the Cannes Film Festival winner “The Square” and “Faces Places,” a French movie that is one of the most highly regarded releases of the past year, are among the notable features that Indie Memphis will host as it expands its non-film festival programming to two screenings a week.

As a result, the program will be rebranded, as they say, from “Indie Wednesday” to “Indie Memphis Nights.” The main venues will continue to be the Malco Studio on the Square, the Ridgeway Cinema Grill and Crosstown Arts at 430 N. Cleveland, with additional screenings planned for the National Civil Rights Museum, Clayborn Temple, 652 Marshall (now unused, since the closing of the Baobab Filmhouse) and Black Lodge (the video store/performance space/theater that should open by February at its new location 831 S. Cooper).

Launched in late 2016, the “Indie Wednesday” series enabled Indie Memphis organizers to screen a wide variety of features (and short films) that, in most cases, were overlooked by the city’s commercial cinemas.

Some of these had popular appeal (“Gimme Danger,” Jim Jarmusch’s profile of Iggy Pop and the Stooges); some were movies given a second chance (the animated “The Red Turtle” played briefly at the Cordova Cinema); some were festival repeats (“A Stray”); some were critical darlings (“Columbus”); while others were timely (“The Force,” a documentary about the Oakland Police Department’s relationship with its mostly African-American constituency) or esoteric (“The Russian Woodpecker,” a documentary thriller about a Chernobyl conspiracy).

Whatever the content, they drew moviegoers.

“In 2017, our film series nearly tripled our estimated attendance,” said Ryan Watt, executive director of Indie Memphis, the film support group perhaps best known for its annual film festival. “The feedback we have received from filmgoers is they want more films, and more options for days of the week.”

Thus, 2018 will bring “Indie Memphis Night,” sponsored by Orion Federal Credit Union, which will present movies on (mostly) Tuesday and Wednesday nights for most weeks of the year. Each month at least one event will be planned in conjunction with The Collective (thecltv.org), a local organization that “is dedicated to providing a platform for African-American artists,” according to its Website.

Here is the “Indie Memphis Nights” schedule for January. Fees vary; tickets to movies at the Ridgeway and Studio are $10 each, while admission to many of the other screenings will be free. The start time is 7 p.m.

Jan. 3, Crosstown Arts: “The Eyeslicer,” a preview of a new Tribeca TV anthology series dedicated to “boundary-pushing” short films that “will slice, dice, and then mince your eyeballs into delicious ceviche,” according to Tribeca publicists.

Jan. 9, Studio on the Square: Brett Morgen’s likely Best Documentary Oscar nominee “Jane,” which examines the life and almost six-decade career of famed primate researcher Jane Goodall, best known for her studies of chimpanzees.

Jan. 10, 652 Marshall: The short film “Langston Miles” by Perry Kirkland, plus a musical performance, “Reaching Out of Poverty.”

Jan. 16, Ridgeway: Winner of the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d’Or, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s “The Square” returns, following a brief December run at the Studio on the (yes) Square. A satire of art-world commerce, pretensions and hypocrisy, the film stars Claes Bang as a handsome museum curator whose life unfolds as a series of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” blunders and Elisabeth Moss as a journalist with a pet (is this a theme?) chimpanzee.

Jan. 17, Ridgeway: A forerunner of the French New Wave, director Agnès Varda (who turns 90 in May) joins the young French photographer/artist known simply as JR for “Face Places,” an experimental travelogue documentary that has been one of the most praised films of 2017, with The New York Times, Time magazine and the New Yorker placing it on their Top Ten lists.

Jan. 23, Studio: Anthony Onah’s “The Price,” an Indie Memphis Film Festival repeat about a young Nigerian-American (Ami Ameen) grappling with the moral compromises and family crises that accompany his job on Wall Street. 

Jan. 25, Thursday, Crosstown Arts: “Wilderness,” a blissed-out British love-on-the-run drama from director Justin Doherty.

Jan. 30, Studio: “Liberation Day,” a documentary about the dissident Yugoslavian rock group Laibach, which in 2015 became the first foreign rock band to play in North Korea.

Jan. 31, Crosstown: A repeat from this year’s Outflix Film Festival, Damon Cardasis’ “Saturday Church” is a drama about a young teenage boy who begins to escape into fantasy while struggling with issues of gender identity and religion.

The Library: Check Our Films Out

Meanwhile, the library’s monthly “Wider Angle Film Series” begins its 14th (!) season in January, with movies screening on an earlier day of the week (Tuesday instead of Wednesday) and, for the most part, a later start time (7 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m., to better accomodate people’s work and dinner schedules, unless otherwise indicated). 

Part of the reason for the day change was to avoid conflicting with the “Indie Wednesday” series, but Indie Memphis’ expansion of their film program to Tuesday as well as Wednesday negated that particular benefit.

Dedicated to new examples of foreign-language and independent cinema, the “Wider Angle” series in 2018 begins with one of its more high profile films, “After the Storm,” written and directed by Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose “Nobody Knows” — a heart-wrenching story about several young children who survive on their own after they are abandoned by their mother in a Tokyo apartment — was my choice for the best movie of 2005. “After the Storm” is a drama about a once promising author turned struggling private eye (Hiroshi Abe). Any movie by Kore-eda deserves a Memphis screening, so this is a promising start to the series.

Unless otherwise noted, films begin at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free, and refreshments are provided. 

Jan. 16: “After the Storm.”

Feb. 20: Frédéric Mermoud’s “Moka (France), about a woman searching for the mocha-hued Mercedes that hit her son.

March 20, 6:30 p.m.: Yang Zhang’s “Soul on a String” (China), replete with martial arts, Tibetan cowboys, a sacred stone, and “the Holy Mountain of Buddha’s Handprint.”

April 17: Jan Hrebejk’s “The Teacher” (Slovakia and the Czech Republic), a 1980s-set drama about a teacher who uses her Communist Party connections to intimidate students and blackmail parents.

May 15: Samir Oliveros’ “Bad Lucky Goat” screens in connection with the Memphis in May International Festival, which in 2018 will honor Colombia. The film chronicles a day of adventure in rural Colombia, complete with a weird butcher, Rastafarian drummers, and, yes, a goat.

June 19: Koji Fukada’s “Harmonium” (Japan), a depiction of the collapse of a Japanese family that won the Un Certain Regard jury prize (for movies that are “original and different”) at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. 

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

One of the Greatest Jewish Philanthropists You Never Heard Of

Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish peddler’s son who never finished high school, rose to become the chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Company and a modest philanthropist who gave away $62 million in his lifetime, including seed money for more than 5,000 schools for black children in the early 1900s.

More than 80 years after his death, Rosenwald’s story is making headlines around the world, thanks to award-winning Washington, D.C., filmmaker Aviva Kempner. She released her new feature-length documentary, “Rosenwald,” in August. Thus far, it has played in more than 90 theaters in markets across the United States, such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

“I greatly admire Rosenwald’s philanthropy. He gave away $62 million to various causes, which in today’s dollars is closer to $1 billion,” says Kempner, whose films illuminate the untold stories of Jewish heroes. Her previous documentaries include “Partisans of Vilna,” “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” and “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg.” She calls Rosenwald “the greatest philanthropist you’ve never heard of.”

“I felt that this story was too important to go unnoticed. It is a great Jewish legacy that I am excited to make better known. At a time when financial hardships abound and civil rights issues unfortunately still exist, it is imperative that Julius Rosenwald’s story be told now.”

Julian BondJulian Bond

Twelve years ago Kempner was attending a lecture at the Hebrew Center on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and heard about Julius Rosenwald. She listened to Julian Bond, the late American civil rights leader, talk about his family’s connection to Rosenwald, who built schools and housing for blacks in the early 1900s and provided grants for promising black artists and writers. Immediately, the story had her hooked.

Kempner felt Rosenwald embodied the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity).

After the talk, she told Bond, “I’m going to make this film.” Thus began a collaboration that lasted 12 year, with Bond serving as her main consultant on the film. Interviewees include famous actors, authors, rabbis and politicians, as well as Rosenwald’s descendants.

Julius RosenwaldJulius Rosenwald

Rosenwald grew up across from President Abraham Lincoln’s family in Springfield, Illinois. He went into the clothing trade with his family and ended up in Chicago, where he had an opportunity to become a partner with Richard Sears in 1895. He proved an excellent manager, helping to make Sears the largest retailer in the country. The peddler’s son became rich beyond his wildest dreams and built a block-long house for his family.

However, the film reveals an endearing humility. In a sound-bite from the documentary, Rosenwald says, “Most people are of the opinion that because a man has made a fortune, that his opinions on any subject are valuable. Don’t be fooled into believing that if a man is rich, he is smart. … Most large fortunes are made by men of mediocre ability who tumbled into a lucky opportunity and couldn’t help but get rich.”

Rosenwald had two personalities, according to his great-grandson: a tough, profit-driven businessman and a civil rights champion who wanted to help blacks go to school and live the American dream.

Rosenwald with Booker T. Washington

Influenced by the writings of black educator Booker T. Washington, the Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African-American communities in the segregated South to build not only schools, but also YMCAs and YWCAs.

Rosenwald said as a Jew – a member of a despised minority – he identified with blacks. In 1910 a YMCA delegation asked him to give $25,000 to build a “Negro YMCA” in Chicago. He said he would provide that to any Y in the country that could raise an additional $75,000. And so began a model for building nearly 30 Y’s across the country between 1913 and 1932, the year Rosenwald died.

The same principle applied in building schools. He didn’t just give money; he challenged the community to match funds.

One of the Rosenwald SchoolsOne of the Rosenwald Schools

Rosenwald served as a trustee of Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Alabama. On his 50th birthday in 1912, the philanthropist gave Tuskegee $25,000 to be distributed as grants for other black schools that followed the Tuskegee model. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee’s first leader, suggested taking approximately $2,800 of this money to build six small elementary schoolhouses for blacks in rural communities. The need arose due to underfunding of public education for black children who were required to attend segregated schools.

“The genius of Rosenwald schools wasn’t that he gave money,” Julian Bond explains in the film. “He said, ‘Here’s money; I’ll give you one-third the cost of the school, and you’ll have to raise in your community one-third, and go to the local white community to raise the remaining one-third.”

Julius Rosenwald with students from a Rosenwald schoolJulius Rosenwald with students from a Rosenwald school.
Courtesy Fist University, John Hope and Aureilia E. Franklin Library, Special Collections

The Sears mogul created buy-in and community partnership. The black community raised money through bake sales, fish fries and other efforts. However, not everyone was sold.

Hate-mongers sometimes would set fire to Rosenwald schools or blast them with dynamite. The schools would be rebuilt once, even twice, before they were left alone.

Rosenwald schools lasted until the Civil Rights era in the United States. In 1954, when the Supreme Court declared segregation in education unconstitutional, the schools became obsolete.

The Rosenwald Fund donated to public schools, colleges and universities, Jewish charities and black institutions, and also made grants directly to black artists, writers, researchers and intellectuals, before all of the money was spent in 1948, per the benefactor’s wishes.

Bond, whose father received a Rosenwald fellowship, called the list of grantees a “Who’s Who of Black America.” It included contralto Marian Anderson, poet Langston Hughes and Nobel Peace Prize-winning diplomat Ralph Bunche, among many others.

Through his example, the philanthropist inspired others to make a difference. For instance, Rosenwald’s children and cousins rescued 300 relatives from Nazi Germany and helped settle and educate them in America.

“We can’t all give $62 million away, but I think there’s a little Rosenwald in all of us. What we’re doing in Washington is collecting books to take to the local schools,” says Kempner, born in Berlin after World War II to a Holocaust survivor and a U.S. Army officer. She hopes her latest film will inspire viewers to offer their own brand of tikkun olam.

WATCH THE TRAILER FOR THE FILM BELOW

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

17th Annual African American Cultural Celebration

17th Annual African American Cultural Celebration

2015 African American Cultural Festival

Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh!

Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, the 17th annual African American Cultural Celebration will feature musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, reenactors, and more!

#FreeToThePublic #AACC2018

Learn more on our website: http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/AACC-2018

Philadelphia Museum Of Art Adds Work By Self-Taught Black Artists To Collection

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is expanding its collection with pieces of work created by Black artists, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

This institution is adding 24 new pieces of artwork across different mediums that were developed by self-taught Black southern artists. Among the pieces are steel structures created by Thornton Dial, a carpenter and steelworker who hailed from Bessemer, Alabama. His three pieces—which were created between the years of 1992 and 2004—capture his views surrounding slavery, racism, politics and other pressing issues within our country. The collection also includes more than a dozen intricate quilts created by generations of women from a small neighborhood outside of Selma. They were constructed between the years of 1930 and 2005.

According to the source, all of the pieces are from a vast collection of art compiled by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta. The organization is dedicated to preserving pieces created by Black artists from the South in efforts to illustrate how their work was intertwined in the fabric of Black history.

Leadership at the Philadelphia Museum of Art expressed humility at harboring the pieces as it introduces people to unsung narratives surrounding self-taught Black artists from the rural south. “I think it’s a spectacular addition to the collection and another piece to add to our growing holdings of work by self-taught artists,” Timothy Rub, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said in a statement. The work will allow individuals to learn more about the historical contributions that Black artists made to the larger landscape of American art, said Maxwell L. Anderson, Head of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. “Partnering with the PMA and a growing number of other museums will ensure that the work and history of these artists is accessible to a broad audience,” he said.

For generations, Black artists have used their craft as a way to express their views on racial issues. Last month, a South London-based digital artist reinterpreted Vincent van Gogh’s work with the faces of Black women to visually defy the stereotypes that society places on them.

SEE ALSO:

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‘When They Call You a Terrorist’: A Black Lives Matter leader details the life that turned her into an activist

Patrisse Khan-Cullors speaks during the New York Women’s Foundation’s celebrating women breakfast in May 2015. Standing with her are co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images/New York Women’s Foundation)


About US is a new initiative by The Washington Post to cover issues of identity in the United States. Look for the About US newsletter launching this winter.


They call Beyoncé “queen,” Michelle Obama “mom” and Oprah Winfrey “my president.” For socially conscious progressives in the age of Trump, black women are the answer to both racism and sexism, two societal ills dominating today’s identity politics.

But turning to black celebrities in the midst of a maelstrom can place undue pressure on these individuals to cleanly uproot centuries-old problems on their own.

None of this is lost on activist Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who co-founded Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

“It takes centuries to counter a culture,” said Khan-Cullors in an interview with The Washington Post. “We should be critical about our desire to look at the most visible person to save the world.”

Ever since she became the first person to place a hashtag in front of “Black Lives Matter,” Khan-Cullors has been asked to speak for black people in a way she couldn’t anticipate. Not only is she expected to advocate the civil rights of black people who feel unfairly targeted by law enforcement, but she is also often asked to comment when other Black Lives Matter activists make controversial statements about law enforcement or white people.

While she couldn’t foresee the platform she has now, Khan-Cullors explains in her new memoir, “When They Call You A Terrorist,” how her life experiences prepared her for a career of advocacy.

Khan-Cullors grew up explaining her brother Monte Cullors’s mental illness to Los Angeles police who beat and arrested him for activity triggered by his schizophrenia. She eulogized her father, Gabriel Brignac, who died suddenly in a homeless shelter after years cycling in and out of jail on drug convictions. And as she developed a life of her own, Khan-Cullors guided black youth who, like her, shifted homes and relied on friends when family relations were strained.

The responsibilities Khan-Cullors absorbed as a sister, daughter and mentor are part of her role as a black woman, she writes. The burden was often heavier as a queer black woman in a Jehovah’s Witness household, but she carries it now on behalf of Monte, Gabriel and those whose names are now memorialized in hashtags.

“It is women who are out there, often with their children, calling for an end to police violence, saying, ‘We have a right to raise our children without fear,’ ” writes Khan-Cullors.

While celebrities are praised for imbuing pop culture with social messages — be it Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” or Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech — the work of activists themselves can often be overlooked.

When Black Lives Matter began gaining traction in 2014, celebrities such as actor Jesse Williams and National Basketball Association forward LeBron James were given a spotlight for speaking on behalf of the movement, while the work of Khan-Cullors and her co-founders often went uncredited.

And four years later, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, celebrities and activists were joined under the banner of the Time’s Up initiative at the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony. But to many, the work of activists such as Tarana Burke and Ai-Jen Poo was ultimately the sideshow to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Now, although Black Lives Matter and her role in the movement have risen in profile, Khan-Cullors has noticed stories of police encounters with black Americans have largely centered on men.

“We don’t talk about what experience criminalization has on our bodies,” says Khan-Cullors, who in her memoir referenced Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd and other black women who died after violent police encounters.“We just become the vehicle to tell black men’s stories.”

Her concern echoes other black female writers such as Brit Bennett and Shani O. Hilton, who have critiqued narratives like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between The World And Me” for their reluctance to highlight how black women are also vulnerable to sexual and physical violence.

When given a chance to present her story, Khan-Cullors marries memoir with manifesto. What happened to her personally has allowed her to grow politically — often in contradictory ways.

In “When They Call You A Terrorist,” she writes that even when her enslaved ancestors weren’t given resources to build their own futures, they “imagined her out of whole cloth.” Their dreams, she writes, are “the only way I am here today.” But even with her ancestors’ hopes, she states that being born in poverty meant she wasn’t expected to actually survive. She writes that black leaders — everyone from pastors to President Barack Obama — further exacerbated her family’s situation by emphasizing personal responsibility as the best solution to overcome hardship.

Today, as a college-educated author, Khan-Cullors celebrates the ways she’s overcome poverty and over-policing. But her successes are quickly followed by “survivor’s guilt” for being able to support her wife, Janaya “Future” Khan, and young son, Shine, while her mother and siblings struggle to access health care and juggle jobs.

While she is now recognized as a co-founder of a global movement, Khan-Cullors maintains that she does not want to control it, opting instead for a decentralized approach that spreads “like wildfire.”

Though the public is hungry for a singular answer to racism and sexism, Khan-Cullors seems to be at ease sharing all the reasons she can’t offer simple solutions. She is not America’s queen, mom or president.

“[Women] are forced to be super-caretakers; we are forced to be hypervigilant about our loved ones,” Khan-Cullors says. “[But] we have to be cared for, too. And part of caring is listening to our stories.”

More from About US:

What black men can learn from women’s struggles in the era of #MeToo 

The psychology behind women’s ‘old school’ thinking on sexual harassment and assault

‘I’m not black’: When a child rejects his racial identity, is home schooling the answer?

Richard Lynch And Rhonda Vincent Top Country Airplay Chart With “Back In Love Again”

Indie Country Music Hall of Fame artist, Richard Lynch and New Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent have topped the country chart with “Back In Love Again.”

NASHVILLE, TN, UNITED STATES, January 20, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — Traditional country crooner and member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame, Richard Lynch is no stranger to chart-topping hits. His last 3 singles reached that pinnacle on multiple radio airplay charts, including New Music Weekly, Roots Music Report and IndieWorld Country Record Report. His hit, “We’re American Proud” was recently named the #1 Traditional Country Song of 2017 by Roots Music Report.

Reigning Queen of Bluegrass music, Rhonda Vincent is also very familiar with number one hits: her last 3 solo albums reached the top of the Billboard Bluegrass chart, earning her multiple accolades, including 3 Grammy award nominations.

Now, Richard Lynch and Rhonda Vincent have both earned another chart-topping record, together. Their duet, “Back In Love Again” is this week’s #1 New Music Weekly Internet Country Chart single! The toe-tapping song is also #10 on the AM/FM country chart. The track is taken from Richard’s award-winning, critically acclaimed album, “Mending Fences.”

Watch the music video for “Back In Love Again,” featuring “behind the scenes” studio footage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTsXa_Vq6Pc&feature=youtu.be.

Hailing from Waynesville, OH, Richard Lynch is an American country music artist who has compiled a long list of country hits and chart toppers in the world of traditional country music. His single, “A Better Place” topped the New Music Weekly AM/FM country chart, the IndieWorld Country Record Report, and spent an incredible 32 weeks atop the Roots Music Report True Country chart. His next single, “We’re American Proud” also topped the charts. His last release, “Cut and Paste” also reached Number One the airplay charts. Richard is a multiple-award-winning artist and a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. He is also the founder of Love Tattoo Foundation for veterans. Richard Lynch hosts “Traditionally Lynch,” currently airing on Cincinnati television stations. http://www.richardlynchband.com

Rhonda Lea Vincent is an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In 2000, The Wall Street Journalproclaimed Vincent “the new Queen of Bluegrass”. Vincent is an in-demand guest vocalist for other bluegrass and country music performers, appearing on recordings by Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Joe Diffie and other notables. The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) accorded her its Female Vocalist of the Year award for the years 2000 – 2006, plus IBMA Entertainer of the Year in 2001. The Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) designated her its Entertainer of the Year for 2002 – 2006 inclusive. She is a four-time Grammy Award Nominee. http://www.rhondavincent.com.

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Richard Lynch and Rhonda Vincent – Back In Love Again

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‘Her neighbors want to say “thank you” to that donor by getting out the word about the donor registry’

Dear Potomac Local, 

“I am hoping you can help me get out the word about a bone marrow donor drive my court (Beacon Court, Montclair, VA) is holding in gratitude for Be The Match. They provided a donor for our neighbor, Karen, which will save her life.” 

WHAT:

Prince William County residents can take the first step to save a life by joining the Be The Match Registry® at the Montclair Library on February [5] using a simple cheek swab.

In gratitude for donor who gave our neighbor a chance of new life, the Neighbors of Beacon Court in Montclair, VA are working with Be The Match Registry® to inspire others to join the registry!

Karen Davis, Montclair resident, single-mom, daughter, friend to many, was diagnosed with leukemia in March this year. Karen is currently at the VCU Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, recovering from a life-saving bone marrow transplant made possible by an anonymous donor in the registry. Karen will live in Richmond for four months while her mother provides for her care and her 15-year old son, Michael, lives with neighbors so he can continue school at Forest Park High School.

‘The goal is to have at least 100 new registrations on February [5].  

Patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity, and doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group more than 90 percent of the time. More young people of diverse racial and ethnic heritage are needed now to help patients searching for a match. African Americans are the least likely to find their match.

WHEN:February 5, 2017, 3-6 p.m.

WHERE: 

Montclair Library

Community Room

5049 Waterway Drive

Montclair, VA 22025

For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists.                                 

Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant. About Be The Match

Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.

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Senator Merkley talks ‘Divider-in-Chief’ at town hall

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley addressed Multnomah County residents at Parkrose High School on Jan. 15th.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley addressed Multnomah County residents at Parkrose High School on Jan. 15 during a town hall meeting to discuss Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, controversies involving President Donald Trump and the future of funding higher education.

Merkley talks candidly on Trump

Before the meeting began Merkley sat down with reporters to answer a few questions.

When asked about DACA, Merkley recounted last week’s agreement, explaining how after Trump asked for a plan to be prepared by stating, “what you pass, I’m ready to sign,” that the major negotiators, including Senators Lindsey Graham, Richard Durbin and Jeff Flake, were present at a meeting with Trump and ready to discuss the deal.

“It’s not exactly clear what the president’s goals are here, or what the Republicans in the House or Senate are willing to do,” Merkley said, “but the fact that we had a compromise in the House and Senate is a positive sign, and I’m going to hang on to that positiveness as a foundation for getting this done.”

Recounting the first year of Trump’s presidency, Merkley said it has been a horrific year, citing specific cases like the tax bill and Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Our allies that we work with so closely to stop Iran’s nuclear program are very disturbed by the fact that the president didn’t certify the agreement,” Merkley added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated his country would be taking the lead on maintaining that agreement while also attacking Trump on his foreign policy with North Korea and Syria.

When asked about Trump’s shithole comment, Merkley responded unequivocally.

“I think you have to look at the long stream of things the president has done in his lifetime that reflect prejudice,” Merkley said. “In fact, he’s positioned in his campaign and his presidency as the Divider-in-Chief. He has attacked veterans, he’s attacked women, he’s attacked the disabled, African-Americans, Latin-Americans and of course, in this recent case, Haitian-Americans.

“The President needs to pay attention to the Pledge of Allegiance: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Shutdown nearing, but hope for higher education

Merkley briefly touched upon the possibility of a government shutdown on Friday.

“Hopeful. Optimistic might be a little strong,” Merkley said. The senator was concerned that, although programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the DREAM Act are popular across party lines, there are still issues.

“This should be achievable before the 19th,” Merkley said, adding, “It just seems there is a lack of leadership in driving the process toward completion.”

On the issue of Pell Grants, Merkley said that although there won’t be clarity until the current appropriations process is complete, it’s likely that with the current horse trading on other budget matters, student funding will be the same or better in coming cycles.

“I think the prospects are reasonably good in part because the Republicans are pushing for a nearly $60 billion dollar increase in the defense budget,” Merkley said. Democrats, meanwhile, “are saying there must be a partial increase in the other things that are important to Americans, like health care and education, and specifically Pell Grants as part of that, so in that sense I feel fairly optimistic that we’re going to maintain and perhaps improve Pell Grants.”

Finally, when asked about funding for repairs to campus infrastructure, Merkley had a measured reply.

“I think that [prior projects were] done through an earmarks,” Merkley said. “We don’t have earmarks, [and] we aren’t going to see any dedicated grants, but what Senator Wyden and I can do is that any grants the university applies for, we can throw our weight behind them, write letters of support, make phone calls of support for them, and also, help universities and other groups figure out where they can apply for funds.”

“I don’t know of a specific program that’s specifically for university buildings. I do feel we have to do a tremendous amount more to make college affordable.”

Town hall mostly orderly

At 7 p.m. the public input portion of the night proceeded as planned, opening with the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.

Questions were mostly on Trump, including a long riff by Merkley on the meaning of the word indivisible. Merkley affirmed his opposition to offshore oil drilling and violence against Muslims in Myanmar, and called the seating of Justice Neil Gorsuch the “theft of a Supreme Court seat.”

The final question of the night came from a Parkrose High student who asked what Merkley tells his colleagues to help them understand why immigration is positive.

“What do you want for our national symbol?” Merkley responded. “A thousand mile concrete wall? Or Lady Liberty?”