Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread | Etta James Week

Happy Sunday, Everyone. We end the week with Ms. James’ “Sunday Kind of Love.”


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61 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread | Etta James Week

  1. Liza says:

    Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, RIP.

  2. Roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. mmmm…

  3. rikyrah says:

    CNN Asks if the KKK Can ‘Rebrand,’ Seriously
    by Evan McMurry | 11:14 am, April 20th, 2014

    omebody had to ask it: can the Ku Klux Klan rebrand itself as a civic organization to make its message more palatable to a subsection of the American public that digs racism but rejects violence?

    Whoops, that was a typo. Nobody had to ask it. Nonetheless, in the wake of last Sunday’s shooting at a Jewish Community Center by a KKK member, some organizational brethren attempted to distance themselves from alleged shooter Frazier Glenn Miller, insisting he had “gone rogue” and did not represent the modern KKK that eschews violence and bills itself as sort of racist Elks Lodge. Apparently taking these tools at face value, CNN actually asked marketing experts if the KKK could shed its cross-burning past.

    To the marketing experts’ credit, their answer was a resounding no. And to the article’s credit, further down it becomes an informative piece on the splintering of hate groups that often as not spend their time fighting each other as they do their various race wars.

    Nonetheless, the world could have done without these insights:

  4. rikyrah says:

    Pushback against voting restrictions gathers steam
    04/18/14 12:20 PM—Updated 04/18/14 01:10 PM
    By Zachary Roth

    From Virginia to Arkansas and North Carolina to Missouri, leaders, lawyers and citizens took significant strides this week to protect voting rights. It was the strongest sign yet that the pushback against Republican efforts to curtail access to the ballot box had gathered momentum.

    In Virginia, the Democratic governor made it easier for ex-felons to get their voting rights back. Advocates filed a challenge to Arkansas’s voter ID law, and offered crucial new evidence about the impact of North Carolina’s cuts to early voting. And Missouri Republicans moved to establish limited early voting—a sign of the growing energy to expand ballot access in the state.

    The efforts in Arkansas and North Carolina aim to further a strategy that’s been notably effective for voting-rights advocates in recent years: the use of the courts.

    “Some politicians think they can get away with suppressing the vote. We’re putting them on notice with our legal challenges that they can’t toy with citizens’ fundamental right to cast a ballot. The people, and our democracy, deserve and demand better,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

    The week’s developments come on the heels of President Obama’s landmark speech earlier this month at the National Action Network, where he called out Republican efforts to make voting harder, and to connect today’s fight for voting rights today to the struggle to enfranchise southern blacks half a century ago.

    “Americans did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote, for themselves and for others, only to see it denied to their kids and their grandkids,” Obama said.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Pasty GOP Media Tools Chuck Todd and David Brooks Decide That Obama Has a Manhood Problem
    By: Jason Easley

    David Brooks and Chuck Todd revived one of the Republican Party’s favorite smears against President Obama on Meet The Press. Brooks claimed that Obama has a manhood problem.


    The only people who having this discussion about President Obama’s manhood are Republicans who constantly try to make up for their own inadequacies by talking tough and starting wars. “Manhood” is not going to win the peace, especially the Republican definition of manhood that Todd and Brooks subscribe to.

    Real manhood means making the tough decisions that keep the country out of wars. Real leaders don’t have to send our troops off to die in some foreign land in order to prove their toughness. A real man is a good husband and father. He is a role model, and a leader.

    Obama’s problem is not one of manhood. His problem is middle aged conservatives who think that only white swaggering fake cowboys like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are capable of being real men. Brooks said that a lot of the rap that Obama gets is unfair, but that didn’t stop him from repeating the Republican claim that Obama has a manhood problem.

    Barack Obama is a real man in ways that Chuck Todd, David Brooks, and little boys in the Republican Party who desperately want to fire their guns will never understand.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Liberal Librarian @Lib_Librarian

    If you think both parties are the same, I either 1) envy your trust fund, or 2) envy your ability to live off the grid.
    5:03 PM – 20 Apr 2014

  7. rikyrah says:

    Liberal Librarian @Lib_Librarian

    Media darlings .@nytdavidbrooks and .@chucktodd opine on Obama’s manhood. Since they have none.
    4:37 PM – 20 Apr 2014

  8. rikyrah says:

    Jonathan Jewel @JonathanJewel

    When @chucktodd says that Obama has a “manhood” problem what he’s really saying is “I hate having a black man as president”. #FuckingRacist
    3:50 PM – 20 Apr 2014

  9. rikyrah says:

    “I Had No Idea She’d Be So Black” – Watch 2 New Clips From Amma Asante’s Acclaimed Period Drama ‘Belle’

    A brief glimpse (via 2 new clips) at Fox Searchight’s upcoming period drama Belle, directed by Amma Asante, which is set for release in the USA on May 2, 2014.

    The period drama about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl, in the 1700s, which made its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, and Matthew Goode.

    The story takes place in the 1780s, and is based on a true story – specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. It follows Belle, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar’s son who is an advocate for slave emancipation.

    Her full name was Dido Elizabeth Belle, born 1761, died 1804; she was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman known only as Belle.

    Mbatha-Raw plays the title role.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Interview: Nadine Patterson’s Talks Her Reimagining Of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ Which Screens 4/23 In Harlem
    by Sergio
    April 19, 2014 1:42 PM

    Filmmaker Nadine Patterson’s provocative and original film version of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth will be screened in Harlem in New York City this coming Weds April 23rd, starting at 6:30PM, and the filmmaker herself will be there in person as well.

    The film is currently in a limited theatrical run through Tugg, a web-based platform that allows audiences to choose what films play at their local theaters and will play at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9.

    But a few days ago I also had the chance to talk to the Philadelphia-based filmmaker herself for whom Tango Macbeth is her first feature film, after working for several years in the documentary field and television. The London Film School Masters graduate spoke to me about the genesis of her feature and what it takes to be an independent filmmaker.

    SERGIO: As always the most obvious question first – how did this project come about?

    PATTERSON: Well I developed the idea when I was in London. I studied at the London Film School from 2003 to 2005 and I worked with several Black British actors while I was there and they said that in order to advance in their careers they had to they really had to do the canon of Shakespeare’s works. But because they’re black, they’re not really considered for any of the major roles.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Oklahoma Provides a Win for ALEC’s 50-State Campaign Against Democracy
    April 18, 2014
    by Joshua Holland

    On Monday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that prohibits local governments from boosting their minimum wages or enacting laws mandating benefits like paid vacation or sick leave for working people.

    Shadee Ashtari reports for The Huffington Post that “opponents of the measure view the move by Oklahoma Republicans as retaliation against an initiative underway in Oklahoma City, where organizers have been gathering signatures to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.” That may well be a factor, but the legislation has the fingerprints of the National Restaurant Association — “the other NRA” — and the American Legislative Affairs Council (ALEC) all over it.

    Business-backed groups that oppose living wages and paid leave have a serious problem on their hands: polls show that they’re popular. So-called preemption laws provide them with a solution.

    In November, Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center who authored a report titled, “The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012,” told, “In places where people have a chance to vote, not for candidates, but on the actual laws — on minimum wage, on sick leave — there’s very broad support for those measures among Republicans and Democrats, among conservatives and liberals.

    “So recently, one of the big agendas of the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC and the rest of them has been trying to deny us the right to vote. They’ve passed legislation in 10 states that says that cities are not allowed to vote on establishing a right to paid sick leave or on establishing a higher minimum wage. Because there are now six cities where people voted to say everybody has a right to at least five days of paid sick leave a year, and the business lobby’s response has been to take away the right to vote wherever they can.”

    Oklahoma joined Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin in passing its preemption law. Similar bills have been introduced in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan, South Carolina and Washington State, according to Family Values at Work, a group that advocates paid sick leave and living wage ordinances.

  12. rikyrah says:

    anyone else follow this web series?

    An African City.

    I’m loving it.

  13. rikyrah says:


    Chait just doesn’t quit.

    Doesn’t learn.


    American Politics: Not Just for White People

    By Jonathan Chait

    Last weekend, I appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry’s weekend MSNBC show to discuss my cover story on racial politics. It was … not quite what I expected. The segment lasted 12 and a half minutes, and Harris-Perry spent almost half that time on an extended soliloquy about how I am wrong, only allowing me to join the discussion about my story for the second half.

    There was also a panel following that segment, consisting of four panelists who agree with Harris-Perry and none who agree with me. I declined the invitation to stay for that part.

    Harris-Perry followed up that show with a column in The Nation that is, if anything, ever weirder. She begins by endorsing a critique made by Jamelle Bouie in Slate, who argued that, rather than describing changes to the political landscape in the Obama era, I should have instead written a story about the lived experience of African-Americans. (“It has nothing to do with race as experienced in the ‘day-to-day’ lives of ordinary people. When a twentysomething black New Yorker talks about race, she isn’t as concerned with the rhetoric of Republicans as she is with the patrol car that trails her teenage brother when he rides his bike to the corner store.”)

    Harris-Perry takes the criticism a step farther by asserting that my article is entirely about white people:

  14. Food is ready! Turkey, dressing, collard greens, broccoli & rice casserole, pasta salad, potato salad, fruit salad, marble cream cake & dr pepper. I’m waiting on my kids and my brother’s family to come eat & have an Easter egg hunt for Haley, Jay & DJ!

  15. rikyrah says:

    that ridiculous woman who went after Josh over at TPM yesterday on twitter, then went after ABL. …did not end well for her.

  16. During Easter service an old man stood, raised his arms & yelled “God Bless President Obama!” And the worshippers applauded loudly!

    He was HAPPY! *tears*

  17. rikyrah says:

    Dante Estrada ‏@Napsterrific 6h

    Crips & Bloods been doing it all wrong all these years. Should start calling themselves militias. They just protecting their freedom.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Christina WatkinsFox @mamafox

    My #Obamacare insurance is going to save me $800/mo for just 1 of my son’s necessary medicines. Thank you, Mr. President #Obama
    5:55 PM – 16 Apr 2014

  19. rikyrah says:

    Ruby @bleu_ruby

    YOU GUYS! That procedure for my chronic pain that was gonna cost $900 on my junk insurance policy? With my health ins exchange policy: $90!
    11:48 AM – 17 Apr 2014

  20. rikyrah says:

    James D. Opton @HarnettDem

    @ACAstories @ACASuccessStory @navparker Our story is just about the same. $2400 in meds now cost less than $500. We get to keep our home.
    10:23 PM – 17 Apr 2014

  21. rikyrah says:

    Navarro Parker @navparker

    $1000 Rx for $10. Thank you #obamacare for saving me $990 a month!
    9:26 PM – 16 Apr 2014

  22. rikyrah says:

    Liberal Librarian @Lib_Librarian

    Does Cheri Jacobus take potty breaks? Or did she have a colostomy bag inserted for more efficient trolling?
    11:52 AM – 20 Apr 2014

  23. rikyrah says:

    Diatonic Dissonance @urbangaygriot

    I can only imagine the parade of kitten heels and polyester that will occur in black churches across the nation. #EasterSunday
    6:20 AM – 20 Apr 2014

  24. rikyrah says:

    Diatonic Dissonance @urbangaygriot

    Shoutout to that one lady who NEVER went to choir rehearsal who’s going to get the biggest curve when she tries to march in with the choir
    6:19 AM – 20 Apr 2014

  25. rikyrah says:

    Children’s Fantasy Fiction Needs More Characters of Color

    There is a woeful absence of diverse characters in children’s fiction, but here are some books to enrich your kid’s fantasy life.

    By: C.J. Farley
    Posted: April 17 2014 2:00 AM

    In his 1976 essay The Devil Finds Work, James Baldwin wrote, “No one, I read somewhere, a long time ago, makes his escape personality black.”

    Baldwin was talking about the movies, but he might as well have been talking about children’s books. When I was a kid, I loved reading works like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. But virtually all fantasy novels aimed at younger readers featured a complete absence of heroes of color. There were no black knights or wizards who looked like me, fighting dragons or outwitting minotaurs.

    Part of the fantasy, I realized, was that we weren’t there.

    In a recent blog post on the Wall Street Journal online, I broke the news of the most recent numbers on diversity in children’s books from an annual survey done by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a study and research library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The CCBC surveyed 3,200 children’s books in 2013 and found that only 2.9 percent of the books had significant African or African-American content, and just 2 percent of the books were by black authors and/or illustrators.

    The numbers are bad and getting worse: A previous report from CCBC had found that 3.3 percent of kids’ books released in 2012 had significant African or African-American content.

    When word of the new survey spread, the numbers spurred a number of articles in a variety of publications about the lack of diversity in kids’ fiction, and the need for kids of color to see themselves in the books that they read.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Wisconsin: Worst State in Nation for Black Children

    No state is worse for African-American kids, according to a new study.
    By: Diamond Sharp
    Posted: April 17 2014 5:06 PM

    If you are raising a black child, think twice before moving to Wisconsin.

    A recent study has found that no state is worse for black children than the Badger State.

    According to the study “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children,” from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Wisconsin has the country’s worst disparities between children of color and their white peers. The study considered 12 factors, including educational access, socioeconomic status and home life, and then ranked the states by how well children did in those areas.

    Black children in Wisconsin ranked 50th overall in those categories. By comparison, white children in the state scored 10th. Asian and Latino children ranked 37th and 17th, respectively.

    The study also found that children of color in Wisconsin face particular challenges to financial security. According to the Capital Times, “70 percent of Wisconsin’s white children live in households with incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level, about $47,700 annually for a family of four. At the same time, only 20 percent of black children have that level of economic security.”

  27. rikyrah says:

    Note to Democrats: If You Lose in November, Don’t Blame Black Voters

    The problem for Democrats is that they are losing a large percentage of the white electorate.

    By: Charles D. Ellison
    Posted: April 17 2014 2:00 AM

    As midterm elections near and pundits predict Republican blowouts in November, Democrats appear poised to run that classic racial sob story if they lose control of the Senate: The black folks did it.

    RealClearPolitics actually gives Democrats a 1 percent edge over Republicans in a generic congressional ballot, and even Quinnipiac shows voters viewing Democrats as the “lesser of two evils” with a negative approval rating of 30 percent (with 60 percent disapproving), compared with a negative 18-73 percent rating for Republicans. But all of that is too tight to call. Strategists on the left are nervously watching a series of souring polls showing wide enthusiasm gaps between Democratic voters and a Republican base described as “fired up.” A CBS News poll shows 70 percent of Republicans hyped about Election Day, compared with only 58 percent of Democrats.

    The reason? Many observers—President Barack Obama among them—believe that traditional base Democratic voters, black voters among them, aren’t running to the polls fast enough … despite the fact that Election Day is just eight months away. A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey calls them the Rising American Electorate—a coalition of black, Latino, Asian, youth and unmarried female voters—of whom only 64 percent are likely to vote in November, compared with 79 percent of white voters.

    But according to the president’s Black Book of Tough Love, that same rising electorate has a “congenital disease.” This was his harsh assessment during a Houston fundraiser last week that’s sure to get respun in various forms on the campaign trail.

    He’s understandably cranky that his legislative legacy could be undone if Republicans retake the Senate. He’d find his role during the last two years of his presidency largely ceremonial, relegated to giving useless press briefings and Air Force One-hopping the globe in search of foreign policy crises to defuse. So, not unlike a drunken, wife-beating husband, he’s starting to slap around the voters closest to him.

  28. rikyrah says:

    Why the Sudden Rush Into Africa? It’s the Oil

    Oil-rich African nations could benefit from the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

    By: Charles Ellison
    Posted: April 14 2014 2:00 AM

    Kenya, Libya Uganda and Nigeria are thousands of miles removed from that toilet of European tension known as Ukraine, but as drama unfolds in Eastern Europe, their destinies could be closely aligned.

    In essence, the more Russian President Vladimir Putin puts the grip on Russian gas prices, the more Western powers—from NATO to the United States—feel squeezed and desperate enough to look for oil elsewhere. Africa fits a nice profile for that. Suddenly, there’s a new sense of urgency on the continent, with the United States stepping up its military and economic engagement posthaste since Putin made his Crimean power grab.

    Before Putin could move to checkmate the West on the geopolitical chess map, President Barack Obama moved a few pieces to the Motherland. It’s an interesting gamble, considering Africa has less than 10 percent of proven global oil reserves. Yet, in the search for alternative sources of energy, the potential returns of intervention in Africa are fairly fast and enormous. Where the Middle East, cradle of oil booms, is volatile and where Shale Country, USA, is still in its infancy, Africa presents a quick-fix solution for petroleum hungry Western countries that don’t have time for renewable-energy cars to fully penetrate their markets. Africa’s not ideal, but it’s much more manageable than al-Qaida networks in the Middle East and a cranky Russian dictator on a Black Sea power trip.

    Oil-spilling BP can tell you all about it, “project[ing] Africa will experience the world’s fastest regional energy demand growth [with] combined oil and gas production in Africa between today and 2035, bigger than in any of the BRIC countries.”

    If BP has snake eyes on Africa, best believe everyone else does. Within a month of Crimea, additional U.S. “special forces” troops ended up in Uganda to augment a hundred already there in a hunt for war-lusting Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. And to top that, the Pentagon sent in four freshly minted futuristic V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor hybrids to show we mean business

  29. rikyrah says:

    Who Is Black America’s Patron Saint?

    100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: Meet the black Sicilian whose image was used to convert slaves to Catholicism.

    By: Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    Posted: April 7 2014 2:00 AM

    Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 74: Who was the patron saint of African slaves and their descendants?

    President Obama’s recent visit with Pope Francis saw the unlikely pairing of two New World leaders at one of the Old World’s oldest seats of power. The route each man had taken to St. Peter’s Square—one as the first black president of the United States, the other as the Catholic Church’s first Latin American pope—was long on symbolism and part of a much longer history of race and religion flowing back and forth across the Atlantic. The sainted figure of one such story had his feast day last Friday, April 4, which also happens to be the anniversary of the martyrdom of our very own Black Baptist “saint,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968. The Italian black Catholic saint’s name was Benedict, of Palermo, Sicily, and he was the son of African slaves.

    In life, Benedict was an ascetic healer who devoted his life to the humble teachings of St. Francis; in death, he was used by the Church and colonial European powers to convert African slaves to Roman Catholicism. But he was genuinely adored as a grassroots saint who also inspired black identity and pride. While he was not the first black saint in church history, he was the first to pass through the gauntlet of canonization after authority over the process passed exclusively to the pope in Rome. In February 2013, The Economist magazine described Benedict as “the patron saint of African-Americans,” noting that “churches devoted to his name can be found as far afield as Buenos Aires, Bahía and the Bronx.”

  30. rikyrah says:

    25 Alternatives to Pharrell (or Any Other Celeb) for Insights Into ‘the New Black’

    The “Happy” singer is totally entitled to his opinion on the nature of the issues facing African Americans in 2014. But if you’re interested in the views of those who’ve probably given these things a little more thought, there are other options.

    By: Jenée Desmond-Harris
    Posted: April 17 2014 2:00 AM

    Pharrell Williams’ comments in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he seemed to embrace the familiar suggestion that racism can be overcome by a change in attitude, didn’t go over well with many folks.

    Here’s what the artist and producer had to say:

    The “new black” doesn’t blame other races for our issues. The “new black” dreams and realizes that it’s not a pigmentation; it’s a mentality. And it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re gonna be on.

    It’s not clear what “it” is or who exactly gets to be “the new black,” but the vague nature of the declaration wasn’t all that bothered many of those who heard it.

    As Ebony’s Michael Arceneaux put it in a status posted to his personal Facebook page:

    Y’know, I’m tired of these rich, disconnected Black men (this means you, Kanye West) denying the lingering prevalence of racism to the amusement of whites whose attention they so desperately covet. I wish celebrities’ opinions didn’t matter so much, but they do frame the culture & Pharrell’s bulls–t is poison. Structural racism is real, struggle vocals and the mix and matching of refrigerator wisdom over an uplifting beat be damned. In sum, Pharrell, grow up, or at the very least, shut up and “sing.”

  31. rikyrah says:

    there is nothing served by putting this man in jail.



    Man Free for 13 Years Because of Error Is Now in Prison

    Cornealious Anderson of Missouri was told to await instructions on when and where to report to begin serving a sentence, but he remained free because the orders never arrived.

    By: Lynette Holloway
    Posted: April 18 2014 10:01 AM

    A Missouri man who was convicted of armed robbery in 2000 was told to await instructions on when and where to report to begin serving his 13-year prison sentence, but the instructions never arrived, the Associated Press reports.

    So Cornealious Anderson, 37, remained free for 13 years after his conviction, the report says. And during that time, he rehabilitated his life, including getting married, raising three children, and learning a trade. He never tried to run or hide. In fact, he paid taxes and traffic tickets, renewed his driver’s license, and registered his businesses, the news site says.

    But that all changed last year when the Missouri Department of Corrections discovered the clerical error that had allowed him to remain free, the report says. He was arrested last July and now is embroiled in a fight to regain his freedom.

    “They sent a SWAT team to his house,” Anderson’s attorney, Patrick Megaro, told AP on Wednesday. “He was getting his 3-year-old daughter breakfast, and these men with automatic weapons bang on his door

  32. rikyrah says:

    Watch: ‘I Can’t Spend my Life in Prison,’ Gang Member Sobs at Sentencing

    Brandon Spencer, 21, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for spraying bullets into a crowd in pursuit of a rival gang member

    By: Lynette Holloway
    Posted: April 20 2014 10:22 AM

    A 21-year-old man, convicted of attempted murder for firing shots at a rival gang member at a University of Southern California campus party, sobbed and pleaded for leniency during his sentencing Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

    Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr. sentenced Brandon Spencer to 40 years to life in prison, following his February conviction on four counts of attempted murder, the Times writes. The shooting, which occurred at a Halloween party in 2012, was the first on the campus in decades, the report says.

    In a dramatic courtroom scene, sheriff’s deputies tried to calm Spencer as he banged his head on the defense table as he pleaded for leniency. About 50 supporters and family members sat behind him as asked Judge Clarke for a second chance, the report says.

    “I’m sorry for what happened but I can’t spend the rest of my life in prison,” Spencer said through tears, the Times reports. “I’m not just some gang-banger that they portrayed me as.”

  33. rikyrah says:

    DNA Does Not Lie, and Neither Did Aunt Peachy

    A black family’s oral history of a link to Thomas Jefferson has been scientifically proved.

    By: Gayle Jessup White
    Posted: April 4 2014 5:58 PM

    She couldn’t read or write and didn’t know her own age. By 1942 she was old and without a job. For decades, she’d been a domestic for a wealthy white family, the McKnews, in Washington, D.C., until she suffered a crippling stroke. The McKnew family put her out and ours took her in. For 20 years she was part of the Jessup family. Her name was Virginia, but everyone called her Aunt Peachy.

    According to my older siblings, Aunt Peachy helped around the house, gave them pennies to purchase candy, and shared their secrets. I never knew her—she died in the early ’60s when I was a toddler. But her life had an everlasting impact on mine because it was Aunt Peachy, her nuclear family’s sole survivor, who carried tales from past generations to ours.

    Her most remarkable and often repeated commentary would begin like this: “You’re descendants of Thomas Jefferson,” she would say. “I’m not related, but you are.” It’s that story, which could easily have died with Aunt Peachy, that put me on the path of discovering my family’s mysterious and tragic history.

    Aunt Peachy, born Virginia Robinson in about 1870, was the half sister of my grandmother Eva Robinson Taylor, who died when my dad was 5 years old. Dad, almost 90 when he passed away in 2005, didn’t remember his mother and recalled very little about his five older sisters, all struck down within two years of each other by tuberculosis. Three girls died in their teens, and two were toddlers. Of the children who survived—two boys—Dad became Aunt Peachy’s favorite, and she became his only link to his mother’s past.

    Eva and Virginia, the two half sisters, seemed a study in contrasts, according to the few who knew them. They didn’t look alike—one tall, the other short; one light, the other brown. While Eva was remembered as soft-spoken and cheerful, educated and refined, Virginia was described as illiterate and superstitious, kindly and childlike.

    One of Aunt Peachy’s favorite stories, according to my oldest sister, Janice, was an explanation for pigs squealing during thunderstorms: They saw blood in the clouds, she said, and a man had extracted fluid from their eyes to prove it. No one believed that, but everyone believed her when she said Jefferson was our ancestor. Everyone took the word of an old woman who couldn’t read, write or do math, a woman who believed that pigs saw blood in clouds.

  34. rikyrah says:

    NYT: Republicans See Political Wedge In Common Core

    The health care law may be Republicans’ favorite weapon against Democrats this year, but there is another issue roiling their party and shaping the establishment-versus-grass-roots divide ahead of the 2016 presidential primaries: the Common Core. A once little-known set of national educational standards introduced in 44 states and the District of Columbia with the overwhelming support of Republican governors, the Common Core has incited intense resistance on the right and prompted some in the party to reverse field and join colleagues who believe it will lead to a federal takeover of schools. Conservatives denounce it as “Obamacore,” in what has become a surefire applause line for potential presidential hopefuls. Other Republicans are facing opprobrium from their own party for not doing more to stop it.

    The learning benchmarks, intended to raise students’ proficiency in math and English, were adopted as part of a 2010 effort by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to bolster the country’s competitiveness. Unlike the health care law, the Common Core retains bipartisan support and has the backing of powerful elements of the business community. The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush. “There is a great deal of paranoia in the country today,” said Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, who was also instrumental in creating the program. “It’s the two P’s, polarization and paranoia.”

  35. rikyrah says:

    umair haque ✔ @umairh

    What we have is billionairism. A joyous, deluded oligarchy, where billionaires are seen as heroes; above the law; beyond democracy.
    11:53 AM – 19 Apr 2014

  36. rikyrah says:

    After 17 Years, I’m Bringing My Little Sister Home from Prison
    By Wendy George, Sister of commuted life-without-parole prisoner, Stephanie George at 3:17pm

    When we were little, we used to tell our mama she had good ears. My little sister and I would whisper under the covers in our bed after lights out, and somehow mom could always hear us. She’d tell us to quit talking and go to sleep.

    Tomorrow I’m going to pick up my sister from prison. She’s been away for 17 years, and until last December I thought she would never come home. I can’t wait to drive back to my house, get in bed, and tell each other everything like we used to.

    You’d think I had a twin. As kids, my sister and I looked a lot alike. Our mom used to dress us the same. Even as we got older, we wore the same kinds of clothes. We raised our small kids together. We both wanted to style hair for a living. Since she’s been gone, a part of me has been missing. A part of me has been locked up for years.

    Stephanie was 26 with four small kids when she was sentenced. Even though the judge objected, a mandatory minimum law meant that she got life without the possibility of parole for being “a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder” in a drug conspiracy.

    I tried to make being in there easy for her. At first, I wouldn’t tell her the bad things. But our father died when she was in there. I tried to hide our dad’s sickness from her, and I had to tell her he’d passed. I know she was worried about me having to bury him alone, without her. “From here on,” she said, “I want you to promise me that no matter what’s going on outside, I want to know the truth.”

    Stephanie and I have kept each other going. I was the one to tell her that her son was shot and killed in October. I told her that the Sunday before he died, I saw him in the audience at church when I was singing in the choir. I know he got saved that day. She’s made peace with it. I’ve been there since she went inside, and I’m going to be there when she gets out. It’s all going to happen for her again – the grieving – when she comes home.

    When Stephanie was sentenced, I took her kids into my home and raised them. I am grateful I had the strength to keep pushing on to make sure that her kids got to the prison to visit their mom. She told me horror stories of some of the women in there who didn’t have a family outside to help with the kids. It was a rough role, but I thank God for giving me the strength to raise them all. I talked to my sister on the phone last week and joked that once she gets home, I am going to take a month vacation. She said I deserve it.

    Even when they said she had a life sentence, I never accepted that. I’ve been praying and fighting for this day since day one. And the fighting has paid off. Finally, my sister’s sentence has been commuted by President Obama.

  37. rikyrah says:

    The New York Times ‏@nytimes 6m
    Breaking News: Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, Fearsome Boxer Wrongly Convicted of Murder, Dies at 76

  38. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone. It’s been a splendid 4 days of spiritual renewal. Be back later this evening.

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