Thursday Open Thread | Doesn’t Take A Lot of Money to Become an Inspiration

Why Aesha Ash is Wandering Around Inner City Rochester In A Tutu

Growing up in inner city Rochester, NY, Aesha Ash was just one of the neighborhood kids. She’d imagine people driving by, judging her by her black skin.

“They’d never know that I was dreaming of becoming a professional ballet dancer. No one would think, Some day she’s going to make it into New York City Ballet,” says Ash.

After an inspiring career at NYCB, Béjart’s Ballet Lausanne and LINES, the January 2006 Dance Magazine cover star—one of our 25 to Watch that year—is no longer performing. But she’s determined to use her dance background to change the stereotypes and misconceptions that people—including black people—have about women of color. “I want to show it’s okay to embrace our softer side, and let the world know we’re multidimensional,” says Ash.

In 2011, she launched the Swan Dreams Project to inspire kids in the community she grew up in. The original idea was to post images of herself in a tutu all over Rochester. “I remember growing up and in the bodega you’d see images of girls in bikinis on motorbikes,” says Ash. “I wanted to replace those with photos that show women of color in a different light.”

She knew the power imagery can have: She still remembers what it felt like as a student at the School of American Ballet to see a photo of black ballet dancer Andrea Long. “That image was everything on days when I was feeling disenchanted. I’d see that picture of her, and know that the struggles I was going through, she went through them, too.”

Ash soon realized she didn’t have the budget to fund her original plan (“I never realized how expensive a bus stop advertisement is!”). But she’s made the images available through an online store, and often simply gives away prints at her own expense to schools and students in need of some inspiration.

Any proceeds she makes from the sales go directly to other organizations that are working to expand ballet in diverse communities. One large donation even led to a pointe shoe fund at dancer Robyn Gardenhire’s City Ballet of Los Angeles school—and it helped one dancer who had quit ballet because of the expense come back to class.

Now a mother of two in San Jose, CA, Ash will also start teaching a free after-school ballet class at her daughter’s public school next month. “I recently taught at Girls Inc. in Oakland, and one of the little black girls said, ‘Are you the ballet teacher?’ She just stood there, staring at me with her mouth open, like a unicorn had just walked into the room,” Ash says. “You never know the impact you can have just by being a presence.”

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57 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | Doesn’t Take A Lot of Money to Become an Inspiration

  1. rikyrah says:

    Bought the new Vogue with Serena and the new Essence with Oprah, Ava and the new star of a Wrinkle In Time

  2. rikyrah says:

    Company loses two Milwaukee contracts after its employees displayed guns, KKK sticker
    18 JAN 2018 AT 16:34 ET

    After a Milwaukee city contractor’s employees were outed with guns and white supremacist iconography on work sites, the company is slated to lose upwards of $1 million.

    As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, American Sewer Services was denied two contracts worth $800,000 after the Milwaukee Common Council passed a resolution against them. They are also prohibited from re-bidding on either contract.

    In December, controversy roiled after a photo of a Ku Klux Klan sticker on an American Sewer Services employees’ cooler went viral. In addition to the bigoted sticker, a photo of the company’s employees holding guns on a work site also circulated, compounding the backlash against the company.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Trump Lawyer Used Private Company, Pseudonyms to Pay Porn Star ‘Stormy Daniels’

    Michael Cohen created limited liability company just before $130,000 payment
    Jan. 18, 2018 5:48 p.m. ET

    President Donald Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to corporate records and people familiar with the matter.

    The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established created Essential Consultants, LLC. on October 17, 2016, and “then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing” Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford.

  4. rikyrah says:

    They are trying to kill these American Citizens.

  5. rikyrah says:

    I knew that Maddow would be reading the released transcript.on her show tonight….LOL

  6. yahtzeebutterfly says:


    “Supreme Court blocks court order to redraw North Carolina congressional districts”

    (CNN)The Supreme Court Thursday agreed to freeze, for now, a lower court opinion that struck down North Carolina congressional districts holding that it amounted to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

    The order makes it likely, although not certain, that the controversial maps will be used for the next election.

    Earlier this month, a three judge panel held North Carolina’s 2016 plan — that was passed by a Republican-led legislature was enacted “with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates” and that the plan violated the First Amendment by “unjustifiably discriminating against voters based on their previous political expression and affiliation.”

    The lower court had ordered the North Carolina General Assembly to enact a remedial redistricting plan by January 24 in order to allow the General Assembly two weeks to draw a remedial plan.

    The order comes as the Supreme Court is also considering two other partisan gerrymander cases out of Maryland and Wisconsin.

  7. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “Eric Garner’s mom says NYPD is blocking civilian board from proceeding with charges against cop who killed her son”

    “A civilian police misconduct board is prepared to move forward with charges against the cop who killed Eric Garner — but the NYPD is blocking the move, his mother charged.

    “Gwen Carr said officials at the Civilian Complaint Review Board told her in a meeting that the department has used an administrative maneuver to block the case from proceeding against Daniel Pantaleo, by refusing to issue a case number.”

  8. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Please don’t miss reading this one.

    This mock letter is from the opinion section of USA Today:
    “President Trump’s 2017 performance review, from Putin with love”

  9. rikyrah says:

    FULL INTERVIEW: Jorge Garcia and his family discuss his deportation to Mexico after living 30 years in the U.S., and their message to Pres. Trump and Congress.

    — The View (@TheView) January 18, 2018

  10. rikyrah says:

    As a disabled veteran who relies on the federal government for services & benefits, I understand that a government shutdown may impact me both medically & financially

    If it means protecting children covered by CHIP & DACA, I understand & accept the consequences of that decision

    — Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) January 18, 2018

  11. rikyrah says:


    The proximity of Friday’s deadline to fund the government and the subsequent deadline to codify the legal status of Dreamers has exposed a source of political tension in the Democratic Party.

    Most progressives, including senators eyeing 2020 White House bids, are refusing to support continued funding for the federal government unless Congress first or simultaneously creates protected status for Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were minors. Republicans need Democratic votes to keep their government open, protecting Dreamers should be the price.

    Senators standing for reelection in Trump states, by contrast, would like to untangle immigration and appropriations because they worry a government shutdown pegged to Trump’s signature issue will doom their campaigns.

    From their perspective, Congress can and should legislate a solution for Dreamers, but not unless the possibility of a government shutdown has passed.

    “We’ve got people running for president all trying to find their base, and then you’ve got people from Trump states that are trying to continue to legislate the way we always have — by negotiation,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). “And never the twain shall meet.”

    These kinds of divisions aren’t uncommon in party politics, and it’s usually hard to say with much certainty which faction has the better argument. In this case it’s very easy: The senators who are resisting pressure to tie protection for Dreamers to government funding are laboring under the misperception that Republicans in Congress sincerely want to give Dreamers legal status in the United States, and that they will cut a deal when they are not under duress.

  12. rikyrah says:

    So…this is big. From the @TIME cover story:

    — Ezra No Dream No Vote Levin (@ezralevin) January 18, 2018

  13. Ametia says:


  14. rikyrah says:

    Cotton’s Office Confirms Cease And Desists to Constituents ‘Under Extreme Circumstances’ via @TPM

    — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 18, 2018

  15. rikyrah says:

    Looking into reports that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office @ManhattanDA raided Newsweek/IBT Offices today….sources say police have been there for hours. The DA has declined to comment.— Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) January 18, 2018

    Sources say that the DA’s investigation has been going on for 17 months & is related to the “procurement of servers.” DA’s warrant allowed police to photograph the news org’s server room.— Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) January 18, 2018

  16. Ametia says:

    Meanwhile, #45’s headed to PA for a KLAN RALLY, promoting that tax scam, and LYING about MX wall, CHIPS, and DACA. Actually blaming Dems for government shutdown, before at government shutdown.

    Total irresponsible fool, who blames the world for his idiocy.

  17. Ametia says:

    • Ametia says:

      FUCK YOU, MS. GRAHAM. You don’t get to tell anyone that #45 isn’t racists.

      There are black folks, brown folks, and yellow folks, especially innocent children, that do not even know you or said anything about or to you.


  18. rikyrah says:

    Found this at BJ about why the investigation into the Russian/NRA money connection is important:

    J R in WV says:
    January 18, 2018 at 10:47 am

    You are so wrong right off the top. If a single nickel or Russian was spent on a single federal race by the NRA they’re guilty of a federal crime. If they donated to 7 or 8 races they should be prosecuted under RICO and confiscated out of existence, like so many violent KKK groups have been.

  19. rikyrah says:

    I was standing, waiting for the train this morning…

    It’s only January 18th, and I am officially over winter.

    I don’t care what anyone else says..

    That Glorified Rat Phil better not see his shadow on February 1st.

  20. Ametia says:

    What if PBO surrounded himself with the Black Panthers, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, CBC,or every other black activist group, traveled around the country holding rallies spewing anti-white nonsense before and after elected to POTUS?


  21. rikyrah says:

    Trump was set to meet with Alexander Torshin in February before the National Prayer Breakfast. The meeting was canceled the night before when an NSC staffer blew the whistle and flagged Torshin as a potential Russian mobster… /3/— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 18, 2018

    Torshin and Trump have reportedly known each other since at least 2012. According to Bloomberg, the two “had a jovial exchange at the NRA convention in Tennessee in 2015.”…interesting how this keeps circling back to the NRA, isn’t it?/7/— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 18, 2018

  22. rikyrah says:

    Trump rejected a bipartisan proposal to keep the government open. Now Republicans are scrambling for Democrats to bail them out. Call your Senators and tell them to stand strong: no Dream, no CHIP, no vote. Let us know what they say! We’re keeping track:

    — Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) January 18, 2018

  23. rikyrah says:

    Trump administration bars Haitians from U.S. visas for low-skilled work
    Yeganeh Torbati
    5 MIN READ

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, the Trump administration said on Wednesday, bringing an end to a small-scale effort to employ Haitians in the United States after a catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the change less than a week after President Donald Trump reportedly questioned in an Oval Office meeting why the United States would want to take in immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to them as “shithole” countries. Trump has denied using that word.

    DHS said in a regulatory filing that it was removing Haiti from lists of more than 80 countries whose citizens can be granted H-2A and H-2B visas, given to seasonal workers in agriculture and other industries.

  24. Ametia says:

    Racist White Girl Kicked Out of University of Alabama for Her Racist Instagram Rant

  25. rikyrah says:

    Republicans play a deeply cynical game with children’s health care
    01/18/18 08:41 AM
    By Steve Benen


    In other words, Republicans saw CHIP has a handy bargaining chip to be exploited for political gain – which is precisely what they decided to do this week.

    With time running out before a government shutdown, House GOP leaders added a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to their stopgap spending bill, along with a series of tax breaks intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. The House Republican leadership published this stunning tweet yesterday:

    “Children’s lives are at stake. It’s time for our friends across the aisle to stop playing games with CHIP funding.”

    It followed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) telling reporters that it’s “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose CHIP funding. Several GOP lawmakers held a press conference accusing congressional Dems of failing to support “American children.”

    I’ve been following politics for quite a while. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen political tactics this cynical.

    Let’s review some of the basic truths that Republicans are hoping you don’t know. Last summer, Democrats urged the GOP majority to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Republicans ignored the request, choosing instead to focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

    In the fall, Democrats tried again, reminding the Republican-led Congress that funding for CHIP expired at the end of September. GOP leaders again blew off the appeals, focusing instead on giving the wealthy massive tax breaks.

    In the ensuing months, Democrats pushed CHIP, again and again, but to no avail. Republicans said they’d get around to the issue eventually, but it simply wasn’t a top priority for the party. GOP leaders could’ve brought the Children’s Health Insurance Program up for a vote at any time, and it would’ve passed easily, but they didn’t.

    This week, all of a sudden, Republicans have re-discovered the issue – not because they suddenly care, but because they’re hoping to pit CHIP beneficiaries against Dreamers, playing one progressive priority against the other.

    Now, the House Speaker who could’ve made CHIP a priority before, suddenly believes it’s “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose a deeply partisan stopgap spending bill.

    If there’s a defense for cynicism this brazen, it’s hiding well.

  26. rikyrah says:

    The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Trump during the election, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2018

  27. rikyrah says:

    Breathe in….
    Breathe out….

    Ok, I’m gonna say it again…

    WHAT IF….

    44 had Craig Robinson working in the WH?

    WHAT IF…..

    Craig Robinson couldn’t get a Security Clearance?

    YEAH….I KNOW….

    The curve for Unqualified White Men is REAL!


    1/17/18 AT 4:12 PM

    It’s been one year since Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to the president, assumed office, but he’s yet to receive full security clearance for his role in the White House.

    The unprecedented delay in clearance represents a violation of security norms and suggests that Kushner continues to receive special treatment due to his relationship to President Donald Trump, according to legal experts familiar with the process.

    The White House has maintained that the delay is “completely normal,” and that there is extra scrutiny for advisers like Kushner who need the highest level of clearance. A White House official said that the process can take around 300 days: it’s now been 362.

    “It’s not normal,” Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told Newsweek. “Jared has had issues with accuracy, both in his security clearance forms and financial disclosures. He’s had to amend his forms to add quite a few contacts with Russians, and he’s amended his financial disclosures 39 times. One or two times, no one would bat an eye, but this is unprecedented.”

    • Ametia says:

      First off, any black man would never ever be in the white house if they went around the country stirring up racist hate against WHITE folks.PERIOD

      Can’t wait for that smarmy lil Kushner to be cuffed & jailed.

  28. Ametia says:

    Amazon picks 20 finalists for its second headquarters
    by Kaya Yurieff   @kyurieff
    January 18, 2018: 9:44 AM ET

    Amazon has released a “short” list of cities it’s considering for its second headquarters.
    But the list isn’t exactly short. The 20 potential cities include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto and Washington D.C.

  29. rikyrah says:

    Southern Utah students disciplined after posting racist photo to Instagram on MLK Day: ‘happy national ni**er day’
    January 17th 2018

    (KUTV)- Members of the Hurricane community and Washington County School District officials are “disgusted” by an Instagram photo that was posted by two Hurricane High School students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

    The photo shows one of the female students pretending to hang herself, with “x” drawn onto her eyes and it captions “happy national ni**er day.”

    Steven Dunham, Director of Public Relations with the school district tells 2News that action has been taken on these two students but they cannot say what those consequences are for now.

  30. Ametia says:

    FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump
    By Peter Stone And Greg Gordon
    January 18, 2018 05:00 AM

    The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.
    FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.
    It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

    It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.
    All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information.
    A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined comment.

    Read more here:

  31. Ametia says:

    Is Trump’s doctor okay?
    By Dana Milbank Opinion writer January 17 at 5:31 PM


    Examining the White House physician’s briefing on President Trump’s physical, I was alarmed — not about the president’s health, but the doctor’s.
    Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson was so effusive in extolling the totally amazing, surpassingly marvelous, superbly stupendous and extremely awesome health of the president that the doctor sounded almost Trumpian. “The president’s overall health is excellent,” he said, repeating “excellent” eight times: “Hands down, there’s no question that he is in the excellent range. . . . I put out in the statement that the president’s health is excellent, because his overall health is excellent. . . . Overall, he has very, very good health. Excellent health.”
    And just how excellent is His Excellency’s excellent health, doctor? “Incredible cardiac fitness,” was Dr. Jackson’s professional opinion. “He has incredible genes. . . . He has incredibly good genes, and it’s just the way God made him.”

  32. rikyrah says:

    Parents go to workshops to help with ‘ The Talk’ for their Black children

  33. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning Everyone 😄😄😄

    • Ametia says:

      Good Morning, Rikyrah & 3 Chic Family.

      I love the inspirational post about Aesha Ash, What a blessings for the little girls who look up to her, as a role model. black presence in all areas of our lives makes a HUGE difference.

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