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ePluribus: America is an on-line contemporary American culture magazine that incorporates the original concept of our nation's motto to provide cultural news coverage of America.

NBC Today: Megyn Kelly And The Awakening Of America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

“Another one bites the dust,” as the saying goes and NBC Today host Megyn Kelly just bit a mouthful of it. Her comments dismissing the racist undertones of wearing blackface was just too much for her new NBC family to take, leading to her show “Megyn Kelly Today” being cancelled. This isn’t Kelly’s first time dancing with racist based controversy though. Kelly’s attitude, hostile political and social views she hotly defended during her time at Fox News has always been transparent to those it was aimed at; minorities. It’s always been hard for Kelly to see this demographic from her white privilege perch. She proudly chastised those she disagreed with politically and socially—regularly—on Fox News Channel alongside fellow haters; Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Carlson Tucker. America, including NBC, know who Megyn Kelly is; a staunch conservative with audacious white supremacist leaning views.

Kelly, on her all knowing perch, claimed Santa Clause and even Jesus Christ from the Middle East are white, and going even further by making the distinction that, “some people want Santa Clause to be black but he’s just not, OK kids,” she says looking straight into the camera as if sending comfort to all the frightened white children in America concerned a black Santa could come down their chimney on Christmas. Kelly publicly shamed Jane Fonda after an uncomfortable appearance on her show about plastic surgery by reaching so far back to her “Hanoi Jane” days to clap back at her for taking issue with her aggressive questions. It was, simply put; mean, petty and highly unprofessional. Kelly got to enjoy her privilege wholeheartedly in this gross display of bad behavior. NBC didn’t bad an eye. Can you imagine if Tamron Hall did that? And remember feisty Soledad O’Brien? She lost her CNN show real quick the minute she got comfortable in her power. The difference in how one is treated or “handled” is clear and has been since America’s birth. Kelly also validated hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by giving him a comfy seat on her perch despite the outcry from his victims, particularly the grieving parents of the Sandy Hook massacre. Her unapologetic mean spirited conduct is used to gain the upper hand in ratings despite the damaging effects her rhetoric has on the collective culture. This is what white privilege looks and feels like.

“But was it racist?” Kelly asked feigning ignorance about Real House Wives of New York’s Luann de Lesseps wearing blackface with her Dianna Ross costume during the segment that got her show canceled. Yes, it was racist Megyn. Exactly as Roland Martin pointed out to you here in this clip. Nevertheless, the birth of blackface is merely a node on America’s black body dehumanizing highway. I’m always led back to one of the most prolific orator of our times, James Baldwin, when it comes to race relations in America. You see Megyn, Baldwin left America for France with only $40 in his pocket because as he puts it, “…nothing worse could happen to me there that hadn’t already happened to me here.” He was talking about social terror. The social terror he endured from his own country by people just like you who don’t care to see the racism and inequality dividing and defining our country … because it benefits you. Wearing blackface is stoking the same social terrors Baldwin talked about. And that’s exactly what you’ve done for years.

Kelly benefits from the social institutions that still keep blacks and other minorities subservient to whites. History, including NBC’s selection of “Fox News Kelly” over their own internal employee, Hall,  supports this assertion. And Kelly has defended this privilege all while blaming black victims of police brutality like Philando Castile and Michael Brown of their own murders. NBC knew this when they chose her over Hall. It’s difficult to have it both ways peacock; hiring a person who clearly embraces hostile social views dipped in intolerance, and then feigning shock when the person performs accordingly. It’s like buying a pet snake and expecting it not to bite you because you feed it.

Powerful institutions like NBC have a fine line to walk when it comes to these hotly debated and sensitive national issues. When it comes to Megyn Kelly, the network brought fire and water to the larger debate on race relations; they added fire when they hired Kelly and are using water to try and save face today. One can only hope that the network heeds the words from one of its own employees, NABJ President, Sarah Glover in her statement addressing the matter, “Megyn Kelly’s flip comments on blackface were inexcusable. It is imperative that media organizations work to maintain the trust of audiences. The media industry has the power to inform, and an awesome responsibility to dispel ignorance and not encourage it.” How the media embraces this awesome responsibility as we progress into an uncertain future with a degenerate leader at the helm will be determined by their stakeholders. Let’s hope they care enough about advancing the idealism of America and our collective humanity Today.

Melania Trump: When Your Frock Serves The White Power Agenda

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Make no mistake, though not your typical FLOTUS, Melania Trump is making blaring and uncomfortable statements with her wardrobe. Through her frocks she’s letting us all know who she is, what she values and supports; white supremacy and intolerance. And this tea is being served on the world’s stage.

Her “I Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket wasn’t even subliminal. It was a blaring truth about her husband’s humanity, something she wholeheartedly aligns with just like birtherism; the conspiracy theory surrounding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. And, standing in staunch support of him when he called for the Central Park Five’s execution; minority men later cleared of raping a white woman in 1989. Her latest outfit “oops, I did it again” moment was another attempt to send a powerful message. This time, the memo went out to the world from the belly of humanity; Africa. “Melanie,” as her husband refers to her when his Twitter fingers get tired, dressed like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Seriously. 

As a nation beholden to improving humanity we must put aside the easy mockery of this ridiculous outdated frock disguised as style and dig deeper into the dangerous dog whistle it’s blowing. Keep in mind, the first lady’s solo visit comes on the heels of an international campaign to perpetuate the myth of “white genocide” in South Africa. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) the misleading outcry from South Africa’s alt-right is reaching its intended purpose; fanning the flames of racism. And Donald Trump is making matters even worse when he takes to social media, irresponsibly feeding the myth by instructing his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to look into “the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” SPLC’s Justin Ward writes, “Collaborations between the racist “alt-right” and their South African counterparts have ramped up.” Whether the aloof and out of touch first lady’s visit confirms this or not, her attire and attempt to impersonate a racist colonizer only feeds this narrative. And it’s a bold move from the Trump crime family.

“He broke every rule, every traditional concept with extraordinary success. In a civilization based upon reason and knowledge, he introduced absurdity and unreality, and cultivated insanity among the masses as a dedicated scientist would a bacteria growth,” wrote Chandler Brossard in The Insane World of Adolf Hitler.

History is repeated itself right in front of our eyes. But we’re too mesmerized and hypnotized, leading hyper-connected fast paced lives to work together to save the world from Trump and his ilk. Trump should scare the hell out of us like Freddy Kruger in a corn field but we’re too numb or afraid to fight back hard like former Attorney General Eric Holder recently suggested, “When they go low, we kick ‘em”.  If We The People don’t stand up and fight to take back our country, our indifference and disconnection to our sacred belief of being keepers of one another and mother earth, allows “Melanie” to use her frocks as alt-right dog whistles. Similar to the boldface and unapologetic lying, tax cheating from Trump and his staff, and the “OK” finger sign some in his circle are using, including Zina Bash during Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing, to openly express white power unity. The end game is to take us back to a time when America was great for whites only.

Now, they’ve taken this messaging to the global market place. It came beautifully wrapped too. Melania Trump dressed like a colonial era figure, posing like the rich entitled white woman she is, while being courted by Africans on safari. Images are powerful. They convey emotions and capture moments in time that highlight our humanity and the world we live in. The first lady’s Nazi like outfit did just that.

That’s where you can go with the colonizer getup.

These are frightening times … and it’s not even Halloween yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Kavanaugh: America’s Privileged Good Ol’ Boy Demands His Due; A Supreme Court Seat!

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

One did it as their civic duty, the other as their defense against a terrible sex crime. And GOP Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee want us to pretend we didn’t see the blaring truth during the hearing; that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a rotten person. One who led a life currently catching up to him at the peak of what should be the greatest honor of his professional life. If karma could be picked out of a crowd, it would look like the sniffling, bombastic image of a lying man we all saw following the testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of attempted rape when they were both teenagers 36 years ago.

Ford’s testimony was not just credible, it was impactful. And that impact is still rippling across America, encouraging many to speak their own truth about sexual assault. The angry senators not courageous enough to treat Ford equally and respectfully, in step with the social movements of our times, are doing more damage to our country and culture in their sunset years that may take another civil war to settle. It’ll be a fight they won’t be around for, and with their wealth, ensure their sons and daughters won’t have to fight either. The spectacle surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing is yet another reminder that the most out of touch Americans, remain the most powerful, making culture shaking political moves that largely impact a demographic on shaky grounds; the average American forced to live (and give) on a minimum wage not one of these power wielding old white men could, or have ever been forced to survive on.

We the people have gone from movement to movement to bring about change; positive change.  And this moment being led by women and supportive men is no different. Unfortunately, some who claim to be leaders for their people are instead the barriers of our inevitable social justice evolution taking root. In other words, a gang of old white rich men are forcing their will upon us like Kavanaugh allegedly did to Ford.

“I remember their laughter … I was underneath one of them while the two laughed,” Dr. Ford testified, adding, “Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life.” And yet, despite her powerful testimony, GOP Senators saw fit to throw a fit to shield their good ol’ boy, “Bart.” And Donald Trump, aka “Cult 45” boarding Air Force One yesterday with what looks like toilet paper on his shoes kept his special kind of crazy exactly as is; going from being sympathetic to Ford, and quickly turning to feed his cult members a basket of undignified mockery of an alleged sex assault victim at one of his strange rally’s. I can only hope the toilet paper on his shoes is God’s way of telling the world; don’t worry, I got this.

But are we really in good hands?  The Senate held a procedural vote on Judge Kavanaugh today. The angry, dismissive old man gang is moving ahead despite the lies Kavanaugh told under oath. They’re defending his temperament, his disrespect and blatant partisanship by rewarding him for his good ol’ boy loyalty with a Supreme Court seat. It’s clear they need his vote to protect their larger agenda and grip on power. Today they voted 51 to 49 to move the procedural vote to a final one. If confirmed, angry “Bart” could be cloaked and seated by next week.

 

Trump’s Smite On The Arts In America

Editors Note: This piece was also featured in DCReport.

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Taking a deeper look at two more of Donald Trump’s nominees for the National Arts Council, having examined the other two in this recent article.

Barbara Coleen Long is the wife of Rep. Billy Long (R-Missouri) who lists his top policy issue as “Conservative values.”  A 20-year search of the Nexis news database turns up not a single mention before her before her July 12 nomination to this prestigious federal advisory board.

The nominee is unknown in the national arts world or even in her own small community of Springfield, other than as someone who attends local performances. Indeed, prior to July 12, the day Trump nominated her, we could not find a single news report mentioning her. Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council, said that although she isn’t familiar with Long she supports her nomination. “Congressman Long and his family have been involved in the arts. They’ve been involved in our local community theater, local cinema and others. They’ve been patrons of the arts for a very long time and we certainly count them as allies in terms of advocacy work as well,” Forrester said.

“I have not had the opportunity yet to meet Mrs. Long but I think that having her representation coming from a mid-western state and coming from a smaller community and understanding what is happening in the arts and in rural Missouri as well as our metro area will be beneficial because there are lots of great arts things happening  outside of metro areas and continuing that kind of representation at the national level will ensure that the National Endowment for the Arts is able to fully engage with the arts at all levels,” Forrester said.

If the Longs were truly allies in Springfield’s art community, Forrester would have been familiar with her, but she’s not. The city population is 167,000 and the metro area only 550,000 people, small enough that people engaged in any broad field of activity tend to be known by the leaders in specific fields, like the arts. Rep. Long makes his conservative views crystal clear on his congressional website — he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. So unless the Longs live in a house divided, it’s logical to surmise his wife holds similar conservative view points.

That made me wonder about what she would think of “Piss Christ,” a 1987 creation of photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a small glass tank of the artist’s urine. It won a Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s Award in the Visual Arts. The competition, in Winston-Salem, N.C.,  was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Considering Long’s family stance on morality, the question then must be; will she support art deemed controversial? Or is her nomination a signal of the type of country Trump wants to create, one that shares his philistine views on arts and culture?

The fourth nominee is Michelle Itzcak, a board certified, registered art therapist and a licensed mental health counselor in Indiana. What she will contribute to the national arts scene is anyone’s guess. How did Itczak get nominated, being relatively unknown in her own town’s art scene? Even Jeremy Efroymson, a major name in the Indianapolis art scene, declined to comment. “Thanks but I’m not interested in commenting,” he said. People named to federal boards usually have track records that get them into the news. So we did a Nexis news database search for all English language news going back 20 years to find news reports prior to the July 12 appointment by Trump. Here is the entire file on Itczak from the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, first from a story in 2010:

Michelle Itczak has resigned from her position as South Vermillion’s girls soccer coach to work at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Itczak will begin an art therapy program at Riley. And there is this from a story six years ago on a group dynamics: In the conflict resolution workshop, the participants discussed how to avoid mismanaging conflicts to avoid more damage. “If handled positively, I believe conflict is an opportunity to grow,” said session leader Michelle Itczak, an adjunct professor in SMWC’s Master of Art in Art Therapy Program. “Overcoming those challenges can build trust and strengthen relationships.” And from the Indianapolis Star that same year: “Art is a positive outlet for anyone, but particularly incarcerated individuals because it is a nonviolent way for them to express themselves,” said Michelle Itczak, a board-certified registered art therapist, licensed mental health counselor and president of the Indiana Art Therapy Association.

The only other published report we could find was from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette in 2012: Every week, Katherine travels to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis so medicine can be put into her blood. And that’s where she met Michelle Itczak. Itczak is an art therapist who helps children. She urged Katherine to start drawing and painting on the days she had her treatments. Whatever Trump’s, or more likely his staff’s, reasoning for selecting these four nominees to sit on the National Council for the Arts is anyone’s guess but we don’t have to dig too deep when it comes to understanding His Shallowness and the arts. There’s no mystery to Trump. He’s all about worshipping him and money.

When Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, passed away this week, many took note of her  stirring performances and her  2015 Kennedy Center Honors, which brought President Obama to tears. Not Donald Trump. He reduced her decades of contributions to the arts as one of the greatest singers the world has ever known to this: “she worked for me.”

Trump; the only president to deliberately skip the Kennedy Center honors that are arguably America’s most important evening for the arts, doesn’t care about the arts. His selections seem to fit this pattern.

 

Dear White House “Resister”: A Response To The Anonymous NYT Op-Ed Writer

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Here’s a perspective. Like Drake, I’m upset. The timing of this letter is suspect.

Never in the history of modern day America has a White House administration exhibited such disarray and dysfunction endangering the country and the world. The Trump administration isn’t just dysfunctional; it is downright dangerous.

And this anonymous “resister” wants it all; to not only eat the cake, but to throw it in the faces of the American people by way of being part of forcing one-sided legislation down our throats and help do the bidding for the most prosperous among us who don’t need more wealth in a country losing its middle class to poverty.

Pointing out the president’s “amorality” as the root of America’s problem is equivalent to telling us that water is wet. Was “grab them by the pussy” not enough to “resist” or help thwart his political advances? What about his long documented business practices of cheating hard-working people? Why speak out now when the world is watching us crumble within, fighting amongst ourselves, and showing us to be the fools destined to perish by not coming together like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned during the civil rights movement.

“I would know. I am one of them,” the anonymous “resister” boosts about the sabotaging of an American president as if he or she is a Marvel character in a super hero movie. Unfortunately, this is real life and the attempts to take away healthcare from the common man has real life consequences; giving “historic” tax cuts to the rich by taking more from the poor is the opposite of what a super hero would do; being silent when the president attacks minorities and shows support for racists is complicity in its true form; not writing sooner, you know, like when the president banned Muslims from entering the country, ripping Mexican and Latin American children from their desperate parents’ arms at our southern borders, calling Mexicans rapists, disrespecting the needs of those affected by Hurricane Maria, suggesting that black immigrants are less desirable in America because they come from “shit hole countries,” … I can go on but I think you get why I’m upset.

Your “dear America” letter is disrespect.

If your first duty is to this country, as you put it, why would you want Donald Trump to succeed in his efforts to “Make America Great Again” when all this campaign slogan embodies is a call to revive the atrocious history of a country still working to overcome it; a past that had black people in bondage and living as second class citizens in a country they built through slave labor. The extreme ideological platform you and your fellow “secret resisters” chose to build upon is exactly why America is in the pickle jar. From selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice despite the warnings of Coretta Scott King, putting Scott Pruitt in charge of protecting the environment when he’s only shown that it’s for sale to the highest polluter, looking to Betsy Devos to lead our nations education system despite her lack of experience or ability to even identity with people who attend public schools or live below the billion dollar income line; blatantly disrespecting long standing federal bidding practices by grossly handing out FEMA contracts to well connected friends with no business managing natural disasters, and handing out pardons like Mardi Gras beads…Thank God Joe Arpaio didn’t have to show us his man boobs.

The list of corrupt behavior is long. How many times has Jared Kushner changed his answers on his security clearance form? Against federal rules, Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry line is being pimped out on television by top advisors like Kelly Anne Conway, and Fox News has turned into a propaganda machine for hate and intolerance, something the president and his enablers feed and supports. The entire family is benefitting financially from the blatant nepotism taking place and costing Americans millions in tax dollars. Let’s not forget, you “top advisors” blessed Kushner, a wealthy out of touch and inexperienced realtor, to be the savior of the Middle East while birthing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I’m upset; despite your letter full of regret.

You say the president shows no affinity for conservative ideas as if he hasn’t switched political parties before or shown the world his true colors. Just because you’ve enabled and made excuses for Trump along the way to this pile we’re now sitting on doesn’t mean majority Americans, decent and good hearted people, don’t see him exactly for who and what he is; a pathological liar and an all around terrible human being. Your house of cards is crumbling and like a rat you’re trying to jump a sinking ship. You may have changed your cloth but you’re still the being behind this new resister frock.

The same people that saw fit for then press secretary Sean Spicer demand the American people accept that their eyes were lying to them when he said Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. Video and photographic evidence wasn’t enough to stop this perpetual lie; another attempt to cloud truth and blur the boundaries of right and wrong to appease Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. And let’s not forget, Chief of Staff John Kelly has yet to apologize for lying about statements Rep. Frederica Wilson made about the president’s disastrous phone call with the wife of a fallen soldier and for insulting her using racially insensitive language.

Nonetheless, you want the American people to believe you all are the Space Force Avengers.

The disbelief of senior officials at the president’s words and actions is laughable considering Trump hasn’t changed since becoming president. He’s simply more powerful. And this is exactly what Trump’s base loves about him. “He’s not your typical politician” and “He speaks his mind” they excused no matter what Trump did or said. Even evangelicals found loopholes in their bibles to justify every sin Trump committed and turned a blind eye to every one of his hypocritical moves or ungodly behavior.

The adults in the room colluded with Russia to win an election and made Trump their messiah despite all the warnings and push back from the American people. And now, seeing a steady drop in his approval numbers, they want him returned to sender before the blue wave hits.  Ironically, the adults who stood silent while the president attacked the media as the “enemy of the American people” now turn to it for salvation.

 

 

Saying Goodbye To The Queen Of Soul The Wakanda Way

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

If you happen to be in Detroit today for The Queen of Soul’s Homegoing ceremony you’re getting the real life version of Wakanda culture or African American tribalism. The celebration of black cultural pride and unity is on full display for Aretha Franklin. And how deserving, considering what she gave to all of us. To describe the week long ceremony as moving would be a disservice. Watching the memorial service was powerful. Especially in the era of Black Lives Matter, Color of Change and all the other social justice movements dedicated to improving the lives of black people and other minorities in America.

The Queen of Soul is going home. She’s leaving behind a country still in turmoil with itself and being led astray by the most incompetent administration this country has ever seen. Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, wants to “Make America Great Again” when it’s impossible to find a time when our country and all her people felt that greatness he’s fooling the willing with. I prefer Stevie Wonder’s message at the funeral service when he said, “Let’s make America love again.”

The outpouring of grief and celebration for the passing and life of Aretha Franklin is a moving tribute to a life well lived. A life lived under the brutality of the most powerful government black people helped create. We must never forget that America owes its power to black slaves forced to construct her under cracks of whips and some of the worse treatment ever inflicted on a people. And yet, Aretha Franklin overcame the America Trump wants to revive by turning her inherited unjust circumstances into magic. Magic that will carry on from generation to generation like the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that her death overshadows one of the most powerful, and to some, heroic men in America that for years influenced, wrote and help enact laws that have negatively impacted people of color; keeping blacks and other minorities from gaining the equal footing that has long eluded them despite their contributions to this country even before her birth in 1776. Senator John McCain, according to congressional record, voted in line with Trump’s position 83 percent of the time. He even voted to confirm Kristjen Nielsen to be Secretary of Homeland Security. And yes, the same Homeland Security that carried out Trump’s disastrous family separation policy at our southern border. However, considering McCain’s softening it’s fitting for the bona fide war hero to go home with a queen.

The journey has been a long and hard one and yet Aretha Franklin got to be. Through her music and civil rights work, she made America great for all her people. Unlike this administration, she brought us together, helping a nation of diverse people overcome their struggles. It’s also a testament to our resolve and strength as a people—black people—that makes Franklin’s funeral service comparable to a real life version of the Wakanda tribes. Detroit belongs to Aretha today and Wakandans would agree.

Black people have a unique way of celebrating the departed and Franklin’s homecoming is nothing short of all that beautiful blackness and culture. New Orleanians are known for their festive and unique funeral rituals that celebrate the lives of the departed. This rite of passage or ceremony is not foreign in other black communities in America or in other parts of the world, making our unity as a people even more significant. We’ve been broken but we’re still standing strong, and for the most part, united. That’s why we dance and sing at funerals. It’s our strength as a people that inspired us to sing in fields during forced labor and torture during slavery, or sing directions to escape the bondage of slavery for freedom. Aretha Franklin took our people’s singing to another level. In addition to her incredible talent as one of the greatest singers the world has ever known and her audacity to demand respect when she grew up in a world that told her she didn’t deserve it … it is her spirit of unity, love for her family and community that we’re left to build upon. And that’s more than enough.  Wakanda forever.

 

Donald Trump Goes To Utica

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, (yes, you read that correctly, it’s still true) received a typical welcome from the American people in Utica, NY. Over 2,000 protesters showed up to voice their opposition to arguably the most hated man in the world. Roughly 200 of those gathered came to support the president. Even the Trump chicken made an appearance in front of 207 Genesee Street!

 

It’s no secret Trump is the least popular president in recent memory and yet it’s because of him so many New Yorkers joined forces to protest his visit. Thanks Trump! The President was in town to stump for Claudia Tenney, another unpopular republican incumbent, at a pricey fundraiser at the Hotel Utica. Tenney, (NY-22) is facing Anthony Brindisi, (D) in November. For details on this and other House and Senate races click here.

For local details on Trumps visit click here.

 

 

 

Losing Earth: NYT Magazine Panel Discussion On Climate Change

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

From 1979 to 1989 scientists, activists and the government came close to solving global warming. Unfortunately, they didn’t act on the established science that showed climate change is not a hoax. New York Times Magazine Special Climate Issue lays out the narrative in two parts in their new issue.

Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change. A strategy in two acts.

Science, industry, government, the international community — everyone was on board and ready to act. How we got there, and why we ultimately failed, is the subject of a major new project from The New York Times Magazine published in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

On August 5, the entire magazine will be dedicated to a single story by Nathaniel Rich, a writer at large for the magazine, that tells the story of this critical decade in the planet’s history, and the individuals who tried to warn us. Rich’s narrative is accompanied by a series of stunning photos from around the world by George Steinmetz that show the profound effects of mankind’s inability to effectively address this slow-moving catastrophe. This story will change the way you think about climate change.

Jake Silverstein, editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, will be in conversation with Nathaniel Rich and two of the primary subjects of his story, the former NASA geophysicist James Hansen and the environmental activist Rafe Pomerance.

Below is a short discussion on climate change during the NYT Magazine launch event at New York Times Center.

 

 

The Arts And Humanities In Trumps World

Editors Note: This piece was also featured in DCReport

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

When it comes to the state of the Arts and the Humanities under Donald Trump’s administration, not much has changed other than his lack of action, his proposals to eliminate all funding for the independent federal funding agencies and his refusal to attend major cultural events.

The four new board members Trump said he would appoint to the National Council on the Arts were finally announced earlier this month. They are; Charles Wickser Banta of New York, Michelle Itczak of Indiana, Barbara Coleen Long of Missouri and Carleton Varney of Massachusetts. If these nominees are in line with Trump’s personal palate for art, Americans for the arts and humanities should prepare for the Scott Pruitt’s and Betsy DeVos’s of the art world. Funding for the arts hasn’t changed by much, but that’s only because Congress voted to restore money for the programs in the 2018 spending bill.  Trump’s proposed budget would have phased out all arts and humanities funding.

Victoria Hutter, spokesperson for National Endowment for the Arts, said “all of the NEA’s major funding programs have remained the same or seen slight increases.”  That’s true for now for the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Trump shows no interest in arts and culture. He skipped the Kennedy Center Honors, hasn’t given out any NEA or NEH awards, and became the first American president to suggest eliminating NEA and NEH all together. Lady Bird Johnson probably said it best, “Art is the window to man’s soul…” never mind. That may not be the best quote to use when it comes to Trump and the arts considering his attempt to undermine its importance in American society. Lady Bird’s quote, though poignant, clearly doesn’t cover Trump’s “soul window” because his window is covered with gold colored tin foil.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) joined the National Council for the Arts earlier this year. In addition to set functions and advisory roles, members are tasked with recommending individuals and organizations to receive the National Medal of Arts, a prestigious Presidential award. She said, “It’s clear from his repeated proposals to eliminate funding for both agencies that President Trump doesn’t appreciate the important work of the NEA and NEH or understand the incredible value they bring to our communities. That’s disheartening to see, especially because funding for these two agencies is such a miniscule part of the federal budget. But the loss of funding would be felt hard throughout the country. That said, I think the Trump era has shown that the arts and humanities do have allies in Congress—Democrats as well as Republicans. Twice he has proposed eliminating funding and twice it has been denied. This year, Congress actually gave NEA and NEH funding a $3 million increase. And for next year, the House has approved an additional $2 million increase on top of that.”

Bipartisan Congressional support for continued arts and humanities spending was on display just last week in amendments to the Interior Appropriations bill, which funds both agencies. A member introduced an amendment to reduce the two budgets by 15 percent—or $23 million each. The proposed budget cuts failed by a vote of 297-114.

Trump’s lack of interest or value of the Arts and Humanities isn’t a surprise considering his character and boorish behavior. But his attempts to destroy the national endowments for the arts and humanities should be of concern to anyone who considers the arts and culture valuable parts of our American identity.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Civil Rights Activist And Educator, Maria L. de Hernandez

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Described as a woman before her time, social activist María Rebeca Latigo de Hernández moved from Mexico to San Antonio where she became an activist for better education and better treatment of Mexican Americans. She stood up and became an outspoken community leader whose legacy lives on through her work and her family.

The 1930s were a tumultuous period for Mexican Americans. And yet, despite the pressures those with Mexican heritage faced, Maria L. de Hernandez became a fearless civil rights fighter for her people. According to the book, Decade of Betrayal by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, “1 million people of Mexican descent were driven from the United States during the 1930s due to raids, scare tactics, deportation, repatriation and public pressure. Of that conservative estimate, approximately 60 percent of those leaving were legal American citizens. Mexicans comprised nearly half of all those deported during the decade.”

Although Mexican Americans served as a convenient scapegoat during these tumultuous times, Maria L. de Hernandez stood up and fought back. Not just for herself but for the entire Mexican American community. She worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others during her lifetime. Her recognition today, which would have been her 122nd birthday, is a testament of the importance of remaining strong, resolute, determined, forward pushing and selfless in the pursuit of justice and equality for all people.

 

 

Basic Facts from SRPS:

  • María Rebecca Latigo de Hernández was born July 29, 1896 in Garza García, outside of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.
  • Hernandez immigrated to Texas as part of the flood of people leaving Mexico during the chaos of the Mexican Revolution.
  • She taught elementary school in Monterrey, Mexico.
  • In 1915, she married Pedro Hernandez Barrera. The family moved to San Antonio in 1918, where they opened a grocery store and bakery, and set about raising their family, which eventually grew to ten children.
  • In 1929, they helped found the Orden Caballeros de América (the Order of Knights of America), an organization dedicated to civic and political activities to benefit Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants.
  • In 1933, Hernández helped organize the Asociación Protectora de Madres, which provided assistance to expectant mothers.
  • In 1934 the Hernándezes helped organize La Liga de Defensa Pro-Escolar, an organization dedicated to obtaining better facilities and better education for the West Side Mexican community.
  • In 1932 María became San Antonio’s first Mexican female radio announcer, and in 1934, she spoke on the “Voz de las Americas” program to promote Council 16 of the League of United Latin American Citizens, organized to promote equality for Mexican Americans in all spheres of life. She was the only female speaker at the first meeting in 1934. The league was officially organized in December 1934, and she supported its efforts until 1940 and again in 1947, when it was reorganized.
  • In 1938 she took up the cause of women workers’ rights in the Pecan-Shellers’ Strike when they stopped working to demand better pay and better working conditions.
  • In 1939, she was part of a group of women to visit Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas to express good will between Mexico and the Mexicans in the United States.
  • In 1945 she published her essay “México y Los Cuatro Poderes Que Dirigén al Pueblo,” in which she asserted that the domestic sphere was the foundation of society and mothers were the authority figures who molded nations. Around this same time, she organized Club Liberal Pro-Cultura de la Mujer, to build on those ideas.
  • Over the years, she made hundreds of speeches promoting equality for the Mexican American community. In 1968 she appeared regularly on television in San Antonio to speak about education and social progress on a program sponsored by El Círculo Social Damas de América. In December of that year, she and her husband were also invited to testify at the San Antonio hearing before the United States Commission on Civil Rights, where they argued for changes in education to reform the embarrassing inaccurate portrayals of Mexican Americans and other minorities in the curriculum.
  • In 1969 she was elected to the positions of treasurer of the order’s board of directors and president of Círculo Social. At the order’s fortieth anniversary she gave the keynote address. In 1970, continuing to grow her political activism, she joined the Raza Unida party and in July of that year served as a keynote speaker at its statewide conference in Austin. In 1972 she and her husband toured South and Central Texas in support of the party’s gubernatorial candidate Ramsey Muñiz and State Board of Education candidate Marta Cotera.
  • María Hernández died of pneumonia on January 8, 1986, and was buried in the plot of the Orden Caballeros de América outside of Elmendorf, a symbol of the respect and prestige she had earned through her life’s work.