On June 21, 2023, a group of academics from the University of California held a symposium in Washington, DC to call attention to some of the pressing issues facing society and the world. The professors, committed to enacting the change they strongly believe in and have backed-up with research, are calling for policy changes and taking a stand for humanity and the environment. The event was help at UCDC and organized by the University of California Washington Program.
“Why We Need Police Abolition”
Nikki Jones, H. Michael and Jeanne Williams Professor and Department Chair.
Nikki Jones is a Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on the experiences of Black women, men, and youth with the criminal legal system, policing, and violence. Professor Jones is the author of two books:Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence(2010) andThe Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption(2018), which received the Michael J. Hindelang Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Criminology in 2020.
ePa Q & A with Professor Nikki Jones:
“Open Our Borders: America’s New Conversation about Immigration”
Grace Peña Delgado, Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Professor Delgadois a historian of borderlands and migration in nineteenth and twentieth-century North American. She is the author of Making the Chinese American: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the US-Mexico Borderlands(Stanford: 2012), distinguished as a CHOICE Academic Title. Delgado is also co-author ofLatino Immigrants in the United States(Polity: 2011).
“Digital Chains: Unveiling the Inhumanity of ICE Electronic Monitoring on Immigrants”
Mirian Martinez-Aranda, Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of California Davis.
She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 2021. Her research examines the social, material, and health consequences of immigration detention on immigrants, families, and communities. She is also a former National Science Foundation and Marvin Hoffenberg fellow with the Center for American Politics and Public Policy, and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her work has been published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Law and Society Review.
Q & A with Professor Mirian Martinez-Aranda:
“African Kingdoms as Resourceful Corporations: The Story of South Africa’s Bafokeng”
Shingirai Taodzera, Assistant professor of African American and American Studiesat the University of California Davis.
Professor Taodzera’s scholarship focuses on the political economy of development in east and southern Africa, particularly the governance of high value extractive natural resources such as oil and minerals. He is currently working on turning his dissertation, entitled, “Nations within a state and the emerging hydrocarbons industry in Uganda” into his first monograph.
Q & A with Professor Shingirai Taodzera:
“Engineering our Way out of Environmental Harm”
Sabbie Miller, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineeringat the University of California Davis.
Dr. Miller is interested in improving the sustainability of the built environment. TheMiller groupfocuses on designing sustainable materials with an emphasis on assessing andimproving the performance of infrastructure materials while minimizing their associated environmental impacts. The laboratory is working to develop means to robustly assess local, regional, and global burdens from materials consumption, to make advancements in alternative material resources, and to pioneer methods to tailor desired material behavior. The team works primarily with cementitious materials, bio-derived materials, and polymeric materials.
“The Healing Power of Community: My Unexpected Journey as BTS ARMY”
Kate Ringland, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Kathryn (Kate) Ringland, PhD in Informatics from the University of California, Irvine, was previously a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Santa Cruz. Her research interests include studying and designing playful and community-oriented technology for people with disabilities.
Rowena Gray, Associate Professor & Graduate Program Chair atthe University of CaliforniaMerced.
Rowena Gray is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Merced, and a Research Affiliate at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Economic History. Dr. Gray received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Davis, in 2011. She is an American economic historian of the past two hundred years. Her research explores questions about the inequality effects of technological change and the impact of immigration on crime and housing markets.
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), the national voice of Black business, issued a public statement and Call to Action in support of Black business owners and entrepreneurs of color in the state of Florida.
“As Black Americans grapple with the contentious political climate taking hold in Florida, among other states nationwide, USBC recognizes the importance of uplifting and safeguarding Black voices while advancing our economic power and small business community in the stride for justice and democratic harmony,” said USBC President & CEO Ronald Busby, Sr. “While we remain a nonpartisan business organization with a mission to expand economic opportunity for our community on a global scale, we are aware of the many challenges impacting the everyday lives of Black Floridians and stand with them in their quest for justice and equity.”
As we continue to recognize the dismal challenges facing Black Floridian entrepreneurs and commemorate the Juneteenth holiday this week, we are pleased to announce our Call to Action to support the thousands of Black businesses throughout the state. This Call to Action comes at a time as we highlight the state of Florida has the second-most Black-owned businesses in the country, according to theFlorida Chamber of Commerce. With more than 250,000 Black-owned businesses, research indicates our firms collectively employ nearly 80,000 Floridians and represent an annual payroll of $2.63 billion.
In recognition of these significant contributions, USBC calls upon Florida residents and individuals traveling to stand in solidarity by supporting Black-owned businesses in their communities through our groundbreaking platform, ByBlack. The ByBlack Platform, a first-of-its-kind National Directory and Certification Program, provides a comprehensive resource for locating and engaging with Black-owned businesses across the country.
Within the state of Florida, ByBlack showcases thousands of businesses that offer a wide range of products and services. Additionally, curated city guides within the platform help highlight local Black businesses and events centered on the Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
In partnership with our partners centered on protecting the civil liberties of marginalized Americans, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. remains committed to advocating for the rights and success of Black businesses, entrepreneurs, and the broader Black community. Through initiatives like the ByBlack Platform, we aim to bridge the economic gap and create opportunities for long-term prosperity.
The Restitution Study Group Files Lawsuit To Establish Ownership of Benin Bronzes
Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Executive Director Restitution Study Group, (RSG) a New York–based organization Restitution Study Group is spearheading a lawsuit against the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. to reverse the return of the museum’s 29 Benin bronzes to Nigeria and establish ownership of the ancient and highly valuable artifacts. Farmer-Paellmann joined ePa Live to discuss the lawsuit and the importance of the bronzes.
What To Know
During a ceremony on October 11th, “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art transferred ownership of 29 Benin bronzes to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria. The bronzes, which were part of the museum’s collection, were stolen from Nigeria during the 1897 British raid on Benin City. The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents voted to officially remove the bronzes in June in keeping with the Smithsonian’s new ethical returns policy.”
The transfer project was led by Ngaire Blankenberg, former Director of the National Museum of African Art.
Blankenberg who left the Museum at the end of March 2023 after less than years leading the iconic museum says she led the museum with “nuance, transparency, and respect.” Reports and other sources, including Farmer-Paellmann says Blankenberg is being forced to resign partly due to her handling of the artifacts.
Falisa Peoples-Tittle Was Fraudulently Removed As Co-Owner of TaylorMade Solutions, LLC And MGM Turned A Blind Eye
Despite being 50-percent owner of a Minority Business Enterprise—TaylorMade Solutions, LLC—under contract with MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Falisa Peoples-Tittle was stripped of her business and Casino credentials by MGM in 2019 and shown the door under the direction of her business partners, Brenda and Elleck Taylor, co-owners of TaylorMade Solutions, LLC.
“In December 2019, we filed a lawsuit against Brenda and Elleck Taylor and TaylorMade Solutions and by 2020 MGM had rerouted the money from our partnership banking account at PNC Bank to a separate account created by the Taylor’s. They just switched it without any background information or my signature.”
Three years later, the co-owners of TaylorMade Solutions, LLC are still pursuing a lawsuit in Prince George’s County Circuit Court for access to their share of the company they helped develop, including a just resolution from the mighty lion in the middle of a dispute between two minority co-owners of a commercial cleaning service. In the meantime, since this legal dispute, the Taylor’s have transferred ownership of the company to their children.
“I thought they were the best fit because they had a small cleaning company, maybe about 4 to 6 contracts at that time, and they shared my vision of wanting to hire people in Prince George’s country who are typically overlooked for employment. For example senior citizens, folks rejoining the workforce after some time and other disadvantaged groups.”
The allegations that led to the Tittle’s and Taylor’s losing their solidarity to make a positive impact in Prince George’s County and the lives of the underserved and overlooked were serious. They included OSHA and payroll violations, missing funds and exaggerated payments and overtime hours to the Taylor’s son, Wesley Peyton. Later, the Tittle’s learned of a Dubai trip the Taylor’s treated their family to, paid for with business funds.
“We talked about getting an American Express card for business expenses for the partners. I learned later that the Taylor’s did not reveal that they had opened the credit card nearly 10 months before they issued me a copy of the card. During that time, they had been using our joint partnership American Express Platinum card, and the business expenses were coming out of that card.”
According to Peoples-Tittle, every month each partner would receive a “partner draw” that amounted to $10,000. This partner draw was to cover each partners 50-percent share of business expenses.
“We were making $40,000 just on one contract alone. And we were bringing in revenue anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 a month. Another $10,000 was meant for savings. When the draws started getting shorter, due to lack of funding as explained by the Taylor’s, it started to raise red flags and concern, as well as questions about where the money was going.”
As the two families worked to clear the confusion and growing discontent, Peoples voiced her concern in an email to Brenda Elleck:
From: Peoples-Tittle, Falisa L.
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 3:24 AM
Subject: A few thoughts….
I was volunteering yesterday and ended my session by saying, “do one thing that challenges you within the next 24 hours” And, since communicating is my “challenge” I woke up to type this note before my 24-hours was up. LOL I know we still need to get our information to Charles; however, I thought it would be a good idea to send you an email (excluding the guys) to discuss a few thoughts I had and to get a better understanding of your thoughts and your approach to our partnership. I absolutely LOVE you and Elleck and I can’t think of a better couple to have partnered with, so please know that these are just thoughts and not in any way meant to cause any concern. I know you are a “get to your point person” so bare with me for less than five minutes please. This is HUGE for me.
People tell me that they feel like I don’t voice my opinion and hold things in. My retort is that I do offer my opinion–I actually voice it often. I’m a listener and a processor and my observation is a lot people rarely listen to what others are saying and as a result, after I say something more than three times, I just stop talking. And, when I feel like I’m not being heard, my default is to back down and no longer be engaged. So B, your assumption was correct, I do have things I’m thinking, but because I’ve said them before and nothing has happened, or things remained the same, I revert to my default which is to be quiet.
The good thing is I do know that’s not a great approach and I’m really trying hard to change that character flaw about myself, so, as you read this email, please read it as comments from my heart, love and nothing else. Additionally, I KNOW I don’t need to tell you this; however, if you feel like you ever need to discuss something with me, please do. This will be along, engaging partnership and I want to make sure we’re always communicating—especially me, which I’m working on.
With that said, here are my thoughts:
Regarding the partnership agreement—what do you see my role to be? I’m asking because there have been a few instances where I’ve voiced my opinion and it felt like you made the decision regardless of my opinion and, in some cases, without discussing with me until after your decision was made. Here’s a few examples(understanding that I am paraphrasing and not citing you verbatim):
When we realized the kitchen job was going to take more manpower, after it was assigned to Ed, it was given to Clinton. I mentioned my thoughts on getting my sister and a few of the other companies I met with prior to partnering with you and E and your comment was, “Clinton will handle the large job because I know he can do it.” You still allowed the others to help out, but you assigned Clinton specific areas.
When MGM needed additional work completed from the original work order, you gave that job to Clinton as well. You quoted Clinton $187.50 without consulting with me (not sure about Terrence or E) when I suggested we lower it, you said, “I already told him that price.” Two things:
I’m certain Clinton would’ve still performed the work if you told him you quoted the price in error, or something to that degree. He works for you all the time so I’m sure he would’ve been okay with it.
I didn’t think it was fair we paid him that amount and only paid your workers (from TaylorMade) and my sisters group only $50. I would’ve much rather paid them our families that amount and negotiated another amount with Clinton.
When we discussed the Project Manager for the Aramark roll, you said it would be Wesley, and I asked if him and Chanel could alternate weeks. You said, “that would be okay”; however, the week Chanel was supposed to go and I mentioned it to you, your response was, “Wesley is going to be the Project Manager.”
When Aramark called about the bi-weekly cleaning job. You said, you had already contacted Clinton and he’s going to do it. When I suggested we should give it to both companies your thought was it should just be one company assigned to the project. I understood, but again you offered the project to Clinton without consultation. I think that would’ve been a great opportunity to see who else could do the job.
When Tobias called us regarding Stitches, you already reached out to Clinton to do the work. I understand it was a small job, but that could’ve been something we gave to someone else to build a relationship as well.
Again, I have absolutely no problem with Clinton. I think he’s awesome! These are some examples of how I feel–like I don’t matter, I’m not being heard or that my role in this partnership is very limited. I know we are just learning one another, but I hope you know I that I would NEVER allow anyone to ruin the reputation you and Elleck have established with TaylorMade, and that I will always have your best interest in mind when I bring someone to do work.
Finally, here are the items I’m supposed to send for our follow-up discussion with Charles, plus a few things I’m thinking in general for the team:
Remove FLP from one part of the agreement (I forgot the part) that stipulates “partners”
Review and define roles so that everyone is clear about their responsibilities and structure. With the amount of projects I am anticipating us having, I think it’s a good idea to know what we should be doing without anyone feeling overwhelmed.
I think we should have a bi-weekly “pulse check call” with the team—or just you and I.
I do want to discuss the partnership with you all and Charlie
Strategically plan our goals for the year, etc. and go over our strategies and operations
Discuss structure and partnership
Establish relationship with other businesses. Have at least five companies/people to contact. To include backups.
Understanding that fairness is both of our expectations learning where you see this partnership would be helpful to me. I in NO way believe any of this was done as a result of you not respecting me, but because you are used to running your business without having someone else as a partner. I think we work extremely well together and I really would like to continue this and look forward to building a future for our families. I get it and that is why I am trying to understand what your preferred method is. Understanding the hierarchy and structure will help me immensely.
I’m still excited as the day we decided on this partnership and I look forward to building our dreams and our families dreams for the future.
Thank you for reviewing my thoughts.
Two weeks later her business partner, Brenda Elleck, responded:
From: Personal Acct <peytonbrenda@>
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2017 10:30 AM
To: Peoples-Tittle, Falisa L. >
Subject: Re: A few thoughts….
I am soooooooooo happy that you expressed your feelings to me. Communication, although sometimes difficult, is key to any successful relationship. Women are intuitive creatures and I knew that you had things on your heart that needed to be expressed.
Listen I’m a bossy bitch and I’m used to being in charge. I was raised an only child, then I raised 3 boys by myself, then I married a man who thinks my shit don’t stink and, before you guys came along, I ran the day to day of TaylorMade. But let me tell you a secret – I don’t like being in charge. I’ve developed those skills because I had to. If I feel that someone else is better than me at something, I will gladly let them take the reins. The problem is – that’s not usually the case AND I’m extremely anal retentive.
Enough about me. Let’s talk about us. I think we make a great team. We are complete opposites which is perfect for a partnership because we’ll cover all bases. Let me just say that it was never my intention to disrespect you or not take your thoughts into consideration. I do think that you are too sensitive sometimes. You always want to be fair to everybody and that’s not always possible in business. We will definitely operate with integrity but sometimes toes will be stepped on especially as we grow. I’m all for helping family (that’s why Wes is involved in everything) but we have to make the best decision for the job. We can talk in detail about your examples below because it’s too much to type.
Actually I’m going to stop typing here and suggest that we meet and continue this much needed conversation. I don’t want to come across as bullying or mean when that is the farthest from my intentions.
El and I are grateful that you brought this oppty to us and we are excited about the future for us as partners. These conversations are necessary for positive growth so LETS TALK
“We had our priorities outlined in the Master Service Agreement with MGM but once we became partners things changed. I trusted Brenda but there were things happening that violated the agreement and commitment we set out with.”
ePa reached out to Brenda and Elleck Taylor but both declined to provide comment for this report. When reached by phone, Tobias Thornwell, Sr. Strategic Sourcing Manager, MGM Harbor stated that he had no knowledge of the lawsuit filed by FLP Global. When asked if he ever used TaylorMade Solutions, LLC to clean his personal residence before the Peoples were stripped of their ownership of the company, something he was accused of doing by plaintiff in the lawsuit, Thornwell said, “absolutely not. It would be a conflict of interest.”
However, text messages provided by Peoples between herself and Tobias indicate otherwise:
Mirinda Jackson, Prince George’s County MBE Compliance Officer is one of many officials who tried but has thus far failed to bring about a resolution between MGM and the dueling MBE business partners. Other elected officials from the state and Prince George’s County have also tried to intervene without any luck. The buck seemed to have stopped at Thornwell’s office, who according to Peoples-Tittle, refuses to budge on his decision to only employ the Taylor’s as sole owners of TaylorMade Solutions, LLC, despite records showing the fraudulent seizure of Peoples-Tittle’s share of the company. Jonathan Butler, Chair of the MGM Oversight Committee stated that the dispute between the owners of TaylorMade Solutions is outside of his jurisdiction and added that he was unaware of the dispute or the lawsuit.
In the meantime, Peoples-Tittle is waiting for her day in Prince George’s County Civil Court and, or for MGM to come to the table to help mediate and finally settle the ownership issue.
“I was there from the beginning. I started with MGM 6 days after the Hotel and Casino opened and to be in this position now, still a certified MBE in the county, a certified supplier in the county without a contract is disheartening. Looking ahead, I hope that MGM establishes a compliance process or starts to review their MBE’s for compliance to ensure what’s happening to us, doesn’t happen to other Black owned businesses working to make a positive impact in their communities,” said Peoples-Tittle.
Compounding the alleged theft of her share of the company, Peoples-Tittle says she was issued fraudulent tax forms totaling nearly $1 million from a Prince George’s County accounting firm—The Hutt Company, LLC—hired by the Taylor’s to manage their books and taxes. According to Peoples-Tittle, who has since filed a complaint with the IRS, Maryland Department of Labor and the FBI, her countless attempts to reach the accounting firm has been ignored, due to what she perceives to be a calculated, well-orchestrated, and multi-faceted attempt to rob her of her company and silence her attempts to fight back. And MGM refuses to intervene or investigate any of these serious allegations, siting that the issue is a civil matter between the dueling MBE’s.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of, Between the World and Me, wrote poignantly in his book about the historic racial trauma, police violence and bureaucratic abuse that has impacted the lives of the people of Prince George’s County. He writes, “Most of us are forced to drink our travesty straight and smile about it.” Adding, “I wrote about the history of the Prince George’s County Police. Nothing had ever felt so essential to me. Here is what I knew at the outset. The officer who killed Prince Jones was Black. The politicians who empowered this officer to kill were Black. Many of the Black politicians, many of them twice as good, seemed unconcerned. How could this be?”
The question is a just one that demands an answer to the history of corruption that continues to plague Prince George’s County, including the allegations from Peoples-Tittle concerning MGM National Harbor and its MBE program. And the debates of corruption remains a serious problem, even for the state’s first Black Governor, Wes Moore, who was forced to scrap a controversial contract process to run concessions operations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The history of Prince George’s County political machine failing to hold government and private sector officials accountable for serious misconduct and mismanagement certainly justifies the question posed in, Between The World And Me … how could this be, indeed.
Media Contact: Jeanette Lenoir | email@example.com