Lawyer on a Mission to Preserve the Hard-Fought Right to Vote

 

Dee Hunter

The “Voting Rights Project” Interview

with Kam Williams

Lawyer on a Mission to Preserve the Hard-Fought Right to Vote

Dee Hunter is the Executive Director of The Civil Rights Center, a Washington, DC-based public advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the public interest in the areas of criminal justice reform and voting rights. The

Civil Rights Center is a national leader in the fight to end the Crosscheck Program, a discriminatory, GOP project ostensibly-designed to purge masses of minority voters from the polls.

Dee has a long history of political advocacy and organizing. He has worked on numerous political campaigns and for several non-profit political organizations including Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Ralph Nader’s Appleseed Foundation, Americans for Democratic Action, The American Nurses Association and SEIU. And he is currently a Palast Foundation Fellow.

Dee studied political science at American University and is a graduate of Howard University School of Law.  He is currently a Masters of Divinity candidate at Wesley Theological Seminary. here, he talks about launching the Voting Rights Project.

Kam Williams: Hi Dee, thanks for the interview.

Dee Hunter: Thank you, Kam, for covering this important issue.

KW: Why are you launching the Voting Rights Project in Georgia?

DH: The Voting Rights Project is a campaign to combat the GOP mass voter purge scheme called the Crosscheck Program. It is fundamentally flawed, racially and politically discriminatory. The Crosscheck Program is a list of people who have purportedly registered to vote in two different states. The list contains approximately seven million names and is terribly flawed. It has resulted in the mass purging of millions of minority voters. Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, a pioneer of racial and partisan voter suppression, started Crosscheck.

We demand that Georgia end these illegal mass purges. We want to bring attention to Crosscheck, and the widespread voter suppression and persecution of voting rights activists that is going on throughout Georgia.  We want to be sure they don’t use Crosscheck to steal the 6th Congressional District like Trump stole the Presidential election. We are starting with Georgia and targeting the 20 most competitive Congressional Districts in states currently using the Crosscheck Program.

KW: What sort of voter suppression has transpired in the state?

DH: The systemic voter suppression and illegal persecution of voting rights activists in Georgia is more reminiscent of 1917 rather than 2017. Georgia officials have engaged in hostile racially and partisan motivated persecution of voting rights activists throughout the state. Its runs from the Governor and Secretary of State offices down to local, county voter registration boards. They first gerrymander the election districts illegally diluting our vote, then pass restrictive ID and registration laws. Next, they reduce the number of places where and the hours during which we can vote, and purge us by the hundreds of thousands using the Crosscheck Program. They also engage in a pattern of harassment and intimidation of voting rights activists. If you register people to vote in certain parts of Georgia you face the possibility of going to jail. People are afraid of retaliation for helping to register people to vote.

KW: How have they been getting away with this?

DH: Georgia has been a pioneer in voter suppression. Gerrymandering of state legislative districts in 2000 was the beginning of the modern onslaught. In 2008, Georgia adopted the Crosscheck Program while other states were dis-enrolling because of its unreliability. But Georgia adopted one of the most stringent Voter ID laws and felony disenfranchisement laws in the country. Elected officials throughout the state have engaged various suppression tactics. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has led the efforts. Kemp’s tenure has been plagued with multiple illegal mass purges. He has unlawfully refused to accept tens of thousands of voter registration applications because of small technical errors

He has also shortened the period for early voting, reduced the polling places in minority neighborhoods. He has generally engaged in a pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation of voting and civil rights activists.   

KW: How do you hope to prevent further violations in Georgia?

DH: I The strategy is threefold. It involves litigation, legislation, and mobilization. We are bringing together some of the most successful voting rights activists and organizations in the state to discuss tactics and strategies to combat Crosscheck, voter suppression and persecution. We are developing a Georgia Voting Rights Act that would stop the Crosscheck Program and other illegal mass purges. It would also liberalize voter registration and make it easier for people to register and to vote. Considering the extent that the GOP controls the legislature and state government, we are in for a long battle. Civil rights and voting rights groups have been quick to turn to the courts to combat voter suppression in Georgia. The results have been mixed. Recent legal victories in redistricting are encouraging.  Even when courts have ruled in favor of voting rights activists the state has refused to follow court orders. Activists are begging to bring lawsuits against election officials and other state officials in their personal capacity when they persecute activists and abuse their power. We must increase awareness and engagement. The same passion shown in the fight to save healthcare must be applied to voting rights. Trump won the state by 200,000 votes. If we increase minority turnout by three percent, candidates that would support expanding voting rights would win statewide. It is literally going to take hand-to-hand combat, door-to-door grassroots organizing at the neighborhood level. 

KW: What do you think of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission?

DH: It should be more appropriately called the Voter Suppression Commission. It is a very dangerous development. Kobach is the chair of this commission and will use it to make it more difficult to register to vote and to vote. Trump is delusional. His claim that millions of people committed voter fraud costing him the popular vote is just as valid as his assertion that the Russian interference in the election is “fake news.”  Any Secretary of State involved with this commission is assisting the enemies of voting rights.

KW What is the next stop for The Voting Rights Project?

DH: We are organizing in Virginia in June and in North Carolina in July. We are targeting the most competitive Congressional Districts in every state participating in Crosscheck.  They stole the 2016 presidential election. We are going to fight to make sure they don’t steal another.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dee, and best of luck with the Voting Rights Project.

DH: Thank you for taking the time to cover this important issue, Kam.

 

Stunning Stenberg!

 

Amandla Stenberg

The “Everything, Everything” Interview

with Kam Williams

Stunning Stenberg!

Amandla Stenberg first gained recognition for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. After the success of that film, Amandla earned the 2012 Teen Choice Award with Jennifer for Best Film Chemistry. She was also nominated for NAACP Image and Black Reel Awards for that performance.

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Amandla made her big screen debut in the breakout role of young Cataleya Restrepo in Colombiana. In January 2016, she appeared in As You Are which premiered at Sundance. The independent film won the Special Jury Prize at that year’s festival.

She recently finished shooting Where Hands Touch, a romantic drama set in the Forties, directed by Amma Asante. The story focuses on the relationship between a mixed-race German girl and an SS officer in Berlin.

She is currently filming The Darkest Minds, based on the best-selling series of young adult novels by Alexandra Bracken. The dystopian trilogy takes place in the wake of a mysterious plague which killed most of America’s youth population. Amandla stars as Ruby, a teenager with telekinetic powers who joins a group of kids on the run from the government.

She is also attached to The Hate U Give, adapted from Angela Thomas’ debut novel of the same name, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The story revolves around a suburban, prep school student coping with the fallout from witnessing a police officer shoot her unarmed best friend.

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Besides acting, Amandla has been globally lauded for her crusade to improve society via thoughtful conversation, using social media as a platform to spread social awareness and knowledge. She has shared personal essays on such topics as cultural appropriation, inter-sectional feminism, biracial identity and beauty standards.

Wise beyond her years, at 16 Amandla was named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teens as well as the Ms. Foundation for Women’s Feminist Celebrity of the Year. Furthermore, Dazed Magazine proclaimed her one of the most incendiary voices of her generation in its Autumn 2015 cover story.

In February 2016, Amandla was presented the Young, Gifted & Black Award at the annual Black Girls Rock! ceremony televised on BET. Later that year, she became one of the faces of Stella McCartney’s new fragrance, “POP.”

A versatile talent, Amandla also plays violin and sings in the folk-rock duo Honeywater, along with Zander Hawley. Here, she talks about her new movie, Everything, Everything, where she co-stars opposite Nick Robinson.

Kam Williams: Hi Amandla, thanks for the interview.

Amandla Stenberg: Thank you for having me.

KW: You have a unique name. How did you come by it?

AS: It means “power” in Zulu. That’s pretty much the main reason why my mom picked it for me. It was also the rallying cry of the South African freedom movement. To them, it meant “Power to the people!” Amandla’s the title of a Miles Davis album, too.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002S21CPU/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

KW: Have you seen the movie Amandla about the pivotal role music played in inspiring the people of South Africa to summon up the courage to stand up to the repressive, Apartheid regime?

AS: The documentary, right? Yes, I have. My mom put a poster from the film up on my wall when I was little.

KW: What interested you in Everything, Everything?

AS: First of all, that they were considering casting someone like me as Maddy grabbed my attention because most movie romances aren’t very diverse. Usually, adaptations of young adult romance novels feature white leads. So, when they reached out to me with the script, I was struck by the fact that it was based on a book written by a black woman [Nicola Yoon] who specifically created a biracial protagonist. That was something I hadn’t seen before. It felt fresh to me that they were making a fairly corporate movie with a black female as the lead that would be widely marketed and distributed  And I also thought it was important when I considered how many people would get to see this girl with natural hair carry the film.

KW: Do you feel under any pressure for this film to succeed, so that this sort of colorblind casting continues?

AS: I don’t feel any pressure. I’m confident the film will do well. And whether or not it succeeds isn’t necessarily dependent on me. That’s not my responsibility. But I do feel proud to be a part of it, regardless. Besides, I don’t really think of a film’s success in monetary terms but by how it moves people. And I can already tell that black teenage girls are really excited to see themselves in a movie like this.   

KW: Had you read the novel, before learning about this project?

AS: No, I hadn’t read the book when I got the script. But as soon as I learned what it was about, I checked it out.

KW: What was it like working with a black, female director in Stella Meghie?

AS: It was really cool. Very special. I think we had a kind of unspoken, and sometimes spoken, mutual understanding of what it meant for us to be creating in that large, corporate environment together. It was sort of like, “We tricked them. Don’t they realize what we’re making?” We joked around that we were scamming them with our diverse content.

KW: And how was it working opposite your co-star, Nick Robinson?

AS: He’s a fantastic guy. Very grounded and real. We were both kind of relieved when we first met each other that were on the same page not only in terms of acting but as people.

KW: How would you describe the movie’s message?

AS: I think the movie’s fantastical, not really based in reality. It’s more of a fable or a large metaphor about breaking free of limitations that you place on yourself or that others may place on you. And it’s about conquering your fears and not letting anything get in the way of living your life more fully.

KW: And what was it like working with Anika Noni Rose, who played your mother?

AS: Anika’s fantastic as an actress and as an individual. She has so much conviction, heart and elegance. She’s such a a cool person and a strong lady. Yeah.

KW: Your breakout role came as Rue in The Hunger Games. How did you like making that movie?

AS: I was just 12 years-old, so it was a while ago. [Chuckles] But I had a helluva time!

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

AS: I don’t know. I’m not huge on remakes, unless they do it in a new way. I think of Everything, Everything not as a remake, but as a fresh take on something we’ve seen before, and I like that.   

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

AS: Looking at trees while my mom pushed me around the park in a stroller as a baby.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

AS: I see a lot of different things. [Giggles] I see a person who is trying to make some change in the world.

  

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

AS: I like cooking with my mom at Thanksgiving and Christmastime because we make turkey, and mac and cheese, yams, collard greens and all the other black staples, pretty much.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

AS: A favorite movie monster? I think the monsters in Ghostbusters are pretty iconic.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? And please answer the question.

AS: I don’t think so. I’ve been asked a lot of questions, and they’ve all been pretty fantastic.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

AS: I don’t know that I have just one, exclusively. I look at a lot of different designers. Right now, I’m really feeling this brand called Self Portrait.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

AS: [LOL] In my wallet, you’d find my high school ID, my credit card, no cash, because I’m so terrible at ever retrieving it, a picture of the dog I had as a kid, and a tiny greeting card I found in Denmark when I visited there with my dad.

KW: Thanks so much for the time, Amandla. I expect big things from you, and i look forward to interviewing you again down the line. .

AS: `Thank you, Kam. Appreciate it.

Scrapbooking for Beginners!

 

Scrapbooking for Beginners!

 

When it comes to the arts & crafts/hobby world, there is one that has climbed the charts of popularity over the past few years. Scrapbooking calls out to a variety of people who, let’s face it, are truly sick and tired of cellphones clicking away, yet never producing PAPER copies of your grandchild’s photos. I realize that these electronic photos are simpler to use as backgrounds on laptops and backgrounds on the cellphones themselves, but they take away from the grandmother who wants to carry those PAPER copies in her purse to show off to others. But…I digress.

art of scrapbooking, Christmas presents, grandchildren, memories, fun, hobbies, how to, ideas

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Scrapbooking also appeals to all those out there who love to create and color, draw, and put together books on “topics” that are special to them. But, how do you begin that art of scrapbooking so that you can start making the perfect Christmas presents for everyone you love? That’s easy enough.

 

First, we talk about supplies. This is not an overly pricey hobby (although it can be for those who wish to go grand when it comes to weddings, etc.). For the basic scrapbook, supplies include: card stock and/or patterned paper, acid-free adhesive which could be tape or liquid, embellishments or stickers that coincide with the topic you choose, sharp scissors, your photos that you wish to include, page protectors, and the album, itself. Hobby Lobby is a fantastic store to find all kinds of these supplies.

art of scrapbooking, Christmas presents, grandchildren, memories, fun, hobbies, how to, ideas

Now…how to choose a topic for your scrapbook? There are millions of topics you can go with. You just have to remember that the art of scrapbooking is basically telling a story to others, so think about the moments or events in your life that you would like to share. And you don’t have to “go big” when choosing your topic. Such as, you do not have to put together a huge scrapbook of your life with your mate. Start small: trips, moments or memories you wish to treasure, things like that. And if you find that telling a ‘story’ is too hard, just pick a specific theme such as, a kid’s graduation, a birthday, or even a pet scrapbook that’s all about your love for the four-legged creature in your life.

 

When it comes to the size of a scrapbook, the two most popular formats are 12”x12” and 8.5”x11”. There are so many varieties of albums and papers that are already cut to these sizes, but keep in mind that a twelve-by-twelve layout will give you more space to add text, stickers, and other embellishments to a page with a picture that’s already 8.5 x 11”.

 

There is also no law, by the way, that you have to “go big” in this area either. There are mini scrapbooking albums that are a whole lot of fun to use. All the way down to a 4” x 4”. There are also albums that are round, rectangular, triangular – you name it, they’re out there.

 

Now, it is time to choose those perfect photos of yours. For this step, try to remember that less is more. The scrapbooking pages themselves will be lovely, colorful and most likely will already come with embellishments, so there is no need to include every photo you have on hand. Take the absolute favorites so that your scrapbook will end up being 100% meaningful to you. Choose the photos with the best lighting and focus and add more than just the smiley-faced ones. In other words, when choosing to do a scrapbook of that new grandchild, include shots or drawn pictures of the little baby hands and feet, a shot of their first Christmas, their favorite toy, etc. But make sure to save photos for the next project.

 

Why? Because, just as it is with that precious grandchild, one scrapbook will never be enough!

 

Source:  GIG News

 

 

Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

 

Eboni K. Williams 

“The Fox News Specialists” Interview

with Kam Williams

Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

Eboni K. Williams, Esquire joined the Fox News Network in September 2015,  sharing her insights and analysis as a contributor on “Outnumbered,” “The Five” and other programs. Prior to joining Fox, she served as a CBS News correspondent, an HLN contributor and a talk radio host in Los Angeles on AM 640.

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Eboni received a B.A. in Communications and African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She  began her professional career in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina where she clerked for the Louisiana Secretary of State and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office while still a law student.

She has also worked for a number of politicians, including New Orleans City Council members, assisting in the effort to rebuild the city. She subsequently specialized in Family Law and Civil Litigation, providing counsel in high-profile divorces, spousal support, and child custody cases.

In 2008, she transitioned to a public defender and went back to private practice in 2010 in both North Carolina and the Greater Los Angeles area. She has represented clients in criminal matters, too, including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes and federal offenses.

Here, she talks about her new series, “The Fox News Specialists,” co-hosted by Eric Bolling and Katherine Timpf. The show airs weekdays at 5 pm ET on the Fox News Channel.

Kam Williams: Hi, Eboni, how are you?

Eboni K. Williams: I’m well, Kam. How are you doing?

KW: Great! Thanks so much for the time. Congratulations on landing the new series.

EKW: Oh, thank you so much. It was all quite sudden, as I’m sure you could see. But it all feels pretty exciting and, yeah, we’re thrilled about it.

KW: I recognized your talent right of the bat, and pegged you as a rising star. That’s why, when I interviewed you last fall, I predicted you’d get your own show in a year and a half. But you did it in just six months. 

EKW: Yeah. For those who don’t know my full background, it’s important to note that I had my very first appearance on the Fox Network in July of 2013, on the 12th, I think. The segment lives on in infamy on Youtube. I was on O’Reilly’s The Factor discussing the George Zimmerman verdict. He’d just been found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. That was the genesis of my relationship with the network. From there, I was an unpaid guest for almost two years before I landed other network roles as a contributor and correspondent. But technically, our relationship did start in 2013. So, that’s kind of been the evolution of it.    

KW: How long was The Fox News Specialists in the making?

EKW: I only heard about the show fairly recently, directly from the executives. But I couldn’t tell you how long they’d been planning it. All I can say is that I was very excited to be invited to take part in it, especially by the idea of casting myself, Eric and Kat. It was a very deliberate choice to combine not only our divergent political voices, coming from the standpoints of an independent, a conservative and a Libertarian, respectively, but also our differing perspectives on life, with Kat being a humorist and writer, Eric having had a career in both sports and finance, and my having had a career in the law and also in the consulting space. We are people who come from three different worlds. We have different cultural backgrounds. We come from different generations…   We have different family dynamics… So,  I think the network is valuing all that and what our dialogue will sound like. And then, they’ll be making it even more intriguing by  adding two brand new voices to the mix every day. Two of the five hosts will be newcomers contributing fresh perspectives to the topics. I think this was a lot of the thought behind the planning of the show.    

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

KW: This has been a period of considerable upheaval at Fox, between the allegations of sexual harassment and the racial discrimination lawsuit. Yet, despite being black and female, you’ve somehow successfully negotiated those dangerous waters, and continued your meteoric rise. Bravo!

EKW: Well, thank you. did you read my statement I made about the situation in the New York Times? This was a few weeks ago, before Bill O’Reilly’s departure.

KW: Sorry, I missed it. What did you say? 

EKW: I thought it was important, as a woman at the network, to speak out. I echoed some of the sentiments of my colleague, Kelly Wright. Whether some people think we don’t belong at Fox News on the basis of our gender or race, we do deserve to be there. We deserve the opportunity to do the work we want to do wherever we want to do it. I think it’s important for people to understand that we’re not going to be limited by anybody else’s expectations. I also think it’s important that my background be represented anywhere I see fit. I have proudly chosen to work at Fox because it has a captive audience that perhaps is not all that exposed to people with my cultural, racial and generational background. My point-of-view is unique, particularly for its audience. And I enjoy being able to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas with the likes of Eric Bolling, Sean Hannity and others from different social circumstances. I think that’s good for our country, and good for the world. It’s a way we can all grow as humans, as Christians, and as Americans.

KW: I agree. I don’t know whether you’re aware of it, but even when you were away on vacation in Paris a few weeks ago, your name would still occasionally be brought up by your colleagues on Outnumbered. For instance, I remember Meghan McCain saying something very positive about you, as she speculated where you’d stand on the issue they were discussing.

EKW: Oh, that warms my heart, not only from an emotional place, but from a credibility standpoint. When I say, “I’m proud to be working at Fox News,” that’s not me putting on blinders to the very real challenges we’re facing as a network. I am both aware of and am actively working to help rectify cultural problems at our network, as the Murdochs themselves have accounted for. Things need fixing. I’m aware of that. and I believe they’re aware of it. At the same time, I am proud to work alongside people like Meghan McCain who, although we often differ politically, we have a mutual respect for each other’s backgrounds and experiences. And like I said before, that’s where the potential for growth is.   

KW: Thanks again, Eboni, and best of luck with the new show.

EKW: Thank you, Kam.

 

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Source:  New York Weekly

Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality

 
Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality

by Amy Lignor

 

Although there are many out there who turn to their computers or cell phones as their hobby, there are just as many others who want to be more creative. They want to learn something new and fun to do in their spare time. They’re not looking for cash, they’re looking for a way to relax and ‘get away’ from the daily grind. Of course, when it comes to choosing the right hobby, personality is everything.

considerationsSay you are the patient type, then sewing is a fantastic hobby for you. Not only could you create some beautiful clothes, but you also have a variety of other areas to choose from. If you are the visual type, then drawing is a wonderful way to sit and wile away the time while creating a stunning piece of art to hang on the wall. So what are the most up-and-coming hobbies in 2017? You may just be surprised.

No one is quite sure if it’s the popularity of the song and dance reality shows, but the number one hobby people are choosing lately is learning how to play a musical instrument. This one is definitely for the patient person – and can actually earn money if done really well and you discover you have a passion and a talent for the instrument you choose. This is also a hobby that brings along health benefits by increasing your memory capacity, increasing concentration, and teaching you perseverance.

 

Another hobby that dipped for a while but then rose once again when books became easy-to-get online because of the digital world, is reading. There are many excited readers out there who do everything from read new authors and give them reviews; to increasing their own intelligence by diving into everything from fiction to biographies to historical works. Reading is a passive hobby that offers you the relaxation you need from the busy day-to-day chores life has to offer.

 

Some people have chosen to meditate as a hobby. Each day they set aside time to sit by themselves and meditate in order to calm down, relax, and practice self-control while also reducing stress levels. By choosing this hobby, they earn a healthier lifestyle.

 

When it comes to increasing intelligence, there are many hobbyists that have turned to the more ‘puzzling’ world. There are so many things to choose from nowadays that keep the brain challenged and enhance the sharpness and keen ability of the mind. From Sudoku to logic riddles to board games – creativity is developed and the brain continues to get a happy, healthy workout.

increase intelligence, creativity, imagination, language, music, stress reducer, meditation, culinary arts

Others turn to learning a new language, which, like learning a musical instrument, is one of the more difficult hobbies to take on. However, if you are an avid traveler, learning a new language is always a great way to spend your time. Enhancing intelligence, learning new words, and getting ready to see a whole new world is what learning a language brings to the table. Not to mention, travelling is also a great hobby – although for this particular one, cash is most definitely required.

 

Staying on the same creative tangent, writing is also a huge hobby for many out there. There are so many different paths that can be walked in this particular arena – from writing in a personal journal on a daily basis to creating stories for your kids. You hone your focus, creativity and imagination through the hobby of writing, and it offers you time to get away from it all.

 

Last, but not least, is the culinary world. More and more people are learning how to cook. As their passion grows, so does their knowledge. And everyone always has some family or friends they can try this particular hobby out on – which not only makes the hobbyist happy, but the well-fed family members, too.

 

So if you’re looking for a hobby – a way to decrease the stress, fill in those boring moments with something fun, and feel healthier – go online now and find the hobby that fits perfectly with your personality!

increase intelligence, creativity, imagination, language, music, stress reducer, meditation, culinary arts

 

Source:  GIG News

Make Way for Dulé!

 

Dulé Hill 

The “Sleight” Interview

with Kam Williams

Make Way for Dulé!

Born in Orange, New Jersey and raised in Sayreville, Dulé Hill began attending dance school when he was 3 years- old. He later received his first break as the understudy to Savion Glover on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid.”

Dulé Hill,  Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

Dulé went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour. And his additional stage credits include “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” the Tony Award-nominated musical “After Midnight,” “Stick Fly,” “Black and Blue,” “Dutchman,” “Shenandoah” and “The Little Rascals.”

Dulé is well known for his role on “The West Wing,” for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination, 4 NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.

His other television credits include the role of Burton ‘Gus’ Guster in the long-running series “Psych,” which earned him 4 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. He also played Larry in the second season of “Ballers.”

His big screen credits include “Gayby,” “Miss Dial,” “Edmond,” “The Guardian,” “Holes,” “Sugar Hill,” “She’s All That,” “Sexual Life” and the independent comedy “Remarkable Power.”

Dulé is a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member and is involved with the non-profit organizations Justice for Vets and The Gabriella Foundation. In his spare time, he enjoys tap dancing and playing the saxophone, although he says he admits that he hasn’t quite mastered the art of the sax.

Here, Dulé talks about his new movie, Sleight, an action thriller about a street magician [Jacob Latimore] who starts dealing drugs to raise his sister [Storm Reid] after the death of their mom.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dulé, thanks for the interview.

Dule Hill:  My pleasure, Kam. Thanks for taking the time.

KW: What interested you in Sleight?

DH: Beyond the exciting journey that J.D. Dillard and Alex Theurer delivered in their script, the main thing that interested me in Sleight was the chance to play a character outside of the scope of what I am used to playing on screen. As an actor, I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to challenge myself. The idea of playing a type of villain was extremely intriguing.

Dulé Hill,  Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?

DH: Sleight. A story about good versus evil. Life versus death. Circumstances, choices and the powers a young mind can develop when life gets under pressure.

KW: The movie sounds like a mix of several genres.

DH: It is!  J.D. and Alex did a fantastic job of combining an urban, dramatic thriller with a sci-fi superhero origin story to create this world. They took different aspects of genres we enjoy and mashed them up to create a film that is engaging, fresh and new, which was another one of the many reasons I wanted to be a part of this project.

KW: How would you describe your character?

DH: Angelo is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the kind of guy who charms his way into your world until one day you realize that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word boundaries. He’s your best friend and your bully all at the same time.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the movie?

DH: I believe that a message people will take away from the movie is “Actions have consequences, so be careful of the choices you make.”

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in? 

DH: White Nights or The Cotton Club. Gregory Hines and tap shoes. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

DH: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

DH: I am not really that skilled in the kitchen. Thankfully, my lady, Jazmyn Simon, throws down when it comes to the cookery. But I can cook a mean cornmeal porridge that was taught to me by my Jamaican father. It’s generational…generational. Mi seh? [Jamaican slang for “Understand me?”]

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

DH: There are layers to this answer, but I would say, yes. One, being the moment I gave my life to Christ. My faith has been the focal point of my journey as far back as I can remember. I’m not going to sit here and say that I have always been an angel, but I am aware of the grace that has covered me over my lifetime. I give my all to live a life that is worthy of the favor I have received. I don’t always hit the mark, but I continue to press towards it each day. New mercies every morning… Give thanks for that.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

DH: Enjoy life’s moments. Do not take them for granted, because you never know which one will be the last. Also, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. In other words, get your priorities straight; figure out what really matters, and focus on that.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

DH: The clothes I wear. Thank you [celebrity stylist] Jason Bolden and [fashionista] Ongell Fereria.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

DH: For peace to be.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?

DH: I’m a little old school, so I’m going to have to go with The Blob.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dulé, and best of luck with the film.

DH: Thank you, Kam! I definitely appreciate the love. Blessings

To see a trailer for Sleight, visit: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/AtV4J

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Legend in La La Land!

 

John Legend 

The “La La Land” Interview

with Kam Williams

Legend in La La Land! 

Ohio-born John Legend is an award-winning, platinum-selling singer/songwriter. His work has garnered him ten Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, among others. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he studied English and African-American literature, John participated in a wide range of musical activities while in college.

John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

During that period, he was introduced to Lauryn Hill, who hired him to play piano on her track “Everything Is Everything.” Shortly thereafter, he began to play shows around the Philadelphia area, eventually expanding his audience base to New York, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

After college, he was introduced to an up-and-coming hip-hop artist named Kanye West. Kanye quickly signed John to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint and had him sing vocal hooks on some of his tunes.

John’s career started gaining momentum through a series of similar collaborations with established artists. He added vocals to an impressive list of chart-topping hits including Kanye’s “All of the Lights,” Jay-Z’s “Encore” and backup vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song, “You Don’t Know My Name.”

John’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released to critical acclaim in December of 2004 by Columbia Records. The album landed multiple Grammys, including Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. And earlier this year, John won his first Academy Award for “Glory,” a song he wrote and performed with Common for the film Selma.

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Throughout his career, John has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign (ShowMeCampaign.org), an initiative that focuses on education as a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

He’s received the 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2009 CARE

Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare, and the 2011 Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year Award. Furthermore, John sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, Stand for Children and the Harlem Village Academies.

Here, he shares his thoughts about playing his first, major movie role opposite Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in six-time, Oscar-winner La La Land, which he also executive produced. And he talks about his philanthropic work and his new album, Darkness and Light, too.

Kam Williams: Hi John. Thanks so much for the time.

John Legend: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: I’ve tried to land an interview with you for years, so I’m honored to finally have this opportunity to speak with you. 

JL: I’m excited, too.

KW: Let me start by asking what made you decide to do this film with Damien [writer/director Damien Chazelle]?

JL: Well, it really started with meeting him as a filmmaker in my capacity as a producer, because my company, Get Lifted Film Company, has done a few movies and a couple of television shows now. We love meeting with up-and-coming directors who are doing great things. And, obviously, upon the success of Whiplash, Damien was someone we’d love to collaborate with. My producing partner [Mike Jackson] suggested we connect with him very early on, after we saw a screener of Whiplash. We finally got a chance to sit down and discuss something creative when he was in the process of preparing to shoot La La Land. The script was finished, and they were already in talks with Ryan and Emma to star in it. Damien  wanted to see if we were interested in getting involved. He was originally thinking in terms of executive producing and in terms of the music for the character, Keith, and his band, The Messengers. But eventually, he asked me if I wanted to play Keith. I said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” I hadn’t done anything like it before. I hadn’t had a major speaking role in a film before. But I guess he felt that I could pull it off, because the character had some similarities to my own background as a musician. Damien thought I could relate to the character, and I felt the same way. So, it made sense for me to do it, since I was already a fan of his work. And then, when I found out that Ryan and Emma had come aboard, it seemed like a no-brainer for us to get involved.        

KW: After watching the film, I was surprised to see that you have so few acting credits, because you did a phenomenal job.John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Humanitarian Award for Global Change

JL: Thank you! I’d spent my whole career focused on music. Acting wasn’t something I was really pursuing, even though we were doing film and TV behind the camera as producers, because music takes up so much of my creative energy. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such great people.

KW: After Damien released his first movie, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, I wrote: “Appreciate Damien Chazelle now and avoid the rush!”

JL: Yeah, he’s brilliant! You can tell, just by virtue of the fact that he made Whiplash and La La Land before turning 32. That’s not even fair. [Chuckles] 

KW: What did you think of Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land? Did he  compose the songs you played in the movie?

JL: We wrote those together. He, Marius [de Vries], Angelique [Cinelu] and I. The four of us just sat in a room and played, and figured it out. Justin, obviously, was the composer for the rest of the film, and he’s wonderful. But since I always feel comfortable singing, that particular song [“Start a Fire”] worked, and made sense for the character I was playing. Yet, it posed an interesting challenge, because you wanted the song to be good and represent a viable creative path, but you also wanted it to be a song Ryan’s character, Sebastian, wouldn’t want to play, given the storyline. So, it called for an interesting balance of making it a good, jazz-influenced tune you could hear on the radio while also making it something that represented too much of a departure for Sebastian.

KW: Early in your career, were you a musical purist like Sebastian, who had a reverence for the classics? 

JL: No, I never looked at myself as a purist in the sense of simply wanting to recreate old music that I’d grown up listening to. I never struggled with that conundrum. But I think every artist is influenced by certain traditions and the artists they grew up listening to. For Taylor Swift, it was Country music. For me, it was Gospel and Soul. Other artists grew up listening to Folk, Classic Rock or whatever else it was for them. But no matter what your early influences are, you have to decide how much you’re just recreating the feelings those artists gave you, recreating their styles, or doing something fresh and new that’s influenced by them. I think we all deal with that. There’s always the push and pull in our careers of how much we go traditional and how much we try to change it up and do something new.   

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: like many people, I think that you are a great artist and I consider you like the young Stevie Wonder. I saw you in Montreal when you opened for Alicia Keys on one of her tours. Given that your new film is about jazz, please name a few of your favorite jazz musicians.

JL: Honestly, I don’t consider myself much of a jazz aficionado. When I was growing up, my dad used to play a lot of vocalists like Billie Holiday, Ella [Fitzgerald], Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole. So, I grew up loving some of the great standards singers and jazz vocalists. Also Nina Simone who cut across a few different genres. Those are a few of my bigger influences, but i wouldn’t say I was much of a jazz expert.

KW: Patricia also notes that you consider yourself a feminist. She would like to know why men should feel as concerned as women about female issues and how men can advance women’s causes?

JL: First of all, because its the right thing to do. It’s fair, you have women in your family, women you work with, and women who are your friends. Why shouldn’t they have the same possibilities and opportunities as you? Why shouldn’t they live in a world where they are valued for what they contribute, and valued as much as men are for the same thing? Who wouldn’t want to live in that world? It doesn’t hurt men for women to do well, because it just makes the planet a better place. There’s more innovation, more creativity and more productivity in the world. All of our lives are improved when women have power, influence and opportunity.

KW: I’d like to congratulate you on your new album, Darkness and Light, which I’ve been listening to. It’s terrific!

JL: Thank you. I’m really proud of it. It’s funny being in La La Land mode today, since I’ve been in Darkness and Light mode for the past month, and I’ll be back into it for the next year or so.  It’s exciting to support this really beautiful film and to have a new album out at the same time.

KW: I’ve always been impressed by your incredible commitment to charity work. What has inspired you to do that?

JL: I’ve always thought that if I were successful in this career, I would have a lot of resources and a lot of influence, and that I would would want to use them to make the world a better place. Part of my making the world better involves creating great art, and part involves my being an activist and contributing directly to causes that improve people’s lives with my time, my money and my influence. I think that’s part of who I am and of who I always will be.   

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

JL: What’s in my wallet? [Laughs] Credit cards… insurance cards… membership cards… I got my Academy membership renewed this year.

KW: Well, thanks again, John.

JL: Thank you very much, Kam.

To order a copy of John’s new CD, Darkness and Light, visit:
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MTUIYY8/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Luminous Ludacris!

 

Ludacris

The “Fate of the Furious” Interview

with Kam Williams

Luminous Ludacris!

The multi-talented Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has enjoyed a remarkable career. As a recording artist, Bridges has sold more than 15 million albums domestically, thanks to the blockbuster success of such singles as “Stand Up,” “Get Back,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Number One Spot,” “Money Maker” and “My Chick Bad.”

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES as Tej in “The Fate of the Furious.”

Though best known for his infectious tunes, Ludacris has proven himself equally adept at composing powerful songs with serious subject matter, such as the hit “Runaway Love.” Furthermore, his versatility and artistic complexity enabled him to make a seamless transition to acting.

On screen, he most recently co-starred in Furious 7, a follow-up to his stellar work in the Fast and Furious franchise’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious. He was a member of the A-list ensemble assembled for the romantic comedies New Year’s Eve and No Strings Attached.

Luda also delivered critically-acclaimed performances in Hustle & Flow and the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, Crash, as well as on such television series as Empire and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Plus, since stepping back into the studio, he’s been wowing music fans with his 8th studio album, Ludaversal.

The consummate businessman, Luda’s latest venture includes the highly-anticipated Chicken-n-Beer  restaurant coming soon to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  In addition, he is dipping his hands in the tech space by partnering with apps such as Roadie, an on-the-way delivery service.

Luda’s philanthropic efforts rival his entertainment accomplishments. He partnered with Crash writer/director Paul Haggis and Artists for Peace and Justice to help raise more than $4 million for Haitian relief efforts. And he’s raised more than $100,000 for Atlanta flood victims through The Ludacris Foundation, too. Having partnered with Jane Fonda, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela, to name a few, the foundation continues to inspire youth through education.

Here, Luda talks about reprising the role of Tej Parker in The Fate of the Furious opposite Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron and Tyrese.

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

(L to R) Roman (TYRESE GIBSON), Tej (CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES), Little Nobody (SCOTT EASTWOOD), Hobbs (DWAYNE JOHNSON), Ramsey (NATHALIE EMMANUEL) and Letty (MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ)

Kam Williams: Hi Luda, thanks for another interview.

Ludacris: What’s up, Kam?

KW: I really loved this film!

L: You and me both. so, I’m glad that you feel it.

KW: Furious 7 left me in tears, given the sensitive way they handled Paul Walker’s exit. So, that left me wondering whether they’d be able to get back to the action following such a moving conclusion. But they handled the transition seamlessly and very tastefully. It works perfectly.

L: It does, Kam. And I feel like this is the most clever of all of them. It’s really smart. If you see it twice, you’ll notice a lot of things you missed the first time. I’m just happy that we continue to outdo ourselves, man, because, at this point, it’s like, “How are we doing this?” There’s definitely a higher power controlling the franchise.

KW: What’s it like shooting without Paul?

L: It’s very emotional. That’s a void that will never be filled. All we can do is carry on his legacy by making the best movie possible. That adds a little pressure on us . 

KW: But you did manage to outdo yourselves. Other than James Bond and some of the comic book adaptations, I can’t think of another franchise with such staying power.

L: Exactly! That’s what we like to do… break records!

KW: How do you explain the series’ enduring appeal?

L: I think maybe our really being a family off-screen might have a lot to do with the chemistry you see on-screen. 

KW: What’s new about your character, Tej, this go-round?

L: Tej Parker’s happy because he got himself a tank provided by the U.S. government. And you also get to see some skills that you never knew he had. I just love how he continues to grow along with the entire franchise. That makes it so special.     

KW: You have some excellent lines in this episode, and so does Tyrese. The film also features some great banter between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters. And Charlize Theron was a terrific villain.

L: I think Charlize’s addition is one of the picture’s greatest qualities. While women were already fans of the franchise, her performance literally taken it up another notch, because she brings her own fan base.   

KW: She disappeared into the role so well, I didn’t even know it was Charlize for at least 10 minutes after she made her first appearance.

L: Dude, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. She’s so good at what she does that she make Vin and everybody else around her better. We just continue to up the ante.

KW: You know what was hilarious? How Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, is in the film, but playing a nerd instead of a macho character you’d expect.

L: We always like flipping the script a little and doing the unexpected which is why it’s so successful.

KW: In my review, I said this film is worth the price of admission for the opening scene alone, like Taken, District B-13 and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. That drag race was breathtaking and kept me on the edge of your seat.

L: Exactly, Kam! And it moves from one action sequence to the next without ever losing the integrity or continuity of the storyline.   

KW: What’s going on with you musically, Luda?

L: Everything’s good! I’m getting back into the bloodstream of music. I just dropped a single called Vitamin D. Everybody’s talking about the video. You definitely need to check it out. There’s this whole hoopla about this CGI (computer-generated) chest and abs I have in it.   

KW: Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.

L: I have an independent film called Ride coming out, and I do some voiceover work in a movie called Show Dogs. Besides that, on TV, they’re bringing back the  show Fear Factor with me as the host.

KW: Congratulations! Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

L: If Halle Berry does a remake of Monster’s Ball, I’d like to play Billy Bob Thornton’s character.

KW: [LOL] Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

L: My earliest childhood memory? That’s a good question, Kam. Just going out to the park with my mom, and playing on the slides and the swings.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

L: I grew up Christian, if that’s what you’re asking. I prefer not to get into discussions of religion these days. But I’m very much a believer in a higher power.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

L: If I could have one wish instantly granted, I would probably ask for world peace. 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

L: Wow! That’s such a good question. I really have to think about that… I wish somebody would ask me if I could cook, and I’d tell them, “Hell no!”

KW: Well, what’s your favorite dish to eat?

L: Chicken Parmesan.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

L: The Predator, because he had dreadlocks. I felt like he was Jamaican.

KW: Susan Doran asks: How did you come up with the name Ludacris? I figure that the “cris” part comes from Chris being your real first name. 

L: That’s exactly right. Since my music embodied the dictionary definition of “ludicrous,” I think it was kind of creative to combine it with my name and come up with “Ludacris.”

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

L: An American Express Black Card, man.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Luda, and best of luck with the film, the new single and the new TV show.

L: Thank you, Kam.


To order a copy of Luda’s latest CD, Ludaversal, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00TH87IM4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

 

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public PolicyWilmer J. Leon, III

The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview

with Kam Williams

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

Wilmer J. Leon, III is a political scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics American Government, and Public Policy. Dr. Leon has a B.S. degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, and a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

He is a nationally-syndicated columnist and the host of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s  “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon.” He is also a regular contributor to national and international television news programs, newspapers and websites.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dr. Leon, thanks for the interview.

Wilmer J. Leon: Kam, my pleasure. Thank you for your interest in my book “Politics Another Perspective”. The struggle continues and we can only move forward through fact based analysis and dialogue.

KW: What interested you in publishing a collection of your Op-Eds?

WJL: As a political scientist, I was looking for a way to provide to the general public clear analysis of some of the issues impacting the country. I wanted it to be in a form that would be easy for readers to access and digest. I’ve always received great feedback to my Op-Eds. So, a collection of them seemed to be the natural answer or solution.

KW: Most of the pieces were written during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. How would grade him as a president?

WJL: Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer. Usually we take some time and allow the lens of history to provide some distance and space for the analysis to be done. Right now, I would give President Obama a “C.”

KW: What would you say is his legacy?

WJL: Again, that’s a difficult question to answer. Symbolically, being the first African-America president is invaluable and powerful. The fact that I can turn to my 15-year-old son and say, “You too can be POTUS” is a very powerful reality. In terms of domestic policy, navigating the country through the economic crisis was an incredible accomplishment. Even though he bailed out the banks, he did nothing for the homeowner. If he had forced the banks to lend the bailout money back to the homeowner in the way of more favorable loans, property values would have remained stable. The ACA [Affordable Care Act] was a great accomplishment even though its rollout was an utter failure. How can one pay so much attention to the detail of the legislation and then ignore its implementation? This is mind-boggling. He should have used the Recess Appointment option with Merrick Garland. He should have nominated an African-American woman to the Supreme Court instead of Kagan. In terms of education, he continued the Bush Era neo-liberalization of education, No Child Left Behind, with Race to the Top. From a foreign policy perspective, he continued a lot of the Bush administration approaches, if not policies. The assassination of Gaddafi was an utter failure. As a Senator, he voted against the illegal invasion of Iraq and then does a similar thing in Libya making the problems in the Middle East worse. The use of drones was not as benign or sterile as he tried to make them out to be. To a great degree, he did not use his bully pulpit to rally his base against the obstructionist Congress. I don’t believe that the politics he ran on were really his politics. I think he’s a conservative corporatist who ran as a centrist. He tried to be reasonable with a House and Senate that swore to oppose him at every turn but thought that his intellect was more powerful than their racism. Those are a few examples.

KW: Do you think African-Americans were rewarded fairly by the Obama administration for being his most loyal constituency?

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy

WJL: Not at all. Again, the symbolism is invaluable, but you can’t pay the mortgage with symbolism. In his defense, the African-American community, for the most part, did not challenge him and force him to use his bully pulpit to address our issues. In that regard, we gave him a pass. So many of us were so happy to have him there that we focused on the politics of pigment and phenotype and forgot the politics of policy. He rewarded other constituencies such as the LGBTQ, Latino and women, but ran from us unless he was forced to speak to us.

KW: How do you explain the Trump victory? Do you think the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support?

WJL: There are a lot of factors to the Trump victory. Dr. King called it “white backlash” and Dr. Ronald Walters called it the politics of resentment. A major part of this was the backlash to 8 years of an African-American president. There are a lot of people who fear the “browning of America” and the election of Obama validated those fears. As Dr. Walters wrote in his book, “White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community”: “Within American society, which includes contending social groups, there exists a balance of power that conforms to that society’s racial composition.” This balance must conform to the normal distribution of power, if society is to remain in equilibrium. President Obama, in the minds of a lot of people became an indicator that the normal distribution of power is askew and is in jeopardy. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, hence his statement “I love the uneducated.” Trump won whites with a college degree 49% to 45%. The CBS Exit Poll data found that 54 per cent of white women voted for Trump. Trump also won among white, non-college women 62 to 34 percent and white college-educated men, 54 to 39 percent. This begs the question, for as nauseating as Hillary Clinton was to a lot of people, how could white-women vote for a shallow misogynist who called women pigs and said about Carly Fiorina “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?” And we know about his reference to women’s’ genitalia and he also objectifies his own daughter? In spite of this, white women saw value and redeeming qualities in this guy. They voted “white” before they voted “women.” A lot of working-class and middle-class whites who have seen their wages and salaries remain stagnant for 15 years were convinced that immigrants are stealing their jobs and social programs for lazy “colored” people have been draining the public coffers. Trump spoke directly to them and was able to convince them that he would be their champion. They wanted to believe him because he spoke to and validated their bigotry. We can also explain the Trump victory by understanding voter suppression and the Crosscheck Program. According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck “removed tens of thousands of minority voters from the rolls in the swing states that surprisingly shifted to Trump… Stopping Crosscheck is the Standing Rock of racist vote suppression.” Yes, the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support? This demonstrates that the Democratic power structure is closer to the ideology of the Republicans than the constituents they are supposed to represent. The way that the DNC mismanaged the nomination of Congressman Keith Ellison to be the DNC chair is another example of this. They are not nearly as “progressive” as they try to make themselves out to be.

KW: The country seems very divided by the election of Trump? Can that rift be healed while he’s in office?

WJL: No, not as long as the racist reactionary forces such as the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus continue to dominate. Also, neo-liberal politics is killing America and it’s being sold wrapped in the cloak of xenophobic, fearmongering, racist, reactionary politics. As Lester Spence writes, “Racial politics perform work here, as white attitudes about labor, work, crime and taxes are fused to attitudes about black men and women and, through them, to other non-white populations.” As Trump said, “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And on March 12 of this year, Congressman Steven King (R-Iowa) said “…culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The next day, King said, “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally, to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”

KW: Do you think Trump is serious in terms of his plan to make Chicago’s South Side and other crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods safe?

WJL: No. It’s a rhetoric to demonize a category of people and present a narrative that will prepare Americans for the militarization of our urban centers. The evidence is clear, safety comes from education, jobs, and the hope for a profitable future. Investing in the infrastructure of our inner cities and the people who live there is how you make them safe.

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy, SiriusXM Satellite host

KW: What about when it comes to jobs and education? He did make overtures to the HBCUs.

WJL: No, he did not. That was hollow rhetoric followed by a photo op. Budgets are numeric representations of priorities. When his budget was presented the funding he had discussed vanished.

KW: Is the country post-racial? How will we know when it is?

WJL: No. As long as African-American men are incarcerated at a rate of more than six times the rate of white men and the incarceration of black women continues to grow at record numbers, America will not be post-racial. As long as unemployment among African-Americans is more than twice the rate of white Americans, and as long as studies show that a black family’s income is a little more than half that of a similar white family’s income, America will not be post-racial. According to Forbes, “The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. [All figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.]” This is what is called the “racial wealth gap.” And this is exacerbated by the problem with inter-generational transference of wealth. White parents are able to transfer assets to their children that African-American families cannot. As long as African-Americans continue to deal with “Driving While Black,” extrajudicial police murders, excessive high school dropout rates and imbalances in health care, America will not be post racial.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

WJL: I tend to read a few books at a time. Let me say, “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram Kendi, “The Half Has Never Been Told” by Edward Baptist; “Knocking the Hustle” by Lester K. Spence, and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison I’m always re-reading the classics.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

WJL: Wow! Being driven to nursery school in Mrs. James’ white Corvair, with her son Dennis and Kenny McGhee.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

WJL: My parents until their deaths.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

WJL: Yes. I was raised Catholic, sentenced as a child to do 1st to 12th grades in Catholic school, and served all 12 years. As the only African-American child in my class from grade 4 to 8, I was subjected to a lot of racist abuse by classmates and teachers. The spiritual element of my childhood came around the 6th grade when I was taught that the Jesus of history was a Palestinian Jew who looked more like me than my bigoted classmates and teachers, and not like the White Jesus/God that they were indoctrinating me to pray to.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

WJL: Smoked roast and/or shrimp or chicken etouffee’.

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

WJL: Sorry, but there are four. First, my mother ran the Head Start program in our home town of Sacramento, California in the Sixties, and she would take me with her in the summers to work with the kids. My dad was a parole officer early in his career and would take me with him on some of his visits with former parolees. My parents taught me that all humans have value and the importance of working for the empowerment of the community. Hearing Tom Porter’s voice on “Morning Conversations with Tom Porter” on WPFW 89.3 FM in DC in 1983. His perspective changed my world view. And seeing Dr. Ronald Walters with Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” I knew then that my life’s work would be as a political scientist and that Black Politics would be my focus.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

WJL: As Sho Baraka says, “In the land of the passive, make sure that you man up; when introduced to a lady it’s always proper to stand up…always speak up for the weak until somebody listens…your knees should be hurt from prayin’ with your people and your shirt should be wet from cryin’ over evil.” Contrary to the popular narrative, our struggle has always been about the success of the collective not the individual.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

WJL: A flawed man, husband and father trying mightily to measure up to the standard set by his brilliant, loving and committed parents.

  

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

WJL: One more conversation with my parents. I miss them.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

WJL: What was it like growing up in an African American community in South Sacramento as the son of Wilmer, Jr. and Edwina Leon? It was a blessing. I was a midget in the land of giants. I grew up around an eclectic group of educators, lawyers, physicians, Tuskegee Airman, etcetera, who were all committed to excellence, our culture, the community and raising their kids to be strong Race People who would fight against the racism that we were subjected to during the Sixties and Seventies.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

WJL: Challenging the status quo and using excellence to do so.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

WJL: Don’t. Learn from where I’ve gone; and lead, don’t follow.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

WJL: As a man who unconditionally loved his family and worked tirelessly to make his community better. And as a man who left the situation a little better than he found it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Leon, and best of luck with the book.

WJL: Thank you for your interest, Kam, and for your assistance in promoting it.

To order a copy of “Politics: Another Perspective,” visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01M1GOC55/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  GIG News

A Child’s Best Pooch!

 

A Child’s Best Pooch!

by Amy Lignor

 

Parents will agree, when it comes to the other near, dear family member, they want to get the right dog for their children to grow with and play with. A dog that is safe, fun, and easy to please that the kids will absolutely love.

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Dogs bring many benefits to the kids – both mental and physical. There are a ton of studies that have been done showing that dogs make people happier, improve health, and a study of three-to-six year olds has shown that kids growing up with their favorite canine are more empathic to both animals and humans when they get older. They show far more compassion in the classroom to other students, and simply have a better life all around. So, parents, what are the best breeds when it comes to bringing love and warmth into a child’s life?

 

Well, one of the top picks comes in the form of the Beagle. Heck, Snoopy was one, which should make them the top choice. But in addition, the Beagle is a great dog that weighs in at 20-25 pounds, making it the perfect size for those outdoor adventures. The breed is always friendly, nice and at the ready for any game that wants to be played.

 

If we are talking about children, we are talking about high levels of energy, and that is where the Bull Terrier also becomes a great pick to be the family pet. They love big families, by the way, because they are the most active dogs that literally run and play so much that they wear the children out. They are also very protective of their little kiddies and will make sure they stay safe.

 

The beauty that came in runner-up to the German Shepherd this year, the Irish Setter is a great family dog. Not only are they a stunning breed, but they are also easily trainable, love the outdoors and are extremely active. And when the kids grow, as the Irish Setter grows with them, they become ideal walking, biking or hiking companions to explore the Great Outdoors.

 

If you’re looking to “Go Big or Go Home,” head straight to the Newfoundland. You will never find a more devoted breed to your child. Patient, sweet, loving, these “gentle giants” are exactly that. Yes, there will be slobber, but the Newf is worth it. They are intelligent, wonderful family dogs and they absolutely love the company of children.

 

The “All American” breed, the Golden Retriever, is still at the top of the list for kids. Always happy, always willing to play, the Golden is all about games and having a ball with the family on a daily basis. If things get too relaxed, they will even initiate the game and the kids will leave all that digital technology behind in order to play and run outside with the dog. THAT is a real gift!

 

Along those same lines, the Labrador Retriever is another dependable, playful, highly affectionate dog that you and your kids will love. They get along with other pets inside the household, they love running around outside or taking a dip in the pool, and they are truly protective, which is why they are often used as service dogs.

 

Remember, beauty is only skin deep… Like the Boxer, the Bulldog is a fantastic dog for your children. Not the most active out there, but they are the best when it comes to protection. Many believe they have a “sixth sense” when it comes to taking care of a child and even though many may not see this, Bulldogs are extremely even-tempered, calm and friendly.

 

One of the most docile and affectionate dogs for the kids is the Cocker Spaniel. Not small enough to be harmed by kids and not big enough to harm them, which means they are “just right.” And when it comes to being easily trained, this breed has that gift hands-down.

 

Last, but not least, don’t forget to bring Lassie home, as well. The Collie is an extremely fun, active, loving dog. Loves to play outside and, yes, they make sure that protection is given to their little best friend (as well as their big ones) at all times.

 

And always remember, there are so many dogs out there who need a home. Never forget to take a look at all those loving “mutts” at your local Humane Society. There are some true beauties out there who are dying to give their love to you and the family!

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Source:  GIG News