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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Stimulus Check Equals Welfare

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Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*If you’re one of the ten million Americans who filed for unemployment last month, you’re probably hoping for that government stimulus check to show up and save the day!

The last word on its arrival is it could take months – even by direct deposit – to be distributed. Don’t blame President Donald Trump this time. Blame obsolescence and incompatibility.

Apparently, the Internal Revenue Service has an old computer infrastructure that can’t keep up with the latest technology needed to generate and deliver stimulus checks to 3.2 million Americans in a timely manner. Some people say the problem has a quick fix. Keep hope alive, in other words. Nothing against ‘hope,’ but we’ve heard it all before.

And for people like myself who always opt to receive paper tax refund checks – because we have a low-level of trust with the feds – we might as well think of that money as a holiday surprise: Christmas is probably when we’ll see it. Blame the United States Postal Service for that.

I mailed a birthday card from Dallas to Baltimore on March 19th and it still hasn’t arrived. I mailed a birthday box from Texas to Tennessee in late February. No word on what happened to that either. The USPS motto about rain, sleet or snow not stopping their flow; they have disproven it many times. But I digress.

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Some politicians are doing their best to lead us through this medical, social and financial crisis. Yet, the decision-making skills of many seem illogical. Hundreds of school districts across the United States are closed. Millions of non-essential businesses have been forced to cease operation and people are forbade by state and local mandates to gather in groups of more than ten, all to help slow the spread of the deadly virus COVID-19.

Yet liquor stores are still open; marijuana dispensaries are still open and gun ranges that were closed were reopened. Apparently, the National Rifle Association petitioned Homeland Security to reclassify gun ranges as ‘essential’ business. Ammunition supplies are as scarce as toilet paper. Millions have filed for unemployment. But they’ve got enough money to drink liquor, smoke weed and shoot guns! It all makes zero sense.

Some people thought they would never be in this position: Searching for a government check in the daylight with a flashlight. They look down on others who receive government assistance, better known as WIC or use an EBT card to purchase groceries. They don’t consider tax breaks as welfare.

News flash: Government assistance by any other name is still welfare.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions and speaking inquiries.

 

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EUR Reviews: ‘Mangrove’ a Must and ‘The Giant’ a Bust / WATCH

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Letitia Wright - Mangrove

*“Mangrove,” is one of five films from the “Small Axe” anthology by Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”).

Based on true events, the film chronicles the 50th anniversary of the day in 1970 when 150 protesters of West Indian and African heritage in Notting Hill, West London, took to the streets because of police brutality. In a reign of racist terror, the local police raid Mangrove—a  lively community base for locals, intellectuals and activists—time after time.

When nine men and women are wrongly arrested and charged with incitement to riot, a highly publicized trial ensues. his must see film follows the Nine and their road to justice. One of the Nine, Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Letitia Wright), is the leader of the British Black Panther Movement.

Ironically, Wright is the sister of T’Challa in Black Panther. During the highly publicized trial of the Mangrove Nine, tensions ran high as they fought against brutal treatment and discrimination.

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Letitia Wright as Altheia Jones-LeCointe (center), Malachi Kirby (Darcus Howe, center, holding megaphone) in Mangrove. Photo: Des Willie/Amazon Prime Video

“Mangrove” is not only timely, but universal in its depiction of bigotry and injustice throughout the universe. The raw emotions that spill out into the streets, and at times inside the Mangrove, are real. “Mangrove” hits its mark going for the jugular with in your face necessary narratives.

Co-written and directed by Steve McQueen, “Mangrove” also stars  Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, and Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Jack Lowden, Sam Spruell,  Gershwyn Eustache, Nathaniel Martello-White, Richie Campbell, Jumayn Hunter, and Gary Beadle. “Mangrove” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

The Giant

Watching “The Giant” is like watching paint dry. At least with the paint drying, viewers are spared the doldrums of Charlotte’s (Odessa Young) sleepwalk-like trudge through “The Giant.” Minutes after the film begins, Charlotte mother’s quivering feet are seen because she has just committed suicide. This scene is tantamount to what audiences are in for; in addition to a serial killer storyline.

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Odessa Young (Charlotte) in “The Giant.”

Charlotte is a 17-year-old spending the summer in her Georgia hometown before heading off to college. Her questionable first love Joe (Ben Schnetzer), who mysteriously disappeared also returns. And Charlotte’s best friend Olivia (Madelyn Cline) only adds to the dire state of affairs with her dark appearances.

The surreal scenes and dreamlike sequences set up to pique the imagination fail miserably because of the monotonous and maudlin tone of the movie. Charlotte’s belabored, psychological trek drains viewers to the point where they could care less about the conclusion.

Directed by David Raboy, “The Giant” also stars Jack Kilmer, Madelyn Cline, Danny Ramirez, and PJ Marshall. “The Giant” is available on Digital & On Demand.

Facebook.com/TheFilmStrip Twitter: @thefilmstrip Instagram.com/thefilmstriptm

 

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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Stand Your Ground A License to Kill Protestors?

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NYC - Breonna protestors

*Just as Americans are fixated on the results of the 2020 Presidential Election Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to push legislation through the Florida statehouse that could put targets on the backs of protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. While the eyes of Americans are watching the White House, DeSantis is sneaking through the back door – aka the statehouse.

If De Santis has his way people who use deadly force against protestors could use the Stand Your Ground law as their defense to get away with murder. De Santis drafted a bill that could expand the controversial law to cover anybody who claims they feared for their lives and end up killing a protestor.

The first issue I have with this law is who is to say whether a person is a protestor or looter or rioter in the heat of the moment? The second issue I have with this proposed expansion of the law is it promotes using deadly force to protect personal property. Most SYG and castle doctrine laws across the United States allow using deadly force only if a person feels their life or a loved one’s life is in danger. Killing someone over theft or property damage is unlawful. If Florida expands this law it could be a green light for other states to do the same. 

In addition, DeSantis’ bill includes mandatory punishment for protest organizers and mandatory jail time for anyone convicted of assaulting police and it would block local municipalities from defunding local police departments. View the video for more details.

MORE NEWS: ‘Black Panther’ Star Letitia Wright Talks New Role in Small Axe Film / WATCH

Steffanie Rivers - screenshot

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with your comments, questions and speaking inquiries. Follow her @TCBStef on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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JFK Remembered: ‘Purple Raindrops’

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John F Kennedy
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President Kennedy addresses the nation on the desegregation of the University of Alabama from the Oval Office, 11 June 1963. Photo by Cecil Stoughton

[Updated version from the author’s book, “Book To The Future” (Amazon)]

As we commemorate the 57th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, many things are being written and new revelations are surfacing about our revered fallen hero. For instance, until now it has not been widely known about the various enervating illnesses JFK suffered from early childhood and throughout his adult life which included Addison’s disease. The many medications he reportedly was taking seem to be on par with the magnitude of findings after singer Michael Jackson’s death.

It was a sad day when we heard the news about JFK on November 22, 1963. That was truly the day America lost its innocence. Videos of the presidential motorcade ambling through the streets of Dallas, and the impact of that dreadful moment surely defined the BC and AD of our times. Thanks to television, the image of JFK was larger than life. On a higher level, Jesus – the very image of God – was larger than life. What deep sorrow and loss his disciples must have felt when he, the Son of God who had all power, died on the cross suffering the ultimate separation – from God the Father! [Ref: Matt. 27:45-50, KJV]

Looking through the historical lens at closely bonded relations it seems the closer the bond, the deeper the sorrow when it is broken. Just imagine the horror and shock, when JFK was shot, then the suddenness of loss Jackie Kennedy felt as she sat there watching her husband die in such a cruel and gruesome manner. Think of JFK’s brother Robert Kennedy (who also died years later at the hand of a gunman); his big brother leaving D.C. for Dallas with all power, and being returned to him in D.C. in a casket all within a matter of hours. It’s the lasting anguish as intimated by L.C. Cooke on the loss of his brother, world-renowned singer Sam Cooke – shot and killed at the height of his career – “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.” Most of us can relate to the anguish and the agony of sudden loss; here one minute and gone the next particularly by a bullet. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lennon, and Marvin Gaye. The news was totally shocking and unexpected.

I was recently researching some songs in Stevie Wonder’s discography and discovered that the song “Purple Raindrops,” which was the B-side of “Uptight (Everything Is Alright),” was released by Motown Records November 22, 1965. Written by Stevie’s tutor Ted Hull, the song was already two years old which would place its creation around the time of JFK’s death in ’63. For years the song was virtually lost in oblivion, but Stevie was singing “purple” before Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and the movie “The Color Purple.”

There are various interpretations and meanings of the actual color purple. Award-winning designer Jennifer Bourn writes, “Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.” Does that sound like our beloved JFK and the romanticism of an anywhere place called Camelot? Coincidentally, at the time of JFK’s death I was living on Camelot Way in Los Angeles’ Green Meadows projects.

Purple signifies our highest honors. The Purple Heart is awarded to our military soldiers for meritorious performance of duty. I wish we could award one to every little child who has to leave home headed for school through a minefield of uncertainty due to senseless gun violence.

Bourn further writes, “The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, creating feelings of spirituality, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity. Purple is associated with spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality. Purple helps align oneself with the whole of the universe.”

Bourn’s take on shades of purple can also be ascribed to Jackie Kennedy’s experience. In video composites Jackie is shown wearing pink when leaving the hospital after their infant son Patrick died just months before JFK, and the more familiar pink outfit that JFK’s blood splattered all over in the motorcade car in which they were riding.

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JFK’s Dallas motorcade moments before being shot

Bourn writes, “Light purple or lavender is a feminine, graceful, elegant color that has long been associated with refined, wealthy women. While the color purple represents royalty, lavender represents beauty and femininity. Lavender is considered to be the ‘grown-up’ pink.” Certainly Jackie’s “pink” went beyond lavender and to a deeper shade after that period in her life.

At the close of 1963, America was already feeling change in the air and it was voiced in Bob Dylan’s 1964 album release titled “The Times They Are a-Changing.” The following month introduced The Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan show – the British invasion had begun. That same month The Kingsmen came out with one of the most controversial songs of all time – “Louie, Louie,” and 22 year-old Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing crown, declaring “I am the greatest.” Later in June The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” exploded on the charts – its simplicity reminded me of bubble gum and hopscotch. I think it really resonated in America and on a global scale as people reflected on Camelot lost. As 1964 came to a close we lost Sam Cooke who left us a message of hope – “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Despite all the difficulties JFK encountered during his brief presidency, he forged ahead. Being the youngest president ever elected, he intuitively knew that it was his moment. He knew his purpose was to usher in a new era, and he delivered. He was the “purple” and when he died, it spattered on us like purple raindrops and enriched our lives. The beginning lines to Stevie’s “Purple Raindrops” are: “Purple raindrops/spattered flowers/I daydream for hours…” JFK’s legacy – to dream big, and the challenge “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” – is truly a profile worth remembering and acknowledging.

To hear Stevie Wonder’s “Purple Raindrops” (<ahref=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UXsJ9Yj1Ho>CLICK HERE)

Please share your thoughts in the user-friendly, no-obligation comment section below.

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon); two insightful books that speak to our moral conscience in times like these. Email: [email protected]

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