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EUR Commentary

The Wattree Chronicle: Dubious Donnie’s Just Reward

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Donald Trump (arms folded1 - Getty)
Donald Trump (arms folded - Getty)

Getty

*I hate to celebrate another person’s misfortune. That kind of pettiness is totally classless. But watching Donald Trump having to agonize through his current loss to Joe Biden is making me want to dance in the street.

Donald Trump is currently showing the world just how petty and vindictive he is. He’s purposely doing everything in his waning power to make America suffer for voting him out of office. Due to his petty, vindictive nature, he’s trying to punish America by refusing to concede and failing to cooperate with a smooth transition of power.

His intent – other than his desperation over having to face the possible legal consequences of his past behavior – is to make it much harder for President-Elect Joe Biden to pick up the pieces after he’s gone, and he doesn’t care how many Americans he’s responsible for killing in the process. And the Republican Party clearly recognizes that fact, but they’re much too weak-kneed and self-serving to defend the American people from this atrocity. But America will recover, so all Trump’s actually doing is making a fool of himself, ensuring his place in the garbage heap of history, and clearly demonstrating just how rudderless this nation has been for the past four years.

Trump insists that the election was rigged, while not only the facts, but simple logic suggests that’s not the case. The fact that Donald Trump lost, while the Republican Party fared much better than expected, indicates that the American people didn’t reject conservatism, but Donald Trump.

This article/essay continues at The Wattree Chronicle.

 

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EUR Commentary

The Crenshaw Mall Battle is Far More Than A Battle Over One Mall

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Baldwin Hills - Crenshaw

Baldwin Hills - Crenshaw

*The instant that a major outside development company announced that it would bid to buy the Crenshaw Mall, the battle was on. Here are the familiar charges. It is a naked money-making grab by outsiders. It will jack up rents for struggling small Black-owned businesses. It will usher in a rash of chic, high priced, new housing for mostly young upscale whites. It will drive even more lower-income, working-class out of their community. It will continue to send the wrong signal that inner-city Black neighborhoods are ripe for major outside development dollar pickings.

Outside Developers say just the opposite. They claim that their purchase of the Crenshaw Mall will boost minority-owned businesses, spur economic growth, and provide quality retail outlets and restaurants for the Crenshaw community

The developer who toyed with putting that bid in for the mall got the message and backed out. Now there’s another developer who reportedly has put up the cash for the Mall.  The same pro and con arguments on both sides are being shouted. The battle to send this developer packing by some community activists is even fiercer. Whether it’s the fight over ownership of the Crenshaw Mall or any other inner major business and residential area, the watchword that rings on all lips is this word: gentrification.

Like any other controversial, hotly debated, and divisive issue that bursts on the public policy scene, there’s a history. Gentrification is no different. It didn’t start in the late 1990s with young whites pouring into mostly Black and poor neighborhoods in America’s central cities and buying up rundown houses and apartment buildings. Then soaring the rents and home prices thereby driving the Blacks out. Or developers hungrily eyeing prime commercial space and land in neighborhoods such as the Crenshaw district.

Crenshaw Mall remodel

Artist rendering of remodeled Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall

The Urban Land Institute in the first major study in 1976 on gentrification that year found that a rising number of big cities experienced some form of gentrification. There were lots of new rehabbed housing and apartments in almost all cases occupied by affluent, educated young professionals. The report noted that the newcomers were “establishing a new investment climate.”

This was not lost on investors and developers who see bigger profits to be made selling to the young affluent whites interested in moving back into these areas.  It didn’t take long for the first rumblings of protest to be heard. The rumblings came from residents and community activists. They demanded to know, what about the folk who live in these neighborhoods, what happens to those who can no longer afford homes and apartments there? There were warnings that the transformation had consequences, mostly dire for those residents and for cities. There would be even more distinct areas carved out for the rich and poor, this time not out of the city, but within the cities.

A decade later the ante jumped on inner-city real estate. The influx of young affluent whites snapping up distressed properties in inner-city neighborhoods turned gentrification into a major growth industry. The properties bought often at fire-sale prices in distressed areas became solid financial investments for the present and future for investors and speculators. The ramp-up in tax revenue and fees was a windfall for municipal and county governments. The sweetener for investors and developers was to offer an even greater goodie bag of tax breaks and incentives to spur them to gobble up even more land in these areas.

Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

There was scant if any attention paid to the effect of the make-over of these areas on the increasingly displaced Blacks and Hispanics, and the poor in what were fast becoming nouveau rich neighborhoods. Instead, there were countless articles and stories and features on the lifestyles and habits of the new urban elite in these neighborhoods. The words” increased poverty,” “displacement,” “racial disparity” was nearly totally absent from the gentrification conversation.

With gentrification now becoming a buzzword for seismic urban change, the battle lines were now tightly drawn in the debate over whether gentrification and development or at least the types of development it brought were a good or bad thing for poor Black and Hispanic communities. Developers, a slew of government officials, and real estate moguls are solidly on one side repeatedly citing the supposed benefits: more jobs, a spur to businesses, more and better housing, schools, and services, and spruced up public space. Community activists, legions of residents, counter with their checklist of bad things it purportedly will bring: homelessness, displacement, unaffordability, racial tensions, and erosion of the decades of racial and cultural cohesion that ironically forced confinement to racially segregated neighborhoods engendered.

The fierce battle over the Crenshaw Mall is set hard against the backdrop of class and race, and the rapidly changing demographics of America’s cities. The debate will continue to sharpen over the best use of valued land in and near central cities. Locally, the Crenshaw Mall is simply the flashpoint of this debate; a debate that will only grow fiercer with time.

earl ofari hutchinson

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of The Gentrification Wars (Amazon) He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network

 

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COVID-19

Shawn V. Branch: My Personal Experience with COVID-19 and the Life Lessons Learned

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Shawn V. Branch - IMG_7609
Shawn V. Branch - IMG_7609

Shawn V. Branch

Changing Our Narrative

*The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on so many of us. Not only have we been dealing with quarantining, wearing masks, and social distancing, but we have also been dealing with all of this with the added pressure of a national reckoning with racial injustice and a nail-biting election. For so many of us, we are looking forward to 2021 and praying it will be much nicer than this crazy year.

My personal experience with COVID began the first week of March. It started with symptoms of a common cold that then turned into what I thought was the flu. I did not feel awful, but I developed a fever that would not go away. I tried everything that I had done in the past to rid myself of the flu, but nothing was working. Having COVID never crossed my mind until two close friends kept asking me if I thought I should get a test. My immediate reaction was to say no. In my mind, I was still thinking it was the flu and I felt sure I could not have COVID.

COVID-19 testing

File Photo: “Now I was starting to get nervous. The next morning, he called and instructed me to come to the office and call him when I parked, and he would meet me outside and bring me a mask. At this time, we were not required to wear masks but he was taking the necessary precautions for himself and the staff. He gave me the test (and thank God, he did the throat swab and not the nose swab).” Shawn V. Branch

A few more days passed, and I was not feeling better. My bestie said, “You need to get tested.” I called my doctor and he said that he was getting his first batch of COVID tests the following day and to text him in the morning. Now I was starting to get nervous. The next morning, he called and instructed me to come to the office and call him when I parked, and he would meet me outside and bring me a mask. At this time, we were not required to wear masks but he was taking the necessary precautions for himself and the staff. He gave me the test (and thank God, he did the throat swab and not the nose swab). He prescribed some medication to help fight what we thought was the flu. The pills worked and a few days later my fever was gone but I was still nervous while waiting for my results. I took the test on a Monday; the following Thursday, I received a call from my doctor that said I tested positive for COVID-19.I was stunned. After I got over the initial shock, I started thinking: how did this happen and why me? That day, I sent a text message to my family and then a few close friends telling them about my result. My mother instantly told me that she was flying to Atlanta to be with me. I told her she absolutely could not do that!! Honestly, I really did want her to come. It had been a while since I saw her and during this time, I did not want to be alone; but I knew it was not safe for her to come and visit. That night as I laid in bed, I started to cry. So many thoughts were running through my mind and now I knew I had to quarantine and be isolated from the very support system I felt I most needed at that very moment.

But in that deep sadness, I was reminded of all I have to be thankful for. I am so blessed to have a loving family and wonderful friends. They checked on me daily, and my friends in Atlanta brought me food and champagne regularly, leaving it at my door. I thank God daily for my circle of friends. Living alone during the pandemic was very hard, and then facing the stress and unknowns of having COVID tested all my strength.

During my time with COVID, I tried to continue with my regular routine. I was up early, working and working out. I hate being sick and I also hate laying around doing nothing. I was alone so I had to cook my own meals, clean and do all the things I do when I am not sick. As I began to get better, I realized my breathing was a little weird. I was not out of breath, but something was different. I also felt that my body was not feeling 100% better after quarantine. I had weird feelings throughout my body and it just made me mad. I started reading articles about the after effects of COVID and I saw several of my symptoms reflected. Again, I started to feel the same stress and panic I felt when I first got my positive COVID results back.

Now, eight months after getting over COVID, I am feeling like my old self. I’ve had several COVID tests since then and they have all come back negative. I know the question of immunity has been a topic of discussion. I don’t think that I am safe from re-infection, so I still take all the necessary precautions. There is much that is unknown about COVID, so I always lean on the side of caution.

There are a few things that I’ve learned and a few things that I have started doing since contracting the virus:

Dr. Anthony Fauci

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 31, 2020. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS

I take a multi-vitamin and Emergen-C (Immune +), every day. Dr. Fauci recommends vitamins C and D to help your immune system help fight off respiratory infections

Emergen-C and Centrum

“I am pretty good about my health, but now I really listen to my body and don’t take my health for granted.” Shawn V. Branch

I am pretty good about my health, but now I really listen to my body and don’t take my health for granted. I make my own smoothies at least five days a week. This serves as just another way to make sure I am getting all the proper nutrients that my body needs. In addition to working out five days a week, I now walk at least three days a week. I started doing this when the lock down in Atlanta first took place, and continued because its healthy and it gives me the opportunity to clear my head and exercise with friends.

Healthy food ingredients for smoothie

“I make my own smoothies at least five days a week. This serves as just another way to make sure I am getting all the proper nutrients that my body needs.” Shawn V. Branch

As much as I love a good happy hour, I realized that small, intimate gatherings with special people were really the way to go. I now have two gatherings that I look forward to: Building Boys Gathering- when I get together with a few guys in the building and we eat, drink and have a great conversation; and Family Time – every Saturday I hang out with my bestie and his husband. We take turns cooking, watching movies and enjoy great conversation. These two events are definitely food for my soul.

I can do without as many material things in my life. I realized that I do not need any more clothes, shoes, etc. One day while putting away laundry I noticed that I still had clothing with tags on them. As much as I love to shop, the pandemic made me realize that I have more than I need.

I need to protect my mental health by any means necessary. While I am lucky to be able to work from home, I have found that my default is to work a lot of hours because there’s nothing else to do. I have to force myself not to fall into that trap. I stop my workday at 5 pm, turn on music, fix myself a cocktail, and just relax. I’ve also decided to disconnect from news and social media one weekend a month. I think it is important more than ever to no longer neglect me and take a break.

alcoholic drink

“I stop my workday at 5 pm, turn on music, fix myself a cocktail, and just relax.” Shawn V. Branch

I really missed not being able to see family and friends. I’ve always considered my relationships most important and that has only become more the case now in the face of this pandemic.

Being alone for countless hours with nothing to do made me think about my life’s purpose and how I am making sure that I am being fulfilled.

I really missed hugging people. The first person I hugged was my bestie and that was not until August.

I am more empathetic to other people. We are all trying to cope with this new way of living and for some it’s been harder than for others. I’ve realized that I need to be more understanding to others and what they may be experiencing.

making a toast with people on Zoom

“I’ve realized that I need to be more understanding to others and what they may be experiencing.“ Shawn V. Branch

Even Zoom happy hours can get on my nerves.

Now, as we move into fall and winter, we’re already seeing an exponential increase in the number of COVID cases and deaths. I often say to myself, What is it that we’ve learned that we will want to carry with us long after the pandemic is behind us —and perhaps for the rest of our lives? I know that as individuals we can make our own choices, and it is individual choices that will make the difference.

I hope and pray that we learn from this pandemic to bring more stillness into our lives, take better care of ourselves, be gentle and loving to ourselves, never take people for granted, and be thankful for what we have!

Shawn V. Branch

Shawn V. Branch, Food, Lifestyle & Travel Editor, ReelUrbanNews.com, with professional imprint ranging from education to executive positioning. Shawn is the curator of the lifestyle blog, SV Branches (www.vanbranchblog.com), which is based on the vision of inspiring and connecting with people who are searching for positivity and motivation. Originally from Baltimore, Shawn now resides in the City of Atlanta.

 

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EUR Commentary

Kimberly Ellis: Triple-Dog Dare: An Open Letter to California Governor Newsom

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Barbara Lee (pink)1
Gavin Newsom - press conference

California Governor Gavin Newsom

*No governor likes to be bullied, especially you (we know from personal experience). Nor would I recommend anyone to dare the leader of the fifth largest economy in the world to demonstrate his raw political power, for that also is not the wisest way to convince Governor Newsom to go your way.

And yet, here we find ourselves and Black women in California are doing just that.

Right now, you have an obligation to fill the seat vacated by the only Black woman in the United States Senate. Just a few years ago, Californians chose a Black woman to represent them and it would be an inexcusable slight – a proverbial slap in the face – to replace her with a man, irrespective of his race. Full stop.

California’s one million Black women fought hard to finally get a seat at that decision-making table and we will not accept it being given away in the third act of political theater. This isn’t a game of musical chairs, and if you truly believe that representation matters, then don’t talk about it, be about it.

So, let’s be clear – this seat must be filled by a Black woman — as the voters intended. And, in this moment, someone who stands out as both worthy and capable is Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

The protégé of Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Lee’s commitment to environmental justice, healthcare as a human right, reproductive freedom and advocacy against unnecessary wars is beyond reproach.

More importantly, it’s her two decades’ of experience in the halls of Congress that is our incontrovertible proof that she’s ready on day-one to walk into the Senate at a time when we need unapologetically bold leadership the most. We can’t afford to promote someone who will have to learn Washington, DC on the job. And with the Senate headed toward a deadlock at best… nope; the stakes are too high.

MORE NEWS: Black ‘Anti-Kaepernick’ Conservative Burgess Owens Flips Utah’s Only Democratic Congressional Seat (Video)

Barbara Lee (pink)

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee

But beyond the practical and policy, Barbara Lee is the safest political choice that will avoid a bloody and ridiculously expensive Dem-on-Dem election in two years when this seat comes up again. No one is more respected by both the moderate and progressive wings of California Democrats and non-partisans.

To refresh our memories, it was Barbara Lee who bridged California’s Hillary and Bernie divides in 2016 and she did it again in 2020. It was Barbara Lee who led the charge for progressive policy inclusions in our Party’s platform this year. It was Barbara Lee who came out first and hardest for Vice President-Elect Harris when she decided to run for President nearly two years ago.

And while some folks are still debating whether Black lives matter, after this past election, one thing is for damn sure – Black votes matter, don’t they?!

Lest we forget, it was the Black women organizers (and voters) in Philly and Milwaukee and Detroit and Atlanta who literally snatched this country from the jaws of death and it’s because of them that we’re even having this conversation right now.

But seriously, think about it: Black women are being asked to give up our only seat in the United States Senate due to a vacancy created by the success of a Black woman. It’s like we can’t win for losing and we also can’t win for winning. It’s the cruel irony for me…

Appointing a Black woman to replace a Black woman isn’t doing us a favor. It’s doing right by us. And that’s on periodt.

So, please Mr. Governor, trust us, this isn’t a dare; it’s a request to return to an era of meritocracy and dignity that’s been missing from our politics for far too long. California’s Senate replacement pick for Vice-President Elect Harris should be Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

We’re counting on you to do the right thing, White Chocolate.

Kimberly Ellis

Kimberly Ellis

Kimberly Ellis is an American activist and was the Executive Director of Emerge California from 2010 until she ran for the Chair of the California Democratic Party in 2017.

 

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