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adminNovember 29, 2020
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Photo: Andrew Harnik (AP)

The Catholic Church has elected Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. to the rank of cardinal, making him the first African American in history to hold that title.

Gregory was elevated to a cardinal in an installation ceremony held in Rome over the weekend, reports CNN. 

From CNN:

Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.

“It’s been a time to thank God for this unique moment in my life and in the life of the church in the United States,” Gregory said. “I hope it’s a sign to the African American community that the Catholic Church has a great reverence, respect and esteem for the people, for my people of color.”

As a Cardinal, Gregory will be one of the Pope’s closest advisers and one of only 120 or so men who will elect the next pontiff. Before Francis chose Gregory as Archbishop of Washington last year, he also served as a bishop in Belleville, Illinois, and in Atlanta.

Gregory, who was not born Catholic but converted to the religion while in school, said that he anticipates being a “voice for the African American community in the pope’s ear,” according to the Washington Post.

“It is also an important recognition that the African American, the Black Catholic community, is an important component within the larger, universal church,” Gregory added of the pope’s decision to elevate him to the rank of cardinal.

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Pope Francis has emerged as a more woke pontiff than those before him, and this weekend also appointed bishops from Rwanda, Brunei, Chile and the Philippines as new cardinals. The pope has spoken out against the police killing of George Floyd, and just this week met with a delegation of NBA players to hear about their efforts to protest racial injustice in America.

The shift towards elevating historically marginalized peoples in the Catholic Church likely comes from a recognition of the cultural realities of a world in which it seeks to continue being seen as a leading religious institution. Of course, the Catholic Church’s claim to moral leadership has been dealt a blow in recent years due to overwhelming reports of incidents of sexual abuse in the church that were allegedly hushed up by

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adminNovember 28, 2020
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Screenshot: Amazon Prime Video/YouTube

When I went to London for the first time, I thought it was Jamaica. As a nine-year-old born and raised on the Caribbean island, I thought of the UK in terms of what I’d seen on TV and read in the literature books set in Britain that were part of my primary school curriculum—as a place that was grey-scale and rainy, inhabited by funny accents like the one my now-British father had, and a truly foreign chilly climate. My father, also a born and raised Jamaican, was living there, which occasioned my visit.

It turned out that this place which was situated literally across the world from where I lived was more colorful and familiar than I had imagined (though even colder). Most of what I remember from this trip came back vividly as I watched Steve McQueen’s “Lovers Rock,” the second installment of his anthology film series Small Axe, which focuses in on the story of the Caribbean people who made England their home. The film brought back for me how effectively these transplants were able to stake their flag in a powerhouse country which for centuries had colonized the nations in the Caribbean they came from, like Jamaica.

The opening scene of the film licked me with that same sense of joyful recognition I had as a little girl who’d landed in England, stunned to hear Jamaican patois expressed just as sharply and authentically by people there as it was by those back home. The film kicks off with British-based actors Kadeem Ramsay, Romario Simpson, and Alexander James-Blake talking to each other in pitch-perfect Jamaican accents while maneuvering furniture out of a house in preparation for a party, signaling that Lovers Rock will be richly populated with sounds and visuals that reflect the aforementioned authenticity. As the men chat, women gather and sing in a kitchen while kneading flour for dumplings and chopping up onions, tomato, and thyme to cook up a rich curry goat that I could almost smell from memory.

Of course, Jamaican music is seminal to the film, which is named after that sub-genre of reggae concerned with giving couples something to slowly “wine” to. The recognizable bass drop under tracks sung by crooning reggae greats like Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs underscore the prevalence of Jamaican music wherever people who appreciate good music are present. The inclusion of Barry Biggs’ one-drop cover of American singer Eddie Holman’s “Hey There, Lonely Girl” also emphasized for me the power of Black people’s musical creations, not just specifically Jamaican ones, to engender connections—whether between two people slow wining at a party or among those from different branches of the Black diaspora, in this case, the U.S., UK, and Jamaica. The pleasure I got watching Lovers Rock came from witnessing a beautifully realized cinematographic telling of the deeply rooted connections that keep Black people living and loving,

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adminNovember 27, 2020
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Robert KeeganPhoto: Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

In Ashland, Oregon, a white man was arrested and is suspected of fatally shooting a Black teen in a motel parking lot Monday morning following a heated altercation that, according to authorities, started over loud music.

KTVL 10 reports that 47-year-old Robert Keegan was still on the scene when police arrived after he allegedly shot 19-year-old Aidan Ellison outside of the Stratford Inn. Keegan was staying at the motel with his son after the Almeda Fire caused them to be displaced from their home in Talent.

“The victim had apparently been playing some music loudly in the parking lot and this upset the suspect, which caused the suspect to go down and engage him in an argument,” Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police chief said, KTVL reports.

According to NBC 5, Ellison was shot once in the chest. O’Meara confirmed that “the person responsible for the shooting was still on scene and was detained immediately by the officers.” He also mentioned that paramedics tried to save Ellison but were unsuccessful.

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“It was utterly senseless, didn’t need to happen, people getting violent with each other for such stupid reasons,” O’Meara said, NBC reports. “Unfortunately, there was nothing to be done.”

ABC 12 reports that Keegan made his first court appearance virtually on Tuesday where he was arraigned. He is currently being held without bail at the Jackson County Jail and is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in Ellison’s death. Keegan is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon for concealing a firearm without a concealed carry permit as well as reckless endangering, a charge related to another person who was present during the shooting, according to KTVL.

Sara Jones, Ellison’s roommate, told ABC 12 that “Aidan had the kindest kind of soul” and that “he was a good kid. He was full of laughter love. He, he was just a great person. He always like

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adminNovember 27, 2020
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Kimberly Drew, left; Jenna Wortham, rightPhoto: Tyler Mitchell, Naima Green, Illustration: Angelica Alzona

It’s Lit!It’s Lit!Where all things literary live at The Root

Remember zines? Okay, maybe we’re dating ourselves, but younger versions of The Root’s Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton and I (Managing Editor of The Glow Up, Maiysha Kai) were early fans of the format, maybe even producing a few zines of our own. (Okay, that definitely happened). Historically, zines organize various creators and mediums around a single topic or theme—so, what would a zine focused on the future—specifically, the future of Blackness—look like?

This is the question answered by Black Futures, a weighty and gorgeously bound compendium of Black creativity edited by 2020 The Root 100 honoree Kimberly Drew (aka “Museum Mammy”) and New York Times Magazine Staff Writer Jenna Wortham, due for release on December 1 from the Penguin Random House imprint One World. At over 500 pages, it’s more like an encyclopedia than a zine, but as the duo recently told Danielle and me during a taping of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!, the zine spirit is alive and well in its creation…even if they weren’t exactly sure what Black Futures would become when it began. (Which is an apt metaphor for…the future, no?)

Image: One World/Penguin Random House

“I wanted to do something more with arts and culture that centered Black people and Blackness in a way that wasn’t entirely possible at my job,” Wortham explained. “I didn’t really even have the idea for Black Futures, I just knew that there was something really profound happening in arts and culture that I wanted to spend more time thinking about and working on, and I thought Kimberly might be a really good intellectual partner for that. And so I reached out and originally I thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll just do something really ephemeral, a short one-off,” she continued. “I really had no idea what I was talking about at all. And then Kimberly had this incredible insight, like, ‘We should think about a book, you know?’ And I was like, ’Whoa. Yes.’ And so, that was kind of the moment that Black Futures started to take shape.”

When Black women gather, something incredible happens…and with over a hundred creatives from across genres and mediums—ranging from very well known to emerging talents—contributing to Black Futures, the resulting book is a testament and tribute to the incredible diversity within Black culture as well as our tremendous collective power.

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“There is this book that was created and then there’s this entire universe that exists around it,” said Drew.

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adminNovember 26, 2020
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Photo: Shutterstock

It’s easily arguable that American society isn’t very forgiving to people who have committed crimes. For Black people and people of color especially, it often seems like rehabilitation is a concept the criminal justice system accepts in theory—not so much in practice. It’s easily arguable that America is a nation that prioritizes punishment, not rehabilitation, for people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

In Los Angeles County, officials are taking steps in the right direction by gearing its justice system towards reform where it matters the most—with our youth.

From the Los Angeles Times:

After years of incremental reform, Los Angeles County is moving to dismantle the largest youth justice system in the country in favor of a “care-first” model that would look less like prison and would emphasize emotional support, counseling and treatment.

The plan calls for children and young adults who have committed crimes to be served in home-like settings, and includes 24/7 youth centers and support teams that establish relationships with young people who might otherwise be locked in facilities far from home.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday took the first steps to transition juvenile probation to a proposed new Department of Youth Development, in a three-phase approach that will take at least five years. Similar approaches have been tried in San Francisco; Houston; New York City; King County, Wash.; and Oregon.

This is dope.

This is the kind of system that will take things like poverty, trauma and systemic bias into account before deciding a “juvenile delinquent” (I put it in quotes because I hate that term) is disposable.

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“The current youth justice model in the county remains hyper-focused on punishment and forced accountability because that is simply the nature of any model rooted in the principles of probation and law enforcement systems,” Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote in their motion. The board also denounced the “’tough on crime’ philosophy of the late 1980s and early 1990s,“ saying it “has been universally debunked by research from across many fields including neuroscience, psychology, and child development.”

Of course, at least one official of the “current youth justice model” took exception to the board’s characterization of his agency and suggested that what the supervisors want to do might not work.

More from the Times:

Interim Chief Probation Officer Ray Leyva, who was unavailable Tuesday for an interview, said in a letter to the board that he rejected the notion by advocates who he said want to “defund and discard” his agency and have focused much attention on its past weaknesses, rather than its “track record of recent reforms.”

He said there are substantial challenges ahead in carrying out the overhaul that youth advocates want to see,

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adminNovember 25, 2020
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Ferris State University Professor Thomas BrennanScreenshot: ABC 13

A Michigan college professor has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into tweets that appear to show that, despite being a science professor, he hates science and has a bit of contempt for Jewish people. One thing he loves, though, is the n-word.

The Associated Press reports that Thomas Brennan, a physical science professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., was put on leave last Thursday after the school’s student-run newspaper, The Torch, published a story about him that included screenshots of his controversial (to say the absolute least) tweets.

Brennan’s Twitter account is no longer public, but according to AP, in one of his tweets, he referred to COVID-19 as “another Jewish revolution.” And that’s really only the tip of the weird-ass iceberg of offensive things he has tweeted.

Not all of the screenshots published in The Torch reveal his bigotry. Some of them show that the professor of science doesn’t much care for the science behind the coronavirus pandemic and that he prefers baseless conspiracy theories instead.

“Guess what the covid stunt has failed,” Brennan wrote in one tweet. “You won’t get your leftist new world order.”

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He also urged people to “Stand up for yourselves people, and stop falling for this coronavirus hoax!” In another tweet, he claimed the virus “is fake” and that “an evil medical system just killed a bunch of old people.”

He also appears to believe the whole “5G cell phones cause COVID” thing.

In one screenshot in which he appears to be responding to another tweet, Brennan wrote, “It’s partly because homeless people can’t afford cell phones—the main cause of covid symptoms I think.”

I’d just like to take this time to remind you this man is a science teacher.

Let’s move on to where the racism comes in.

“Quarks are fake, the Higgs Boson is fake, Black Holes are fake, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a worthless nigger, Dark matter is fake, Atom bombs are fake, Bill Nye is a worthless nigger, the Moon Landing is fake, Viruses are fake, Buss Aldrin is a worthless nigger, Anthony Fauci is…”

And that’s where the screenshot cuts off, but if I were to make an educated guess, I’d say he called Fauci a worthless nigger since that word appears to be a central feature of his bizarre rant.

A screenshot published by Fox 17 shows that Brennan also tweeted, “I love Jews and Niggers because they are my brothers and sisters.” (Nothing worse than a Kumbaya-ass bigot.)

You already know what his excuse is: It’s not racist because he calls everyone a nigger.

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adminNovember 25, 2020
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Photo: Toni L. Sandys (Getty Images)

Who doesn’t love a little light pettiness?

There is a difference between my 1-year-old daughter throwing my 3-year-old son’s stuffed Mickey Mouse over the banister so that no one can play with it, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin moving $455 billion in unspent stimulus money into a fund that wouldn’t allow incoming President Joe Biden access to it without Congressional approval.

“That amount includes money that Mnuchin is yanking from the Federal Reserve and unused loans for companies. The funds will be deposited into the Treasury’s General Fund, which requires legislative approval to use the money elsewhere. The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” Business Insider reports.

Forget what anyone else tells you: the move is being done specifically to make likely successor Janet Yellen’s job harder. By moving the money into a legislatively controlled fund, Yellen won’t be able to come in and restart the Fed’s lending program. Because Mnuchin is being petty AF, the incoming treasury secretary will only have some $80 billion at her discretion.

“It’s one more enormous risk we are piling onto the winter in the US atop of other risks already there,” Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI, told Business Insider. “We may need that backstop again as cases have now blown through their prior peaks, state and local governments are making cuts, and we’re about to kick off millions of people from unemployment insurance.”

Bharat Ramamurti, a Democratic member of a congressional panel overseeing the funds, noted that there may be hope in spite of all the pettiness.

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“This is Treasury’s latest ham-handed effort to undermine the Biden Administration,” he wrote on Twitter. “The good news is that it’s illegal and can be reversed next year.”

Let’s hope so because the Trump administration is treating America the same way I did at the now-defunct Greenbelt Middle School, in which I literally went down the halls destroying lockers and shit, because fuck that school.

The big difference is I was 13 and no one died as a result of my actions. The Trump administration can’t say the same thin

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adminNovember 25, 2020
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Cheo Hodari Coker, left, attends the 2018 The Root 100 gala on November 8, 2018; James Lassiter attends the “Lakeview Terrace” premiere on September 15, 2008; Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020.Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images (Getty Images), Bryan Bedder/Getty Images (Getty Images), Erik Voake/Getty Images for Roc Nation (Getty Images)

Luke Cage creator Cheo Hodari Coker is set to write the film adaptation script for Forty Acres, based on the novel of the same name by Dwayne Alexander Smith. The film is in early development at Netflix and will be produced by James Lassiter, Jay-Z, Aaron Kaplan (Kapital Entertainment), Niles Kirchner and Bill Strauss. Dana Honor (Kapital) will executive produce with Mike Epps and Smith.

Here’s the synopsis scoop via Deadline:

Forty Acres follows a civil rights attorney who must fight for survival when he’s invited to join an elite Black organization with a mind-blowing secret; the thriller is described as being a cross between The Firm and Get Out.

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For those unfamiliar with the novel, the attorney is Martin Grey and the “mind-blowing secret” is a switcheroo on white supremacy. From the novel’s page on publisher Simon & Schuster’s (the novel’s publisher Atria Books is a division of Simon & Schuster) website:

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the Black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

Wow.

“A thriller in a class by itself—brilliant and scary!” New York Times bestselling novelist Terry McMillan said about the book.

Lassiter and Jay-Z are also teaming up to produce the recently announced all-Black western, The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, Lakeith Stanfield and pretty much every acclaimed Black actor in existence, which is pretty damn dope, especially in that genre.

In addition to creating (as well as show-running and executive producing) Luke Cage, Coker inked an overall deal with Amazon Studios in 2018. As for further upcoming projects, the NAACP Image Award winner (Southland) is currently writing Diary of a Trap God, which is based on Gucci Mane’s autobiography of the same name. Coker is also writing the sequel to Four Brothers, which premiered in 2005.

“Happy to finally report…” Smith,

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adminNovember 25, 2020
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Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

In what can only be described as a vaudevillian act of racist proportions, President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the dumber to the president’s dumb, are allegedly traveling to Pennsylvania on Wednesday for a meeting about election impropriety that didn’t happen.

According to Bloomberg, Trump’s visit, which was reportedly confirmed by three separate sources, was not on his public schedule, but we all know that Trump is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-elastic-waistband kind of guy. The president is supposed to make an appearance alongside Giuliani, the racist Ethel to the president’s racist Lucy, for his continued wasted effort to try and reverse election results.

For the record, President-elect Joe Biden won the state by more than 80,000 votes, but that hasn’t stopped Trump supporters from claiming all kinds of outlandish shit to try and swing the election in their favor. The argument, or lack thereof, is to claim that observers weren’t allowed to be closer to workers who were counting the ballots.

From Bloomberg:

Still, Mr. Trump has publicly struggled to accept his election loss, only this week agreeing to give Mr. Biden’s team access to government resources as part of the transition process. And he’s sought to appeal to lawmakers in Republican-controlled state governments to refuse to certify results that show him losing to the former vice president.

Last week, he invited Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, to the White House. But they issued a joint statement after their meeting with Mr. Trump saying they had “not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan.”

Those efforts also fell short in Georgia and Nevada. And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, announced Tuesday that his state had certified the results and appointed representatives to the Electoral College.

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All of this is a show at this point, and not even a fun show, just a continued display of whiteness whining about not winning. Basically, it’s just Silver Spoons without Alfonso Ribeiro and way more hair dye.

Wednesday’s event will have opening statements and even witnesses who will claim election fraud! And if that doesn’t float your boat, Giuliani is going to say something. It will probably be lies but after his face-melting, brown liquid fiasco, Giuliani has become must-see TV.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to have a full vetting of election irregularities and fraud,” Giuliani said in a statement, Bloomberg reports. “And the only way to do this is with public hearings, complete with witnesses, videos, pictures and other evidence of illegalities from the November 3rd election.”

Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano told Bloomberg that he requested the public hearing because voters in his state “lost faith in the electoral system.”

“Over the past few weeks,

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adminNovember 25, 2020
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Amber Riley performs onstage during the 2019 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon on February 21, 2019.Photo: Rich Polk for ESSENCE (Getty Images)

In a Deadline exclusive, NBC announced the development of its new musical comedy, Dream. Former Glee star Amber Riley is set to headline as well as executive produce. The music-driven series comes from Black-ish writer-producer Lisa Muse Bryant and will also be produced by Neil Meron (who previously worked with Riley on The Wiz! Live in 2015.) Riley posted the good news in an Instagram post saying:

ANNOUNCEMENT 🔊Headliner and Co Executive Producer of “DREAM”. Let your hard work speak for itself. Jeremiah 29:11. #winningseason LET’S DO THIS TEAM @lisamusebryant @neilmeron. I remember when they told me my career was over after Glee. They were right. Career ended, but my dreams began. Don’t let anyone else write your story. Take that BIG GIRL ENERGY and fight for your happily ever after. Win y’all! WIN!

The single-camera comedy follows former teen mom Dream Morgan (Riley), who turns her life upside down in pursuit of her dream to become a singer after her son graduates college. While there’s no word yet on a potential air date for Dream, there is no doubt Riley will be more than occupied planning a dream date of her own. The musical star recently announced her engagement to boyfriend DeSean Black with a fire-ass photo on Insta—and honestly, they couldn’t be any cuter.

“There was a time when I thought I didn’t want or deserve this kind of love. I’m looking at a man who changed my mind,” Riley lovingly expressed. “My time by myself, loving on myself, getting comfortable with myself, prepared me for you, and prepared me for this. I am so proud to say, I am the future Mrs. Black. I love you @deseanblack_official and I thank you for your patience, your friendship, and your partnership! “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” #HappilyEngaged #Engaged #BlackLove.

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Whew, I’m not crying—you are.

While we await more details on Dream, Amber Riley’s new self-titled debut EP Riley is avail

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