Lighting a Continent the World Views as Dark

 solar power, photo by louise falcon

solar power, photo by louise falcon

“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven give light upon the earth: and it was so.” ~ Genesis 1:15 KJV

Location: USA Conquest Space Station Time: Unknown Year: 2050

Mae finishes the day’s responsibilities at the worktable. Opened books and magazines lie around her makeshift office. One magazine, The Economist, sits open on the article, “The Dark Continent,” with a satellite photograph of Africa at night. She glances at the magazine and remembers the last holiday spent with her family in California. They were watching the news in the living room. The quirky news anchor provides an update on Akon’s Solar Academy. She remembers the scene because her father cracks a joke:

“They can shine a million lights on that continent and those people will still be Black as coal.”

Her family interjects with laughter while her father changes the channel to Storage Wars.

Mae smiles at the memory, wishing that she spend time with her family on the next holiday. However, the current mission forces her to work in the space station until all assignments are completed. Thus, to occupy her time, she leisurely reads and rereads old magazines and books until she can repeat every story verbatim.

When the space station team gathers for Sunday dinners, she entertains them by retelling the stories with funky hand gestures and silly voices. She looks at The Economist again, except this time; she stares at the satellite picture. Something about the image sparks her interest. Several years ago she watched that news special, but she wonders if the continent looks any different. Alvin, a space station team member, works with satellite imaging so perhaps he possesses recent pictures of the mysterious continent.

With nothing else to do for the rest of the day, she travels to Alvin’s workstation to ask for the images.

“Hey Alvin”

“Hello Mae. How can I help you?”

“Have you done any recent satellite imaging on Africa?”

“Yes I have. I actually just completed a project for the Solar Academy.”

“Really? What progress have they made?”

“Well-“

“Hey Alvin! Can you come here for a sec?”

“Yes sir! I am coming now,” responds Alvin, and then he turns back to Mae, “I am uploading the images as well as the information about the company including history, progress, and goals. Please take your time.”

Alvin leaves to help their colleague then Mae sits in his seat to examine the documents. She instantly notices that the satellite image of Africa differs from the image in the magazine. Hundreds and hundreds of white dots spread across the continent, indicating the lights. Mae clicks through the documents then pauses on an article with pictures of people. The article describes the family life within the communities near the Solar Academy. When she studies the accompanying pictures, to her surprise, she sees neither the stereotypical faces of joy nor sadness found in her magazines. She rather sees normal people posing for a picture like her family on a regular sunny day. She sees their homes in the background with children toys and cars and lawns. They look different, but normal. Until that point, Mae never knew anything about Africa. Her knowledge about the continent remained in the dark, yet the lights on the satellite images show her that the continent was never in the dark. Instead, she was.

Poet & Literary Critic: @Chrycka_Harper

Beloved Actor Robin Williams, 63, Kills Himself

 Robin Williams (1951 - 2014), Photo by Jay Paul

Robin Williams (1951 - 2014), Photo by Jay Paul

TIBURON, California -- Robin Williams, stand-up comedian and star of movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting was declared dead at his residence on August 11 at 12:02 pm. Fans were shocked to learn that the man who caused so much laughter was suspected of taking his own life.

However, it's true that while Williams shared many laughs on-screen, his off-screen life was often marred by difficulties. In his 20s he was addicted to Cocaine, though he quit after the birth of his son and the death of his longtime friend and cocaine addict John Belushi died.

He also admitted to being an alcoholic and recovered to enjoy 20 years of sobriety -- until he succumbed to the disease once more in 2003. After three years of alcohol abuse and depression, a family intervention lead him to seek help. It's believed that the drinking was a main factor that lead to the divorce of his second wife. Throughout the remainder of his life, he would actively and sometimes with limited success continue to fight his demons, attending AA meetings regularly and, in 2014, checking into an addiction treatment center.

Despite his personal shortcomings, Williams found ways to leave the world better than he found it. He participated in many charities and even created one (the Windfall Foundation). His generosity was aimed most at children, and he donated to charities such as Children's Promise, which is a fundraiser for children's hospitals and other children's aid organizations, Smile Train, which helps raise money to fix cleft palettes, St. Jude's Research Hospital and UNICEF. In addition, he also donated to the Red Cross to help after the 2010 Canterbury earthquake in New Zealand and he frequently performed in Iraq and Afghanistan for US troops. Overall, he donated to almost 40 charities throughout his lifetime, often using proceeds earned directly from his comedy shows to benefit children, animals, the environment and worldwide healthcare.

In almost all aspects of his life, be it charity work, private shortcomings or to cheer a grieving friend, Williams used laughter as a healing mechanism. It's speculated that he may have had ADD, which he worked to his advantage in his spontaneous and erratic style of comedy. He also once admitted that he was never naturally one of the "cool kids" in grade school and used his funny antics as a means to make friends and fit in. The late Christopher Reeve, lifelong friend and fellow actor, once recalled that after Reeve was rendered a quadriplegic from a horse riding accident, it was Williams who made him laugh again. In the end, depression overtook Williams, but throughout his life he was the cause of much joy.

In honor of his memory, remember his humor and his good spirit. Watch his movies and laugh, and cry. He was more than his own personal failings, more than his untimely and unprecedented death. He was Mrs. Doubtfire, and Patch Adams and Genie from Aladdin. He was a father, a husband, a philanthropist and a role model to many.

Kim Jong-un Promises War

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HOLLYWOOD, California -- Could James Franco and Seth Rogen start a war? Until yesterday, that notion seemed absurd. But now, Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has promised 'merciless' retribution if Columbia Pictures releases the film The Interview, which stars both Franco and Rogen.

In a nutshell, The Interview is a comedy in which the two superstar's characters team up in order to assassinate Kim Jong-un. After realizing that the press are given unparalleled access to international dignitaries during media ops and conferences, the two plan to murder the North Korean leader during an interview. Admittedly, the nature of the movie is combative, and should be expected to draw criticism, especially from the real-life man who is caricatured and assassinated in the film.

But, is the movie an "act of war," as Kim Jong-un alleges? Few think so. But for years, North Korea has inflated their international ego with empty [yet still terrifying] threats. In March 2013, Kim Jong-un warned that he would attack parts of South Korea using nuclear weaponry which he did not yet possess. Since then, Kim Jong-un has proudly planned nuclear attacks on Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Obviously, the film is controversial, even to many who do not sympathize with Kim Jong-un or his agenda. To me, The Interview is a more inflammatory version of Team America World Police, which featured marionette characters, including a crew of American special forces who penetrate North Korea in order to foil Kim Jong-il's fictitious attacks against America. A main difference between The Interview and its predecessor are that the new movie stars a Kim Jong-un lookalike, which is more provocative than a war between puppets. And also, the fictional plot in Team America is actually true-to-life today, where Kim Jong-un promises war against those who oppose or disrespect him, even Hollywood creatives.

Essentially, Kim Jong-un is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Columbia Pictures, which is almost certainly a lose-lose proposition for North Korea. Either Kim Jong-un engages the United States government in so-called catastrophic attacks, or Kim Jong-un will publicly undermine his brawny remarks with failure to follow through. Inaction, following such severe threats, will certainly show the limitations of Kim Jong-un, no matter his Herculean confidence. Both outcomes will augment doubts about Kim Jong-un's executive rationale and international image.

While I understand how the movie can be incendiary to a North Korea audience, I feel that making a movie, a piece of art, about assassinating a world leader is far less offensive than a national government guaranteeing nuclear warfare against the people of the world. Kim Jong-un has little room with which to point fingers, especially in terms of needless threats against oppositional nations.

It is unlikely that Columbia Pictures will withhold the release of The Interview. After all, the First Amendment protects free speech and those who practice it. But as human beings, I believe we should be promoting love and peace more than division and homicide, especially in the art we produce.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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Pantheon of Bad Behavior- DMX vs George Zimmerman

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:15 a.m. DST, 9 February 2014

George Zimmerman, Racist Vigilante, Image by Donkey Hotey

Time is constantly changing. Fashion trends die down and recreate themselves, electronics get more and more sophisticated, and murderers become celebrities! And yes, you read that right; murderers become celebrities.

Rumors have been circulating, and confirmed, that George Zimmerman has been considered for the Celebrity Boxing match, by promoter, Damon Feldman. According to the Huffington Post, “Zimmerman wants to get in the boxing ring with celebrity rapper, Kanye West because of the rapper’s alleged altercations with ‘defenseless people’”; and by defenseless people, Zimmerman is referring to the paparazzi and a “fan” that screamed the n-word at Kim Kardashian, West’s finacee. Note, the “defenseless people” chose to partake in their actions. If those are Zimmerman’s examples of defenseless people, Kanye can be labeled the same. Although it has been stated that it has been confirmed Zimmerman would like to participate in the celebrity showdown, these accusations have to make you wonder if this is true or not.

On the day of Trayvon Martin’s birthday, February 5, 2014, poet, author, and activist, Olivia A. Cole, posted “10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Watch the George Zimmerman Boxing Match”. In a nut shell, Cole’s reasons included:

1. Viewers would be financially supporting Zimmerman, “the man who murdered Trayvon Martin”.

2.  Viewers would be guaranteed to see Zimmerman’s face “until the end of time”; stating he would get another boxing match deal post the fight with Kanye West, creating exposure and leading to a reality show.

3.  Repeats reason number one.

4.  The celebrity match would be promoted by a man that was charged with “fixing celebrity boxing matches and promoting without a license”

5.  Repeats reason number one and three.

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Published: 9 February 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

6.  The boxing match will change nothing and bring no justice.

7.   Repeats reason numbers one, three, and five.

8.  By watching, viewers will be agreeing that a murderer is a celebrity, meaning he has done something worth celebrating

9.  Repeats reasons number one, three, five, and seven.

10. Speaks only for itself: “And ten. This is the most important point. By watching this boxing match, by giving in to the notion that George Zimmerman is indeed a celebrity, you are accepting the subtle message that what Zimmerman did does deserve to be celebrated. By resting your eyes on the program for one moment, you are accepting that black boys who are murdered before their 18th birthdays don’t deserve justice at all, that their murderers should be allowed to profit from their crimes. By allowing George Zimmerman onto your television screen, you are contributing to a world in which the death of a black boy is one soulless scene in a shiny reality show; one meaningless event on a path to fame and fortune.”

Cole closes out her post pleading with her readers to not watch this boxing match. She explains how viewers will be glorifying a man that got away with murder, and her greatest wishes were for him to be alone in this world while Trayvon Martin is in his grave.

It is shameful that George Zimmerman, the man who was found innocent in the most controversial trial of 2013, murdering 17-year old Trayvon Martin, whom was only armed with a bag of Skittles candy and Arizona Iced Tea, would even be considered for anything within the public’s eye.

According to The Huffington Post, Damon Feldman stated, “All these rappers out here saying that they want to fight [Zimmerman]… So we’ll see who comes on board”; As if the trial was a game for Zimmerman, and he now can have fun with the outcome. How fun will it be to get in the ring with the murderer of a teen? How can the judicial system even allow such a high profile client to do something this public and drastic? There are so many questions that come to mind when reading such an article and finding out there is even a possibility Zimmerman could hold the title of a celebrity.

However, it appears that Americans have not lost all sense of decorum, and as of seven hours ago, BET and The Huffington Post among other news outlets have reported the the boxing match scheduled between DMX and Zimmerman has been cancelled following an anemic apology by Feldman in which he caveats his decision by stating  "though it meant a lot of money for me, people's feelings meant more to me." Usually the first thing out of person's mouth is a true barometer of their innermost thoughts, and thus we can deduce that Travyon Martin and his family was less important to him than the money he was losing by having the cancel the match.

Check out "10 Reasons You Shouldn't Watch the George Zimmerman Boxing Match" by Olivia A. Cole

Return to Page 1 »

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe

Bieber vs. Sherman | Misadventures of Race in American Media

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 19:09 p.m. DST, 26 January 2014

Cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, taken Houston Texans 2013, Photo by Bill Hunter

MIAMI, Florida - Thursday morning, globally recognized teen pop star, Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami, Florida, stated CNN. According to police reports, Beiber was charged with driving under the influence, drag racing, and resisting arrest. Since the arrest, the media has labeled Bieber as a “misguided” teen.

Last week after a football game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, the media threw out mixed feelings regarding statements made between Seahawks' cornerback, Richard Sherman and 49ers' receiver, Michael Crabtree.

According to reports, Sherman successfully completed the “play of the season.” Sherman tipped off a pass intended for Crabtree, allowing his team mate to intercept the ball, and sending the Seahawks to this year’s Super Bowl. After being overjoyed from the play, Sherman attempts to shake Crabtree’s hand, but Crabtree pushes him away by his face mask. Whether Sherman was being sincere or passive aggressive is up to the viewer, however, it doesn’t stop there.

During an interview after the game, Sherman stated “I’m the best cornerback in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you going to get,” says ESPN.

Only days later, Bieber was arrested for his reckless behavior in Miami. Reports read that Bieber was simply a misguided teen, but when it came to Sherman, he was labeled a “thug.” Facts show Sherman, who is an All-Pro cornerback, graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA. He has no criminal record, but simply called himself the best at what he does professionally.

Bieber is an international pop star, who did not graduate from high school. He has been caught in malicious acts and is constantly in the news. Bieber was arrested for a DUI, despite the fact that he is not of legal drinking age, plus he resisted arrest.

Society wants to throw out modern racism, but when situations like these surface, we are still able to see where it exists. Sherman, who is African-American did not deserve to be called a thug. It tarnished his professionalism, and diminished him as a man and an athlete. Although, Bieber's treatment by the media hasn't been positive either, being labeled as a “misguided kid” leaves room for improvement and does not alter the perception of the public that he was just being 'mischievous' versus criminal.

By contrast, Sherman, who has not perpetrated any crime, and was simply participating in his profession and leading his team to the Super Bowl, is labeled a thug. Most thugs typically have some criminal record. Sherman does not have a criminal record, but Bieber does. Most thugs also neglect to finish school, which Bieber has also done. The labels accorded by the media to these two are misleading, and thus illustrate the further misadventures of race in American media.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe

Anti-Gay, Racist, Duck Dynasty Patriarch

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 23:41 p.m. DST, 21 December 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Photo Courtesy of Best Movies Ever News

LOUISIANA, United States - Controversy began to stir this week when “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks during a GQ interview. Another statement has been released from the controversial interview; this time, the star addresses the black community during the pre-civil rights era.

On the show, Phil Robertson, 67, is portrayed as the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch. Over the years he’s beat substance abuse, devoted his like the God, and has become a small-screen celebrity from the backwoods of Louisiana.

During a GQ interview with Drew Magary, the star stated “…the pre-civil rights era was not bad for black people”.

GQ quoted Robertson, stating “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them.

I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field… They’re singing happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say ‘I’ll tell you what: These doggone white people’- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

According to Robertson, the African-American’s he witnessed before the civil rights movements of the 1950’s appeared happier than they do today. The Huffington Post states, “Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African-Americans in the South but upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation”. During this time, the Southern states were known for segregation and the many forms of oppression, which often included “race-inspired violence”, according to History.com notes.

Concern over Robertson’s remarks has been brought to A&E, the broadcast channel for “Duck Dynasty”. The Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP collaborated in a letter sent to the president of A&E:

“We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African-Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] -- it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.”

During the GQ interview, Robertson referred to homosexuality as a sin and continued to speak about the sexuality right in a negative light. After making headlines, A&E announced Robertson would be suspended from the show indefinitely. According to the Huffington Post, “The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network”.

Although times were very different during the pre-civil rights era, it is hard to believe Robertson thought blacks were happy, and he never witnessed the mistreatment of an African-American, whether verbal or physical. Louisiana, a Southern state known for many violent act during this time, still faces race issues today; even hosting several active Ku Klux Klan groups throughout the state of Alabama.

Broadcast stations are constantly faced with the embarrassment of their stars speaking out about their offensive experiences with African-Americans. Paula Deen, southern celebrity chef, was booted from the Food Network earlier this year, due to her use of the “N” word. CBS fired Don Imus, host of Imus in the Morning, in 2007, for his racial remarks toward the Rutgers women’s basketball team; calling them “nappy headed hoes”.

Although the Dynasty star was brought up during a time where homosexuality was not accepted, especial living in the South, it is imperative for these networks to make it clear to the small-screen stars, that these types of situations and statements are unaccepted and intolerable.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe