Monday, April 25, 2016

AFRICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline To Be Completed By June 2020 - Will Also Benefit Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi And The Democratic Republic of Congo!

Energy and Minerals Professor Sospeter Muhongo briefs reporters on arrival at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam from Kampala, Uganda. Right is
Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Professor Ntalikwa, while left is the general Director of the Tanzania Development Petroleum Corporation, Dr James Mataragio.
Mohamed Mambo/ Daily News

April 25, 2016 - EAST AFRICA
- Construction of the 1,403-kilometre pipeline to transport crude oil from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania is expected to be completed by June 2020, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, announced.

Implementation plan for the US $4 billion dollars (about 8.7 trillion/-) will be up for discussion next Friday in Tanzania where the Ugandan Minister for Energy and Minerals, Ms Irene Muloni, will lead a delegation from Kampala.

"At this meeting, I will host the Ugandan minister and other officials to map up implementation plan for the project. The meeting will also be attended by officials from companies with stake in the discovered oil in Uganda," he explained.

The companies include Total E&P of France, Tullow Oil of United Kingdom as well as China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Prof Muhongo showered praise on President John Magufuli for his efforts, which enabled the country to clinch the deal.

"It will be an honour to complete the construction before June 2020 when President Magufuli will be ending his first term in office. Dr Magufuli formed a superb team to make a follow-up on the matter and this has yielded positive results.

"I am equally grateful to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for choosing Tanga Port," Prof Muhongo told journalists after he landed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) from Kampala.

Last Saturday, Uganda chose the Tanzanian route to export its crude oil amid competition from Kenya which also wanted to clinch the deal to transport oil to yet to be constructed Lamu Port in North-Eastern Kenya.

President Museveni made the decision to construct the pipeline through Tanzania during the 13th Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) summit in Kampala, which was also attended by President Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta of Rwanda and Kenya, respectively.

The envisaged pipeline through Tanzania will be of benefit not only to Uganda and Tanzania but others countries in the region such as Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"It will be cheaper and easier for these countries to use the pipeline compared to any other port in the East Africa Region, the Tanzanian route is cost-effective, reliable and secure," Prof Muhongo remarked.

The envisaged 24-inch conduit to cover 1,403 kilometres is expected to convey 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day for exports. The project is expected to create 15,000 jobs during its execution after which upon completion it will employ about between 1,000 and 2,000 people.

It will pass through Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Tabora and Singida to Tanga. Uganda has so far discovered 6.5 billion barrels of the precious liquid along the Lake Albert basin. The first finding was made by Hardman Resources in 2006 which was later acquired by Tullow Oil.

At present, three companies own 33.3 per cent each of the oil fields and they include Total E&P, Tullow Oil and CNOOC.

The companies plan to construct an oil refinery to process 60,000 barrels per day to cater for demand of petroleum products in East Africa while between 200,000 and 600,000 barrels will be transported in crude form through the pipelines for exports outside the EAC.

- Tanzania Daily News.

AFRICAN TRADE: South African And Iran Strike BILLION-DOLLAR Non-Oil Trade Investment - Agreement Will Address Issues Of Job Creation, Skills, And Technology Transfer In Both Countries!

President Jacob Zuma with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. GCIS

- South Africa and Iran have agreed to increase non-oil trade and investment to a billion dollars by 2020.

This emerged on Sunday after talks between President Jacob Zuma and Iran's counterpart President Hassan Rouhani.

President Zuma is in Tehran on a two-day visit.

Speaking during the South Africa-Iran Business Council, President Zuma said the agreement is imperative in diversifying trade baskets in favour of value-added trade.

"This would add much impetus towards addressing issues of job creation as well as skills and technology transfer in both our countries," said President Zuma.

The two countries also signed eight bilateral trade agreements in the fields of trade and industry, energy, mining, agriculture, water resources, and co-operation in intelligence gathering and anti-money laundering initiatives as well as an accompanying roadmap which provides a good departure point for strengthening economic cooperation.

President Zuma also lauded efforts to formalise the establishment of the South Africa-Iran Business Council, saying it would translate into tangible deliverables and would add further impetus towards expanding on the economic ties between the countries respective business communities.

"As we embark on this journey of re-building our trade ties, allow me to reassure you, that South Africa is well positioned to deliver on its commitments as outlined in the various agreements entered into by the different ministries."

President Zuma told the captains of the industry that South Africa has an open economy and provides a sound business case for investment and profit.

"Our country offers a diversified base of industrial sectors and has a large number of competitive industries, abundant natural resources and well-developed transport and logistical infrastructure. Our financial systems are stable and we have a sound constitution and institutional framework to protect property rights."

He encouraged them invest and enjoy robust protection in South Africa.

"Our socio-economic roadmap, the National Development Plan, provides a coherent, comprehensive and pragmatic plan to transform our economy.

"It also provides a plan for faster economic growth that is more inclusive, thereby addressing the triple challenges, of poverty, unemployment and inequality."

President Zuma identified areas of investment that Iranian investors can look into. These include building the agriculture and agro-processing value-chain, unlocking the potential of SMMEs, joint cooperation in energy projects and growing the Ocean Economy.

Another exciting area for partnership is Operation Phakisa, which is a strategy aimed at unlocking the economic growth potential stemming from South Africa's vast ocean coastline.

- SA News.

ELECTRIC BODY: Electric Food For The People Of The Sun - Amazon Tribe Creates 500-Page Remarkable Natural Medicine Encyclopedia!

April 25, 2016 - HEALTH - In one of the great tragedies of our age, indigenous traditions, stories, cultures and knowledge are winking out across the world. Whole languages and mythologies are vanishing, and in some cases even entire indigenous groups are falling into extinction. This is what makes the news that a tribe in the Amazon—the Matsés peoples of Brazil and Peru—have created a 500-page encyclopedia of their traditional medicine all the more remarkable. The encyclopedia, compiled by five shamans with assistance from conservation group Acaté, details every plant used by Matsés medicine to cure a massive variety of ailments.

“The [Matsés Traditional Medicine Encyclopedia] marks the first time shamans of an Amazonian tribe have created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words,” Christopher Herndon, president and co-founder of Acaté, told Mongabay in an interview (in full below).

The Matsés have only printed their encyclopedia in their native language to ensure that the medicinal knowledge is not stolen by corporations or researchers as has happened in the past. Instead, the encyclopedia is meant as a guide for training new, young shamans in the tradition and recording the living shamans’ knowledge before they pass.

Applied traditional medicine of the Matsés. Acaté.

“One of the most renowned elder Matsés healers died before his knowledge could be passed on so the time was now. Acaté and the Matsés leadership decided to prioritize the Encyclopedia before more of the elders were lost and their ancestral knowledge taken with them,” said Herndon.

Acaté has also started a program connecting the remaining Matsés shamans with young students. Through this mentorship program, the indigenous people hope to preserve their way of life as they have for centuries past.

“With the medicinal plant knowledge disappearing fast among most indigenous groups and no one to write it down, the true losers in the end are tragically the indigenous stakeholders themselves,” said Herndon. “The methodology developed by the Matsés and Acaté can be a template for other indigenous cultures to safeguard their ancestral knowledge.”

Why is this encyclopedia important?

Christopher Herndon:
The encyclopedia marks the first time shamans of an Amazonian tribe have created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words. Over the centuries, Amazonian peoples have passed on through oral tradition an accumulated wealth of knowledge and techniques of treatment that are a product of their deep spiritual and physical ties to the natural world. The Matsés live in one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet and have mastered knowledge of the healing properties of its plants and animals. Yet, in a world in which cultural change is destabilizing even the most isolated societies, this knowledge is rapidly disappearing.It is hard to overstate just how quickly this knowledge can be lost after a tribe makes contact with the outside world. Once extinguished, this knowledge, along with the tribe’s self-sufficiency, can never fully be reclaimed. Historically, what has followed the loss of endemic health systems in many indigenous groups is near total dependency on the rudimentary and extremely limited external health care that is available in such remote and difficult-to-access locations. Not surprisingly, in most countries, indigenous groups have the highest rates of mortality and disease.

Looking over the new encyclopedia. Acaté.

The initiative is important from the Matsés perspective because loss of culture and poor health care are among their greatest concerns. The methodology they pioneered to successfully protect and safeguard their own knowledge can serve as a replicable model for other indigenous communities facing similar cultural erosion. For the broader conservation movement, we know that there is a strong correlation between intact ecosystems and regions of indigenous inhabitation, making strengthening of indigenous culture one of the most effective ways to protect large areas of rainforest.

Why is now the time to record this information?

Christopher Herndon:
The Matsés knowledge and the accumulated wisdom of generations stood on the very precipice of extinction. Fortunately, there remained a few elder Matsés who still held the ancestral knowledge as sustained contact with the outside world only occurred within the past half century. The healers were adults at the time of initial contact and had already mastered their skills before being told they were useless by missionaries and government workers. At the time we started the project, none of the elder shamans had younger Matsés interested in learning from them.One of the most renowned elder Matsés healers died before his knowledge could be passed on so the time was now. Acaté and the Matsés leadership decided to prioritize the Encyclopedia before more of the elders were lost and their ancestral knowledge taken with them. The project was not about saving a traditional dance or costume, it was about their health and that of future generations of Matsés. The stakes could not be higher.

Matsés village. Acaté.

One of the earliest interpretations for the term shaman is “one who heals the sick and honors the forest.” In addition to their obligations as tribal healers and the keepers of the ancient ways, the shaman also leads the conservation effort in their tribe or community. They take responsibility for the protection of the forest, the ecosystem that supports the sacred plants.

What is the encyclopedia like?

Christopher Herndon:
After two years of intense work by the Matsés, the Encyclopedia now includes chapters by five Matsés master healers and is over 500 pages long! Each entry is categorized by disease name, with explanation of how to recognize it by symptoms; its cause; which plants to use; how to prepare the medicine and alternative therapeutic options. A photograph taken by the Matsés of each plant accompanies each entry in the encyclopedia.

The Encyclopedia is written by and from the worldview of the Matsés shaman, describing how rainforest animals are involved in the natural history of the plants and connected with diseases. It is a true shamanic encyclopedia, fully written and edited by indigenous shamans, the first to our knowledge of its kind and scope.

- CLN.

ANCESTRAL RETURN: King Of Rhumba Rock - Congolese Musician Papa Wemba Transcends To The Spirit Realm At Age 66; He Collapsed On Stage While Performing In Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Was One Of Africa's Most Popular Musician And A Leading Figure In The World Music Scene!

Known as the King of Rhumba Rock Wemba rose to fame in his twenties and went on to gain global and Francophone attention. Getty Images

April 25, 2016 - IVORY COAST
- Congolese singer Papa Wemba has died after collapsing on stage in Abidjan in Ivory Coast.

He was one of Africa's most popular musicians and a leading figure in the World Music scene.
A video from the concert shows the musician slumped on the floor while the dancers carry on performing unaware of what is going on.

Wemba, whose real name is Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, was pronounced dead on stage after singing his third song, according to reports in Congolese publication Radio Okapi. The cause of death is currently unknown.

WATCH: Music star Papa Wemba dies.

The globally prestigous musician was performing at Festival Des Musiques Urbaines D’Anoumabo. 

The Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay has expressed sadness at the news, calling it a “great loss for the country and all of  Africa ”.

Known as the King of Rhumba Rock, Wemba begun his musicial career in religious choirs and rose to fame in his twenties. Popularising Congolese rumba music, he went on to gain global and Francophone recognition. In the course of his six-decade long career, Wemba toured with Stevie Wonder and earned a gold disc for a collaboration with Peter Gabriel.

WATCH: Richard Nwamba comments on Papa Wemba's death.

Famed for his flamboyant dress sense, the style icon inspired an entire subculture of young, fashionable Central Africans known as

In 2004, Wemba was arrested at his home in Paris for taking part in an illegal immigration racket known as the "Nglulu phenomenon" whereby people fleeing war-ravaged Congo paid to be concealed among African bands. He winded up being convicted for his involvement and spent three and a half months in prison. Wemba later claimed to have experienced a spiritual conversion in prison, with the song 'Numéro d'écrou' on his 2003 Somo Trop album recounting the day God paid a visit to his prison cell.

WATCH: The songs of Papa Wemba.

He reflected on his experience of prison in an interview with The Independent after he was convicted. “I was shocked. I never expected to go to prison. But I went, and I told myself, 'come what may', and I was fine". - Independent.

EUROPEAN RACISM: Cleveland Must Pay $6 Million To Family Of Tamir Rice, 12 Year-Old Fatally Shot By Police - Settlement Agreement!

Ken Blaze / Reuters

April 25, 2016 - OHIO, UNITED STATES
- The city of Cleveland, Ohio will pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police in 2014, based on a settlement agreement that allows the city to avoid a high-profile federal civil rights trial.

The agreement, which must still be approved by a probate court, was announced early Monday. The city of Cleveland does not admit any wrongdoing based on the terms of the settlement, according to reports.

Last year, a Cuyahoga County grand jury decided against indicting Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired at Rice on November 22, 2014, outside a city recreation center.

A 911 call to police had reported a male holding a gun that was "probably fake." Rice had an Airsoft replica that lacked an orange safety feature that would have indicated it was not real.

Tamir Rice. Family Photo via Richardson & Kucharski co. LPA / AFP

Loehmann shot Rice almost immediately after exiting his squad car, claiming Rice had reached for his waistband.

Rice, shot once in the torso, was not offered first aid by the officers and died the following day.

Lawyers for Rice's family said Monday that "no amount of money can adequately compensate" for the boy's absence.

“In a situation like this, there’s no such thing as closure or justice,” attorneys Jonathan S. Abady and Earl S. Ward in a said statement, according to the New York Times.

“Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled.” 

- RT.

ANCESTRAL RETURN: R&B Pioneer - Grammy Award-Winning Soul Singer Billy Paul Transcends To The Spirit Realm At Age 81; Best Known For The Romantic Classic "Me And Mrs Jones"!

Billy Paul - An icon of his hometown's 'Philly Soul' sound

April 25, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Billy Paul, the soul and R&B singer best known for romantic classic Me and Mrs Jones, has died at his home in the US state of New Jersey. He was 81.

The Grammy winner's passing was announced in a statement on his website.

"We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today [Sunday] at home after a serious medical condition," the statement read.

"We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneer today's R&B music. Billy will be truly missed."

WATCH: Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones.

Paul's manager Beverly Gay told TV station NBC10 in Philadelphia that the singer had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalised last week.

Born Paul Williams in Philadelphia on December 1 1934, Paul was an icon of his hometown's 'Philly Soul' sound and legendary label Philadelphia International Records (PIR).

His music career began at the age of 11 when he appeared on local radio station WPEN and he went on to share bills with such greats as Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr, Roberta Flack, Charlie Parker and Nina Simone. During his military service he was stationed in Germany with Elvis Presley.

Fans and friends have been paying tribute on social media:

Having worked with the Philly Sound's trailblazing producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff on their two previous record labels, Paul was the duo's first signing to Philadelphia International Records. They went on to enjoy huge success with the 1972 album 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, which gave them the number one hit Me and Mrs Jones. The following year, Paul won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for the song.

Follow-up single Am I Black Enough for You?'s political lyrics proved controversial and the track did not have the same commercial impact as Me and Mrs Jones. While Am I Black Enough for You? was released as a single against Paul's wishes, in later years he described the song as being "ahead of its time".

WATCH: Billy Paul - Am I Black Enough For You.

In total, Paul released 15 albums. While he never equalled the success of Me and Mrs Jones, his reputation as an innovator grew over the decades.

In a fitting tribute during Paul's life, drummer Questlove of legendary Philadelphia outfit The Roots described him as "one of the criminally unmentioned proprietors of socially conscious post-revolution '60s civil rights music".

- RTE.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

AFRICAN RENAISSANCE: The Next Economic Miracle - Africa Offers Opportunities Beyond Land, Labour And Commodities!

April 24, 2016 - AFRICA - If the mass media is to be believed, Africa is hardly a continent brimming with opportunities for business. But for some time international business commentators have been positioning the continent as the next market with significant potential. It is now often described as being ready to take on the mantle of Asia where growth is slowing, markets are becoming crowded and internal competition is becoming more severe.

China has anticipated this potential by making extensive investments in Africa. Between 2003 and 2011, its total investments have increased thirty fold, from US$491 million to $15 billion.

Africa’s traditional trading partners from Europe, the UK and France have been left behind. China is the top bi-lateral trading partner with trade volume exceeding $166 billion.

This confirms that Africa’s new demographics have plenty to offer:
  • the continent accounts for about 40% of global reserves of natural resources;
  • 60% of uncultivated agricultural land;
  • a billion people with rising purchasing power; and
  • a huge labour force.

In addition, Africa is home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and the youngest population. And taken collectively, these economies have a bigger middle class than India.

Flying Doctors Nigeria – Ola Orekunrin had a budding career in the UK but gave it all up to return to her family’s roots in Nigeria. Following the tragic and preventable
death of her 12-year-old sister, the young doctor founded Flying Doctors Nigeria, the first medical air service in West Africa.

Many of its most rapidly expanding nations do not rely on natural resources, with nearly two-thirds of growth last year coming from strong consumer spending. And almost half its citizens now live in cities.

Countries are losing out on the new “Scramble for Africa”. This time the scramble is for trade.

Opportunities in Africa
The continent offers opportunities beyond natural resources, land and labour power. We do not have to dig too deep to see that there are a lot of “fast expanding markets” and pockets of excellence within the continent.

One such opportunity comes from the retail sector. According to a recent report, several countries represent a vast market space for retail.

In Gabon, for example, the report suggests that with a GDP per capita of $21,600, the country’s newly formed middle class offers significant opportunities to foreign companies, particularly as the domestic retail sector is highly fragmented. Smaller nations such as Botswana and Angola are also offering more and more opportunities.

Champagne being served in a bar on McCarthy Street in Lagos. Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

This story also pans out on a larger scale. Nigeria, with its population of 178 million, has a somewhat underdeveloped retail sector. According to the report, modern supermarkets made up only 1% of all shopping expenditure as the market remains dominated by informal shops and convenience stores.

Another source of opportunity for foreign businesses comes from the way that cultures and habits are changing. The exceptional economic growth of Nigeria, for example, has allowed for greater consumption, especially for status symbols and products that symbolise “tickets to middle class membership”.

From our own research, one of the products that has substantial growth, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, is champagne imported directly from France. Expenditure grew at an average of 26% between 2007 and 2012. A recent slowdown still leaves significant growth, forecast at 12% a year to 2017.

An important point here is that luxury food and drinks products are emblematic of an important cultural shift towards a more sophisticated kind of consumption.

Understanding local markets is key
In a recent speech, the CEO of a leading communications agency pointed out that Nigerians, especially the wealthy, do not only shop for themselves. They also shop for others in their families as a way to display their reflected status. As the country becomes more affluent, we can expect more and more expensive high-end products coming into the market to please an expanding and increasingly demanding middle class.

For many years, Apple viewed Nigeria as too poor to be an attractive market. This opened the way for Samsung to become the mobile telephony leader in Nigeria.

How did the South Korean company do it? It realised that even though the country is relatively poor — with GDP per capita of only $3,000 - members within a family can easily collect funds from others. In this way, even cash-strapped teenagers can quickly accumulate enough from richer relatives to buy expensive mobile phones. The result: some 70% of high-end mobile devices are sold to people in lower income households.

The Lucozade story is also instructive. It became the leader of the Nigerian drinks market by understanding when and where it would be needed and appreciated by people. Having its chilled energy drinks sold at the roadside increased its popularity among professionals who were often spending long hours in traffic jams. The drink became associated with providing refreshing moments.

These observations may be anecdotal, but they demonstrate an important point: it would be unwise to ignore African markets based on economic statistics alone. The key is to try to understand particular markets, often working with local specialists.

A third source of opportunity is that African countries can also be sources of innovation. One of the most well-known and successful innovations is M-PESA.

Started in 2007 by Kenya’s largest mobile-network operator, M-PESA enables people to transfer money between each other using their mobile phones. They can also use their mobiles to withdraw cash at corner shops.

The scheme has become extremely popular due to the high costs of sending money and also because it offers a safe way to store money. Interestingly, the benefits go beyond mere convenience. A study found that rural Kenyan household income has risen by 5%-30% as a result of adopting M-PESA.

It is also claimed a range of start-ups have been founded in Nairobi on the back of M-PESA’s operations.

As cultural and dynamic aspects of consumers are so different in Africa, it is very likely that we will see more innovations emerging from this part of the world.

So, while it has been easy to dismiss Africa in the past as a place that is, at best, a provider of basic commodities, land and labour, a closer look reveals that it is not hard to see that opportunities are aplenty and just waiting to be tapped into. - The Conversation.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE AGE OF OBAMA, PARADIGM SHIFT, THE RISE OF THE MOORS AND THE END OF THE RECESSIVE TIMELINE: The Precursors To The End Of The White Supremacy Paradigm - Racially Diverse "NEW NON-WHITE MAJORITY" Set To Reshape United States Public Schools!

For the first time, classrooms in public schools are filled mostly by nonwhite students. The concerns of minority parents could change American schools
and education policies. Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/FILE

April 24, 2016 - UNITED STATES - America’s public schools are a snapshot of a changing America: Since 2014, for the first time in the country’s history, a majority of those in public schools have been students of color.

That’s more than just a statistic. The rise of this “new majority” promises to have sweeping effects on American schools over time. The voices and interests of these students and their parents will need to be better woven into the decisionmaking that affects United States classrooms, many education experts say.

What’s their emerging message? In part it’s in keeping with the age-old desires of families everywhere: a good education in safe schools. But it’s also a call for greater equity in school quality – a longstanding sore spot in America’s education system that’s growing harder to ignore. And for some in this new majority, the definition of a good education includes shaping lessons that truly embrace diversity.Consider just this one finding from a new poll of black and Latino parents: The sense of racial bias was so strong for some parents that a quarter of Latinos and a third of African-Americans agreed with the statement, “Schools in the US are not really trying to educate Black/Latino students.”The poll focused on education, and that one finding suggests that, despite years of education reforms, states have a long way to go to succeed in the dawning new-majority era. One of the places to start, judging by responses in the poll, is figuring out how to better fund schools in communities that don’t have the tax base of middle-class suburbia.

“The quality is not the same due to less funding,” a Latino parent said of schools serving primarily students of color, during a Chicago focus group tied to the poll. The parent said the money gap means “less teachers, less technology available … and less overall academic opportunities.”

And opportunity is the goal for these new-majority parents. Judging by the poll and focus-group responses, they want their kids held to rigorous standards and expectations, and they’re ready to do their part to prod their children forward. They just want schools to be up to the task at hand.

“Will states and school districts rise to the occasion and build a K-12 public education system designed to address the educational needs of students of color? Or will they shirk their duty … and condemn a majority of public school students to a future with little to no promise?” asks Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in a report on the poll results.

What parents see

Mr. Henderson’s group is the research and education arm of a large civil rights coalition, and sponsored the new poll for a report titled, “New Education Majority: Attitudes and Aspirations of Parents and Families of Color.” The survey included 400 black and 400 Latino parents and guardians of school-age children, interviewed by phone in March by the polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research (ALG).

More than three-quarters in the poll said schools in low-income communities – often those with many African-American or Latino residents – receive less funding than schools in wealthy communities. Parents who believed there are racial disparities in the quality of education attributed it primarily to this lack of funding. The next two factors they pointed to: lower teacher quality and overall racial bias.

“I’ve seen it so many times before. They don’t offer to black schools what they offer to white schools,” an African-American parent told a focus group in Philadelphia.

In all, 6 in 10 Latinos and 8 in 10 African-Americans in the survey said schools serving their group receive less than schools in white communities.

The vast majority also believed students should be challenged more and that low-income students should be held to the same or higher expectations, because of the importance of education as a path out of poverty or limited opportunities.

The call for better schools and greater equity comes at an important moment in national education policy. States are working to refine their school accountability systems within the parameters of the new federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law replaced the law known as “No Child Left Behind,” giving states greater flexibility in how to ensure strong schools.

As is often the case with polls of parents, more than 8 out of 10 said the school their children attend is good or excellent. But even within this question, the backdrop of racial equity lurked. Among African-Americans whose child attended a school that is mostly white, 94 percent rated the school highly, compared with 75 percent of those whose school was mostly black.

When asked an open-ended question about what factor is most important to make a great school, half cited good teachers.

Considering new priorities

The poll results may help broaden education policy agendas. In the dominant narrative around education reform, “a lot of the debates that we hear about … just don’t reflect what these new-majority parents have to say,” says Liz King, director of education policy for The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “The hemming and hawing about opt-out [related to standardized testing], for example, we just don’t see that as a priority concern.”

A majority of poll respondents said that when their children make it to college, it is largely due to the student’s and family’s efforts, while only about 15 percent said the school’s role was the most important factor.

But such family support is not always top of mind for educators at struggling schools.

In a high school in Florida that had some of the worst outcomes, an intervention leadership team at first thought of the families as largely unemployed and not particularly valuing education. The team believed that, in turn, this caused the children to not aspire to higher education.

After they surveyed the students, they found quite the opposite, according to an account by Rebecca Carlo, then-coordinator of a Florida project working with struggling learners.

Nearly all the students believed attending school beyond high school was an important goal, and more than 9 out of 10 said their family supported their educational goals and encouraged them to keep trying when things were difficult.

“Too often, the prevailing dialogue faults families of color for bad educational outcomes instead of grappling meaningfully and seriously with the need for the system to make different policy choices,” notes Mr. Henderson of The Leadership Conference Education Fund in the report, which acknowledges that the new majority includes Asians and Native Americans, who are likely to be included in future polls. “We cannot hope to build the public education system all children deserve without including the parents and families of the students who will most benefit from a truly high-quality education.”

But to truly engage with families in Latino and African-American neighborhoods to ensure equity will require a deeper dive into the subtext of the poll, said Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade, a longtime teacher in largely Latino East Oakland, Calif., and a professor at San Francisco State University, during a panel discussion following the poll’s release April 11.

When parents of color call for “rigor” in education, for instance, they aren’t necessarily calling for more academic tests. “You can’t be engaged in academically rigorous education without being engaged in a culturally relevant education,” he said. “For us, the inclusion and centrality of valuing our culture, valuing our history … is by definition what we mean by academic rigor.” - CS Monitor.

Friday, April 22, 2016

BLACK WEALTH: Dr. Boyce Watkins Presents BLACK CROWDFUNDERS - Online Platform Designed To Raise Capital For Businesses In The Black Community!

April 22, 2016 - INTERNET - One of the greatest impediments to the survival of black-owned businesses is a lack of access to capital.

Black Crowd Funders is an online platform designed to help individuals and businesses raise the money they need to fulfill their economic dreams. 

By coming together with other like-minded individuals who share a collective vision, Black Crowd Funders encourages those with great ideas to share these ideas with individuals and organizations who wish to fund them.

Economic development within the black community is the next step in the civil rights movement, and we’re hoping to play our part.

What is Black Crowd Funders?

Black Crowd Funders is an online platform designed to raise capital for businesses in the black community.

By connecting those with good ideas with others who are willing to support them, we can help make dreams come true.

This company is the result of The Black Wealth Bootcamp, an initiative created by Finance Ph.D. Dr. Boyce Watkins to spur economic development in the African American community.

The crowd-funding on this platform is rewards-based with a focus on black-owned businesses, with the long-term objective of increasing the number of sustainable institutions within black communities all around the world.

In other words, we want to help you secure your economic freedom.

WATCH: Dr Boyce launches a new black crowd funding platform.

- Black Crowd Funders.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

ANCESTRAL RETURN: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - PRINCE, The Artist, The Songwriter, Singer, Producer, Director, Actor, One-Man Studio Band And Consummate Showman Transcends To The Spirit Realm At Age 57!

Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

"A strong spirit transcends rules." - Prince.

April 21, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Prince, the songwriter, singer, producer, one-man studio band and consummate showman, died on Thursday at his home, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minn. He was 57.

His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, confirmed his death but did not report a cause. In a statement, the Carver County sheriff, Jim Olson, said that deputies responded to an emergency call at 9:43 a.m. “When deputies and medical personnel arrived,” he said, “they found an unresponsive adult male in the elevator. Emergency medical workers attempted to provide lifesaving CPR, but were unable to revive the victim. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07 a.m.”

WATCH: Prince dead at 57.

The sheriff’s office said it would continue to investigate his death.

Last week, responding to news reports that Prince’s plane had made an emergency landing because of a health scare, Ms. Noel-Schure said Prince was “fighting the flu.”

Prince was a man bursting with music — a wildly prolific songwriter, a virtuoso on guitars, keyboards and drums and a master architect of funk, rock, R&B and pop, even as his music defied genres. In a career that lasted from the late 1970s until his solo “Piano & a Microphone” tour this year, he was acclaimed as a sex symbol, a musical prodigy and an artist who shaped his career his way, often battling with accepted music-business practices.

WATCH: Remembering Prince.

“When I first started out in the music industry, I was most concerned with freedom. Freedom to produce, freedom to play all the instruments on my records, freedom to say anything I wanted to,” he said when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. In a tribute to George Harrison that night, Prince went on to play a guitar solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that left the room floored.

A seven-time Grammy winner, Prince had Top 10 hits like “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”; albums like “Dirty Mind,” “1999” and “Sign O’ the Times” were full-length statements. His songs also became hits for others, among them “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan. With the 1984 film and album “Purple Rain,” he told a fictionalized version of his own story: biracial, gifted, spectacularly ambitious. Its music won him an Academy Award, and the album sold more than 13 million copies in the United States alone.

In a statement, President Obama said, “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent.”

He added, “He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer. ‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative.”

A Unifier of Dualities

Prince recorded the great majority of his music entirely on his own, playing every instrument and singing every vocal line. Many of his albums were simply credited, “Produced, arranged, composed and performed by Prince.” Then, performing those songs onstage, he worked as a bandleader in the polished, athletic, ecstatic tradition of James Brown, at once spontaneous and utterly precise, riveting enough to open a Grammy Awards telecast and play the Super Bowl halftime show. He would often follow a full-tilt arena concert with a late-night club show, pouring out even more music.

On Prince’s biggest hits, he sang passionately, affectionately and playfully about sex and seduction. With deep bedroom eyes and a sly, knowing smile, he was one of pop’s ultimate flirts: a sex symbol devoted to romance and pleasure, not power or machismo. Elsewhere in his catalog were songs that addressed social issues and delved into mysticism and science fiction. He made himself a unifier of dualities — racial, sexual, musical, cultural — teasing at them in songs like “Controversy” and transcending them in his career.

 WATCH: Prince's most iconic moments.

WATCH: Prince's most memorable songs.

WATCH: Songs you didn't know Prince wrote.

He had plenty of eccentricities: his fondness for the color purple, using “U” for “you” and a drawn eye for “I” long before textspeak, his vigilant policing of his music online, his penchant for releasing troves of music at once, his intensely private persona. Yet for musicians and listeners of multiple generations, he was admired well-nigh universally.

Prince’s music had an immediate and lasting influence: among songwriters concocting come-ons, among producers working on dance grooves, among studio experimenters and stage performers. He sang as a soul belter, a rocker, a bluesy ballad singer and a falsetto crooner. His most immediately recognizable (and widely imitated) instrumental style was a particular kind of pinpoint, staccato funk, defined as much by keyboards as by the rhythm section. But that was just one among the many styles he would draw on and blend, from hard rock to psychedelia to electronic music. His music was a cornucopia of ideas: triumphantly, brilliantly kaleidoscopic.

Runaway Success

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, the son of John L. Nelson, a musician whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and Mattie Della Shaw, a jazz singer who had performed with the Prince Rogers Band. They were separated in 1965, and his mother remarried in 1967. Prince spent some time living with each parent and immersed himself in music, teaching himself to play his instruments. “I think you’ll always be able to do what your ear tells you,” he told his high school newspaper, according to the biography “I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon” (2013) by the critic Touré.

Eventually he ran away, living for some time in the basement of a neighbor whose son, André Anderson, would later record as André Cymone. As high school students they formed a band that would also include Morris Day, later the leader of the Time. In classes, Prince also studied the music business.

He recorded with a Minneapolis band, 94 East, and began working on his own solo recordings. He was still a teenager when he was signed to Warner Bros. Records, in a deal that included full creative control. His first album, “For You” (1978), gained only modest attention. But his second, “Prince” (1979), started with “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” a No. 1 R&B hit that reached No. 11 on the pop charts; the album sold more than a million copies, and for the next two decades Prince albums never failed to reach the Top 100. During the 1980s, nearly all were million-sellers that reached the Top 10.

With his third album, the pointedly titled “Dirty Mind,” Prince moved from typical R&B romance to raunchier, more graphic scenarios; he posed on the cover against a backdrop of bedsprings and added more rock guitar to his music. It was a clear signal that he would not let formats or categories confine him. “Controversy,” in 1981, had Prince taunting, “Am I black or white?/Am I straight or gay?” His audience was broadening; the Rolling Stones chose him as an opening act for part of their tour that year.

WATCH: Prince remembered by his fans.

Prince grew only more prolific. His next album, “1999,” was a double LP; the video for one of its hit singles, “Little Red Corvette,” became one of the first songs by an African-American musician played in heavy rotation on MTV. He was also writing songs with and producing the female group Vanity 6 and the funk band Morris Day and the Time, which would have a prominent role in “Purple Rain.”

Prince played “the Kid,” escaping an abusive family to pursue rock stardom, in “Purple Rain.” Directed by Albert Magnoli on a budget of $7 million, it was Prince’s film debut and his transformation from stardom to superstardom. With No. 1 hits in “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry,” he at one point in 1984 had the No. 1 album, single and film simultaneously.

He also drew some opposition. “Darling Nikki,” a song on the album that refers to masturbation, shocked Tipper Gore, the wife of Al Gore, who was then a United States senator, when she heard her daughter listening to it, helping lead to the formation of the Parents’ Music Resource Center, which eventually pressured record companies into labeling albums to warn of “explicit content.” Prince himself would later, in a more religious phase, decide not to use profanities onstage, but his songs — like his 2013 single “Breakfast Can Wait” — never renounced carnal delights.

WATCH: Prince's epic love life.

Prince didn’t try to repeat the blockbuster sound of “Purple Rain,” and for a time he withdrew from performing. He toyed with pastoral, psychedelic elements on “Around the World in a Day” in 1985, which included the hit “Raspberry Beret,” and “Parade” in 1986, which was the soundtrack for a movie he wrote and directed, “Under the Cherry Moon,” that was an awkward flop. He also built his studio complex, Paisley Park, in the mid-1980s for a reported $10 million, and in 1989 his “Batman” soundtrack album sold two million copies.

Business Battles

Friction grew in the 1990s between Prince and his label, Warner Bros., over the size of his output and how much music he was determined to release. “Sign O’ the Times,” a monumental 1987 album that addressed politics and religion as well as romance, was a two-LP set, cut back from a triple.

By the mid-1990s, Prince was in open battle with the label, releasing albums as rapidly as he could to finish his contract; quality suffered and so did sales. He appeared with the word “Slave” written on his face, complaining about the terms of his contract, and in 1993 he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable glyph, only returning to Prince in 1996 after the Warner contract ended. He marked the change with a triple album, independently released on his own NPG label: “Emancipation.”

WATCH: Prince's epic performances.

For the next two decades, Prince put out an avalanche of recordings. Hip-hop’s takeover of R&B meant that he was heard far less often on the radio; his last Top 10 hit was “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” in 1994. He experimented early with online sales and distribution of his music, but eventually turned against what he saw as technology companies’ exploitation of the musician; instead, he tried other forms of distribution, like giving his 2007 album “Planet Earth” away with copies of The Daily Mail in Britain. His catalog is not available on the streaming service Spotify, and he took extensive legal measures against users of his music on YouTube and elsewhere.But Prince could always draw and satisfy a live audience, and concerts easily sustained his later career. He was an indefatigable performer: posing, dancing, taking a turn at every instrument, teasing a crowd and then dazzling it. He defied a downpour to play a triumphal “Purple Rain” at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2007, and he headlined the Coachella festival in 2008 for a reported $5 million. A succession of his bands — the Revolution, the New Power Generation, 3rdEyeGirl — were united by their funky momentum and quick reflexes as Prince made every show seem both thoroughly rehearsed and improvisational.

His survivors include a sister, Tyka Nelson, and several half-siblings. His marriages to Mayte Garcia and Manuela Testolini ended in divorce.

WATCH: Tributes in purple - Saying goodbye to Prince.

A trove of Prince’s recordings remains unreleased, in an archive he called the Vault. Like much of his offstage career, its contents are a closely guarded secret, but it’s likely that there are masterpieces yet to be heard. - NY Times.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AFRICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Tanzania Cable-Stayed Bridge "Liberates Commuters" In Dar es Salaam - The Longest In East Africa; President John Magufuli Says It Should Be Named After Founding Father President Julius Nyerere!

The completion of the bridge has offered an alternative link to the new district of Kigamboni. Previously,
he Kivukoni ferry provided a quick link between Dar es Salaam CBD and Kigamboni.

April 20, 2016 - TANZANIA
- A cable-stayed bridge, described as East Africa's longest, has opened in Tanzania's main city, Dar es Salaam, to ease over-crowding on ferries.

The 680m (2,230 ft) bridge links the city centre with southern neighbourhoods across the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania's leader John Magufuli hailed it as a "liberation" for residents in the city of more than four million.

President John Magufuli cuts ribbon to open the longest cable-stay bridge in East Africa Kigamboni.

The Chinese firm which built the $140m (£98m) structure says it is East Africa's longest cable-stayed bridge.

It is also the first toll road in Tanzania. The prices have yet to be set - vehicles and motorcycles will have to pay, pedestrians and bicycle will have free passage.

Correspondents say until now commuters' only option to cross over the creek to the Kigamboni suburbs was in badly maintained ferries. - and they are often held up for hours because of breakdowns.

Motorists also take their cars on to the ferries, and some have fallen into the sea as the vessels leave as they are not always properly loaded.

The bridge have six lanes (three on each direction) and two pedestrians/cyclists lanes with width of 2.5 meters (one on each side).

There is a toll plaza for controlling and charging of vehicles passing through the bridge. A total of 14 controlled lanes are going
to be in this area (seven for each of the two directions).

The president says it should be named after Tanzania's founding President Julius Nyerere

The bridge links to an area earmarked in 2010 for an ambitious plan to build a satellite city, known as the Kigamboni New City development.

The government also hopes that it will boost tourism, making it easier for people to go to beaches on the other side of the city.

At a ceremony to open the bridge, Mr Magufuli described the seven-lane cable-stayed bridge as the only one of its kind in central and East Africa.

"It has never been built before. Even if you go to Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo [and] Kenya, there is no bridge like this," he added.

He said it should be named Nyerere Bridge after Tanzania's first President Julius Nyerere, saying the idea was first mooted by him.

Mr Nyerere led Tanzania, or what was then known as Tanganyika, to independence from the UK in 1960.

He governed the country until his retirement in 1985, and died in 1999.

WATCH: Kigamboni Bridge opens.

- BBC.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GLOBAL AWAKENING: Taking The Enlightened Approach And Embracing Of Mother Nature - Jamaica Schools The United Nations, Telling Them It's Time To Get With It On Ganja!

April 19, 2016 - UNITED NATIONS - Jamaica not only defended its decision to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana yesterday at the United Nations, but also called on the UN to review the classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug with no medical use.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson-Smith told a United Nations General Assembly Special

Session (UNGASS) on drug policy that in developing drug policies, “one size does not fit all”.

She said that while it will adhere to its obligations under the Drug Control Convention, Jamaica maintains that countries should be allowed the flexibility to craft appropriate laws and policies that take into account other important elements, such as different cultural perspectives and practices, as well as consideration of the health, well-being, human rights, human development and security of citizens.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson-Smith.

Johnson-Smith pointed out, for example, that cannabis has been traditionally used as a folk medicine, as well as a religious sacrament by Jamaica’s indigenous faith, Rastafari, and stressed that “such specific uses are not associated with illicit, large-scale cultivation for trade”.

“We contend that the classification of cannabis under the Single Convention is an anomaly and that the medical value of a substance must be determined by science and evidence-based analysis, above other considerations,” Johnson-Smith said to some applause, referring to the existing classification that dates back to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

“Jamaica reiterates its call for the establishment of a mechanism to review the global drug control architecture and make recommendations for the consideration of member states on how best to recalibrate the world drug problem and the global response.”

WATCH: Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson-Smith's speech at the United Nations.

The Jamaica government amended the Dangerous Drugs Act last year to give tickets for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis, instead of making it a felony offence and create a legal regime governing the sacramental use of marijuana by Rastafarians.

It also established provisions for the medical, scientific and therapeutic uses of the plant, and set up a Cannabis Licensing Authority to regulate and monitor the allowed uses of the substance.

Johnson-Smith said government is finalizing a five-year national drug plan including programmes to reduce demand for drugs, provide for early intervention and treatment of drug users, and promote rehabilitation and social reintegration. - Caribbean 360.

ANCESTRAL REMEMBRANCE: Freddie Gray - One Year After His Death, Baltimore Still Trying To Become Whole!

Kevin B. Moore / Flickr

- One year ago today, Freddie Gray died after suffering serious injuries while in police custody, sparking huge protests and riots in Baltimore. Residents plan to honor his memory with vigils and rallies as they await trials for the officers involved.

Gray, a 25-year-old African-American Man, was initially arrested on April 12, 2015, after police said they made eye contact with him and he fled the scene. Officers gave chase and eventually arrested him. Gray suffered serious injuries while being transported in police custody – including to his spinal cord – falling into a coma and ultimately dying a week later on April 19.

WATCH: Baltimore activists rally on anniversary of Freddie Gray's death.

His death triggered a series of massive protests and riots in Baltimore, as well as demonstrations cross the United States. Like many law enforcement departments in the US, Baltimore police were placed under severe scrutiny for their policies regarding use of force and for deteriorating relations with minority communities.

“That Monday night when I watched the city burn, it was devastating,” said The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik, referring to the riots, during a Baltimore Public Relations Council (BPRC) panel held on Tuesday.

Since Gray’s death, six of the officers involved in the incident have been charged with crimes such as manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Bates and has announced she would not run for re-election.

To honor Gray’s life and memory, residents in Baltimore are planning a set of rallies and vigils. On April 24, civil rights activists will hold a peace rally to mark the one-year anniversary. The rally will involve marching to City Hall and organizers are hoping it serves as “a wake-up call and an alarm clock” for the city, according to WYPR.

The next day, 1,500 people are expected to gather another rally outside of City Hall, WBAL reported. The event is set to focus on shining the spotlight on policing practices, affordable housing, education, employment, social services and more.

Over the weekend, dozens of people in Baltimore marched to commemorate Gray’s death, yelling chants such as “No justice, no peace,” and holding signs that said, “Disarm the police.”While protesters remember Gray’s death and the issues it raised, residents of Baltimore are also awaiting the beginning of trials for the officers involved in his arrest. They are set to begin again on May 10 with the trial of Officer Edward M. Nero, one of the officers who initially arrested Gray after he ran from police. Nero and another officer, Garrett E. Miller, argue that they saw a switchblade knife on Gray before they arrested him.

William Porter, after the jury was deadlocked on the charges against him, which included involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. Porter was one of the officers who transported Gray in a police van after he was arrested. He was accused of not buckling Gray into the vehicle as he was handcuffed, and Gray suffered injury as officers drove along and he was tossed around.

WATCH: The effect of Gray's death on his family, corruption and police brutality in Baltimore.

In the wake of Gray’s death, lawmakers and activists have focused on reforming the Baltimore Police Department. Body cameras will be placed on officers starting in May, according to the Associated Press, and the city announced last year that cameras will also be installed in police vans.

Meanwhile, police training has also undergone changes, with officers being educated on the history of Baltimore and its minority neighborhoods, USA Today reported. Lawmakers are also trying to get police to focus more on recruiting officers from minority communities.

At the BPRC panel, WBAL radio host Clarence Mitchell said the biggest difference he’s noticed in the city since Gray’s death is a political evolution that’s included City Council changes and the upcoming election of a new mayor.

For some residents, though, the changes have been slow to come and not sufficient enough.

“It’s the same politics, the same policies being enforced, it’s a different enforcer,” said protester Shaun Young to the Guardian. “What policies have changed? Now you get in the paddy wagon they’re gonna buckle you up.” - RT.

APH KO: Black Vegans Rock - This Woman Is Making Black People More Visible In The Vegan Movement!

Eastrand Studios

April 19, 2016 - UNITED STATES
- Often times, searching the phrase “vegan people” on Google yields countless images mostly of young, smiling white people. One of the first photos of a person of color is an image that shows the face of a woeful black child accompanied by the words, “When you eat meat, she doesn’t eat.”

Aph Ko wants to change the mainstream image of vegans with her new platform, Black Vegans Rock.

“A lot of black people wanna become vegan [but] when you go online and you look around, you’re kind of confronted with this really white-centered version of veganism,” Ko, 26, told The Huffington Post. “You’re gonna start to think it’s not for you.” In response, Ko — who has been vegan for more than two years — cultivated her own small community of black vegans who shared her frustration, and she created a list spotlighting 100 black vegans. That list evolved into Black Vegans Rock, a platform that highlights, connects and educates black vegans each day in an effort to change the mainstream narrative.

A vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products. Despite the growing number of black vegans in the United States, black representation is often limited to just a few celebrities within the veganism movement. Ko said this isn’t because black vegans don’t want to be visible, but because they’ve been ignored by some parts of the vegan world.

“Animal rights has started to become a racial identity for white people, so when black people start to get involved, they start telling us what’s right and wrong... and that stops a lot of black people from progressing even further. You start to realize [some] black people have a different journey to animal rights and veganism anchored to anti-racism.”

A few animal rights organizations have done some work to put black vegans at the forefront. PETA, for example, has worked with influential black vegans like Wu Tang member RZA and comedian/activist Dick Gregory — who has linked racism to health disparities among black people. Still, the face of mainstream veganism is very white.

Some vegan advocacy groups even go as far as using racist messaging and imagery to get convey their message. In 2015, Veganoso compared lynched slaves in the 1800’s to slaughtered animals, while Vegan Revolution tweeted “Black lives matter... more than Chickens or Cows lives... apparently.”

Ko said she doesn’t blame potential black vegans for being turned off by this ugly behavior. But with Black Vegans Rock, she wants to open the conversation to black people — and to other people of color — and remove the “filter of whiteness” generally used to understand animal rights.

“In our cultural imagination, being an animal is the worst thing you can be. And no one knows that more than black people who for generations have been called animals by white people and have been brutalized and tortured,” Ko told HuffPost. “When you are white and you want to bring attention to animals — who occupy a really low position in society — and then you borrow imagery from an oppressed group without meaningfully analyzing that oppression, you have to expect backlash… As black vegans, this is where we step in.”

Ko and her advisory board at Black Vegans Rock — comprised of influential vegan scholars, entrepreneurs and activists — are seeking to “re-articulate black people’s relationship to animals” and dismantle the universal hierarchy of oppression in which she said “white people are at the top and animals are at the bottom and black people are somewhere [in between].” She wants her platform to serve as a hub for black vegans to share their stories and black non-vegans to learn more about the lifestyle if they choose.

Adhering to a vegan diet can seem like a privileged way of living when access to the proper foods is bleak in food deserts and low-income areas. Ko acknowledges that. She’s working to educate others so that they know that they don’t have to spend their entire paychecks at stores like Whole Foods to live a vegan lifestyle, offering tips like gardening and buying vegetables in bulk to cut back on costs.

“What stops a lot of people from enacting or engaging with this... political lifestyle... is mostly because of stereotypes, or because it’s associated with whiteness or... this assumption that the way mainstream tells you to do it is the only way,” she said.

“Veganism isn’t about being perfect and it’s not about being thin,” Ko said. “It’s not about any of that. It’s about trying your best to live a compassionate lifestyle... that will also be best for our health.” - Huffington Post.

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