Photo credit: National Archives
Presidents Bush, Obama, Bush, Clinton and Carter gather together in the Oval Office to celebrate the inauguration.
RED BANK, New Jersey (Achieve3000, January 19, 2021). With his second term in office coming to a close, President George Washington had a choice to make, and it was a big one—a decision no other American had ever faced.
Would he try to keep his presidential power or peacefully pass it on?
Some in Washington's position as the first president of the United States may have held onto the nation's reins as long as possible. Until the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951, nothing in the Constitution prevented the president from running for election again and again. There is also nothing in the founding document that dictates how a president should go about transferring power to a new president.
Washington, who ran unopposed both terms, is the only president in U.S. history to win an election unanimously, earning every Electoral College vote. He was beloved by many who wanted him to continue beyond his second term. But Washington had a vision for the fledgling nation, and he viewed extended periods of power as a danger to the nation. He believed that the longer one person led, the less democratic the country would become.
So Washington stepped aside in 1796, and early the next year, he attended the inauguration of John Adams, warmly offering the country's second commander-in-chief his congratulations and best wishes for success.
By exiting the presidency graciously after his second term ended, Washington established a precedent and a tradition that's been a foundational tenet of American democracy ever since: the peaceful transition from one president to the next.
The first test of the tradition Washington established came just four years after the end of his presidency.
In 1800, Adams became the first U.S. president to lose an election to a political rival. It was a pivotal moment for the nation: Would Adams yield, or might he try to use the authority of the presidency to thwart the will of the voters and cling to power?
For Adams, losing to Thomas Jefferson after serving only one term was a humiliating defeat. Still, though it stung, Adams accepted his loss and left the White House, marking the first of many calm handovers between political parties in U.S. history.
Though subsequent presidential elections have sometimes been contentious, the transfers of power that followed over the centuries have not. Outgoing presidents, respecting precedent and election outcomes, traditionally exit the Oval Office and assist incoming administrations regardless of any personal or political differences they may have had with their successors.
Supporting Each Other
Another presidential transition tradition began in 1992 after Republican President George H.W. Bush lost his race for a second term to his Democratic challenger, President Bill Clinton. Though other presidents have penned letters to their replacements, Bush's message of support to his opponent warmed hearts and etched a place in history because of its simple graciousness. In 2018, the letter garnered new attention after it went viral on social media.
"You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well," Bush wrote to Clinton. "Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you."
Clinton's successor, Republican President George W. Bush, carried that gesture of welcome a step further in January 2009 when he invited then-president-elect Barack Obama, a Democrat, to the White House for a historic meeting with all living former presidents—his father, Bush senior, a fellow Republican, along with Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
What's at Stake
Peaceful transitions between administrations aren't just niceties or demonstrations of a president's character. They're also vital to maintaining national security.
In 1963, Congress passed the Presidential Transition Act, which mandated the creation of coordinating agencies to oversee the process, because, lawmakers said, "any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people."
The outgoing administration is expected to cooperate with the incoming, sharing resources and information about economic, national security, and other important issues so that the new president, cabinet members, and staff are prepared for their first day on the job serving the American public—and safeguarding democracy
1/11/2021 0 Comments
HOLLYWOOD, California (Achieve3000, January 26, 2017). Hollywood directors select actors for their movies. They try to find actors who will attract viewers. But a growing number of people are unhappy with how this is done. They say that non-white actors are kept out of the spotlight. There is also "whitewashing." That's when roles written for minorities are given to white actors.
A report written by the University of Southern California (USC) came out in 2016. It examined these kinds of issues in entertainment. It offers a look at Hollywood's lack of inclusion.
"We see…the same groups getting [the top] roles," said Stacy L. Smith. Smith is a USC professor and the study's lead author. "That continues to be the problem [with] Hollywood's hiring practices."
Many say that whitewashing is similar to "blackface." In the 1800s, white performers used makeup to darken their skin. They played the parts of African Americans. They acted in stereotypical ways. Many people found this offensive.
Blackface grew unpopular in the 1960s. This was due to the civil rights movement. But whitewashing is still practiced in Hollywood. Critics say it has made minority actors and characters less visible. Claudia Kim has starred in movies in both her native South Korea and in the U.S. She once auditioned for an Asian role in a Hollywood movie. She was surprised when she learned that a white actress was picked for the part.
"It is definitely not a pleasant experience," Kim said. She called the choice "ridiculous."
The USC researchers say that the effects of these practices are more than just unpleasant and ridiculous. They call Hollywood a center "of cultural inequality." Further, they say inequality in Hollywood reflects the invisibility of many in American popular culture.
But Hollywood has been slow to increase its diversity. Many in the movie industry say inequality is unavoidable. They say that directors need to cast big-name actors. That's what sells tickets. There's a problem with that, some say. These practices could keep minority actors out of the spotlight forever. Others call for color-blind casting. They argue that a role should be given to the best actor for the job, regardless of ethnicity. But in reality, experts say, the practice does not seem to be "color-blind." White actors play parts of various ethnicities. But African American, Latino, and Asian actors are almost never cast as white characters.
Some in the industry are taking steps to diversify Hollywood. But the USC researchers say that more needs to be done.
"We've seen a lot of talk and little action," said Smith.
11/30/2020 0 Comments
In the Bubble
How do you play a contact sport in the age of COVID-19? Well, if you and the other players isolate yourselves from anyone who can make you sick, then you should be safe.
Welcome to the National Basketball Association (NBA) bubble.
It was obvious that COVID-19 and basketball didn't mix back in March, when two NBA players tested positive for the coronavirus. At first, the NBA did what other sports leagues did—it suspended the season. It seemed impossible to play basketball—a sport whose players jostle, shove, and dunk on each other—without spreading the highly contagious virus. But as time went on, league officials began to reason that basketball could come back, if there was a way to ensure that all the players, coaches, and other team personnel were healthy. That's when they came up with the "bubble" idea: The NBA would confine league personnel to a restricted space for the remainder of the season. For up to three months, there would be little or no in-person contact with the outside world.
Does that mean the NBA locked up a bunch of athletes against their will? No.
To be clear, entering the NBA bubble was optional, but the league explained to players that opting out and not playing wouldn't come cheap, because unless they had health issues that put them at risk for COVID-19 complications, those who stayed home would have their pay docked. (Some players stayed home anyway.)
Most players chose to enter the bubble. On July 7, 22 teams checked into three hotels at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, so that the season could resume on July 31. Everyone knew it wouldn't be an ordinary end-of-season run, as all games would take place at a single venue at the Disney resort, and there would be no fans in the bleachers.
But maybe the biggest adjustment would be the living situation. After arriving in Orlando, everyone had to self-isolate in their hotel rooms until they tested negative for the coronavirus twice, and they also had to agree to be tested regularly after that. Once in the bubble, players had to agree to stay there, since the whole point was to avoid infection. (After Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes accidentally crossed the bubble border to pick up a food delivery, he was put in a 10-day quarantine in his hotel room. That's a lot of missed games and practices.)
And it isn't a short-term situation: The regular season ends in mid-August, but whichever teams make it to the NBA Finals may not be able to go home until mid-October.
Staying in hotels for months on end has its perks. Players have access to the hotels' amenities, including pools, golf courses, and manicurists, and there's plenty of entertainment, like DJ parties, lawn games, and movie nights.
And yet, many players don't seem too thrilled about being in the bubble. Some have used social media to complain that they're bored, they don't like living in hotel rooms as opposed to their homes, and they don't like the hotel food.
They also miss their spouses, kids, and friends. Visitors aren't allowed in the bubble for the remainder of the regular season. Once the playoffs start, players can invite a limited number of guests to stay at the hotels, but guests must self-quarantine when they arrive and agree to be tested.
All these precautions do seem to be keeping everyone safe. As of early August, no one in the bubble had tested positive for the coronavirus.
On top of that, officials say the basketball games haven't suffered at all. There's no sign that any of the players got out of shape while the season was suspended, or that a lack of cheering fans has messed up anyone's game.
"Everybody is much crisper [than I expected]," said Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs. "They look more in rhythm than I ever expected teams would be."
So the fans have their basketball games again…but is bubbled basketball worth all the sacrifice?
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
It's up to people to change the system: The artists using stamps as resistance
Political statements from artists in 2020 typically have been on the streets, with murals and protest signs.
However, the envelope is the object of a new art project. Since a stamp symbolizes the mail-in vote, it has come to represent a form of resistance and action. The New York nonprofit organization TRANS> has created a stamp project called "These Times." The project features 50 artists and institutions that stress the urgency of voting. The stamps are available both online and in sticker form.
"The post office is at the helm of democracy," said Sandra Antelo-Suarez. She is leading the project. "It's our civic duty to vote."
Mail has been especially important this year because of the spread of COVID-19. It is an election year for the U.S. Changes to the postal service have slowed down mail delivery, which worries some people as they plan to vote by mail. More people want to vote by mail because of the coronavirus.
In March, when COVID-19 was spreading, Antelo-Suarez was frustrated. "I wanted to create a response, thinking about how culture and the art world could respond," she said. She asked artists to do a project that would bring art to people's homes. "I thought: stamps."
Image 2. Alejandra Seeber's stamp depicts the phrase, "Futuro" (meaning "future"), made of kiss-shaped stamps. She created the stamp with her 11-year-old daughter. Design: Alejandra Seeber. Photo: TRANS>
A Stamp With The Power To End InjusticeAntelo-Suarez asked 50 artists to "make a gesture in an artwork that's a tribute to our culture, which is being lost."
"I told them to imagine their stamp has the power to end injustice in the world. It's up to the people, not the politicians, to vote, to change the system."
The stamp artworks have no stamp value in the U.S. postal system. They will be distributed in the October issue of the Frieze art magazine. A total of 50,000 sticker stamps will be printed.
"People forget the simplicity of a stamp," she said.
Each stamp will be posted on social media. The artists in the project are in the United States, Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal and Ibero-America, which includes places where Spanish or Portuguese are the main languages.
A Very Important Election"I saw the devastation in New York and across Ibero-America" and especially the effect the coronavirus has had on their culture and artistic communities, said Antelo-Suarez. She wanted "to bring artists and thinkers together to create a space for grief, but also for hope and action."
The stamps are a tribute to the lives lost to the illness. They also urge Americans to vote.
"I believe culture is a very important platform of initiating change and dialogues," she said. "How do we become united?"
It comes down to Americans voting in the election in November. "Democracy could be taken away, not just from Americans, but from the entire world," said Antelo-Suarez. She said this is a very important election, as President Donald Trump runs against former Vice President Joe Biden.
"I've never seen things so polarized in the U.S.," she said.
Each stamp has artwork with the name of the artist, the art institution they most recently worked at and the country.
A Tool To Talk About Voting And DemocracyThe Spanish artist Santiago Sierra created a stamp spelling out the word NO. It's taken from his No Global Tour, an ongoing project where he brings a large sculpture that spells out NO to cities across the globe.
Image 3. Albanian artist Anri Sala's stamp depicts a clenched fist and the phrase, "The egg tomorrow will be a chicken." Design: Anri Sala. Photo: TRANS>
"'No' is the only vocabulary to use in the face of power," said Sierra. "These are times of attack on populations, times to draw a line in the sand and say from there you do NOT pass."
The stamp Alejandra Seeber designed has the word "Futuro," meaning future, on it. The word is made up of kiss-shaped stamps. She created it with her 11-year-old daughter.
"The Latin minority was hit hard by COVID-19, so a word in Spanish seemed appropriate," said the Argentinian artist. "The current post office conflict allows me to use this stamp as a tool to talk about democracy, voting, and conflict" in American institutions.
Designing A Visually Strong LogoMateo López, an artist from Colombia, created a stamp with a red shape that resembles a heart.
"I just thought of designing a logo, something visually strong," he said. "Like a text message saying, 'I care,' 'I love you' or 'Thinking of you.'"
The artist Anri Sala, from Albania, designed a stamp showing a clenched resistance fist. The phrase "The egg tomorrow will be a chicken" is written on it.
"I grew up in a society where having the right to choose and cast a vote were not 'given' until relatively recently," said Sala. "I'm acutely aware that when we cast our votes, we both take a stake in our future and honor past struggles we owe our freedom to."
Good morning Everyone! I've included a list of reads used by activists, students like you, archivists and curators please note all titles can be accessed for free with the SimplyE reader by NYPL.
BLACK LIBERATION READS
ALL TITLES AVAILABLE ON SimplyE reader for FREE
(downloadable in the App store and Google Play)
1. All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies by Akasha Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott & Barbara Smith, eds.
2. American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes
3. The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat
4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
5. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
6. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
8. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by C.L.R. James
9. A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross
10. The Bluest Eye: A Novel by Toni Morrison
Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
11. A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel by Marlon James
12. Brown: Poems by Kevin Young
13. Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady
14. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
15. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965–2010 by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser, eds.
16. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
17. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
18. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
19. Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg by Vanessa K. Valdés
20. Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
5/4/2020 0 Comments
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