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Airbnb host asks black guests which 'monkey' will sleep on the couch

SAN ANTONIO OBSERVER — A Black chef and his friends encountered a racist Airbnb host in New York City who asked which ‘monkey’ would be sleeping on the couch after the group asserted that her listing said it accommodated five people.

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By Matthew Wright

A Black chef and his friends encountered a racist Airbnb host in New York City who asked which ‘monkey’ would be sleeping on the couch after the group asserted that her listing said it accommodated five people.

Meshach Cisero – owner and executive chef of The Cage Bird in Washington D.C. – took to his social media to share the unsettling experience of being kicked out by the host at 2am on Saturday morning. The listing was for an apartment in the Upper East Side.

‘We arrived to our @Airbnb, and we were harassed several times before being thrown out at 2 am,’ Cicero said on Instagram.

‘Her reasonings were because she felt unsafe, we were going to steal and destroy her property, and then told us to “Get the f**k out of her house immediately!” We cooperated and began to pack our things to leave.’

Cisero and his four friends compiled and started gathering their things so that they could leave. But he asserts that as they were packing, the host bust into the apartment with a camera.

They asked her to respect their privacy – as one of them had just exited the shower – but the woman continued her tirade and called them ‘criminals’ adding that she didn’t feel ‘safe.’

Cisero added: ‘She became so angry, rude, and disrespectful that we had to call @NYPD because we weren’t sure if she’d attack us while trying to leave.’

Cisero included videos of him explaining what had happened but also of the host – identified only as Kate – calling the group ‘monkeys.’

The clip shows Kate arguing with Cisero about how many the space can accommodate, with the host asserting that it says four.

‘It says four and a couch, so that’s five. You have that on your Airbnb description’ the chef declares.

Kate retorts, ‘which monkey is going to stay on the couch?’

This article originally appeared in the San Antonio Observer

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Activism

Installation Invoking Black Struggle for Justice in Opens May 14 at Oakland City Hall

Society’s Cage is an open air, accessible pavilion featuring 500 hanging steel bars that form a cavernous cube with a habitable void allowing visitors to experience the symbolic weight of institutional racism. This immersive experience offers the opportunity to consider the severity of racial biases within our institutional structures of justice and allows for moments of reflection and healing. 

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Support Oakland Artists Executive Director Randolph Belle atop the installation called ‘Society’s Cage’ as it was being assembled. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
View of ‘Society’s Cage,’ an immersive exhibit at Oakland City Hall. Photo courtesy of the organizers.

By Randolph Belle

A traveling exhibit that invokes the history of repression of Blacks in the United States arrived in Oakland for installation this week at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Support Oakland Artists, an Oakland based 501(C)3, partnered with Society’s Cage to bring the acclaimed social justice art installation as a feature in front of Oakland City Hall from May 9-30, 2022.

Society’s Cage is an open air, accessible pavilion featuring 500 hanging steel bars that form a cavernous cube with a habitable void allowing visitors to experience the symbolic weight of institutional racism.

This immersive experience offers the opportunity to consider the severity of racial biases within our institutional structures of justice and allows for moments of reflection and healing.

The designers, Dayton Schroeter, Julian Arrington, Monteil Crawley and Ivan O’Garro, created the installation to contextualize the contemporary phenomenon of police killings of Black Americans within the 400+ year continuum of racialized state violence in the United States.

It is a data-driven installation shaped in response to the question “What is the value of Black life in America?”

The Oakland installation will be the first on the West Coast as it travels nationally to sites of symbolic power related to justice, freedom & democracy. Originating in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall in response to the 2020 murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Society’s Cage has continued its journey as an interpretive lens highlighting the historic forces of racialized state violence in the United States.

Other sites have included War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore, Maryland, and the site of the Vernon AME Chapel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race massacre and destruction of the Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street.

Oakland is an ideal host site for the installation as the home of the Black Panther Party, which was founded to combat the legacy of police oppression, inequitable incarceration practices, and remnants of slavery in the form of state-sponsored terrorism against Black people.

In 2009, the killing of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old, unarmed Black transit rider by the BART police in Oakland set off local and regional organized protests that catalyzed a national movement.

Support Oakland Artists Executive Director Randolph Belle atop the installation called ‘Society’s Cage’ as it was being assembled. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Support Oakland Artists Executive Director Randolph Belle atop the installation called ‘Society’s Cage’ as it was being assembled. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

“We were inspired to create the installation as a response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” explains Dayton Schroeter, lead designer of Society’s Cage and design director at SmithGroup, which has offices in San Francisco. “The pavilion is a real and raw reflection of the conversations about racism happening now. It’s a physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.

“The name Society’s Cage refers to the societal constraints that limit the prosperity of the Black community,” says Julian Arrington, who led the design with Schroeter, and is an associate at SmithGroup. “The pavilion creates an experience to help visitors understand and acknowledge these impacts of racism and be moved to create change.”

 

 

 

“It only took an instant for me to commit to this project,” said Randolph Belle, executive director of Support Oakland Artists. “In my over 30 years in Oakland as an artist and community developer, I’ve strived to utilize the arts to engage the public in thoughtful ways around important and timely topics. This project, this site, and these times are an unprecedented example of that.”

Visitors are encouraged to participate in a shared experience upon entering the pavilion. After holding their breath for as long as they can, evoking the common plea among victims of police killings, “I can’t breathe,” visitors then post a video reflection of their experience on social media using the hashtag #SocietysCage. This exercise is meant not only to build empathy but expand the installation’s impact online to allow anyone to participate in this shared exercise.

The pavilion was fabricated by Gronning Design + Manufacturing LLC in Washington, D.C., and Mejia Ironworks in Hyattsville, Maryland. A soundscape was commissioned from a pair of composers, Raney Antoine Jr. and Lovell “U-P” Cooper.

Comprised of four pieces, each eight minutes and 46 seconds in length in recognition of the time George Floyd suffered under the knee of police, they are themed to reflect each of the four institutional forces that sculpted the pavilion’s interior — mass incarceration, police terrorism, capital punishment and racist lynchings.

Early sponsors who have made the hosting of the Society’s Cage Oakland installation possible include the Akonadi Foundation, Tarbell Family Foundation, individual sponsors including principals from SmithGroup’s San Francisco office, corporate sponsorship including SmithGroup and many community partners including BIG Oakland.

Jeremy Crandall and Emax Exhibits were the Oakland Installation team.

A public unveiling is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 11 a.m., and a programmed event featuring local cultural artists is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, 2022, at 7 p.m. Participating individuals and organizations include original members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Cultural Zone, HipHopTV, and a host of local artists.

For more information, visit www.societyscage.com to find a link to the donation site. Additional donations will assist with programming and documentation related to the Oakland activation.

Randolph Belle is the executive director of Support Oakland Artists and RBA Creative studio in Oakland.

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Activism

“The Three Mothers,” a Celebration of Black Motherhood

Emma Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little, and Alberta King are described by author Anna Malaika Tubbs as “women who have been almost entirely ignored throughout history” in her book “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.”

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Emma Berdis Baldwin (Digitalcommonwealth.org), Alberta King (Wikipedia.org photo) and Loise Norton Little (Twitter.com photo)
Emma Berdis Baldwin (Digitalcommonwealth.org), Alberta King (Wikipedia.org photo) and Loise Norton Little (Twitter.com photo)

By Tamara Shiloh

James Baldwin is known as “the most eloquent literary spokesperson for the civil rights of African Americans.”

A staunch supporter of Black nationalism, Malcolm X was a minister and leader in the civil rights movement. He strongly suggested that Blacks stand against white aggression “by any means necessary.”

Social activist and Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. played a key role in the civil rights movement. He sought equality and human rights for all people of color through peaceful protest.

The common thread that bound these men was their dedication to changing the course of the nation, and that each were raised by a strong Black mother.

Emma Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little, and Alberta King are described by author Anna Malaika Tubbs as “women who have been almost entirely ignored throughout history” in her book “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.”

Tubbs writes that the women were “ignored even though it should have been easy throughout history to see them…in ways that are blatantly obvious when the fame of their sons are considered.” These three mothers “have been erased.”

Research presented in the book on how Black women have been systematically dehumanized “fights that erasure.” Still, the mothers “allowed their children to thrive even when all odds were stacked against them.” The exploration of their lives begins on the island of Grenada, generations before Louise (Norton) Little was born.

To understand Little, “to know how the color of her skin influenced her thinking, in order to comprehend why her grandparents were so important in her life and, as a result, in Malcolm X’s life, we cannot begin with her birth,” Tubbs explains about researching the family back to the 19th century.

Little refused to let her children “fall victim to a mentality that told them they were inferior to anybody else. She made sure they knew how Black people were standing up for their rights not only in the United States but also around the world.”

She wrote for the Negro World newspaper and spoke at least three languages.

Like most Black families, the kitchen was the place to gather in the King’s home. It was there that both parents “taught their children about the injustices of segregation and reminded them of the importance of doing their part in changing such inequities.”

Alberta King was the most educated of the three mothers, attending Spelman Seminary, the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute, and Morris Brown College.

James Baldwin lived in a society that degraded him, yet Berdis made sure he had the best education possible. She recognized that young James could make a difference and would do whatever she could to support his dreams. When Baldwin was honored with one of his first writing awards, Berdis accepted it on his behalf.

“The Three Mothers” is a celebration of Black motherhood throughout past and present generations and a historical account of the powerful roles of women in the Black family.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: Across America, Students Must Learn All History  

A coalition of civil rights groups has launched the Black History is American History campaign to push back on Gov. Youngkin’s efforts to force teachers and schools to whitewash teaching about history and racism. Students have the right to learn the truth about our history and our present. We are inviting Virginia parents and families to use the governor’s “tip line” to tell Gov. Youngkin that denying students the freedom to learn is bad for children, families, and the future. 

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way.
Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches leadership. 

By Ben Jealous

Black history is American history.

That shouldn’t be a controversial statement. But thanks to politicians like Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, teaching honestly about history is getting downright dangerous.

Youngkin got elected, in part, by embracing a dishonest campaign launched by far-right activists to make parents fear that teaching about racism represents some kind of sinister plot to shame and indoctrinate children.

Once he took office, the very first official action he took as governor was to sign an executive order supposedly designed to “get divisive concepts out of our schools.”

You know what was “inherently divisive?” The Confederacy, which waged a brutal war to defend slavery from its capital in Richmond, Va. How about massive resistance to the desegregation of schools? How about Virginia’s law that made interracial marriage illegal until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in 1967?

Youngkin has claimed that his order will still allow students to learn about history — both good and bad. But he also set up a tip line that parents could use to report on “divisive” teachers.

That’s in the worst tradition of authoritarian politicians everywhere.

It’s a terrible policy. It’s a terrible way to think about education.

And, I will admit, I take it a bit personally. My ancestors were enslaved in the state of Virginia. One of my forefathers was elected to the state legislature during Reconstruction. He helped create the state’s system of public education. Then white supremacists took back power, made segregation the law of the land, and made it impossible for Black Virginians to build political power for decades. That’s pretty “divisive” stuff.

A coalition of civil rights groups has launched the Black History is American History campaign to push back on Gov. Youngkin’s efforts to force teachers and schools to whitewash teaching about history and racism. Students have the right to learn the truth about our history and our present.

We are inviting Virginia parents and families to use the governor’s “tip line” to tell Gov. Youngkin that denying students the freedom to learn is bad for children, families, and the future.

Unfortunately, Virginia is far from alone. Politicians and political operatives are out to build power by mobilizing a backlash to honest teaching about racism in our history and institutions. And those efforts are connected to campaigns for so- called “Don’t Say Gay” laws, which threaten teachers who acknowledge the reality of LGBTQ students and families.

And all of this goes hand in hand with a surge in censorship in classrooms and libraries. The American Library Association recently released its list of the books most often challenged last year.

Most of them were about Black and LGBTQ people. And that reminded me that Gov. Youngkin’s campaign actually ran an ad featuring a woman who objected to the teaching of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” in her son’s senior-year English class.

Watching politicians build power by inflaming fears about Black people can be deeply discouraging. It can also be intensely motivating.

As a Black Christian writing this column during Holy Week, I draw strength from the historic witness of the Black church and its role in supporting and sustaining Black people as we made history. I celebrate the power and impact of Martin Luther King, Jr’s appeal to both the Constitution’s promise of equality under law and the great faith traditions’ call for us to treat one another with decency and respect.

And I lift up the words of Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and now the director of the Smithsonian Institution, who reminds us that “there are few things as powerful and as important as a people, as a nation that is steeped in its history.”

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches leadership.

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