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#QuarantineAndChill: Things to Do During the Covid-19 Crisis

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Folks are trying to manage how to teach their children at home and fulfill employment obligations while not losing their minds during this new normal marked by disappointments like canceled proms and graduations, rogue relatives refusing to follow the rules and constant news coverage of those who are sick and have passed away.

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Keep thoughts of isolation at bay by reconnecting with friends and loved ones and making use of what’s available in real time and online. #QuarantineAndChill and enjoy the time you have with those you love. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

Covid-19, Coronavirus or “Rona” as some are calling it has changed the way society typically functions. Some cities have imposed mandatory quarantines while others are encouraging self-control and self-quarantining. Many are complying with official requests for social distancing and eliminating contact with those outside of the household.

Folks are trying to manage how to teach their children at home and fulfill employment obligations while not losing their minds during this new normal marked by disappointments like canceled proms and graduations, rogue relatives refusing to follow the rules and constant news coverage of those who are sick and have passed away.

Despite these challenges there is a silver lining. Just when you were lamenting over failing to follow through on giving up social media for Lent, lots of people are coming together on social media to offer wonderful activities for those at home. Check out a few below:

Free Celebrity Performances on Instagram:

Celebrities are offering outstanding free programming. John Legend was joined by model and partner Chrissy Teigen for a CONVID-19 benefit concert from his living room that played on Instagram. If you didn’t catch John Legend, musical acts as diverse as Luke Bryan, JoJo, Miley Cyrus, D-Nice and Common are offering online concerts via Instagram. All you need is an Instagram account to watch and you’re good to go.

If those folks don’t do it for you, then check out NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series, intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of “All Songs Considered,” host Bob Boilen. Rising rap star Chika’s performance just dropped and shows her skills and playful side. Other popular performances include The Roots featuring trombonist Jeff Bradshaw and Bilal, Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers, Lizzo, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Omara Portuondo.

Speaking of Instagram, can you say Debbie Allen? The iconic dancer, choreographer and director offered up a free dance class this past Wednesday to lift the spirits of those feeling isolated during the crisis. Thousands checked in and had a blast based on the comments.

Not to worry, if you missed it, she’s offering the dance class every Wednesday at 1 p.m. PST during the COVID-19 crisis. How much would it normally cost to take a dance class from Debbie Allen? Who knows but now you can dance with Allen for free and in the comfort of your home. Allen is also offering a kids class Saturday on Instagram at 11 a.m. PST so set your reminder!

Things for the Kids

If the Debbie Allen kids dance class is not for you, then check out some of the following things your kids might enjoy. Many zoos and museums are putting exhibits online during the COVID-19 crisis. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is livestreaming several animals and exhibits on their Facebook page.

Cosmickids.com offers yoga, programming and lesson plans to teach yoga and mindfulness to children. Although, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is closed due to coronavirus, they have an app that features highlighted objects from their collection, multimedia and augmented reality and stories exploring their 12 inaugural exhibitions.

If arts and crafts are your thing, Michaels has lots of do-it-yourself projects for children that are easily made with materials around the house. If you’re jonesing for the touch and feel of cotton, then you can order online and pick-up curbside at participating Michaels stores.

Now is a wonderful time to breakout the boardgames like Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Clue, Jenga, Escape Room in a Box and Black Card Revoked, which not only entertain kids of all ages but also offer fun for adults. Not to fret adults, there’s also Spades Plus (virtual), virtual Chess games, Words with Friends and several online Tonk and Bid Whist sites, so you can get back to making blind bids and running Bostons on folks in no time at all.

For parents who have slacked off on watching media with their kids, now is the perfect time to practice media literacy by sitting down and playing video games with your kids so you can see what they’re doing and talk about it in a critically engaged, and fun way. You may just understand why you should think thrice before allowing your kids to play Grand Theft Auto or World of Warcraft.

You can also show them some of your favorite video games which parents may discover they like just as much. Finally, for those who are having anxiety over teaching their younger children academic lessons, check out ABCMouse.com which is offering a free 30-day trial. It’s where learning and fun meet online.

Binge-A-Thons

COVID-19 has created the perfect opportunity to binge on television series and film genres that you love. Blaxploitation films are often available On Demand for free via your cable provider. Choose your favorite director like Spike Lee, Gina Prince Bythewood, Ryan Coogler, John Singleton or Ava Duvernay and watch their films until your heart is content. You might also like TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s, many of which are also available On Demand.

If you want to Netflix and chill, check out outstanding programming you may not have had an opportunity to watch yet like Raising Dion, Dear White People (season 3), Dolemite Is My Name, Jezebel and Queen Sono. Netflix’s highly anticipated series Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker comes out Friday, March 20, 2020. “Inspired” by the life of Madame C.J. Walker, the first self-made woman millionaire, the series stars Academy award-winner Octavia Butler, Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Garrett Morris and Kevin Carroll.

If you’re tired of “Netflix and chilling,” then check out Lena Waithe’s new series Twenties, season 2 of Boomerang or Tyler Perry’s show Sistas on BET. For the black foodies out there, watch Kardea Brown make Gullah inspired recipes on Delicious Miss Brown (Food Network) or Caribbean Pot (Black Life TV) featuring the food of Chef Phil La Rosa.

After eating that delicious food, get up and get moving to the plethora of free workout videos available on YouTube. Follow your favorite YouTube fitness stars Jenelle Salazar (@getbodiedbyJ), Lita Lewis (@followthelita) for workout routines for various fitness levels. You may now have time to finally try Zumba or subscribe to a fitness site like Daily Burn which is offering a 60-day free trial.

Once you collapse on the couch after working out, there are also many web series to watch. Giants follows the lives of three young people chasing their dreams and struggling with various issues of romance, identity and mental health as they come into adulthood. Giants is now an award-winning television series on Cleo TV.

Pillow Talk makes you think and feel and The Punanny Diaries, which is an oldie but a goodie, makes you chuckle and thank God you are no longer in your twenties.

TV One’s Unsung series always satisfies dropping tea about entertainers you grew up with in the 1990s. Don’t forget to watch HBO’s Watchmen, which will not be coming back for Season 2 as of now, so watch it while you can, or forever hold your peace.

As the kids would say, COVID-19 is gonna COVID-19, so we may as well make the best of our time #AloneTogether. Outside of holidays, when do folks really have this much potential time to spend together?

Keep thoughts of isolation at bay by reconnecting with friends and loved ones and making use of what’s available in real time and online. #QuarantineAndChill and enjoy the time you have with those you love.

This article was written by Nsenga K Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. An expert in intersectionality and media industries, Dr. Burton is also a professor of film and television at Emory University and co-editor of the book, Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

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Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

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