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THE BLERD BINDER: Watchmen is a testament to trauma

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Episode six of Watchmen (titled “This Extraordinary being”), depicts vital moments in Black culture, trauma, or experiencing trauma. Episode seven delves into how we handle trauma. Episode nine goes over the story of why Dr. Manhattan after his self-imposed exile on Mars. These episodes came with big reveals in them as well as expanding the lore of Alan Moore’s original graphic novel.

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In episode eight, Dr. Manhattan's decision to turn into a black man was based on the fact that Angela feels more comfortable being with a black man and Adrian Veidt's storyline connects since he was the one to erase Dr. Manhattan's Memory.

Watchmen Episode Seven and Eight Commentary

By Noah Washington

The Blerd Binder covers nerdy news for the Black nerds of the world. We welcome all as we talk about subjects ranging from Movies to Music and Tech to Toys.

(Check out Noah Washington’s previous articles on “Watchmen” and other topics in Black Nerdom. NOTE: If you haven’t seen Watchmen, there are spoilers ahead for what has happened in the series so far through episode 8. You have been warned).

Episode six, seven, and eight of “Watchmen” are what I consider to be some of the best hours of television in history.

Episode six of Watchmen (titled “This Extraordinary being”), depicts vital moments in Black culture, trauma, or experiencing trauma. Episode seven delves into how we handle trauma. Episode nine goes over the story of why Dr. Manhattan after his self-imposed exile on Mars. These episodes came with big reveals in them as well as expanding the lore of Alan Moore’s original graphic novel.

Episode six opens with Angela haven taken her Grandfather Will’s “Nostalgia” pills. This then takes her through a cascade of his memories, which begin with him becoming a police officer in 1930’s New York, being inducted by a fellow black police officer who warns him off an organization called “Cyclops” (more on that later).

Police Officer Will arrests a white man for burning down a Jewish Deli. The screenwriters inserted a subtle irony as we see a white vendor reading a Superman comic — Superman was created by two Jewish men.

When Will brings the man in to the station, the front desk officer meets him with hostility, but then there is a glimmer of hope when a white cop stands up for him and takes him in, only for that hope to be diminished as the same perp is back on the streets the very next day.

After a series of events during which we see the same cops who stood up for Will, heartbreakingly dragging two African Americans through the streets, nearly lynching Will, we witness his transformation into the original vigilante: Hooded Justice, who had initially perceived as a white man.

Later in the episode, Captain Metropolis asks Will to reach out to Hooded Justice, who he thinks is a white man that Will has been feeding information to.

In the very next scene, Will and Metropolis are engaging in sexual intercourse.

Metropolis then proceeds to tell Will not to take off his mask when he is with the other members of the Minutemen because they are racist and need to be bankrolled by racist banks — leading back to that famous quote, “Who Watches the Watchmen?”

Will then discovers a plot by the group Cyclops (who turn out to be the Cops that Will conflicted with) to use screens as mediums for hypnotism, but the Minutemen refuse to come to his aid.

Will then kills all of the members of Cyclops and, ironically, strangling the leader who had threatened to lynch Will with a wire. After a scene of Will coming home to see the trauma that he has brought to his family, there is a time jump forward to Will confronting Jud, the chief of police (on the night of his murder), using the Cyclops’ hypnotic technology to have Jud hang himself, thus ending the episode.

The writers were able to do something truly amazing: They did not change anything at all.

With sequels or reboots, something is usually modified from the source material, either making things completely different from the original story, or to add context to new material that was not in the original. But Watchmen screenwriters were able to take pre-existing lore and not change any of the original Alan Moore comics.

They gave meaning and depth to the Minutemen, who were just a plot device for Alan Moore, using the source material and creativity to turn that plot device into a complicated origin story.

Will interchanges with Angela throughout the episode. Could this be the writers commenting on genetic memory? Genetic memory refers to the phenomena that comes about when someone has endured conditions so traumatic that the memory is passed on to the victim’s descendants. We see that Angela is literally experiencing Will’s Trauma.

Episode seven opens with a young Angela trying to buy the black exploitation film “Sister Night.”

We then see her parents were killed by a Vietnamese terrorist, leading her to wake up in Lady Trieu’s recovery room, treating her overdose.

Throughout this episode, we see Angela go through glimpses of Will’s memories only to go into her memories, linking her trauma to his (that genetic trauma I was talking about).

In this episode, we also learn that Adrian Veidt’s timeline is completely different from the main storyline as a whole year has passed since the last time we saw him. Still, the real surprise happens when we discover that Dr. Manhattan is in Tulsa walking around like an average person, and to makes matters even crazier, the Seventh Cavalry plans on killing him to allow Senator Joe Keene to take his power!

After learning this, Angela rushes home to find a sleeping Cal with the book “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which, if you haven’t guessed by now, is a dead giveaway for who Dr. Manhattan has been masquerading as. Dr. Manhattan has been Cal this entire time!

In fairness, the writers have been dropping clues, such as Cal’s religious worldview, his accident, the allusions to Dr. Manhattan’s infamous genitalia, and the dialogue from Will saying that Dr. Manhattan can make himself look like anything with any color.

Dr. Manhattan is pretty notable for moving from woman to woman, but the questions remain: Why would he want to make himself a black man? How does Adrian Veidt’s storyline fit into the show as a whole? And How is Lady Trieu’s clock going to save the world?

In episode eight, Dr. Manhattan’s decision to turn into a black man was based on the fact that Angela feels more comfortable being with a black man and Adrian Veidt’s storyline connects since he was the one to erase Dr. Manhattan’s Memory.

How he also ended up on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is almost heartbreakingly funny. Adrian wanted Dr. Manhattan to transport him to a place where he would be continuously worshipped but Europa turned out to be the exact opposite. This leads me to think about a little saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”

I’m sure these questions will be answered in the next episode as we are nearing the end of this season. This show has consistently been putting me on the edge of my seat, so I can’t wait to see how these storylines come together.

I hope that the world will watch this television spectacle and like it. Who knows how it will all play out? I can’t wait to get into the finale.

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U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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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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