Category Archives: FRN Blog

Blog posts from FRN Founder Leslie MacFadyen

#BlackPodcastWeek 2017 – Mar 20 – 26

Ferguson Response is so pleased to host #BlackPodcastWeek 2017 – our yearly celebration of Black Podcasts & Podcasters. This third annual week of Black Podcast Love is our way to show our appreciation to all the Black Podcasters who put out amazing content all year long.
With a different podcast focus each day, this week allows everyone to get some shine culminating in a Sunday March 26 Twitter Chat at 7:00 PM ET where Black Podcasters will discuss their work & the good, bad & ugly parts to podcasting while Black.

BLACK PODCAST WEEK SCHEDULE:

  • MON 3/20 – Women Led Podcasts

  • TUE 3/21 – Comics/TV/Movie Podcasts

  • WED 3/22 – Sports/Pop Culture Podcasts

  • THU 3/23 – News/Politics/Social Justice Podcasts

  • FRI 3/24 – New Podcasts (launched in the last year)

  • SAT 3/25 – TAG THEM ALL

Follow @FergusonResp & @LeslieMac on Twitter to stay informed about #BlackPodcastWeek!

#BlackPodcastWeek 2016

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Ferguson Response is so excited to announce the details for our 2nd annual #BlackPodcastWeek!

Started last year as a way to highlight & give some shine to as many amazing Black Podcasters as possible, this year we hope to expand the reach and get more people listening to Black Podcasts.

This year the fun begins Monday March 28 and runs through Friday April 1st. Co-hosted by Americans United Again – this week long celebration of Black Podcasting is for EVERYONE. Be sure to use #BlackPodcastWeek for all of your tweets & posts!

We have added some additional categories and most exciting of all a LIVE Twitter Chat on Friday April 1st 9PM ET where your favorite Black Podcasters will be discussing podcasting, blackness and more!


Participate each day by tagging your favorite Black Podcasts in each category:

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Spread the word via social media and join us on April 1st 9PM ET for:

BlackPodcastWeek 2016 TWITTER CHAT

To download promotional images for #BlackPodcastWeek 2016 visit
http://bit.ly/BlackPodcastWeek16Downloads

For additional information visit:
fergusonresponse.org/black-podcast-week

#StepUpScholastic for ALL Children

by Ferguson Response Founder LeslieMac

Last month I created the hashtag #SlaveryWithASmile in response to Scholastic publishing the children’s book “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”. This book infuriated me and was also condemned by educators, librarians, authors and parents as a false representation of the realities of slavery in this children’s picture book.

In a blog post on this site at the time I said:

This topic is not a new one. Academics, educators, writers & publishers have discussed how to tell the stories of Black people with nuance & truth for decades. But this disturbing push to depict #SlaveryWithASmile and portray the lives of slaves & their interactions with their owners without including the truth & barbaric truths of slavery is getting out of control.

Four days after creating the #SlaveryWithASmile hashtag, Scholastic elected to pull the book from shelves and issued a statement which included the following admission:

…we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.

After hosting a full episode of the FRN Podcast on the topic, I began participating in a series of conference calls with a group of amazing Women including Edi Campbell, Alison Criner Brown,  Debbie Reese, Atena Danner, Roni Dean-Burren and more. Our conversations were focused on how to bring additional attention to the issue of quality options for children of color in children’s literature.

The author of “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” has repeatedly tried to portray #SlaveryWithASmile as a personal attack on her or one specific title. In reality our issues with “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” were never solely about the content of one book. We continue to question Scholastic about how this book made it through their publishing process in the first place. We also have larger demands for Scholastic regarding their commitment to providing quality books for ALL children. The pulling of one book did not quiet our need for answers and action on the part of Scholastic.

StepUpScholasticV4To that end, we are pleased to announce the launch of #StepUpScholastic – a campaign for teachers, parents, and students to tell Scholastic to publish and distribute children’s books that reflect and affirm the identity, history, and lives of ALL children in our schools. Scholastic must increase the representation of people of color and Native Americans to match their audiences.

The goals of the campaign are simple, encourage children & adults to critique current offerings from Scholastic and ensure that Scholastic hears their voices in this call for substantive change. How can you engage with the #StepUpScholastic Campaign?

Flint Water Crisis

UPDATE 1/25: We successfully delivered over 1,000 gallons of water to Flint on Sunday 1/24. We also made direct contact with an amazing (Black Female) local organizer who we will be supporting and working with moving forward.

In addition to the water deliver, we were able to work with local organizers to translate their specific demands, pay for copies of the demands to be distributed locally and provide financial support for the local organizer. Please continue to donate & share the link so we can help this amazing woman do what is needed to make real change for her community in Flint.

Ferguson Response will be headed to Flint, MI to bring water
Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

TCZH2F6gUMAEIeNFhe Flint Water Crisis has left those most in need of help with little support. Current mechanisms have left Public Housing & jail/prison inmates out of the donation cycle.

Ferguson Response is headed to Flint with members of BLM-Kalamazoo and needs help renting a truck & securing water for folks in need.

Our efforts will solely focus on deliver to Public Housing in Flint and in gaining access to inmates to give them clean water. Inmates in Flint are STILL 100% on contaminated water with no filters – they are forgotten and this needs to change. Please donate today.

#MLKNOW – Celebrating the Words and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Guest Blogger Natalie Jeffers

I woke up this monday morning feeling so blessed and privileged to have been present in body and mind at the historic #MLKNow event. My soul was touched deeper than ever before as i connected with powerful radical words that resonated from our past, delivered by new voices heard as fresh as when first spoken.

The Riverside Church in Harlem is a true spiritual place, it’s a building that on entering you can feel without touching. It was here in this space that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr gave his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence.” – A speech that most agree guaranteed his ‘murder’ warrant \ MLK looked over the mountain and beyond the walls of the US and connected US State oppression to other lands, and outlined a plan for economic divestment that offered a strategy to limit the powers of corporate America in more ways than the bus boycott previously had. Riverside has a strong activist history and provides a safe space where the Black radical voice can speak freely, in a way that almost seems protected by its looming walls that saw the moral titans of past and present prophetic resistance. Animated by its long tradition of community, it is a space so strong in its identity and proud of its heritage that 60 years later the beneficiaries of MLK’s legacy could safely regroup and reclaim the message in the tone that MLK had intended.

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Continue reading #MLKNOW – Celebrating the Words and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

#SlaveryWithASmile

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO Ferguson Response Podcast – #SlaveryWithASmile

@LeslieMac & Ricky from @AUADOTORG are joined by Mikki Kendall, Roni Dean-Burren,Edith Campbell & Allyson Criner Brown to discuss #ReclaimMLK 2016 and the current, historical and on-going saga of the #SlaveryWithASmile narrative in children’s literature.

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UPDATES:

Since this post was published Scholastic released a statement pulling “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” from shelves.

You can read my updated Storify with my thoughts below

We also recommend the following places to find additional information and context for this important discussion:

Debbie Reese curated this page which includes a running list of posts & articles related to this book and the fall out.

 



By Ferguson Response Founder Leslie Mac

Last year we saw the book A Fine Dessert released to large acclaim. This children’s book about a dessert – Blackberry Fool – as made by 4 different families in 4 different eras includes a slave woman & her daughter making the dessert for the slave owner.

You can read a few pieces about this critically acclaimed piece of children’s literature here & here & the author’s response to criticism of her portrayal of #SlaveryWithASmile here.

Most importantly I suggest watching author DJ Older’s thoughts on the book & the depiction of slavery in kid-lit:

Now in 2016 we have another entry in the #SlaveryWithASmile genre with Scholastic’s new book “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”. This books release was accompanied with a pre-emptive explanation of the language & imagery used to tell the story of one of George Washington’s slave cook Hercules. You can read that piece written by Black editor Andrea Davis Pinkney here.

Of course many of us have had more to say about this book, it’s subject matter and the general subject of depicting #SlaveryWithASmile

This topic is not a new one. Academics, educators, writers & publishers have discussed how to tell the stories of Black people with nuance & truth for decades. But this disturbing push to depict #SlaveryWithASmile and portray the lives of slaves & their interactions with their owners without including the truth & barbaric truths of slavery is getting out of control.

A week from today I will be sitting down for an in depth discussion about #SlaveryWithASmile on Ferguson Response Podcast. I will be joined by some amazing women Roni Dean Burren, Edi Campell & Mikki Kendall. I look forward to this enlightening & honest conversation about how our past as Black people us portrayed in literature.

NOTE: I have reached out & invited both the author & editor of A Birthday Cake for George Washington to join us – neither have responded to the invitation.

#BlackCloudsForMyWhiteFriends

We are pleased to share this piece from Julian Long originally posted via Facebook. Click here to FOLLOW (not Friend) Julian on Facebook.

‪#‎BlackCloudsForMyWhiteFriends‬

I do not much care for Blaxplaining the way the world works. I get emotionally exhausted trying to answer “why” questions that have no answer just to show empathy with you showing empathy with me. Blaxplaining makes my intestines itch.

I point out obvious things. Signs in the sky that indicate changing weather.

But I don’t often explain why the weather has changed.

I’m making an exception today, because there’s a darkening in the skies and, in the present context of 150 white men overtaking a federal building, I’m going to try and Blaxplain how this unrest sits with us with hope that some of you, who often read my words but don’t comment, don’t share and don’t “like” them (literally or figuratively) can explain to me what you think comes next.

In August of 2014, in a small suburb of St. Louis called ‪#‎Ferguson‬ , our nation sent The National Guard along with militarized police to squelch the protests of a few scores (that later grew to be hundreds) of citizens who were appalled at the grizzly murder of ‪#‎MikeBrown‬. These protesters were largely Black, unarmed civilians. There was some property damage. The media continually called it rioting.

Dozens were arrested. Beaten. Pepper Sprayed. Shot with rubber bullets.

Some months later we pointed out how in a town in ––New Hampshire, I believe –– I dunno, someplace that just sounded really white, large groups of white unarmed civilians overturned cars, burned property, took to the streets over…pumpkins. The media called them revelers. The police were called but they didn’t bring their tanks.

It was whitesplained to us that this was different –– because it wasn’t a hot-button issue and likelihood of severe damage or loss of life was minimal. The Ferguson protests went on for DAYS, we were told – THATS why it had to come to the boiling point that it did.

We didn’t accept that. But we knew it would become the company line. Drawn in the blood on the pavement. Never to be crossed.

So then…Baltimore. ‪#‎FreddieGray‬ was given a “rough ride” that severed his spine. And the city went nuts. Students were beaten, corralled into a mall. The police leaked a false rumor about a “Purge” that they were supposedly defending against and so militarized police were called in. Again too, the National Guard. We saw images. Stark, powerful images –– of a man thrown by his dreadlocks to the ground, pepper sprayed in the face for literally doing NOTHING. We saw a gleeful cop flash a Kool-Aid smile to the camera as he tackled this Black man,like a big game hunter after he’d just sniped a lion with a scope on a high-powered rifle from 300 yards away. But no. Can’t be that. We cry for lions. We mourn fallen lions. (‪#‎RIPCecil‬)

There were other images too.

Continue reading #BlackCloudsForMyWhiteFriends

#4thPrecinctShutdown – My visit to Mpls

It has been a week since I returned from my trip to Minneapolis to support the Black Lives Matter crew there & my UU sister Lena.

Jamar Clark Memorial Site 1 block away from #4thPrecinctShutdown
Jamar Clark Memorial Site 1 block away from #4thPrecinctShutdown

If you were unaware, the #4thPrecinctShutdown began when #JamarClark a 24-year old black man was killed by police a block away from the 4th Precinct. Eyewitness accounts of the shooting differ WIDELY from the police issued narrative and what began as a Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis occupation of the vestibule of the Precinct became a 19-day (!) community encampment outside of the station.

In the wake of the shooting of 5 Black #4thPrecinctShutdown protesters by White Supremacists a call was made for support on the ground in Minneapolis. And even though I was still in Cleveland completing the #YearWithoutTamir actions when the call went out – I felt moved to answer. I spent 2 days at home mostly doing laundry & cooking Thanksgiving dinner & then headed to Minneapolis.

While I usually do not recap my on the ground work, I felt compelling to write about my experience in Minneapolis for a few reasons:

  1. Folks ask me all the time “But what do you DO?” when I say going to a city.
  2. MANY people answered MY call for financial help with this trip & I wanted them to know what good their support did.
  3. The story of the #4thPrecinctShutdown is something that needs as much documentation as possible – it was & is THAT amazing.
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Banners on display at #4thPrecinctShutdown

I arrived in Minneapolis on a very cold Black Friday night – Lena one of the leaders of BLM-Mpls picked me up at the airport along with a few other folks who arrived to support the team. We immediately went to the #4thPrecinctShutdown site.

I didn’t really have an expectation of what I would see, but I was surprised to see a full on encampment, with a soup kitchen, headquarters, press tent, bonfires (it was 19 degrees that night) and more than that a COMMUNITY connecting outside a police station.

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Front entrance of 4th Precinct in North Mpls

I noticed many other things – the police lights bright as the sun on the side of the building, the clearly homeless folks taking refuge in the space created by this shutdown, the circle of people sharing their hopes & feelings about this process.

Lena was the person who called me to Mpls, so my first job was to simply ask her what she & the team needed. I sat in on core team meetings & offered my services in anyway I could.

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The Direct Action Training Crew!

I created social media images & FB event page notices. I helped run a Direct Action training with several other folks who were from out of town. I assisted in planning a full day clergy & citizen led occupation of Minneapolis City Hall in the #Taleof2Cities action.

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Image from #Taleof2Cities Action at Mpls City Hall

Continue reading #4thPrecinctShutdown – My visit to Mpls