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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

‘Why My Hero Had To Go’: A conversation about representing our diverse military communities –

Posted: February 22, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Author Talitha Vickers wrote the children's book on the struggles her nephew faced while his father was deployed.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Theyre some of our favorite videos in the Bay area military members reuniting with their families. Author Talitha Vickers says its one of her favorite things to see on the news.

You see the happy reunions. You start crying and saying Oh my goodness, the dad showed up at the baseball game! Vickers said.

But what about the moments when a child's classmates ask hard questions?

People would say Well, wheres your dad? Hes not showing up at school. I dont see him at the football games,' Vickers explained.

Her childrens book, Why My Hero Had To Go, offers some answers.

This book allows children of all backgrounds to understand, you know, why one of their friends may not have a mom or a dad with them all the time," she said. "It also gives other children an opportunity to see a dynamic different than their own.

Vickers family in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is the story behind the story.

My brother served in the Army, Vickers said. It was so difficult, really, for my nephew to wrap his head around this big word deployment at 1 year old and, you know, 2 years old.

And since she couldnt find a book that showed the parallels of life at home and while serving, she decided to write her own.

Inside the book, youll find things like how they can stay connected through things like their daily environment and their daily routines: going out to school, even the way they wake up -- Attention!' is what I hear. While a soft whisper says wake up, dear in your ear, Vickers said.

Of course, military families arent the only ones dealing with being separated from their loved ones at the moment.

Were in the middle of a pandemic right now so were not able to see a lot of our loved ones so the book really resonates two-fold with military families and non-military families, as well, Vickers said.

When it came time to publish her story, Vickers hit some roadblocks.

Some publishing houses and even agents were asking me to tweak and change things I wasnt comfortable with and that was primarily my nephews skin, the color of his skin, Vickers said. The feedback that I got was how about we lighten his skin. That will have bigger mass appeal. We dont have a big, broad appeal or a big market for minority books. I was like what?! I mean, I was just astounded by that. It really stung.

So she took matters into her own hands, saving up for eight years and working with illustrator Keith Hobgood to self-publish Why My Hero Had To Go.

I wanted to be intentional about the people who were inside of this book, to be reflective of our community, Vickers said. I wanted the book to really resonate with people of all backgrounds. Not just say theres a Black child on the book, so its a Black story.

"No, its not, its story that resonates, a universal story with a child who just so happens to have my complexion.

Vickers says more versions of the book are in the works, including one from a mother-daughter perspective, a version for each branch of the military and a Spanish translation. You can read more about the story behind Why My Hero Had To Go on her website

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Next gen or more of the same? – Duke Chronicle

Posted: at 2:29 pm

President Donald Trumps second impeachment trial symbolized the illusion of change. His acquittal, however, simply represents yet another example of superficial progress. Thinking about trivial advancement in a smaller administration, we see these same themes arising in Dukes new housing policies for the upcoming school year. Although it may seem a bit bold to compare Dukes Next Gen 2.0 Housing Committee to the inner workings of the United States government, the two are similar in that Dukes new housing policy is riddled with conflicting interests, vague policies, and an unclear motive to explain why these specific changes are being implemented.

In November 2020, the Duke administration released a new residential structure aimed at deepen[ing] connections across class year, with faculty, and with alumni and fostering dynamic opportunities for faculty engagement and co-curricular learning. Two essential points of this new plan include organizing houses on West Campus into diverse residential communities that link to East Campus residence halls and postponing rush processes until students sophomore year. The Next Gen 2.0 website claims that the goal of these housing changes is to build a joyful and intentional 4-year residential experience that promotes growth, meaningful inclusion, and health that is distinctly Duke. However, the major flaw in this new structure is one many of us have called out for too long: Dukes administration lacking transparency in their purpose for these changes.

Perhaps selective living is the system that these new changes aim to dismantle. Discussing selective living systems is inevitable in the conversation about housing at Duke. Although the Next Gen 2.0 statement does not explicitly reference Greek life and Selective Living Groups (SLGs) on Dukes campus, it does emphasize the concept of inclusion. Historically, Dukes residential system has consisted of Greek organizations, SLGs, Living Learning communities (LLCs), and independent housing. Fraternities and sororities have existed on campus since the time of Trinity College, founded in 1859, which was the precursor to the modern Duke University.

Despite their historical legacies, these systems might be outdatedthe Abolish Greek Life movement has gained traction at universities across the country, including on Dukes campus. Some of the most pressing complaints related to Greek Life include its role in creating a toxic social hierarchy among student bodies, perpetuating cycles of wealth and class, and discriminating against students of color. In response, Duke has taken certain measures that resultantly have weakened the presence of these organizations such as its abolishment of Central Campus, where the majority of sororities and fraternities had housing. More recently, on October 8, 2020, Duke asked fraternities, sororities, and non-Greek selective living groups to indefinitely postpone their recruitment processes. Perhaps, then, these new housing measures are simply an extension of a long-term attempt to weaken the dominance of Greek life in campus culture.

That being said, it is worth examining the extent to which, if at all, the power dynamic of these selective organizations have evolved on campus. While Central campus no longer exists, even now, Greek letters printed on the neo-gothic architecture just outside of Abele Quad emphasize the bold presence of these organizations in student life. Furthermore, the recent decision to delay selective housing rush processes has backfired: numerous Greek organizations have decided that they would rather disassociate from Duke and recruit first-years on their own than delay rush. Now, at least eight fraternities are headquartered off-campus, meaning that these fraternities will no longer be held accountable to Dukes standards and regulations. As such, they now have the ability to hold rush at their own discretion despite the change in Dukes policies and ignore the changes that Duke students have demanded amidst the Black Lives Matter Protests. As for these new housing changes, the policy specifies that it will not undermine the existence of selective housing; instead, all such sections will be housed in Edens, a dorm on the outskirts of West Campus.

The Duke administration seems to be taking the same exact approach as it did in abolishing Central Campus. Instead of taking a hard stance that could give rise to tangible, more inclusive change, Duke is simply relocating these selective organizations. Each group will still recruit an incoming class, albeit a few months later, and the organizations will continue to perpetuate social and class divisions between students. In essence, Duke is changing nothing; under this leadership, Greek life and SLGs will continue to dominate Dukes social culture for decades to come. In this way, Dukes superficial housing policy modifications constitute yet another example of the universitys complicit stance in fostering an exclusive environment for its student body.

Finally, we must consider what it really means to have an environment that is distinctly Duke. For many of us, the ideal Duke residential system should not isolate selective housing organizations by pushing them to the edge of campus and prompting them to disaffiliate from the university. Rather, the university should work to better integrate these organizations into Dukes social culture by creating a residential system that builds more inclusive, sustainable communities. If the Next Gen 2.0 task force is any indication, though, it seems that the term distinctly Duke simply conveys that Duke will find a way to preserve its historically exclusive housing policies under the guise of an inclusive and communal residential experience. Superficial change strikes again.

The Community Editorial Board is independent from the editorial staff of the Chronicle. Their column runs on alternate Mondays.

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Vaccination clinics being held in communities that are often overlooked – The Denver Channel

Posted: at 2:29 pm

Safety looks different for everyone. And in communities of color, theres often a mistrust of the health care system.

We dont really trust. Weve been used as guinea pigs for a really long time, Rose Marie Allen said.

With so much concern about COVID-19, theres now a stronger effort to make sure everyone has equal access to vaccinations, especially in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

To have this in Five Points, where a lot of the African American community is, is huge, Jessica Newsome said.

This vaccination event is part of the Colorado Vaccine Equity Task Force, which exists to ensure all groups are informed about their options and have the opportunity to get vaccination shots for free.

This is what success looks like, said Maisha Fields, Advisor to Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

Fields is also a registered nurse and says getting people of color vaccinated is all about location and trust.

If were going to be intentional about making sure that everyone has equal access to the vaccine, were going to have to go to those communities and were going to have to go to places that are trusted in those communities to make sure that they are vaccinated, she said.

Places like Brother Jeffs Cultural Center.

This is about, if you want the vaccine, you should have access to it, JeFF Fard said.

Fard runs the center and says hes allowing it to be used as a vaccination site so citizens who are often overlooked or underserved have access.

You see the demand. You see folks taking advantage of the opportunity and it makes all the difference in the world, he said. And a matter of fact, it could mean the difference between life and death.

There are statistics that show African Americans are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, so vaccination clinics held at places like cultural centers could save even more lives.

Many of the people who showed up at Brother Jeffs Cultural Center say theyre much more comfortable getting vaccinated by someone who looks like them.

They appointed me to a Black nurse, and I felt comfortable immediately because I know that she understands me and my body, Allen said. And more than anything she understood my fears.

Fears that could be eased, one shot at a time.

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Wake Forest creates new center to study the African American experience, engage the community | Wake Forest News – Wake Forest University News Center

Posted: at 2:29 pm

Hicks said the Center grew out of a conversation between him and Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

Derek Hicks

President Hatch said initiatives like the Slavery, Race and Memory Project and the Presidents Commission on Race, Equity and Community are demonstrative of the Universitys commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Hicks said. The Center arises from a simultaneous reckoning of the Universitys history and a commitment to create a way for Wake Forest and the Winston-Salem community to engage in critical dialogue.

Interdisciplinary in scope, the Center will offer events on and off campus. For example, Hicks has begun conversations with Goldie Smith Byrd, director of Wake Forest School of Medicines Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, and with pastors, community leaders and local organizers about future events and ways the University can partner with them.

I intend for the Center to buttress those opportunities for cooperative engagement and programming, he said. It should not be just a reactive set of research initiatives and programming because another atrocity has been experienced by Black people, but rather, it should be a proactive, ongoing, progressive engagement.

The Center, in conjunction with The Wake Forest University Humanities Institute, is sponsoring a lecture by Gaye Theresa Johnson, from 5-6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 titled Worlds of Interconnection: Freedom-Making in the New Security Establishment. Johnson is an associate professor, Department of African American Studies and Department of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA.

Public Health and Black Communities will be the Centers theme for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. An anticipated fall conference will focus on pre-existing health issues and the effects of COVID-19 on Black communities. Also planned are symposiums focusing on food access and culture, mass incarceration and redlining, Hicks said. The Center will also sponsor essay contests for high school students, based upon the current years theme.

We will be intentional about learning from our neighbors as we work collaboratively with them to create relevant, mutually beneficial programming, Hicks said.

Corey D.B. Walker, Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities and inaugural director of the Universitys African American Studies Program, which launches this fall, said the Center and his program will complement each other.

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Achieving the Dream Conference Highlights Importance of Community Partnerships – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

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February 18, 2021 | :

Native communities have a complicated relationship with education, according to University of Southern California English Professor Dr. David Treuer.

Under Capt. Richard H. Pratts mindset of kill the Indian in him to save the man, generations of Native children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to assimilation boarding schools.

These schools ruptured all sorts of relationships with place, with family, with tribe, with tradition, said Treuer.

Dr. David Treuer

Originally growing up on Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota, his educational experiences were highlighted during the third day of Achieving the Dreams virtual conference on Thursday.

Throughout K-12 and higher education, Treuer was never exposed to a Native teacher or mentor. While earning his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, he was often confronted with the idea that Native communities were significant to Americas past not Americas future.

If we existed at all, which was often times disputed, we existed in the past, said Treuer. If we were alive, we were alive as only perpetual sufferers living on dusty reservations, living lives of pain. No where did I come across the idea that we were part of the story of this country.

However, now the growth of tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) has created a positive impact on Native communities.

TCUs offer the opportunity for Native students to reconnect with their culture while also providing non-native students a way to connect with Native communities on their own terms.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), for example, has developed relationships with local high schools in order to increase access to postsecondary education.

Additionally, FDLTCCs nursing program partnered with the Alaska Native Medical Center in 2018 where students are able to complete clinical course work. Now, with COVID-19, the partnership shifted to allowing faculty members to accompany health care workers in Native communities to provide vaccines.

This contributes to the fulfilment of the nursing programs mission which in part includes intentional aim to educate nurses to be culturally sensitive and focus on the health needs of the American Indian population and the rural communities, said Stephanie Hammitt, president of FDLTCC and enrolled member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

These community relationships are seen across higher education institutions to increase equity and support students of color.

Through analyzing six local zip codes, Broward College discovered high unemployment and lower educational attainment rates.

In 2018, the school partnered with community organizations to establish the Broward Up business model which offers certificate-base courses, workshops and support services at no cost.

We think about how do we make it impossible for an individual who has to leave their home, perhaps go to the bus stop, not to see postsecondary attainment opportunities, said Gregory Haile, president of Broward College. We have to be in the heart of those communities.

The goal is to raise social and economic mobility, improve degree attainment and increase college access and attendance.

Stephanie Hammitt

Since its establishment, over 2,500 people have completed the courses and workshops within local Broward communities as well as earned over 500 workforce ready certificates and industry certifications, according to Haile.

Supporting student parents was also at the forefront of the conversation at the conference.

Student parents are more likely to be first-generation, low income or live below the federal poverty line compared to their peers. Additionally, within six years, over three in five parents leave community colleges without a degree or credential, according to a study from the Institute for Womens Policy Research (IWPR).

Factors that affect college enrollment for student parents include lack of childcare options and flexible courses as well as added financial stresses.

For student parent LaTrena Artist, transferring from a community college to a four-year institution also brought on its own set of challenges. She went from having access to a book loan system and smaller class sizes to facing an increase in textbook costs and less course flexibility.

It would have just been phenomenal if some of the resources available [at the community college level] were provided to us [at the four-year institutions], Artist added.

To better support student parents, Susana Contreras-Mendez, research associate at IWPR, suggested that colleges and universities improve access to affordable and high-quality child care and design academic and financial support resources around their specific needs.

Being able to reengage this student parent population that has left college without a degree yet still has a desire to return is now more important then ever given the disproportionate impact on student parents during the pandemic, she said. This is particularly true for student parents of color, students with young children and those experiencing poverty.

Other sessions throughout the day focused on mental health, the first-year experience and rethinking education to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce.

Sarah Wood can be reached at

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Skokie Park District Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts – Chicago Daily Herald

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The Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA) awarded the Skokie Park District with the first ever Champions for Change Award, honoring their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Skokie Park District was recognized during the IPRA Awards Program at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Virtual Conference.

IPRA Champions for Change Award: Skokie Park District

The IPRA Champions for Change Award recognizes agencies with unique and exemplary practices of increasing access and fostering diversity and inclusion within their community or organization. These are measurable practices that improve the working experience and engagement levels of employees and/or the lives of all people within the community through the delivery of excellent services that improve social equity and access in the community.

The Skokie Park District mission statement envisions a community where all residents enjoy a quality life. Whether it's through board diversification, policy, programming, or training, Skokie has created a culture that operationalizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promotes a welcoming environment for staff and the community.

In 2015, the district commissioned a comprehensive master plan that put an emphasis on more community outreach and diverse programing, and what resulted was the word inclusiveness to its mission values and the foundation for new paths to serving its residents.

A staff diversity committee was formed to help create and highlight diversity-related initiatives throughout the district. Full-time managerial staff pursued training through the national seed project in order to develop as leaders who will guide their peers in driving personal, organizational, and societal change toward social justice.

Community outreach advanced to include district staff serving on DEI-related boards and committees and inviting DEI non-profit groups to help shape various district initiatives. For instance, with the help of members of the LGBTQ+ community, the Skokie Park District created a transgender policy to provide a safe and inclusive environment for members, visitors, and participants using district amenities.

Skokie Park District is the hub of DEI conversations in the community and offers a wide range of inclusive and diverse programming. The annual Skokie Festival of Cultures has 70 different cultures participating with an average annual attendance of more than 25,000 people. Since 2009, DEI programming, special events, and staff training has increased in ranges of 300 to 700%, proving that when intentional, change can happen.

"We are so proud to roll out this new award as a way to motivate park and recreation agencies to take intentional steps towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Skokie Park District deserves to be our first recipient because they have been on the path for improving equity and access for many years. They have created a model that we hope other agencies will be inspired to follow," -Debbie Trueblood, CAE, IPRA Executive Director.

A complete list of Award winners is available on the IPRA website,

The IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference is the premier state conference for parks and recreation, forest preserves and conservation agencies in Illinois. In 2021, the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference went virtual " bringing together park and recreation professionals and elected officials for three exciting days of quality educational programming, networking, and professional development.

Established in 1944, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association's mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation communities. For more information about IPRA, its board and mission, please visit the IPRA website:

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Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund Disburses Grants to Organizations Working Toward the Advancement of Black…

Posted: at 2:29 pm

NEW YORK, Feb. 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As part of its ongoing mission to invest $100 million in organizations focused on achieving social justice, the Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund (WMG/BFF SJF) today announced its initial six grant recipients: Black Cultural Archives, Black Futures Lab, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Howard University, REFORM Alliance and Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

The WMG/BFF SJF was established in June 2020 in the wake of the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people. These horrific events heightened awareness about the ongoing systemic issues plaguing Black communities. The Fund serves as an acknowledgement of the contributions Black culture has made to the profitability of todays music industry. Over 10 years, the Fund will invest in organizations around the globe that build more equitable communities and create real change in the lives of historically underserved and marginalized populations with heightened attention to Black communities.

We have been intentional in structuring the Fund as a separate legal entity to support organizations that are on the front lines of advancing equity and justice for all people, said Camille Hackney, President of the WMG/BFF SJF and Chief Partnerships Officer at Atlantic Records/Head of Global Brand Partnerships Council at Warner Music Group. Our Fund intends to not only work to effect structural change through our contributions, but also support Black-owned and led businesses as a core way of operating.

As part of that purpose-driven structure, the Fund has chosen OneUnited Bank the largest Black-owned bank in the U.S. as its banking partner, and Moore Impact a division of a Black woman-owned start-up Moore Philanthropy, led by Yvonne L. Moore as its fiscal sponsor. Moore will play a key role in the distribution of the funds. The Advisory Board includes five external members whose counsel and expertise in social justice have been invaluable to defining the Funds mission and strategic direction.

Tanya Coke, WMG/BFF Advisory Board member and the Director of Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice at the Ford Foundation, said: Over the past eight months, weve crafted a grantmaking strategy focused on three key pillars education, criminal justice, and cultural and performing arts that promote narrative change about the Black experience. This first tranche of grants to organizations providing a range of needed services and advocacy to effectuate meaningful change reflects these guiding principles, as well as the values of Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Howard University, for example, will receive a multimillion-dollar grant over the course of five years that will go toward the launch of a new music business center at Howard University School of Business. A first-of-its-kind at any historically Black College or University (HBCU), the center will create curriculum development, internship opportunities, executive-in-residence and certification programs, as well as a new recording studio. With the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the funds have helped over 40,000 returning citizens (i.e., formerly convicted persons) become eligible to vote by paying their remaining legal and financial fees. For the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, the grant will help provide financial and medical assistance to legacy R&B artists who have been confronted with unprecedented economic challenges due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Providing opportunities for underserved communities in education in the arts paves the way for equal opportunity and representation in the music industry and beyond, said Len Blavatnik, Chairman of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The Funds commitment to a sustained effort to achieve change and results will have a lasting, positive impact.

The WMG/BFF SJF is one expression of Warner Music Groups ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts, which include the creation of a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, employee resource groups, and a DEI team led by Dr. Maurice A. Stinnett, who also sits on the Funds Advisory Board. Each grantee will meet with Dr. Stinnett and other key WMG executives to explore additional partnership opportunities.

Grant Recipients:

Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically HBCU, comprising 13 schools and colleges in Washington D.C. Students pursue studies in more than 140 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.

Rhythm & Blues Foundation is dedicated to the historical and cultural preservation of R&B music. The idea for the foundation grew out of royalties discussions in 1987 between artists rights attorney Howell Begle, Atlantic Records artist Ruth Brown, and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. The R&B Foundation's mission is to provide financial support, medical assistance and educational outreach through various grants and programs. The Foundation is currently supporting R&B artists who recorded music from the 1940s through the 1990s.

REFORM Alliance aims to dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system starting with probation and parole. It leverages resources to change laws, policies, hearts, and minds. The REFORM Alliance was co-founded by Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin; Atlantic Records artist and criminal justice reform advocate Meek Mill; entrepreneur and business mogulShawn "JAY-Z" Carter; Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots ownerRobert Kraft; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investorClara Wu Tsai; Galaxy Digital CEO and founderMichael E. Novogratz; Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman, and CEORobert F. Smith; Arnold Ventures co-founder Laura Arnold; and CNN host, author and activist Van Jones.

Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is the home of Black British History, conceived in 1981 as a monument to hold space for the histories of people from across the African diaspora in British culture and history. The organization uses its mission to collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK and to inspire and give strength to individuals, communities and society. BCAs HQ is 1 Windrush Square in Brixton, London. At its headquarters, the BCA runs a series of gallery exhibitions, educational programs, and public engagement events. BCA provides free access to its unique set of archives, museum objects and reference library.

Black Futures Lab works to build Black political power and change the way it operates locally, statewide, and nationally. The organization engages Black voters year-round, encouraging them to use their political strength to build a democracy that works for all of us. It combines culture change and policy change to put more power into the hands of more people.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) is a membership organization committed to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions in the U.S. Made up and led by returning citizens (i.e., formerly convicted persons), FRRC works to create a comprehensive and humane reentry system that will enhance successful reentry, reduce recidivism and increase public safety. The coalition is a respected leader in the effort to register, engage, and mobilize returning citizens and their families into empowered members of the community and passionate voters.

The Board will announce grant recipients twice a year with its second tranche to follow this fall. For more information about the fund, please visit

Media ContactsKristal McKanders/James

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Why The Walking Dead Still Hasn’t Replaced Rick Grimes – Screen Rant

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The Walking Dead hasn't replaced Rick Grimes with another central figure, but with the series nearing the end, that could be for the best.

The Walking Dead still hasn't made much of an effort to replace Rick Grimes, but that could be intentional. Andrew Lincoln portrayed the central figure of the AMC post-apocalyptic dramafor nine seasons before his departure. With ratings already dwindling, Lincoln's exit had major repercussions on the show's narrative. There were expectations for other characters to take Rick's place as the central protagonist, but that hasn't been the case in the year-and-a-half following his absence. Looking back at Rick's arc, forgoing a replacement might be for the best as The Walking Dead nears its eleventh and final season.

Like Robert Kirkman's comic book series in which The Walking Dead is based, Rick emerged as the leading figure after waking from a coma in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The former sheriff's deputy reunited with his family before guiding a group of survivors through the dangerous world. As the leader, Rick put a ton of pressure on himself to keep his group safe as they encountered various villains in addition to the continuous threats of walkers. Though he was never able to keep everyone alive, he used grief as motivation to keep building a hopeful future. Rather than follow his comic book counterpart's fate, Rick was extracted from the narrative in season 9 after the character seemingly sacrificed himself to save his loved ones. In reality, Rick survived the event, but he was taken by helicopter to an unknown location.

Related:Why Walking Dead Struggled To Bring Back Morgan Before Season 6

Following Rick's apparent death, The Walking Dead time-jumped six years, revealing how much had changed since the loss of the primary leader. For a time, it seemed like Michonne (Danai Gurira) or Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) were being groomed to take over as Rick's replacement. Whereas Maggie suddenly exited the series, Michonne spent time as a potential leading figure before Gurira also left The Walking Dead. Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) could have replaced his father's leadership role, mirroring his arc in the comics, but the character was killed off in season 8. Some would argue Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) received more leadership opportunities, but their roles haven't drastically changed enough to present them as Rick's replacements.

Rather than present a character as Rick's sole successor, The Walking Dead has implemented an ensemble approach. The communities in focus once needed direct leadership, but now, they rely heavily on voting to make major decisions. Respectable figures like Carol and Darylcontinue to step up in certain situations, but they aren't necessarily portrayed in a Rick-like sense. Instead, aspects of Rick and his legacy are living on through the collective group. EvenNegan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) shares similarities with Rick.

Whether or not The Walking Dead had plans to fully replace Rick remains a mystery. There's still time for a figure to go to great lengths to guide the communities into the future, especially with Maggie's grand return. That said, forgoing a replacement could be beneficial to the series. Byallowing the extensive cast to share the spotlight, The Walking Dead can effectively build compelling subplots before tying up loose ends. Carol and Daryl will have the chance to lead their own series when they headline the planned spinoff set to release in 2023. With the lack of other legacy characters, there are really no existing figures suitable to take over Rick's role as the show nears a conclusion.

More:The Walking Dead Can Still Have The Comics' Ending (Without Carl & Rick)

Gina Carano Has No Hard Feelings Against Pedro Pascal After Mandalorian Firing

Kara Hedash is a features writer for Screen Rant. From time to time, she dives into the world's most popular franchises but Kara primarily focuses on evergreen topics. The fact that she gets to write about The Office regularly is like a dream come true. Before joining Screen Rant, Kara served as a contributor for Movie Pilot and had work published on The Mary Sue and Reel Honey. After graduating college, writing began as a part-time hobby for Kara but it quickly turned into a career. She loves binging a new series and watching movies ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to hidden indie gems. She also has a soft spot for horror ever since she started watching it at too young of an age. Her favorite Avenger is Thor and her favorite Disney princess is Leia Organa. When Kara's not busy writing, you can find her doing yoga or hanging out with Gritty.

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What it means to ‘bank Black,’ and why more Americans are doing it – Business Insider

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Last year, Kim Nehls started banking with OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the US. For Nehls, a college professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, keeping her money at a Black-owned bank is just one way to fight systematic racism. That's true for many consumers who choose Black-owned banks the decision is often influenced not by money, but by social impact.

Nehls told Insider, "One of the reasons I like OneUnited is because of their corporate social responsibility. They have financed over $100 million in loans, mostly in low- to moderate-income communities. OneUnited also promotes financial literacy through workshops for adults and children to build generational wealth that has for far too long escaped Black families."

Nehls is part of a growing population of Americans putting their deposits into Black banks. In 2016, there was a spike in interest in "banking Black" after activist and entertainer Michael "Killer Mike" Render went on an MTV News and BET News Town Hall and encouraged viewers to deposit their money into Black banks in reaction to the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Experts estimate that, since then, more than $60 million has been moved into Black banks.

Banking in the United States has a long history of racial injustice. In 1874, thousands of Black people saw their savings wiped out when Freedman's Bank collapsed. The government-chartered bank, started for newly freed Black Americans, promised to return some of the lost funds to customers, but most received nothing or pennies on the dollar.

Shawn Rochester, author of "The Black Tax," told Insider that the Freedman' Bank collapse bred distrust of banks among Black Americans.

Freedman's was marketed as a Black bank but actually run by white managers, Rochester explained. Those managers used Black customers' money in risky ways, and lost a total of $3 million from 61,000 Black depositors, most of whom had been members of the Union Army.

"This is why Frederick Douglass described the failure of the Freedman's Bank as the equivalent of extending slavery for another 10 years," said Rochester. "The collapse of the Freedman's Bank, combined with another 100 years of continuous, intentional discriminatory practices, led not only to significant distrust of the financial services industry, but also to the under-development of a financial infrastructure both within the Black family and across Black the community."

Black Americans' distrust of banks today is not unwarranted. Black applicants are routinely charged more for mortgages and auto loans, and are often flat-out denied loans. By turning to Black banks, Black Americans are deciding to put capital back into their communities, which Rochester said could have a transformative effect, starting with employment opportunities.

"If a substantial portion of Americans started using Black banks, that would trigger a number of things," said Rochester. "The biggest impact is that you would have a massive increase in employment in the Black banking infrastructure. It would be very stimulative for job creation."

After the demise of Freedman's Savings and Trust, the first bank organized and operated by Black Americans was Capital Savings Bank, opened in 1888 in Washington, DC. Capital Savings Bank closed in 1902, and several other Black-owned banks opened in the following years, thriving in the 1950s and 1960s. Because of the financial crisis in 2007, many Black-owned banks closed, and today the number of Black-owned banks and credit unions across the country has dropped down to just over 40.

The goal of many of these banks is still the same, though. OneUnited, an online bank, says it is committed to serving the needs of urban communities. Part of its mission includes "treating all customers with respect, dignity, and personal attention to their banking needs regardless of their account balances."

For many customers who switch, they see keeping their money at a Black bank as aligning with their core values.

Sacha Thompson, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant in the Washington, DC, area, said she was motivated to switch to a Black-owned bank because she wanted her money to impact the communities she was working for.

"I started my business in 2020 and switched banks in January 2021," she said. "I use Industrial Bank, which is a regional east coast bank. The money stays within the community, and I appreciate that. I live in a majority-Black community and wanted to see that money return in some small way."

For others who have switched, they've said that the feeling of community and banking with someone who looks like them ranks high on their list.

Shakera Thompson, a business and trademark attorney who has banked with OneUnited Bank since 2018, said she feels more comfortable with a Black-owned bank.

"While I don't contact the bank often, on the few occasions that I have had to reach out, the customer service was great," she told Insider. "The agents were very warm and helpful, and it felt like speaking with acquaintances as opposed to the stuffy experiences I have sometimes had with other banks."

Because switching banks is a hassle, some may want to dip their toes in with a small deposit at a Black bank. Although everyone's financial situation looks different, Rochester wants people to consider depositing much larger sums of money when they can. The difference could mean the survival of a Black bank.

Rochester, who banks with OneUnited, said,"Those really small deposits actually drive up the cost of banks in general. My view is that you need to have those of us in the top 5% or 10% of wealth, who really control the vast majority of Black wealth, setting the example by putting more of our deposits in Black banks."

For those who aren't in that top tier, moving your rainy-day fund to a Black-owned bank could still be meaningful. Said Rochester, "It's a very stable source of deposits that allows those institutions to now increase their lending capacity and earn more stable income."

For far too long, Black Americans have been discriminated against and shut out of traditional banking, and a migration towards Black banks has a number of immediate benefits for both the banks and the customers.

Andrea Longton, founder of The Social Justice Investor, started transferring a portion of her savings earlier this year to Hope Credit Union, a Black-owned bank in Mississippi. Longton said the bank offers the same products and protections as her previous bank, but now there's an added bonus.

"My money works for me every day, and I want it to work for social justice," she told Insider. "Transferring a portion of my passive savings to a Black-owned financial institution is a straightforward, financially sound, and impactful strategy to drive sustainable financial earnings coupled with social justice returns."

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How one Chicago school is confronting the thorny learning loss question – Chalkbeat Chicago

Posted: at 2:29 pm

Each time Marilyn McCottrell, the principal at Fuller Elementary on Chicagos South Side, looks up from her desk, she sees a whiteboard rippling with clusters of color-coded Post-It notes with student names.

As the pandemic has brought new urgency to helping students catch up, she and her educators track whether they meet grade-level standards through a digital tool. She also uses the Post-It notes to pay closer attention to two groups: special education students and Black boys.

A national debate is raging over the extent of the pandemics academic fallout, and a string of studies have offered widely diverging estimates.

Even amid broad consensus that the coronavirus has deeply disrupted learning, especially for vulnerable students, the term learning loss has become politically charged in heated standoffs over reopening schools.

Some Chicago schools have already started looking for ways to address the pandemics disruption. Some have expanded one-on-one tutoring for students; others, such as Fuller, are leaning on an intentional strategy for small group instruction and on pushing students to forge ahead rather than remain stuck on material they did not master in previous grades.

Chicago leaders have said they are working on a districtwide plan to address learning loss, an undertaking that could claim a significant portion of the roughly $720 million the district received from the second federal stimulus package.

There are no details yet, but district officials have said that the most pressing learning loss remedy is to reopen school buildings, even as some critics argue that focus leaves out students who are sticking with virtual instruction.

At Fuller, McCottrell said its not productive to argue over semantics or expend too much energy quantifying what learning might have been lost.

We know learning loss is there, she said. But if you concentrate on what you dont have, you lose the opportunity to move kids ahead. I dont want this to be another excuse why kids cant achieve their dreams.

It is not clear how Illinois districts will assess the extent of any learning loss. The pandemic has upended the states typical testing schedule, and recently more than half of Illinois school superintendents signed an open letter urging the federal government to waive assessments this year.

Pitched debate over loss

Morgan Conneely, a language arts teacher at Fuller, recently pulled a handful of seventh-graders into a virtual breakout room to read about New Hampshire during the Revolutionary War.

Fuller, where the student body is overwhelmingly Black and low-income, has long prided itself on a small group culture. In previous years, Conneely might have offered the group of struggling readers a simpler text. Now, she encouraged them to read material chock full of complex vocabulary and sentence structure the same reading she uses with her more advanced students.

With a grant from the Chicago Public Education Fund, Fuller set out in the fall to reimagine how teachers work with students in small groups, with the long-standing goal of bringing children up to grade level. Teachers get extra time to plan in teams, designing small group instruction, assignments and assessments that all get at grade-level standards in unison.

McCottrell said there has been a key shift. Small group interventions once focused on remediation, covering academic ground students missed in previous grades. Meanwhile, peers who were already at grade level pulled further ahead, widening disparities.

Now, the focus is to narrow the academic gulf with their peers as quickly as possible by offering them extra support.

Nationally, educators and their unions have pushed back against the idea of a pandemic-caused learning loss, wary of its use to argue in favor of reopening school buildings.

In January, as it faced off against the district in tense school reopening negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union tweeted that learning loss is a rather shallow, naive and ridiculous concept. It suggested that to argue students have lost academic ground is an affront to educators who have worked hard to make the most of remote learning.

Earlier studies that attempted to quantify the extent of academic setbacks appear to have significantly overestimated them. Still, with more research emerging, there is also growing evidence that many students are behind where they would normally be, and these effects are much more pronounced for low-income and other students who already faced disparities before the pandemic.

Constance Lindsay, an education professor at the University of North Carolina, said she sympathizes with concerns that learning loss is weaponized to push for reopening. She said she is reminded of how the concept of achievement gaps was used to promote some policies that ultimately harmed students of color. The pandemic is a cohort-level, global shock, that affects students across the board, Lindsay said.

Still, she said, districts are eying some promising strategies to address disruption such as beefing up summer school offerings or launching large-scale tutoring efforts.

Getting kids on grade level is the priority, she said. That means some kids will need extra resources to get up to speed.

Opportunities to innovate

Conneely, the seventh-grade teacher at Fuller, said she pulls out students at similar reading levels in groups of three or four several times a week. She often works with them on the same or similar texts, asking more challenging questions of her more advanced learners.

With the Revolutionary War text, for instance, she asked her less-advanced readers about the setting and what they learned about the war. With more advanced students, she dove into word choice and sentence structure.

She said students who struggle with reading balk at getting assigned texts clearly intended for much younger children. They have responded well to the more challenging material, she said.

Marley Olivera, an eighth-grade language arts teacher, said she meets more frequently in small groups with students who are below grade level, while the rest of the class works on more independent activities with a teaching assistant. She offers more accessible texts, but sticks with teaching grade-level reading comprehension skills.

If I keep students at a fourth-grade level, we wont have time to close that gap, she said. Students feel defeated. Now they say, This is a little bit challenging, but I can work through it.

Educators at Fuller say parents, teachers and staff have rallied to support remote learning. For many students, that collaborative effort has minimized the pandemics disruption. But Olivera worries that hasnt always been the case for students who were struggling before school buildings closed.

For students who were already behind grade level, the effects will be around for years, she said.

Steven Guy, a member of the schools local council whose grandson is a seventh-grader there, said parents like him know instinctively that students have lost some ground.

A critic of the amount of screen time the district has required, he said he often wakes up his grandson in front of his computer or nudges him back when he takes a break from the gauntlet of virtual classes. The boys grades have lapsed, and the social and emotional fallout from protracted isolation compound the academic setbacks.

His focus isnt on learning because its too easy to get distracted, Guy said.

Other schools are taking different approaches. Curie High School, on the citys Southwest Side, has expanded its tutoring program. The school recently hired additional tutors fluent in Spanish or Cantonese to work with bilingual students, who have faced steeper hurdles.

In an interview with Chalkbeat, Chicago schools chief Janice Jackson also stressed the importance of moving away from remediation in addressing learning loss. The focus instead should be on providing students who are below grade level additional resources to accelerate learning, she said.

Jackson said the district is in the early stages of planning, but the effort could involve a longer school day or more after-school programming.

A lot of that is going to be predicated on the additional funding that we received from the federal government because all of our ideas and plans cost a lot of money, Jackson said.

Chicago philanthropists also appear eager to pitch in. Last year, the Chicago Public Education Fund heard from benefactors interested in an effort to provide direct support to schools in communities hardest hit by the coronavirus. Two hundred schools, including Fuller and Curie, received grants last fall.

The projects these campuses pitched ran the gamut from efforts to better engage students and families, such as home visits, to plans to buy more instructional supplies or adaptive software for students with disabilities.

Chaula Gupta, the Funds vice president, said she was struck by how many applications reflected a sense that this moment of disruption offers opportunities to innovate and speed up learning for students.

The underlying theme for almost every application was learning acceleration, she said.

Last week, the nonprofit A Better Chicago also announced the launch of a program called Chicago Design Challenge with backing from some of Chicagos philanthropic heavy-hitters, an initiative to help fund promising innovations to accelerate learning recovery and promote well-being.

At Fuller, McCottrell said the school is seeing promising results from its small-group push, particularly in reading. Chicago elementary schools are gearing up to reopen for students in March, but educators say they expect the small-group instruction will remain virtual.

McCottrell looks forward to kicking the effort into higher gear down the road.

When kids come back man, we can probably change the world, she said. We can make a big difference.

Cassie Walker Burke contributed to this report.

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