A man who has claimed that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax has been ordered by a jury to pay one of the victim’s parents $450,000 for publishing false claims in a book.
James Fetzer, a retired college professor who co-authored a book called “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” was ordered in Dane County, Wisconsin, on Tuesday to pay damages to Leonard Pozner, who filed a defamation lawsuit against him in November 2018. Pozner’s 6-year-old son, Noah, was one of 26 victims killed in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Fetzer has accused Pozner of circulating fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate and also claimed that Noah was not Pozner’s son.
He went on to say that Fetzer and others like him have a right to believe what they’d like as part of their First Amendment right. But, Pozner said, that doesn’t mean they should be free to harass and terrorize others.
Fetzer reportedly called the damages “absurd” and said he would appeal. The attorneys listed as his representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Pozner has filed similar suits against other conspiracy theorists, including against Alex Jones, who runs the website Infowars. In August, a Texas judge turned down Jones’ attempt to toss a defamation suit brought against him by Pozner and Noah’s mother, Veronique De La Rosa, who are seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, who has reiterated his belief that the shooting was a hoax and the parents are “crisis actors.” This led to victims’ families receiving death threats and online harassment from Infowars followers.
Fetzer has maintained that the shooting was a staged federal emergency drill to promote gun control.
Fetzer’s co-author Mike Palecek and their publisher were also named in Pozner’s lawsuit. Both later reached out-of-court settlements, details of which were not disclosed, according to the State Journal.
“My face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son,” Gahary said. “I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family.”
But Gahary later told Splinter News that he has no “discomfort” selling such books and that it’s up to readers to decide what they want to read. He said he also continues to have questions about the Sandy Hook attack.
Shauna M Ahern used to make her living by writing a food blog. But when times got tough, she realised keeping up appearances can make you lose sight of lifes meaning
I arrive at six in the morning, two hours before the store opens. Awaiting me is an aisle of boxes, stacked up. One last sip of my coffee, then I put on my gloves and take a big breath. Time to go in.
I lug boxes, slash open tops with my cutter, put new packages of wholegrain seeded bread, naan and seasonal sugar cookies on the shelves, and then haul the overstock to the back freezer. It takes me nearly an hour to stack all the boxes in the right places, label them and leave the freezer clean. Then I walk to the bakery department and make sure the doughnuts are glazed and set in the case, waiting.
By eight oclock, when the store opens, I have made an inviting space for the first customers. At 10, during my lunch break, I meet my husband at the sports bar down the street for a plate of hash browns, sausages and eggs over easy. I am hungry. I have worked hard.
I am a James Beard awardwinning glutenfree cookbook author. And for nine months, I worked in our local grocery store for $15 an hour.
It is the best job I have ever worked.
Online, no one knows you are poor. No one is posting photos of the basket of bills overflowing, some of the envelopes with urgent stamped on them. Very few people write about the choices they make out of fear of going bankrupt, like selling expensive camera lenses that feel less important than rent. And few of us want to admit that we are struggling with money, even though we live in a culture where the rich have grown astronomically rich and the rest of us have grown anxious about health insurance. As my friend Ashley Ford wrote online one day: Im trying to choose an insurance plan, but Im pretty sure the only good insurance is wealth.
I never shared online the time that my husband Danny and I looked at our bank account and saw $85 left for the last week of the month. We didnt have a savings account. We didnt have a 401(k) to drain for emergency funds. I had already done that eight years before. Our credit score was shot by the medical bills we couldnt pay after my daughter Lucys terrifying time and the hospital stay for my ministroke.
We had only $85 and no way to charge anything on a credit card. Luckily, we were expecting a $6,000 check from a freelance gig, but it had been delayed. Still, we were like most Americans living paycheck to paycheck (almost eight out of 10 Americans, according to reputable studies) and unable to pay for an unexpected bill of more than $500 (nearly six out of 10 Americans). We were struggling. And we were terrified. I realized that the mindset of worrying that we might go broke was damaging us.
I was no longer interested in following my bliss. I wanted to pay my bills.
Several artist friends recommended I find a manual labor job, one that would require none of my mind. I had never worked a job that merely asked me to show up. I found out that working parttime at the grocery store three days a week would give me health insurance for the entire family. And maybe putting premade pies on a display table would give me some time to think. So the next time I took a case of our glutenfree flour mix into our grocery store, I delivered an invoice and a job application. They hired me that week.
They put me in the bakery. Since I have celiac, I cant eat even a bit of gluten. But the bakery section in the grocery store is almost all packages, and Im not allergic to plastic. It was a bit of a shock, at first, not being able to stop what I was doing to work on an essay or take photographs. Or check Twitter. After years of being a freelancer, I couldnt believe how wild my mind was when asked to do a task and then check back with my supervisor (a former student of mine) to ask what task she wanted me to complete next. I noticed that my mind balked. I kept working. And after a few weeks of shelving bags of croutons and cleaning out the cake case, I started to enjoy the wildness of my mind. At the store, I had to show up on time, do my work, then leave it all behind. I didnt know work could be that easy.
Friends came into the store and we would talk in threeminute bursts as I stocked frozen pizzas. Customers asked me questions about where we kept that one brand of wholewheat bread, since it was the only one their kids would eat. I answered dozens of little questions a day. I realized that I liked feeling useful.
And all day long, I saw people, in tiny bantering interactions and questions. I developed a daily routine with fellow employees: a checkin at the cheese counter, a quick conversation about politics in produce. I would never have met any of these people I came to like, any other way. I started to feel like part of the community of my town.
On my lunch hours, I sat at the front of the store, taking notes. On the backs of papers that read Grainfree flatbread, $6.49 each, I started writing lists. I look back at them now and realize I was clearing my mind of how I had lived. I wrote lists of what I wanted to accomplish in our house, our medical appointments, our taxes. I jotted down ideas for how to let go of my blog, GlutenFree Girl. And I started taking notes on what I noticed about customers who had less money than most.
I noticed that the people who lived on the dayold breads looked around furtively to make sure no one saw when they reached into the discount bin. I led one woman to the back of the store to find the package of dayold rolls I had put in there, the gravy packets on sale, and some croutons for stuffing. Thank you! she said before she put her arms around me. Im going to have Thanksgiving because of you.
I found out that 22% of all students in our communitys schools qualified for free or reduced lunches. That didnt account for the 10% of families who were above the official poverty line but still scrambling, or the single people or couples who did not have enough. That meant that nearly one out of three people who came into the store struggled to make ends meet.
Each day, at about two, I walked to the back freezer with a laminated list and a tall cart. I pulled boxes down from the top of the back freezer. Methodically, with plastic gloves on, I pulled the doughnuts raspberry-filled, Bavarian cream, chocolate glazed and put them on black trays in a specified pattern. I was in the freezer by myself, pulling the doughnuts, humming a little. And then I wheeled the cart to the cooler, ready for the morning crew to bake them the next day.
Years before, I would have disdained these doughnuts: full of sugar, premade months before in a factory.
In the second year of my blog, I wrote a silly little piece about how Danny and I stood in line at the store and wondered at the crap in other peoples carts. I received emails telling me I was being a food snob. At first defensive come on, America eats lousy food! I came to understand how wrong I had been. A woman shared with me how little she makes on her teaching salary in Oklahoma, how she visits the food bank to make it, and how a trip to the grocery store for cheap cake is an experience only reserved for once in a while when she cant stand the shame any more. I was chastened and changed. And now I try to do better. How do I know that the woman buying the 99cent doughnuts at our store isnt giving her two kids the only treat she can afford that week? And who am I to say that they shouldnt eat those doughnuts?
One day, I had a long conversation with the stores owner. At 89 years old, he had owned the store for 53 years. His grandson had taken over managing the store, but the owner still clocked in 20 hours a week. Mostly, he spent that time in the city, at a store in a lowincome neighborhood. He consulted a list of the 20 topselling foods at our store. If the price in the city was lower, he called his grandson and told him to lower the price on ours. I stopped him one day to thank him for all that he did for our community. He told me: It befuddles me that people put their focus on what is happening across the country and the world. There is enough to do here.
A few months after I started working there, I switched away from the bakery to bagging groceries. I loved the rhythm of fitting in food like a Jenga game. I have a lot of friends on the island. People who recognized me from my website came through my line. It took me a while to stop talking so much and focus on my work instead. (The assistant manager had to reprimand me in his office for that. I learned fast.) So I had the chance to do what I have always loved most: observe people when theyre not watching me.
I learned that very few people make the highly styled dishes offered on Instagram. Oh sure, about every two weeks someone would come through with a bag full of vegetables, determined to juice for 30 days to lose weight. A few people bought jojo potatoes from the deli and an energy drink. But both of these were the outliers. Instead, most people bought meats, cheeses, some fruits and vegetables, three to five packaged crunchy foods, cat litter, toilet paper, beverages, butter, pads and some kind of sweet thing or two. Maybe three people a day were buying ingredients for a specific recipe. Over and over, I saw that what my fellow recipe developers and I hashed out to make ourselves relevant Vegan treats for the whole family! How to use hempseed! was not being made in most homes. It humbled me.
I started paying attention to the people who shopped for the entire week with a plan. I took note of their food as I bagged it and how much it cost. I compared it to the people like my husband and me who shopped at the last moment. We were spending too much money on food. I started buying our meat from the discount bin and giving ourselves a limit on how much money we could spend each day. Our grocery bill started to grow smaller. Shopping was no longer a decadent pleasure for us but a mindset for being able to cook and eat without stress.
I left the job, eventually, because another opportunity worth more money walked into my path. And then, when that fell through, the next step arrived. Danny is the one working three days a week now, expediting in a restaurant, mostly for the connection with our community. I no longer earn any money online.
When I go back to the store, every Sunday, my daughter skipping next to the cart, I hug my friends who work there. As I pass the front counter on my way out, I remember the urgency of those lunchhour breaks writing notes on the backs of recycled sale signs, where I first imagined the idea, then created the structure, and jotted down some of the first sentences for this book.
2019 By Shauna M. Ahern. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Enough: Notes From a Woman Who Has Finally Found It by permission of Sasquatch Books
In April, Bridenstine said before lawmakers that NASA astronauts could be on the Red Planet by 2033, pushing up the timeframe, Fox 2 previously reported.
“We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the moon landing (to 2024),” Bridenstine told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. “We need to learn how to live and work in another world. The moon is the best place to prove those capabilities and technologies. The sooner we can achieve that objective, the sooner we can move on to Mars.”
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the IAC and said that NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024, is a stepping stone for an eventual mission to Mars.
“With Apollo in the history books, the Artemis mission has begun, and we are well on our way to making NASA’s moon-to-Mars mission a reality,” Pence said, according to Space.com.
Pence added that America is leading the world when it comes to space, but does want to partner with other countries that have like-minded values.
“To be clear, our vision is to be a leader amongst freedom-loving nations on the adventure into the great unknown,” the vice president said at the conference. “The United States of America will always be willing to work closely with like-minded, freedom-loving nations as we lead mankind into the final frontier.”
Indeed, Mars looms ever larger in America’s space future. In November 2018, NASA announced that it had selected the location where its Mars 2020 Rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021.
Although Bridenstine and NASA’s long-term goal are to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin thinks that a slightly later target date of 2040 is more realistic.
In an interview in 2016, Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, told Fox News that by 2040, astronauts could visit Mars’ moon Phobos, which could serve as a sort of stepping stone to the Red Planet.
What do you do when you feel unworthy? How do you find freedom from shame, guilt, and sin?
We’ve boiled down the message of Christianity to being imperfect people who have been forgiven. But what if the message isn’t just about what Christ has done for us–forgiving our sins so we can go to heaven one day–but also about what He has done to us?
Life is filled with shame, guilt, sin, and hurt. These things have convinced us that we’re flawed, we’re not enough, and that something is uniquely wrong with who we are. And quite honestly, we look to Christianity for help and the message we often hear leaves us disappointed, doubtful, and disillusioned.
Zach Maldonado has experienced this firsthand. But he’s discovered that who we truly are is not found in what we’ve done or what we’ve gone through. In Perfect and Forgiven, Zach takes us into his own journey of identity, and with humor, vulnerability, and a unique story-driven format, reveals how to live free from shame, guilt, and sin.
Through understanding who you are in Christ, you can begin to live free from the shame that condemns you, the guilt that riddles you, and the sin that entangles you.
“Zach Maldonado has been radically and authentically undone by grace. He is also gifted to communicate like few others. Those realities combined allow truth, lived out, to jump from the page. He is smart, vulnerable, and funny, funny, and funny. I think you will love this book.”
–John Lynch, Author of “On My Worst Day” and co-author of “The Cure”
“Zach unpacks powerful Biblical truths, raw and transparent stories from his own testimony and many inspirational examples to help you unlock the God-given potential lying dormant inside.”
–Dave Willis, Best-selling author of “The Seven Laws of Love” and TV and Podcast Host for MarriageToday.
“‘Perfect and Forgiven’ is a wonder of practical beauty and theological truth! I laughed, gasped, marveled and cried when reading Zach Maldonado’s book, because the God I know, who speaks to me and motivates me, moved through its’ pages. If you know–or have yet to know–the God of all grace, get this book. You’ll be deeply moved.”
–Ralph Harris, Best-selling author of Life According to Perfect, and God’s Astounding Opinion of You
“This book is such a beautiful reminder of God’s relentless, radical grace. It inspires and challenges us to reject the narrative of shame, accept that we are accepted, and live out our identity as sons and daughters of God.”
–Dominic Done, Lead Pastor at Westside: A Jesus Church and author of When Faith Fails
Zach Maldonado serves as a pastor at Church Without Religion and with Andrew Farley Ministries. Zach is also an author and speaker with a passion to proclaim the gospel and to help people believe Jesus is enough. He holds a Master of Arts in Theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. You can follow him on social media at @ZachMaldo or visit his website ZachMaldonado.com
Princess Beatrice is engaged to her boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, her parents have announced.
The 31-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, got engaged to the 34-year-old property tycoon in Italy earlier this month.
The princess, who is ninth in line to the throne, will marry Mr Mapelli Mozzi next year.
“We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together,” the pair said in a statement.
“We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness,” they added.
Beatrice said on Twitter she was “so excited” by the announcement, while her fiance said on Instagram: “You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home.”
The Duke and Duchess of York said: “We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride.”
“We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future,” they added.
“It’s been a long time coming and you two are meant to be,” Eugenie added.
Who is Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?
Mr Mapelli Mozzi – known as Edo – is descended from Italian aristocracy, according to AFP.
He is the son of former alpine skier Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, who competed for Britain in the 1972 Olympics.
His mother, Nikki Williams-Ellis, was formerly known as Nikki Shale, from her marriage to the late Christopher Shale – Edoardo’s stepfather.
Mr Shale – who died from heart disease at Glastonbury Festival in 2011 – was a senior Tory and close friend of former prime minister David Cameron.
Mr Mapelli Mozzi has been a friend of Beatrice’s family for some time.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, said he believed the pair had been together for about two years – and that they have only been seen together in public a handful of times. He said things have “moved pretty quickly”.
Cordelia Lee has experienced something few in the Western world have even witnessed: exorcism. Demonic possession brought her to a Taoist shaman who could drive out her tormentors, but only temporarily. Cordelia’s problems were multifaceted: a troubled childhood, molests, rape attempt, black magic, anorexia, unfulfilled maternal instinct, failing marriage, and depression. Given the severity of her experiences and the return of the evil spirits, Cordelia had to dedicate her life to healing if she was ever to recover.
She had earlier experienced an unexpected kundalini awakening; it awakened her to the spiritual realm and the unseen energies that fill the universe. Things she used to think were illogical and nonexistent. But the spiritual realm that promised answers also held the ghosts that flooded her—and a much more human danger.
Not everyone had the kindness of the shaman who exorcised Cordelia. She met other teachers on her journey, and some of these gurus wanted to manipulate her with black magic. Discerning between helpful guides and wolves in sheep’s clothing proved challenging. Yet the promise of healing through earthly and spiritual means urged her forward. With the support of trustworthy friends, Cordelia would become a healer in her own right.
Possessed: From Darkness to Light by Cordelia Lee is a memoir that reads like horror, and it’s hard to believe this is a true story, but the narrator’s voice is so real that the reader is compelled to accept the extraordinary events narrated in this memoir. Readers are introduced to a protagonist with a heap of problems — difficult childhood, molestation, attempted rape, black magic, anorexia, marital issues, and depression. Possessed, a shaman exorcises her, but is unable to completely banish the evil spirits. While Cordelia Lee seeks healing, she has an unusual experience of awakening — transported to a spiritual realm where she experiences the different energies in the universe. She could find answers to her quest for healing in this dimension, but this realm is also the dwelling of malevolent spirits. Can she beat the ruses of manipulative spiritual teachers who would use black magic to get what they want, find the tools she needs for her battles, and win her inner freedom? This is a story that exudes a rare kind of pathos and as the reader encounters young Cordelia Lee — a once happy and exuberant child — they become keen to find out what could possibly happen to her. They quickly learn to care about her.
The author has a unique narrative voice and knows how to make readers feel what she has felt. You’ll touch her fear; you’ll feel the chills run down your body as you connect with the images she conjures. While the writing might not be exceptional, the story is confidently told and the author has a voice that is original. Possessed: From Darkness to Light is a true story that gives hope to readers, making them understand that they can be masters of their destiny and that no matter how horrific their experiences in life, they can always choose to seek the light at the end of the tunnel. This is an engrossing story that will awaken all kinds of emotions in readers.
Author Comments about the book:
My personal memoir as a survivor of black magic and demonic possession, on top of other life challenges like troubled childhood, molests, rape attempt, anorexia, unfulfilled maternal instinct, failing marriage, and depression
This is the only personal memoir in the market of a real person who came out triumphant, positive and healed after a harrowing experience as a black magic victim and that of demonic possession.
Not to mention becoming a healer who helps others who suffer such torment.
Most victims end up diagnosed as schizophrenic and having to medicate themselves for life or end up being committed to a mental institution. Or they live a life of suffering till they are able to find salvation.
Cordelia Lee lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband and their son. After overcoming depression and anorexia in her teens, Cordelia experienced a spontaneous kundalini awakening in her thirties. Although she had no prior training, she found herself able to perform vocal sound healing, which she has used to help others handle stress and heal.
Together with her husband Ket, they are meditation teachers. Their practice is nonreligious and not mainstream. The most important aspect of their work is to help and empower people to heal, especially those who have gone through ordeals like hers. Their work has taken them around Asia and Australia as they lead meditation sessions, retreats and workshops.
Cordelia is a firm believer in second chances and their availability to anyone who seeks them.
After immersing themselves in mantras in I AM Manifesto, young siblings Hao Finley and Sabine Yi Lee are on their journey of seeking knowledge from around the world. In Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids, these philomaths not only learn about words from their own and other cultures and countries, they absorb new facts about stuff they thought they knew. Name the subject, they’re sharing: science and math (big, uncomplicated check!), different languages (“oui, sí, shì” check!), environmental awareness (layered-atmosphere check!), etiquette (thank you, check!), music (treble clef check!), international cuisine (lots of yummy checks!), and many more. Shared with wit.
Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids is a nonfiction educational book for children written and illustrated by SB Hilarion. Hao Finley Lee (HF) and his little sister, Sabine Yi Lee (SY) are philomaths, and they really enjoy it. What’s a philomath, you may wonder? According to the definition provided at the beginning of this book, a philomath is “a seeker of knowledge; a person who loves learning and studying new facts and acquiring new knowledge.” And by even picking up this book and reading through the first page or two, kids and adults alike will find themselves suddenly appreciating the concept that they might already be philomaths themselves.
Each chapter in this quite engrossing book covers a letter of the alphabet. No big deal, you say? Actually, it is. Along with learning the pronunciation and meanings of words that will dazzle parents, teachers and fellow students alike, readers are treated to entertaining snippets, drawings, and even some science as they read through this book. And while the thought of learning vocabulary usually makes even the most dedicated student yawn and start to feel drowsy, this book will achieve the exact opposite reaction in all but the truly undead zombies out there.
I love words and have always considered that I have a fairly strong grasp of vocabulary, at least English vocabulary, that is. SB Hilarion’s uniquely mesmerizing vocabulary primer had me questioning my actual credentials as a philomath from the very first page. I love this book! I enjoyed the presentations my two hosts, HF and SY, gave in each chapter, and I had to slow myself down to adequately digest all the data, drawings, humor and knowledge found on each page. This book is a sheer delight and will, no doubt, convert even the most abject despiser of vocabulary drills into a fellow philomath, one who easily uses the most amazing words and actually knows what they mean. Each word presented is given glorious, multicolor life, making learning an interactive and simply amazing experience. I hope that Hilarion, HF and SY are planning further books and eagerly await further learning adventures with them. Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids is both humongous and cool — it’s also most highly recommended.
SB Hilarion is the author and main illustrator of the narrative nonfiction children’s books in the Raising Young Scholars Series. The author of I AM Manifesto, Hilarion holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Columbia University, and a law degree from Harvard University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, plus some deer who refuse to pay rent.
BOSTON ― The Harriet Tubman House stands tall in the South End, one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. In the afternoon, the sun hits the front of the three-story brick building, entering its atrium and halls through picture windows and shining on art dedicated to Black history and culture. A mural, wrapped around the front and right side of the building, celebrates the building’s namesake, other trailblazers and a community with a rich history hidden in plain sight.
Since 1976, the Harriet Tubman House’s rooms have been filled with multiple generations of people, mostly Black, who wanted to be fed, nurtured and understood.
The cherished building, which sits at 566 Columbus Ave., is owned by a 127-year-old community institution, United South End Settlements (USES). Among its tenants are six community organizations that aim to help Boston’s most disempowered. Through those nonprofits, families have been able to find affordable housing, get child care, obtain their GEDs, acquire job training and find solace. The Harriet Tubman House, in a neighborhood unlike many of the homogenous parts of Boston, helped bring a community together.
But in recent weeks, the building has been mostly empty. It is nowin the process of being sold, news that has sparked protests from community members who wish to preserve an icon of Black history in Boston. But USES told HuffPost that selling the Tubman House was necessary in order for the organization to survive, per publicist Sean Hennesey.
In February, USES told its tenants that it was planning to sell the building to real estate development group New Boston Ventures, which would demolish it to make way for a six-story commercial and residential space with a “social enterprise café” for community gathering, according to New Boston Ventures principal David Goldman. The new building will keep the Tubman House’s mural and designate some workspace for USES programs, changes Goldman said were made after listening to community members.
In May, leaders at USES told tenants that they had 90 days to leave the building (the original deadline was since extended to Nov. 30). Four of the nonprofit organizations under USES’ lease — Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Boston Prime Timers, Boston Debate League and Montessori Parent Child Center — agreed. USES and the development company worked to permanently relocate the four groups to new buildings close to the neighborhood.
But the remaining two groups, housing rights organization Tenants Development Corporation and reproductive rights group Resilient Sisterhood, refused and stayed behind to fight for the legacy of the Harriet Tubman House and against efforts to gentrify a neighborhood full of Black history. And they brought other community members and alumni of USES programs with them.
Demonstrations commenced ahead of community meetings, including two in August that engaged the broader community beyond just tenants. Protesters chanted to let the facilitators of the sale know “we will not be erased.”
It became a battle to save their home and their history.
A Legacy Of Black History In Boston
The Harriet Tubman House is now facing its fourth move in its history. In 1904, six Black women — including one of Tubman’s friends Julia O. Henson — rented the first Harriet Tubman House at 37 Holyoke Street in the South End to help other Black women who had just moved from the South and were looking for a place to stay. Later, Henson donated her home, located on the same street, for the house’s expanding programs. Along with Cornelia Robinson, Annie W. Young, Fannie R. Contine, Jestina A. Johnson, Sylvia Fern and Hibernia Waddell, she organized a settlement house to feed, clothe, shelter and provide community for Black women transitioning to a new city, going on to officially incorporate it in 1906. Tubman was named honorary president of the house just four years before her death in 1913. In 1960, the house was merged with other local settlement houses to form USES.
In 1976, 566 Columbus Avenue was erected to serve as a modern home for USES’ programs and to honor Tubman’s legacy. It sits on land that was home to Boston’s historic Hi-Hat jazz club, the famed venue where icons like Miles Davis used to play. Behind it was a former Pullman porter meeting place where Black workers would organize. Across the street on Massachusetts Avenue sits the building where W.E.B. DuBois held some of the first NAACP meetings. Just a block away on the same street is the home in which Martin Luther King Jr. lived while attending Boston University.
Arnesse Brown, head of I Am Harriet, a group formed out of the fight to save the building, often went to the Tubman House as a child. She told HuffPost that the building is one of the last standing pieces of Boston’s Black history that hasn’t been relegated to a mere plaque. She is also the corporate relations manager of TDC, the Black-owned housing and development companyfounded in the Tubman House that won a case that helped secure tenants’ rights across the country. She said she finds it ironic that her nonprofit is being displaced from the building that gave birth to it.
“This particular place, where it sits, and it was done purposefully, it sits in a tremendous amount of African American history, some known, some unknown, and it’s still needed,” Brown said. “This is creating more condos in an area that is overwhelmed by condos. But it’s also one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods and has been celebrated as such and it’s becoming more and more homogenized, less and less people of color and more and more wealthy and affluent whites.”
Murmurs about the sale permeated the walls of the Tubman House for more than two years, but nothing had been confirmed. USES leadership met with tenants in December 2017 to discuss a “strategic plan implementation and real estate options for the future,” saying they were “in a period of hearing from the community at large (including you) on these options,” according to an email sent to tenants.
A Financial Bind
In November 2018, tenants received a letter from USES President Maicharia Weir Lytle and board chair Julia Johannsen stating that the organization was “exploring the creation of a new Harriet Tubman House” at one of its other buildings located at 48 Rutland Street, less than half a mile away. The letter also stated that they were “seeking proposals for 566 Columbus Avenue to fund the expansion.”
Around the same time, USES leaders notified tenants that their spaces would transition to month-to-month leases until June 30, 2019, at the earliest, despite not having a buyer at the time.
“Our strategic planning process clearly indicated that … in order to financially survive, we needed to consolidate our programs under one roof,” Weir Lytle told HuffPost. “We knew we were going to enter a real estate process. We did that with as much transparency as we were able to do.” Weir Lytle said USES held community meetings about entering the real estate planning process and after the organization decided it would consolidate to the Rutland Street building.
Some tenants and community members, however, say that USES wasn’t transparent about the sale.Rachel Goldberg, a real estate investor and community member opposed to the sale, said the organization’s process didn’t actively engage the community.
“The process itself was flawed. People were not aware of it,” Goldberg told HuffPost. She suggestedeither repurposing it or changing the position of the property in the market as alternative solutions. “Demolition is really the last and final option and in this case not necessary at all.”
Weir Lytle told HuffPost that USES explored other options but were left with the decision to either sell the Tubman House or risk shuttering their organization. She and Johannsen told HuffPost that parting ways with the building was hard for them, too, but said that it was necessary for the survival of USES and its programs that benefit thousands. They noted that the building on Rutland Street is not only in better condition than the Tubman House but also old enough to be considered “historic” by law, which would qualify for a tax credit.
Since the early 2000s, the organization has had difficulty fundraising and hasn’t been able to recover, said Weir Lytle.
“We spend over $400,000 a year just to keep the doors open and the lights on. So being able to offload that on our budget and take that money and actually invest it into our programs is really necessary,” she said of the Tubman House.
Though the building isn’t old enough to be deemed historic by law, community members and the two nonprofits who are against the sale feel as though one of the last pieces of Black history remaining in the South End is being ripped away from them.
“This is yet another one of the major Black institutions in Boston that is being bulled over and in this case torn down for condos,” former city councilor Tito Jackson told HuffPost. “To lose these institutions is not only an institutional loss but it’s also a loss of services and a loss of history in particular.”
Brown and the rest of I Am Harriet know this is about more than a building. They fear what will come of the people who severely needed the Tubman House’s programs, especially those that could be cut because of USES’ new vision.
“The most people who are going to be impacted are the underserved, the low-income families, the low-income people who lost all of their services,” Brown said, noting that many of the people who benefited from the GED, ESOL and job training services at the Tubman House came from other Black neighborhoods in the city like Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury. “This is a center that served the entire city of Boston, low-income white, low-income Asian, but predominantly low-income Black and Latino.”
Goldman of New Boston Ventures said the new building will host workspace for displaced USES nonprofit organizations on its ground level. According to Goldman, 17% of the condos in the building will be affordable housing units for local artists, 4% higher than the city’s requirement for new condo buildings.
Lilly Marcelin, a member of I Am Harriet and the founding director of the Resilient Sisterhood Project, said that this compromise is not enough.
“They’re taking away our properties and they’re giving us crumbs and the crumbs are in the form of units,” she told HuffPost. “But they’re really pitting the community against one another and if you resist the crumbing of luxury condos, it’ll appear as though you aren’t supporting these artists in getting access to the apartments.”
Weir Lytle apologized on behalf of USES “if people did not feel listened to or heard” in the process of the building’s sale.
“As a woman of color leading an agency that predominantly serves people of color, I think that’s really unfortunate,” she told HuffPost. “USES is in the business of making sure that our communities that have been traditionally left out and oppressed, which has been the Black community of Boston, have access to services. That is the sole purpose of our organization. And I will continue to tell people that that is what we do.”
Trigger Warning: This article contains references to sexual assault.
I remember exactly where I was when I read her statements against Brock Turner, and maybe you do too. Buzzfeed had published a letter from an anonymous victim referred to as Emily Doe, which she had written and read aloud to her assailant in court. I sat at my kitchen counter and watched her powerful words blur out of focus as hot tears ran down my face. I remember feeling a rage rumble in my stomach. It was familiar, yet new. I had felt fury over the injustice sexual assault survivors endure many times before, but this felt like a tipping point. This woman’s bravery to speak up for herself and directly to her assailant felt like a call to action. As I read it, the silence I knew my friends, myself, and countless others lived with rang in my ears. It was time for change.
Now, the woman who wrote these words has named herself. Chanel Miller has come forward as the woman who was assaulted by Brock Turner, and she is writing a book about her experience. The memoir, entitled Know My Name, will detail Miller’s life since the assault and trial that occurred in 2016.
For years, Chanel Miller was known only as "Emily Doe," the anonymous woman who brought a sexual assault case against Brock Turner. In an upcoming memoir, she'll tell her story under her own name.https://t.co/pr7CrXVGHE
Chanel Miller’s assault ignited a conversation about sexual violence and how it is treated in both our society and the criminal justice system. People were outraged by the outcome of the trial, as Brock Turner received six months in county jail, of which he served three, despite the fact that he was found guilty on three counts of felony sexual assault. There were also two eyewitnesses in the case. It was obvious that this scum-sucking trash sack was guilty, and yet there was barely — and I mean barely — any justice to be served.
She has been known to the world as “Emily Doe,” the sexual assault victim of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. Now she’s revealing her name and face. Chanel Miller, here reading her victim impact statement, gives her first interview to "60 Minutes" https://t.co/U4GDOofVj6pic.twitter.com/cpVMwCZ4Sk
As one can imagine, the trial, along with its publicity, was grueling for Chanel Miller. Her letter made that apparent, and now we will get an entire book to hear her side of the story. Excuse me while I pre-order on Amazon, and purchase approx. 5 million tissues, as I will be sobbing uncontrollably while reading.
Chanel Miller’s letter was beautifully written, so we can only imagine that her book will be incredible. The editor of the book, Andrea Schultz, told The New York Times, “I jumped out of my chair to acquire it, because it was just obvious to me from the beginning what she had to say and how different it was and how extraordinarily well she was going to say it. She had the brain and the voice of a writer from the very beginning, even in that situation.”
According to the New York Times piece, the writing process for Know My Name was a way for Miller to piece together what happened to her the night of the assault. Miller read pages of court documents and transcripts of witness testimonies she had not been allowed to hear during the trial, and had weekly calls with Schultz to discuss what she was discovering.
The cover art for “Know My Name” is inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi or “golden repair,” in which broken pottery pieces are restructured using lacquer and powdered gold. In this sense, it creates something beautiful from something that has been broken, emphasizing where it has cracked. The visual is meant to represent Chanel Miller’s process of healing and recovery from both the assault and the trial. Brb while I go drown in my own tears.
After US talkshow host Bill Maher called for fat shaming to “make a comeback”, fellow host James Corden’s impassioned response won widespread support online.
“It’s proven that fat shaming only does one thing,” he said. “It makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour – self-destructive behaviour like overeating.”
“If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there’d be no fat kids in schools.”
Fat shaming might not be healthy for all but I owe my whole entire career to being fat shamed. Coaches and scouts passed on me because of my body type for years. So I went out and did all the necessary things in order to prove them wrong. Wasn’t easy but nothing is in life! https://t.co/YHWyhv3WzI
That experience, though, is atypical, says Jane Ogden, a professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey.
“Shaming is the wrong way forward,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Monday.
“All of the evidence is that fat shaming just makes people feel worse. It lowers their self-esteem. It makes them feel depressed and anxious and as a result of that what they then do is self-destructive.”
Victoria Abraham, 19, lives and studies in New York city, but grew up in Florida.
She says that her first hand experience shows Mr Maher is wrong about fat shaming.
“I have been shamed my entire life for my weight and I am still fat. When nasty comments were made to me as a child I used to go home after school and eat food to make myself feel better.
“It’s not like people were saying these comments from a place of caring. They just wanted to make me feel small and negative about my body.
“The people who cared about my health were my parents and my doctor and that’s it. They were the only people who had the right to talk to me about my body. The kids on the street were just teasing me for being different.”
Victoria stresses that she is now very confident about her body and reflects that if her younger self could have seen her now then her childhood would have been much happier.
“Back then you weren’t allowed to be fat and happy,” she said. “You weren’t allowed to love yourself no matter what you looked like”.
It was changing the media she consumed that made all the difference.
“After I finished middle school I started reading books with fat characters and watching TV with fat women which started to change the way I viewed myself. If you only see media with thin white women then you think something is wrong with you. But when you see beautiful fat women you start to see the beauty in yourself.”
Victoria also acknowledges the health impacts of obesity.
“Losing weight is good for your health but I am anti-diet. I have tried most of them and you just put the weight back on after the diet. Now I just try and do more exercise and eat healthier things.”
“It’s a very hard conversation to have,” Professor Ogden told the BBC.
“The evidence out there for the impact of excess bodyweight and obesity – on cancer, on diabetes, on heart disease – is very clear. And that’s education we need to have out there.
“But because the line between getting that message out there and then actually making someone feel ashamed of who they are is so fine, those conversations are very difficult.”
Even if you do lose weight, fat shaming can negatively impact health in other ways.
Will Mavity, 25, lives in Los Angeles. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he was, he says, “extremely chubby”.
It is not a description you would use about him today.
“They would call me double d, and this stuff added up. When I started high school I decided the only way I could avoid this was to never be fat again,” he told the BBC.
But Will developed an eating disorder.
“Fat shaming caused me to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I started to purge after every meal,” he said.
“I injure myself over and over again because of over-exercise. I feel I have to. I start getting angry whenever I cannot work out. I can’t shake it. Because of the fat shaming, I associate my value as a human being with the way I look.”
“Shaming anybody for anything doesn’t help you – whatever the thing is that is being shamed,” Professor Ogden explained.