Possessed: From Darkness to Light by Cordelia Lee

Book Summary:

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.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2p2vXxI

Review:

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.

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/possessed

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.

Author Bio:

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.

Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids by SB Hilarion

Book Summary:

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.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2OvMJzZ

Review:

Readers’ Favorite:

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.

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/humongous-cool-words-for-kids

Author Bio:

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.

Gentrification Comes For Harriet Tubman House

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. 

The interior of the Harriet Tubman House in Boston.

Tenants Divided

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.”

Read more: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/boston-harriet-tubman-house_n_5d94ec70e4b0da7f6620b152

Chanel Miller Comes Forward As ‘Emily Doe’ In Brock Turner Sexual Assault Case | Betches

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.

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.

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.

Know My Name will be released on September 24.

Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House

Read more: https://betches.com/?p=66376

Does fat shaming help people lose weight?

Image copyright Getty Images

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.”

But does Maher have a point? Almost two thirds of adults in England were overweight or obese in 2017. The NHS recorded 10,660 hospital admissions in 2017/18 where obesity was the primary diagnosis.

In the US, the situation is starker still. More than 70% of adults over 20 are overweight or obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

On Twitter, the former professional baseball player, Kevin Youkilis, claimed he owed his “whole entire career” to fat shaming, having initially been overlooked by scouts because of his weight.

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.”

A study by behavioural scientists at University College London found rather than encouraging people to lose weight, fat shaming led people to put on more weight.

Image copyright Victoria Abraham

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.”

Image copyright Will Mavity

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.

“It’s just not a positive way to run a society.”

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49714697

Catholic School Removes ‘Harry Potter’ From Library In Case The Spells Are Real | Betches

Where my Harry Potter nerds at? According to my Twitter feed, y’all are everywhere and you’re all pissed that some online quiz sorted to you into House Hufflepuff. But you know where people aren’t feeling the Harry Potter magic? St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee, where the book series has been banned after the school’s pastor claimed that the spells and curses in the book are real. L-M-A-O.

Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor on the school’s faculty, sent out an email to the school staff explaining the move. The gist:

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the texts.”

Ugh, don’t you just hate when you’re reading the children-friendly book Harry Potter out loud to your eight-year-old niece and then *POOF* an evil spirit conjures its ass up? So annoying.

After consulting with “exorcists” in the U.S. and Rome, the pastor asked that the books be removed from the school’s libraries, and his request was obliged. Hermoine would NOT be happy about this.

The pastor said he also felt as though the heroes of the Harry Potter series “promote a Machiavellian approach to achieving the ends they desire.” Did I have to Google what ‘Machiavellian’ means? Yes. Did what I found make me lol? Also yes. Machiavellian means ‘cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous,  especially in politics.’ Sounds more like a certain sitting president than the precious lil’ wizard who is trying to save humanity against the forces of evil, but go off, Rev.

Look, I’m no Harry Potter expert — I’ve tried to get through the series twice and each time I get to book five and get distracted by not being a virgin. (Low hanging fruit joke, but I had to sorry!!!) But from what I remember, this is a harmless book about a sweet young underdog who realizes he has the power to fight evil, hatred, and intolerance. It’s a pretty classic — if not textbook — good vs. evil story. I don’t think we need to worry about it conjuring any demons.

The school’s superintendent was not pleased with all the attention this news story got, so she publicly clarified that the book series has not been banned from the school. Kids are still allowed to bring their own copies and read it on campus, it just no longer is available in the school’s library.

And if the pastor is correct about these spells being real, someone please @ me and lmk because in that case I will actually finish the series because knowing some real curses would be cool as hell.

Read more: https://betches.com/st-edward-catholic-school-harry-potter/

Catholic School Removes ‘Harry Potter’ From Library In Case The Spells Are Real | Betches

Where my Harry Potter nerds at? According to my Twitter feed, y’all are everywhere and you’re all pissed that some online quiz sorted to you into House Hufflepuff. But you know where people aren’t feeling the Harry Potter magic? St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee, where the book series has been banned after the school’s pastor claimed that the spells and curses in the book are real. L-M-A-O.

Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor on the school’s faculty, sent out an email to the school staff explaining the move. The gist:

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the texts.”

Ugh, don’t you just hate when you’re reading the children-friendly book Harry Potter out loud to your eight-year-old niece and then *POOF* an evil spirit conjures its ass up? So annoying.

After consulting with “exorcists” in the U.S. and Rome, the pastor asked that the books be removed from the school’s libraries, and his request was obliged. Hermoine would NOT be happy about this.

The pastor said he also felt as though the heroes of the Harry Potter series “promote a Machiavellian approach to achieving the ends they desire.” Did I have to Google what ‘Machiavellian’ means? Yes. Did what I found make me lol? Also yes. Machiavellian means ‘cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous,  especially in politics.’ Sounds more like a certain sitting president than the precious lil’ wizard who is trying to save humanity against the forces of evil, but go off, Rev.

Look, I’m no Harry Potter expert — I’ve tried to get through the series twice and each time I get to book five and get distracted by not being a virgin. (Low hanging fruit joke, but I had to sorry!!!) But from what I remember, this is a harmless book about a sweet young underdog who realizes he has the power to fight evil, hatred, and intolerance. It’s a pretty classic — if not textbook — good vs. evil story. I don’t think we need to worry about it conjuring any demons.

The school’s superintendent was not pleased with all the attention this news story got, so she publicly clarified that the book series has not been banned from the school. Kids are still allowed to bring their own copies and read it on campus, it just no longer is available in the school’s library.

And if the pastor is correct about these spells being real, someone please @ me and lmk because in that case I will actually finish the series because knowing some real curses would be cool as hell.

Read more: https://betches.com/st-edward-catholic-school-harry-potter/

Peaky Blinders: Who were the real Billy Boys?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption Tommy Shelby has been sent a warning by Glasgow gang the Billy Boys

The fifth series of Peaky Blinders has seen the arrival of the Billy Boys from Glasgow.

The gang sent a gory warning to Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) and his family as they made their mark on the BBC TV series, which is set in 1920s Birmingham.

Who were the real Billy Boys?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham in the late 1920s

Like Birmingham, Glasgow was famous for its razor gangs.

Author Robert Jeffrey told BBC Scotland the two main gangs in the 1930s were the Billy Boys and the Norman Conks.

“It was a religious divide,” he said.

“The Billy Boys were protestants and the Conks, who centred on Norman Street, were Catholics.”

Mr Jeffrey said the main aim of the Billy Boys was to terrify the Catholic population, who were mainly Irish immigrants, and make them feel as unwelcome as possible.

Their name came from William of Orange (King Billy), whose victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 secured Protestant rule in England and Scotland, as well as Ireland.

The Billy Boys came from an area to the east of Glasgow city centre called Bridgeton, or Brigton as it was known.

The staunchly protestant gang was initially set up to fight against Irish immigrants but as well as the rampant sectarianism, the gang ran the entire neighbourhood, operating illegal scams, protection rackets and providing “stewards” for political meetings and open-air boxing bouts.

Who was their leader?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach
Image caption In the TV show the Billy Boys are led by Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson)

The gang took their orders from Billy Fullerton.

Former journalist Mr Jeffrey, who has written a number of books on Glasgow’s gangs, said: “Like in gangster films and TV shows, such as Peaky Blinders, you needed someone at the top who has got to have the guts and the respect and carry the troops with him.”

Fullerton always claimed he had been attacked by a gang of Irish Catholic immigrants after performing well in a football match against their team.

He regularly gave overtly sectarian speeches which aimed to inflame feelings against immigrants.

According to Mr Jeffrey, Fullerton created a well-organised unit.

“It was so disciplined, it was like a private army,” he said.

Mr Jeffrey said that at a time when there was mass unemployment, being with Fullerton and his gang gave the young men a sense of power.

The Billy Boys took a lead role in activities such as church parades and religious processions but they used them as an opportunity to march through Catholic areas goading and abusing them.

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption British fascist leader Oswald Mosley is played by Sam Claflin in the series

They had a flute band and their own songs, including the infamous “Billy Boys”, which was sung in the TV show.

“The main aim was to damage the Catholic population and make them feel unwelcome,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“They would march up and down Norman Street, where the Conks came from, and sing ‘we are the Billy Boys’.

“The intention of that was to terrify the Catholic inhabitants of the area.”

With up to 800 young men involved, the police were outnumbered and intimidated.

There were violent skirmishes with other gangs, often involving knives, hammers, broken bottles and chains.

The activities of the gangs continued throughout the 1930s despite the crackdown from new police chief Percy Sillitoe, who waged war on their activities.

In the run-up to World War Two, Fullerton and the Billy Boys became involved with Oswald Mosley’s fascists, providing a bodyguard for their meetings.

The war, as well as the police crackdown, brought that chapter of Glasgow’s gang culture to an end.

Fullerton died in 1962 at the age of 56.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-49482150

Lesath by A. M. Kherbash

Book Summary:

Amateur journalist Greg travels to a remote mountain area to investigate rumors of a sinister building only to find himself imprisoned there. As he tries to escape, he evinces symptoms of a strange affliction, and struggles to remain conscious while maintaining an uncertain hold on reality.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2A5KYBi

Good Reads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45173036-lesath

Advance Praise:

“Kherbash adroitly conjures an atmosphere of menacing uncertainty” — Kirkus Reviews

“An /X-Files/-esque read tinged with elements of /Shutter Island/, /Inception/, and the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Every page will leave you questioning what is true and what shapes reality, what hides in the dark and what hides in our own inner depths. Are you brave enough to face Lesath? Are you brave enough to face yourself? Enter the shadowed halls of Duncastor, where dreams are reality, and reality tis but a dream.” — J. Aislynn d’Merricksson, San Francisco Book Review

Author Bio:
A. M. enjoys telling stories in one form or another. Born, and raised in Dubai, she worked as a graphic designer and art director for over ten years, during which her work was featured online and in print. Her writing desk doubles as her design studio, and when not working, she can either be found drawing, gaming, or reading. You can find more information at http://amkherbash.com/

I’m A Black Woman Who Traveled Asia For More Than A Year. Here’s What I Know About Anti-Blackness.

It was a tumultuous 2016 both personally and politically. My relationship of four years ended as January 2016 began. Just a year before, I had made the choice that the teaching career I built over five years was no longer what I wanted, and I was nannying with multiple families to earn a living. To top it all off, a lugubrious leech had won the presidency of the United States. It was time to go.

I booked my flight in October 2016 and in January 2017, I began a two-and-a-half-month solo trip around Southeast Asia starting in Bangkok, Thailand. During this trip, I slept in over 30 beds in a mix of hostels and hotels in countries like Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Within three weeks, I knew this continent was where I needed to be.

I worked any and every job I could I find to get back to the far east ― I taught English online to Chinese students three days a week starting at 5 a.m. Then I’d head to my two-week hostess gig at the U.S. Open until midnight. After those two weeks were up, I snagged two part-time jobs at a cafe and a stationery store. With all that hustle, I saved enough money to return to Asia in January 2018, this time indefinitely. I kept my online teaching job.

Like most people prepping for long-term travel, I researched everything there was to know about Southeast Asia. From my research, I knew to expect the stares from locals as I’m a 5-foot-10-inch, dark-skinned curvy black woman. I also knew to expect an abundance of skin-lightening creams and to arrive prepared with products designed for my skin or go without washing my face with a cleanser or using sunscreen.

But, I pride myself on my adaptability. I was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica, and raised in New York, and both worlds shaped me. I arrogantly believed culture shock was for the less traveled. That was until I stepped off a plane in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), Vietnam. 

One day, as I roamed the aisles of a supermarket in the south of Vietnam in search of a new headscarf and some goodies, I couldn’t help but feel the gawkers, see the pointing, feel the sly attempts to touch my braids, and hear the giggling as I walked through the aisles. This kind of attention became old really fast so I told the hostel-mates I was with that I’d wait elsewhere for them.

I spotted a bench by the entrance, and as I sat down, a Vietnamese woman sprung from her seated position on the same bench, grabbed her toddler and ran away so fast you’d think I was Freddy Krueger. She was in such a rush to get away, she dropped his shoe and ran back to grab it, never taking her eyes off me. 

This was one of many times I scared someone by merely existing in my black body. 

As I continued to encounter similar experiences throughout the six months I spent in Vietnam, I began to wonder how anyone could be scared of me. 

How could this woman believe I would hurt a child when children are my world?”

How could anyone be scared of me when I’m a … woman?”

But it’s never about my womanhood, but instead my blackness and its perceived danger.  

On my first camel ride into the Thar Desert in India.

After living and traveling in Vietnam for months, I decided to travel to India. In a lot of ways, Vietnam prepared me for my five months in India. The staring didn’t bother me too much, though India takes staring to a level that feels criminal. 

Before visiting India, I read several articles about the struggles of African students from countries like Nigeria and Tanzania, who were targeted by police and locals as drug dealers, prostitutes and cannibals. 

It’s one thing to read it, but it was another thing to witness. 

Imagine being a student in a new country and more times than not being asked: “You got that stuff?” because of the color of your skin. Imagine being silently beckoned by a man in a restaurant while having breakfast with a key in hand signaling with his eyes to go upstairs because he assumes you’re a prostitute. The latter happened to me three months into my stay in the South Indian state Goa. I felt disgusted and it took everything I had in me not to resort to physical violence against this man. 

The false narratives of innate promiscuity and hypersexuality that white supremacy and the global media have perpetuated about black women leads to this kind of objectification and sexual violence which also includes the widespread sex trafficking of West African women. 

There were many times I felt invisible while traveling as a black woman. Of course, I was seen for my physical appearance and the preconceived notions that come with that, but my humanity was invisible. This was made clear the night I was aggressively searched without cause on a sleeper bus in the north of India.

I was aggressively woken up by the bus driver to find three police officers standing over my 40-pound backpack silently demanding that I open and empty its contents. As I stood in the middle of the narrow aisle, trying to remain calm, I felt many pairs of eyes burning into my skin. I had an audience. No one else was being searched, including the two white girls from France I had met earlier during the rest stop.  

“It’s just clothes,” I repeated in a low, sleepy tone, being careful not to sound taut. 

As one officer flipped through my books and journals, another intensely watched as I fumbled for a place to put my clothing, refusing to put them on the filthy floor. The third was so close behind me I could feel him. 

Eventually, I stopped speaking because they were set on giving me the silent treatment.  

It didn’t matter what I said was in my bag because they were determined to find something. Once they checked and rummaged every pocket and compartment, satisfying themselves, I was only left with the words “theek hai,” which is Hindi for “fine.”

They brushed past me to exit the bus, never meeting my eyes and never giving me a reason why. 

And for the first time in two years of travel, I was scared.

There was a part of me that felt like I couldn’t complain or express the legitimate anxiety I felt after this situation because “I put myself in this position” by choosing a nomadic lifestyle. When I read old journal entries from my first solo trip and the first few months of the second, I often used words like “just deal” and “staying strong” refusing to acknowledge the real pain I was feeling.

I was humiliated and traumatized in a way that not only changed the way I traveled the rest of India, but it forced me to become so hyperaware of my blackness that I couldn’t be my full authentic self. I refused to smile or engage in small talk with anyone, especially men, afraid to give the wrong idea. I was always careful and always “on,” and found myself shrinking in order to accommodate those around me. 

On a 3-day motorbike journey across the Ha Giang Loop in the north of Vietnam.

There is undeniable loneliness that accompanies solo travel as a black woman. 

Sometimes I would will the universe to have me cross paths with another black human, even momentarily, so I could dwell in our connectedness. I would sometimes ask family members to speak patois (Jamaican dialect) on the phone, so I could bask in something only I could understand.

Malcolm X said: “The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman.” 

Throughout my adventures in Asia, I’ve learned there is almost nowhere on this beautiful planet that any person of the African diaspora can step foot without witnessing white supremacy holding reign. 

But I also know this: Escapism in a black body is an act of defiance. 

It is an act of resistance to the systems that aim to diminish our personhood worldwide, and it is essential to show up and explore every corner if our circumstances allow.  

To answer the cliché travel question “Why do you travel?”: I travel because I’m free. I travel to be seen. I travel to be heard. It’s my hope that with every flight, ferry, bus and train I board, every conversation I have, and every word I publish that people; locals and other travelers, not only see my blackness, but my power, joy and magic.

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Read more: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-woman-travel-asia_n_5d31d61fe4b0419fd32c2355