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Scrap Papers: Black Excellence

Photo courtesy of Book for Keeps

By Karima E. Rustin

Malcolm Mitchell, a 24-year-old rookie wide receiver for the New England Patriots, assisted New England in coming back from a 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons, and take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. While his teammates are reveling in their shared victory, Malcolm achieved another victory most people don’t know about. A victory he is more proud of than a Super Bowl ring.


The Pickaninnies March on Washington

By Lydia Holt



Perhaps it was a subconscious act of self preservation, but in the months and weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election, I had convinced myself that America would elect Hillary Clinton as our 45th president--that we had no other viable option. If her opponent were elected it would be disastrous and to maintain my sanity, I firmly believed that we would come through the election with a capable and sane president. When I woke up to the reality of our now 45th, I damn near had a panic attack. Continue reading...

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We envision a socially conscious community where all people critically engage our democratic ideals.

Celebrating Confederate History

By Marlin D. Paschal

As Confederate History Month draws to an end, I am pondering how much I should really care. Should it bother me that six state governments formally recognize and honor the history of the Confederate States of America? Should I care whether statues of folks like Lee, Jackson, and Jefferson Davis still adorn public spaces throughout the south? Should I look down on my fellow citizens who see this month as a tribute to their ancestors who fought and died in the Civil War?

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Why I Will March

 By Anastasia Rowland-Seymour

...It takes a lot to pull me away from my work of educating and taking care of patients. As my friends will tell you, something really has to be amiss for me to revisit my younger revolutionary days. I am appalled by the sheer number of alternative facts that are being bantered about as if they were real, and upon which our futures are being decided. read more...


All People for Racial Equity… Adventures in Organizing

By Phillip Rowland-Seymour


Last summer my wife, two kids, and two eighteen-year-old cats relocated from Baltimore, MD to a suburb of Cleveland, OH. In the last three months, we lost our cats. I'd like to think that our Persian and Siamese cats, brown and white, were waiting until we were settled, to transition from the earth - they waited until we reached this racially harmonious suburb. In the last fifty years, the suburb has received notoriety for its history of racial tolerance (not objecting to the presence of anyone based on their race, at a minimum) and a need for racial equality (an equal regard to people of all races, at its best). Recently, a group of neighborhood residents have been meeting to help move beyond racial tolerance and racial equality, to promote racial equity (acknowledging the unconscious bias and historical inequalities) and support opportunity for all. I am a proud member of this group. We are social justice warriors. read more...


Yes! It's National Poetry Month!

By Nichole Rustin-Paschal

Let’s dive in with poetry for middle grade readers. Each selection warrants repeated readings, as poetry typically does, to ruminate over the themes, the exquisite language, and the outstanding visuals.

Carole Boston Weatherford, poet, and her son, illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford, collaborated on the 2016 book, You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen. You can hold the book in one hand, its petite size belying the vastness of the themes captured within. The work pulls you into the 1940s and the historical experience of young black men and women eager to make their mark during an era of upheaval and change.            

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Gentrification Isn't the Problem

By Marlin D. Paschal


A couple of days ago a friend and fellow Pickaninny posted an article on Facebook titled The Hidden Systems at Work Behind Gentrification. The author of the article argued gentrification is not the random migration of latte drinking professionals in search of trendy urban lofts, but a corporate conspiracy to displace the poor and change the urban landscape into a soulless enclave of high-priced real estate. After reading the article, I suspect the musings of this author are consistent with the criticisms of both amateur and professional nostalgist. Unfortunately, I believe much of the criticism is levied by folks that are more concerned with reminiscing about the past than helping disadvantaged citizens create a viable future.


A couple of really good articles were published over the last couple of years challenging the conventional wisdom around gentrification – one in the Atlantic and the other in Slate. Both articles suggest the occurrence of gentrification is rare and its negative impacts overblown. The authors further argue the phenomenon we associate with displacing low income residence is largely relegated to the so called super cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco. Affordable housing for everyone (particularly for the working class) is a problem in super cities, but that has largely to do with the rapidity of rental price increases – which is an exception rather than the rule for most parts of America. 


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