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AllEyesOnDC

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February 2016

Community Members Revel in “Chess Fun Day”

For young black men living in the inner-city jungle that’s Washington, D.C., the game of chess provides an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills that prove essential in avoiding common pitfalls. It also allows them to revel in each other’s company and enjoy friendly competition.

Last weekend, chess connoisseurs of various ages gathered for an afternoon that included chess matches, trash talking, and exchanges about strategy. The event, touted as “Chess Fun Day” attracted dozens of men from across the D.C. metropolitan area that converged on the Big Chair Chess Club in Northeast for the festivities.

“We wanted to bring some enlightenment about chess and its history. Our black community should know that it’s something to do,” Ricky Norman, manager of the Big Chair Chess Club, told AllEyesOnDC during the daylong gathering on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Since its 2003 inception by convict-turned-chess teacher Eugene Brown, the Big Chair Chess Club has been instrumental in helping at-risk District students change their lives for the better. The nonprofit organization’s mantra “[T]hink before you move” draws parallels between navigating the chessboard and making prudent life decisions. Norman said chess can be a tool for self-improvement, helping young people increase discipline and focus.

“For me, chess can be very personal. I get people who come in [the Big Chair Chess Club] and want to compare themselves to others. It’s about doing the best you can and improving. Some people say chess makes you think. I say that this game gives you an opportunity to think. That’s when the epiphany comes,” said Norman, a 54-year-old Northeast resident.

Since chess Grandmaster champion Bobby Fischer popularized the game in the 1950s, people of various ages around the world have taken to the chessboard at home, in school, recreation centers, and during tournaments. Research has confirmed the benefits of playing chess, including brain stimulation, prevention of Alzheimer’s, and an increase in problem-solving skills.

Under the direction of the Big Chair Chess Club, students from Kimball Elementary School in Southeast have won seven city championships. School administrators also noted behavioral changes in students who participated in the extracurricular program. Years later, Norman and his colleagues are carrying on that legacy from the confines of Big Chair Chess Club’s Deanwood-based abode.

Throughout much of Saturday afternoon, men occupying the chess boards in the clubhouse stared attentively at the white and black pieces as old school R&B tunes blared from loudspeakers. Shortly after stepping through the doors of the Big Chair Chess Club, guests watched ongoing matches while nibbling on snacks and chatting amongst one another. Photos of historic and contemporary black figures lined the walls. Stacks of the instructional material also sat on wooden tables.

For Germantown, Maryland resident James Washington, Chess Fun Day would be an experience for the entire family. That afternoon, he and his wife watched as Norman showed his grandchildren how to move each of the pieces on the board. His son Ben, an ardent chess player, gleefully recorded the short session.

“My grandchildren been exposed to chess at home before but it’s great to see how enthusiastic they are playing with a professional. Even though they may not know all of the rules, they’re blessed with the basics,” Washington, 60, told AllEyesOnDC. “Everyone has to deal with the game of chess at their own level. It’s the same thing with life. The children need to deal with what they can understand and grasp it so they can progress. It’s all about the decisions you need to make for your next steps.”

Local chess coach and the longtime Big Chair Chess Club member Doc said learning the game opened up many doors for him in his social and professional life. Since Brown taught him chess at Kimball more than a decade ago, Doc has imparted his knowledge on young black men seeking mentorship.

“I often see students who don’t want to play sports but love chess. Some of them get proactive, picking up books from the library. They get excited about the game and don’t want to lose,” Doc, a chess coach at Eagle Academy Charter School in Congress Heights and Washington Yu Ying Charter School, a Chinese immersion center near the National Cathedral in Northwest, told AllEyesOnDC.

“In this game, they get the mental challenge they don’t receive in school. This is where they learn life lessons including outlining and contingency planning. I see what the game does and the type of people it attracts. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to play an hour and a half of chess,” Doc added.

Anthony Womack, a chess player of eight years and organizer, shared similar thoughts. He revealed his plans to introduce chess to his students after watching “Life of King,” a movie about Brown starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. On Saturday afternoon, he played several games of chess and chatted with elders about their life experiences.

“I just wanted to feel the spirit and ambiance of being around other chess players. This game is a meeting of the minds,” Womack, founder of MisUnderstood, a Halifax, Virginia-based life skills training program for young men, told AllEyesOnDC.

“No matter what’s going on in life, amazing things happen when you push those pieces on the board. Folks say black people don’t play chess and it’s a challenge but I learned a lot from the game. After playing, I understood that you have to be prepared to move with life’s changes and pick up a new strategy,” Womack said with a smile.

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No Matter Who Wins the Primary, I’m Not Voting for a Democrat. Here’s Why.

Three years ago I left the Democratic Party during a visit to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, located on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast. While filling out the application to renew my identification, I came across the question of my party affiliation. In a matter of seconds, I filled in the bubble for “independent,” as it was an action the ancestors mandated at that very moment.

At the time of my decision, my post-collegiate journalism career had gone into full swing and I wanted to prove to myself, and my readers, that I could accurately document and contextualize the experiences of the American underclass without directly peddling the ideology of one party. As months and years went on however, I realized that this change in party affiliation jumpstarted a political and intellectual transformation, fueled by disappointing experiences in the Beltway political space, a growing solidarity with people of African descent globally, and hard lessons about the forces truly at play in the national political system.

Such experiences hardened me, making me increasingly skeptical of politicians who didn’t directly indict white supremacy in their analysis of African-American economic and social hardship. Then-presidential candidate Barack H. Obama followed what I consider a calculated, cowardly path in his historic 2008 campaign, publicly cutting ties with his mentor and African liberation theologian Jeremiah Wright and constantly speaking of an America that transcended its shameful racist past. In the nearly eight years since his election, Obama’s presidency has been peppered with half-baked overtures to black people and repeated instances of acquiescence to the demands of the radical right.

In what I now see as my naivety, I voted for Obama twice, his blackness and manner in which he calmly handled Republican opposition counting among the main reasons. While I haven’t regretted my decision and consider myself a “moderate liberal”, I’ve come to abhor the political system that gives us so few choices in national leadership. I’ve also grown defiant of the celebrity of the American politician in the age of social media. Even as Guantanamo Bay remained opened, U.S. government officials raided medical marijuana dispensaries on the West Coast, and white supremacists burned churches across the South with impunity, black people of various ages gawked over Obama’s latest quip against GOP lawmakers, his jumper, or the way he parlayed with black celebrities.

By the 2012 election, my skepticism reached new heights during my stint as White House press pool intern for the American Urban Radio Networks (AURN). One humid summer afternoon during daily press briefings, I asked then-Press Secretary Jay Carney about Obama’s black voter outreach strategy in light of his opponent Mitt Romney visiting majority-black Philadelphia school just days prior. For the next two minutes, Carney stuttered and put together a cornucopia of big words before wrapping up his sorry response to my timely question.

Needless to say, that episode knocked me into a distrustful mindset of anything that’s a part of the mainstream political establishment. Subsequent experiences and an exposure to Democratic, and Republican, political actors who can’t quite grasp what’s happening on Main Street forced a radicalized change in political ideology.

A New Kind of Political Consciousness

After working at the White House, I continued working in Beltway liberal circles and writing for left-leaning media outlets, including ThinkProgress, a progressive news organization funded by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. In those spaces, I saw how a need to prove the other side wrong often overshadowed the true mission at hand: informing the people.

This especially proved to be the case in the wake of police-involved shootings of black men and women across the country. While the mainstream media has somewhat of a pulse on the events of the day, it’s still a race for “like,” retweets, and web traffic devoid of any genuine regard for the black lives lost. I feel the same way about the presidential candidates presented to the electorate. Even the Democrats who many say sound “radical” in their assault of militarized police forces, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex don’t impress me.

To the unpleasant surprise of many of my friends and colleagues, I recently denounced the efforts of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-proclaimed Socialist Democrat, to win the 2016 presidential race, writing on Facebook that I can’t “feel the Bern,” a clever mockery of those infatuated with Sanders take on economic inequality and police brutality. Of course, supporting the xenophobic tone of the Republican presidential campaigns was out of the question. Voting for Hillary Clinton didn’t make much sense either once I took into consideration that she endorsed laws that spurred the mass incarceration of brothers and sisters who look just like me. Additionally, her eerily racist assault of then Sen. Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries discouraged me from even considering her as a viable choice.

To any seemingly well-versed and civically engaged voter, standing behind Sanders seems like the most commonsensical route to take. While that would be the case, few have yet to understand that in my transformation during the age of Obama, I’ve taken on a Black Nationalist political consciousness out of an understanding the commander-in-chief, even if he has melanin, won’t acquiesce to black outcries of injustice without the presence of an African-centered force that utilizes political, economic, and social tools to realize change that truly benefits grassroots actors.

Seeing how Sanders operated on the campaign trail in recent months verified, more than ever perhaps, the need for people of African descent to take an unapologetic stance of this kind.

Since members of the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted his campaign event at in Oregon and session at the Netroots Conference last year, Sanders has worked vehemently to show black voters that he has their best interests in mind. After those incidents, he unveiled a strategy to combat racialized police violence, hired Symone Sanders, a black millennial woman from Omaha Nebraska, as his press secretary, and toured the neighborhood of slain Baltimore man Freddie Gray with local black clergymen, including Pastor Jamal Bryant of Empowerment Temple AME. While stumping on the campaign trail, he rails against corporate greed and espouses ideas that resonate with working class Americans, particularly an increase of the minimum wage that would ensure a better quality of life.

However, just as socialists did to the chagrin of W.E.B. DuBois and other black leaders, Sanders didn’t openly endorse hardcore solutions that address the issue of race, debatably the single most important factor in socioeconomic inequality. As the reel of his now infamous comments about reparations play over and over again in my mind, I was partly disappointed that he would be so dismissive in what I consider to be the first step in true redistributive justice for the Europeans’ centuries-long exploitation of African people in the United States.

At the same time, I’m relieved that I didn’t put my trust in Sanders, for he proved to be just like other politicians of any race who don’t want to challenge the status quo. At this point, it looks as though I won’t fill in the bubble for any candidate on the ballot. I’m totally fine with that.

People who often question my decision to not vote for either Sanders or Democratic powerhouse Clinton speak about the possibility of reality star and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump being president. In the past year, Trump has risen in stardom by speaking to the fears and gripes of white people watching their way of life change in an increasingly multicultural America. To them, I say that instilling fear about another candidate in me doesn’t make for an ideal campaign strategy. If Sanders doesn’t capture my imagination or earn my trust, that’s on him, not me.

More importantly, black people’s fate, as I learned during Obama’s tenure in office, doesn’t rest solely on the person who occupies the White House. Reversing the losses of the 2008 Recession and advancing our interests in the 21st century requires a revolution that goes far beyond politics. Only once Black America has truly built formidable, resourceful, and influential nationalist foundation can we truly gain leverage and advance our interests at all levels of government.

Where Obama-Era Black Millennials Went Wrong

Even with the political and economic gains in the decades after the Civil Rights Era, remnants of the United States’ racist past existed in all facets of society via the prison industrial complex, spatial mismatching in urban cities, food deserts, inequities in the healthcare and other hurdles black people face. Until the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, many people of African descent refused to acknowledge that hard reality.

Instead, many black people, especially those of us in the educated class who felt compelled to follow the Barack Obama playbook in navigating mainstream professional circles, chose to believe that attainment of political power and clout in a “post-racial” Babylon system could get us the seat at the table which our ancestors valiantly fought and shed blood.

All the while, the nation’s first black president faced heavily conspicuous racial opposition from Tea Party Republicans and other majority-white factions, even as he took on moderate positions that had a negative impact on middle and low-income people of African descent. As years went on, the hope that Obama sold us vanished. We saw him ignore black people while openly addressing issues of importance to the LGBTQ, Hispanic, and Muslim communities poignantly and with confidence. When it came to addressing the state-sanctioned assault on black bodies however, he couldn’t even bring himself to say “Black Lives Matter” during his last State of the Union address.

After cutting Pell Grant funds often used for matriculation to historically black colleges and universities, he chastised school administrators for mismanagement of funds and low graduation rates. Even “My Brother’s Keeper,” Obama’s hallmark program designed to uplift young black men faced criticism for not allocating funds to grassroots organizations and ignoring pressing indicators of delinquency and a life in and out of prison. In recent years, Obama has increased focus on incarcerated people, announcing the release of thousands of prisoners serving long sentences for low-level drug offences. Such overtures, however, do little to reverse the effects of draconian drug laws and overzealous policing in majority-black inner city communities.

If you ask people of African descent their thoughts about Obama, their responses often vary along class lines, perhaps a sign of high reverence that members of the black bourgeoisie have for the nation’s first black president juxtaposed with the dire economic situation in poor, black neighborhood enclaves throughout the United States.

For elite blacks, Obama’s struggle to stand black and tall in majority-white settings mirrors their experiences in the corporate world. Even with his faults, they respect his fight against the racist old guard. Since 2008, the D.C. millennial population has exploded, due mainly to Obama’s historic election. In recent years, young, educated black millennials have formed coalitions with other like-minded political players, often crossing racial and ethnic lines in the common pursuit of policy centered on inclusion and equality. Such has been the case in the D.C. metropolitan area chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a perfect world, such alliances would make sense. For an ethnic group that one could argue lacks a common consciousness and absolute self-determination however, such course of action always invites the possibility of political, social, and cultural assimilation. Instead of gaining real power, young, black progressives have to play by the rules of their “allies” and navigate spaces in a manner that maintains their standing in seemingly elite positions.

Most times, that means ignoring racism itself and shifting attention to its outcomes – poverty, gaps in life expectancy, uneven distribution of resources, and other atrocities facing people of African descent domestically. It even requires supporting policies that don’t take into account the intersectionality of the black human experience. For many black people who walk in those exclusive circles, it also means never taking on the trials and tribulations of their impoverished counterparts.

I’ve seen this scenario play out in the nation’s capital as a student and professional journalist. Even as they suffer macroaggressions in their majority-white spaces, black college students and transients stick their noses up at black “locals,” natives of the D.C. metropolitan area not quite plugged into national political and social scene. Along with their white counterparts, they increase the schism between those who relish the D.C. of yesteryear and those who benefit from its facelift. The division often happens in spurts, including when they advise their friends against talking to strangers or visiting areas east of the Anacostia River.

In taking on this divisive ideology, black elites have shown city leaders and developers that they value their education and comfort more than the state of their fellow man. Even worse, members of this group, in D.C. and nationally, will deride black activists and journalists who take up the cause of the black underclass and eviscerate black leaders who they feel don’t pay sufficient attention to issues concerning that group.

For instance, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West faced immense criticism for their Poverty Tour in 2011 during which they criticized Obama for what they described as his lack of action in addressing poverty in Black America. Obama supporters railed against the duo, chalking their critique up to West’s bitterness about not being invited to inauguration festivities two years earlier. The assault of West as a credible voice of opposition continued last year with the release of an essay by fellow scholar and former friend Michael Eric Dyson titled “Cornel West’s Rise and Fall.” That piece of work read less like an assessment in how West fell in stature and more like an intellectual’s personal gripe with an old colleague.

Regardless of his intent, Dyson and a contingent of the Left succeeded in shutting down a sober critic of the first black president of the United States.

To our detriment, we can’t even hold our brother accountable without pushback from within our tribe, even as he turns his back on us. Believe it or not, this type of infighting stems from chattel slavery and colonization, so much so that we jump at any change for symbolic change, rather than transformations of substance. It was no different in 2012. Unlike other constituencies, we gave our vote and support to Obama without any demands for reform and justice.

When we do come together, it’s well after he needs us. I remember having that thought in the back of my mind standing in the lobby of a hotel located blocks away from the White House as a group of black leaders penned a list of demands for Obama just days after his second inauguration. That’s not the ideal political strategizing that will ensure our liberation.

Where to Go from Here?

Before going on, I’ll admit that critiques of “Obama haters” are based in some truth.

Indeed, if black people, especially those in the lower levels of society, had a more holistic political education, they would understand that the actions of the president have little, if any, direct impact on aspects of their lives. The officials who have more authority in those affairs work on the congressional and local level.

In focusing all of our attention on President Obama, we’ve forgotten about the Democrats and Republicans in city and state government who have turned their backs on black people in their pursuit of power. It’s time learn to take neighborhood civic engagement more seriously and involve those who feel they have no voice in this kind of activism.

That’s the mindset I’ve carried with me in recent years and during this election. As a voter living in the District, my non-vote for a Democrat will more than likely have no bearing on the outcome of the election. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will get those three votes from the Electoral College on Nov. 8th. To those who still question my decision, I invite you to think about civic engagement beyond the action of voting and that of someone involving themselves in the affairs of their community.

In the aggregate, we as black people haven’t been able to do that, thanks in part to gentrification and gerrymandering. Beyond that, the weight of the oppressive forces and lack of knowledge about community leaders precludes us from going to the polls when the opportunity arises.

Indeed, voter turnout in citywide and state-level elections among black people hasn’t been too high. While they waited on the sidelines, GOP supporters acted quickly, making sure that their candidates took over the two congressional chambers during the 2010 midterm elections. While some of the blame lies with grassroots actors in not voting, President Obama and his public relations representatives have to be held accountable in selling an historically disenfranchised group a dream and making them think that he could secure their economic salvation.

The prospect of such a phenomenon happening for black people politically isn’t farfetched. There’s no denying the presence of a black consciousness as the world’s attention turns to our state of affairs. Even with that small victory, it’s a fear of mine that we’ll accept piecemeal change and not truly grasp the opportunity to unite and create sustainable institutions that work primarily in the interest of black people. Right now, there’s too much of a focus on making a symbolic statement. That’s why the capitalistic Babylon system has many of my contemporaries raving about “Formation,” what I’ve come to believe is a pseudo-revolutionary song by internationally renowned superstar Beyoncé.

Meanwhile, the powers that be continue to dominate every aspect of our lives in the manner that the late, great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing outlined in The Isis Papers. It’s my belief that regardless of who wins the presidency this year, the aggregate state of Black America won’t improve immensely. With that being the case, how are we to combat institutional racism and ensure our place at the table in the 21st Century?

Frankly, we just have to create our own table, “centralizing, organizing, and coming as one” as His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I recommended to his fellow African leaders decades ago. Just as other marginalized groups have done, we should circulate our dollars among ourselves, build grassroots business organizations that can spur job creation and fund the political efforts of people who will unabashedly advance the black agenda. This should happen locally and statewide with the mindset that we have to absolve ourselves of any institutional “support” that impedes efforts to rebuild our cities, feed and clothe our people, and change the tide in this country.

Numerous groups have done this work before us before the explosion of economic opportunity and co-optation of conscious hip-hop that placated us in the 1980s and 1990s. As controversial as they have come to be, the Nation of Islam stands as one of the last bastions of Black Nationalism, due in part to their clear-cut mission of black liberation and the financial infrastructure they’ve built to sustain their political, and social activities.

In order for something similar to materialize in this era, black people have to want to be black again. No, that doesn’t just mean posting stories and memes to social media. That requires actually putting religion, political ideology, socioeconomic status, and other divisive designations to the side and using our talents and resources in the interest of black liberation, not just an existence in a system dominated by white allies and antagonists.

For black people in elite circles, that means understanding that as long as your brethren aren’t free, you’re not free. For people of African descent not doing so well, that means realizing how you are still a part of the movement, even if you’re not credentialed. From there, we can make the hard decisions in creating our own institutions, breaking down barriers within our community and uniting as a constituency.

It’s hard work but that’s what will truly bring about real revolution, not a vote for a Democrat who knows only how to use revolutionary lingo.

Local Black History Celebration Kicks Off

Ninety years after journalist and historian Carter G. Woodson created what’s now known as Black History Month, the yearning to celebrate a storied past and secure a prosperous future looms larger than ever among people of African descent living in Western society.

The reverence for black triumph against oppressive forces continued last week when nearly 100 community members kicked off citywide Black History Month festivities at the African American Civil War Museum in Northwest. During the two-hour program, an array of local artists, public officials, educators, and activists conjured the spirit of black liberation while decrying monuments of white supremacy.

“This hallowed ground reminds me of things that are painful, like driving down Robert Lee and Jefferson Davis Highways,” said Dr. Frank Smith, head of the African-American Civil War Memorial, referring to major roads in Virginia named for well-known Confederate figures during his remarks on the evening of Feb. 2. “Some of these things have to come down. Let me just say that only black people don’t have a role. I’m challenging white people to help clean up the pollution. I care so they have to care too. These hallowed grounds matter because they remind us of a time when black people didn’t have power,” Smith added.

Though speakers reflected on the tragic events of the past year, including the massacre of nine churchgoers in South Carolina, much of the discussion on that brisk Tuesday night focused on buildings, events, and symbols that document black achievement in the United States. The theme for the 2016 Black History Month program, “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African-American Memories” spoke to that goal, as reiterated by representatives of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, an organization Woodson founded in 1915.

Other guests included D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), Ruhama Hayle, Miss Ethiopia 2015 and finalist for Miss Africa USA Pageant, Dr. Ben Chavis and Denise Rolark Barnes of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and representatives of the D.C. statehood movement. Each speaker brought good news to the podium, touching on their efforts to extend summer employment opportunities for young adults in the District, secure statehood, and usher the black press into the technological age.

In his comments, Chavis, NNPA president and CEO and well-regarded figure of the Civil Rights era, called on his contemporaries to pass on the baton to younger activists, a group he said was better equipped to address contemporary challenges facing people of African descent in the U.S.

“It’s our obligation to raise a new generation of freedom fighters and intellectual giants. We can’t afford a cultural and generational gap,” Chavis said. “This is about whether this democracy will be inclusive or exclusive. Our history has shown us that every benefit black people have gotten has benefited everyone else. Everyone should be celebrating our struggle. Long live the spirit of our people and our history.”

Retired District government employee Taji Anderson echoed Chavis’ sentiments, telling AllEyesOnDC that she often shares black history facts with her children and grandchildren at home and through social media. For her, doing so is a matter of saving the black race. During her interview, Anderson said the issues young people currently face come from a lack of understanding of sacrifices their ancestors made.

“Youth wouldn’t be shooting each other if they knew of their ancestors and had a sense of pride about how they died to get them here today,” Anderson, a relative of Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, said, noting that her grandson’s thirst for knowledge increased after watching “Selma” in theaters in 2014.

“We keep the study of black history going in our family. We always bring it up for the young folks coming behind us. Parents and schools haven’t taught our young people about their heritage and history. We have to instill education and respect for one another in these children,” said Anderson, a former employee of the District Department of Transportation who lives in Northeast.

While Millennial Ariel Alford agrees, she said that elders must commit to engaging young people and including them in Black History Month festivities. Alford, who attended the kickoff celebration with her friend, counted among a handful of youth in the room that evening.

“This was a missed opportunity to include young people. We can’t learn how to do these things if we’re not involved,” said Alford, a middle school teacher. “A high school class could have aided in this project to make it more intergenerational. It’s important for us as African people to have spaces like this where we can convene and have an honest discussion about the empire we’re living in.”

A Conversation with kweliTV’s DeShuna Spencer

Media has long shaped our perception of the world, often to the detriment of people of African descent. With the explosion of projects by independent filmmakers in recent years and new ways to circumvent mainstream avenues of distribution, finding holistic and educational African-centered programming has become less of a challenge.

Since its 2014 inception, kweliTV has counted among the pioneers in this space, providing a platform for creators of positive, holistic independent African-centered media to showcase their work. The name of this media program derives from the Swahili word Kweli (Kwah – lee), which means “truth.”

Upon securing a $20,000 grant, journalist DeShuna Spencer launched kweliTV from her suburban D.C. home. More than a year later, subscribers can glean through hundreds of quality black-produced documentaries, films, and web-based shows, including the Hidden Colors series, a gem in the worldwide conscious community. Contrary to popular belief, not every movie submitted to Spencer makes it on the site. Indeed, she spends hours on end watching each entry in its entirety to see if it fits specific criterion, including the presence of a complex plot.

In this AllEyesOnDC video, Spencer and AllEyesOnDC host Sam P.K. Collins chat about kweliTV’s humble beginnings and projects in the works before exploring why it’s important that people of African descent create and support films that accurately portray the complexity of their lives and heritage. SPOILER ALERT: This clip speaks to the need for Africans worldwide to African-centered institutions and shift away from asking others for their approval.

Healing Mama Liberia, One Shipment at a Time

Personal and professional success didn’t always come easy for Nallie Brumskine Moore, who endured abject poverty and widespread violence in Liberia before starting a new life in the United States. More than 15 years later, she’s a licensed practical nurse at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, wife, and proud mother of two.

Even with this change in fortune, Moore still finds time to help her fellow Liberians and advocate for the creation of sustainable medical institutions in her home country.

Since launching her nonprofit Delivering Good Community Health Services International in 2012, Moore has collected and shipped hundreds of pounds of medical supplies to Liberia. Her services proved especially critical at the high point of the 2014 Ebola outbreak when she provided protective gear for personnel on the ground tending to the sick. During an interview with AllEyesOnDC, Moore said she aimed to fulfill her country people’s medical and spiritual needs during those tumultuous times.

That unfortunate experience served as a reminder of the harsh reality of life in a country with a nearly nonexistent medical infrastructure. More than 90 percent of medical services in Liberia come from outside non-governmental organizations. Though the infant mortality rate has significantly improved since the end of Liberia’s civil war, it still counts among the highest in the world. Additionally, only 50 doctors are available to serve a population of more than 4 million. Since the Ebola epidemic, improving the quality of such services has been quite the undertaking.

In this AllEyesOnDC clip, Moore speaks with AllEyesOnDC founder and host Sam P.K. Collins about her journey, the nature of her business, and what’s next in her effort to ensure Liberians can access quality medical supplies easily and perpetually.

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