News Update: Atlanta GA: National Black Arts Festival, Black children and police killing, Half US food destroyed, Bill Cosby Blind

On Saturday, July 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. the National Black Arts Festival in partnership with Sweet Auburn Works (SAW) and the National Park Service offersall of Atlanta, residents of the region and visitors from across the nation and the world Family Day/Culture Fest.  A day of festive fun and of educational, enriching and participatory activities and experiences that starts at Jackson Street and moves up Sweet Auburn to Howell Street showcasing the history, heritage, the arts, culture, and stories that have made the Sweet Auburn Historic District the center of African American culture in Atlanta and one of the most visited areas in all of the United States. 
Family Day/Culture Fest brings together three of Atlanta's cornerstone organizations that independently and collectively have supported art, artists, culture, cultural patrimony and historic preservation for decades and drawn millions of visitors to Atlanta. Culture Fest launches the National Black Arts Festival's 2016 Program Season and relaunches its tradition of a free outdoor festival and is part of the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service and of Sweet Auburn Works' extraordinary renaissance of the Sweet Auburn Historic District.  

Walk around Sweet Auburn and enjoy the rich culture, the arts, the food, the historic buildings and sites, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the MLK Jr. Memorial, and all that make this district sweet and a "must visit" destination.   Have fun together and learn about what life used to be like on the avenue "back in the days" of William Holmes Borders, John Wesley Dobbs, Geneva Haugabrooks, B. B. Beamon and other distinguished residents and business owners.
Family Day/Culture Fest includes a menu of fun, learning and participatory experiences: 
  • A children's corner - including Little House of Art, storytelling for children by Mama KuKu.
  • A special opportunity offered by the National Park Service to participate in their Junior Ranger Program and become a Junior Ranger.
  • A Culture Fest/Culture Hunt - a scavenger hunt to encourage participants to visit and learn about locate sites and find special objects with prizes at the end
  • An Artisan Marketplace featuring unique, handcrafted items.
  • Neighborhood tours featuring the history of Sweet Auburn - Prince Hall Masons Lodge Building, Butler Street YMCA, Martin Luther King Jr Birth Home, and more.
  • Stories about life in Sweet Auburn featuring renowned vocalist Kathleen Bertrand, Hattie Dorsey, among other celebrated Atlantans.
  • Performances by choirs from the churches in Sweet Auburn.
  • A scheduled program of performances that offer a blend of dance, art, theater, and music.
  • Porch Talks at various locations up and down Sweet Auburn with speakers describing life on Sweet Auburn and discussing their personal experiences among them members of the Dobbs Family speaking about John Wesley Dobbs; Mrs. Mary Gurley, a member of the Ebenezer Choir during Dr. King's era; and Helen Mills, a 4th ward resident for 85 years.
  • A focus on health and wellness to include health screenings and information and a program by the Auburn Avenue Research Library featuring Rashid Nuri to emphasize  nutrition and lifestyle for the Black community, the history of agriculture in the Black experience, and the impact on environmental inequality.
  • Local restaurants and businesses will offer 15% discounts for their products and services. 
  • Cooking demonstrations with Chef Sonya, owner of Sweet Auburn Bread.
  • A food court featuring international cuisine and cuisine of the African Diaspora. 
  • And much more!

Family Day/Culture Fest has been made possible through generous sponsorship support from American Family Insurance and Georgia-Pacific, LLC. 


NBAF is a nonprofit organization and is supported by local and national government funders, corporations, foundations, businesses, and individuals. 
Learn about and support the National Black Arts Festival at, Sweet Auburn Works at and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site/National Park Service at
Hashtag for Family Day/Culture Fest:  #iCultureAuburn.   Follow and like us on social media: @SweetAuburnWorks; @NationalParksService; @NBAF.

For black families, hard questions from children over U.S. police killings

July 19, 2016

The Wider Image: Hard questions from children over U.S. police killings

Markel Lee gets a "Haircut for Justice" at the Triple S Food Mart at an impromptu memorial for Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dubinsky
By Letitia Stein

BATON ROUGE, La. (Reuters) - In the eyes of four-year-old Autumn Unaeze, her grandfather in his blue police uniform is a superhero protecting people.
Yet, there are troubling realities about police that her mother knows she must begin sharing with her: first, how other officers could harm her black family, and then how law enforcement officers can be targets themselves, after three were killed in an attack near her Baton Rouge home on Sunday.
Across the United States, African-American parents, teachers and other adults face a difficult decision - how and at what age to talk to children about a racially charged debate over policing and tensions over the shooting deaths of black men by officers in a country that struggles to end racism.
That conversation has grown more urgent in recent weeks. In the tumult of social media, ever-younger children have been exposed to grainy videos of black men dying at the hands of law enforcement or to blanket news coverage of black-led protests over use of police force. Then they've seen the shock in communities whose officers are gunned down in the line of duty.
Families that may have once discussed racial disparities in policing with older teens now face questions from preschoolers such as Autumn, who want to know why people are being so mean. Others ask why people are protesting or why police now face ambushes as in Baton Rouge and Dallas, where five officers were killed earlier this month.
"She's already seen enough," said mother Elizabeth Unaeze, 27, who finally just turned off the television news on Sunday, after learning that her father was safe. "I don't want to create an atmosphere of fear, even though we as parents are so afraid."
Her daughter and two-year-old son already had picked up on sadness and grief at the grocery store, after the fatal police shooting on July 5 of Alton Sterling, 37, at a local convenience store ignited nationwide protests.
Like other African-American parents here, Unaeze wants to reinforce their trust in authorities, but also knows caution could become an essential survival skill.
"There's no pamphlet. There's no guide. I am sure there are no coloring sheets," she said.
Families in Baton Rouge are the latest to experience first-hand the aftermath of police killings of black men that have convulsed the nation in the past two years, following communities from New York and Baltimore to Ferguson, Missouri, where riots erupted after police fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014.
A day after the death of Sterling, many children watched or caught glimpses of footage on Facebook from inside a car in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, where Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, lay bleeding in another fatal police shooting.
Child psychologists say exposure to killings can shatter a sense of security for many African-American children: younger children may become fearful for parents and caretakers, while older youth can start to see themselves as the next target.
When headlines explode with the next police-involved killing, some feel traumatized all over again.
"They don’t trust the world," said Jerry Dunn, a psychologist and executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis, near Ferguson. "It really sets up an unfortunate risk for a cycle that is difficult to break."
Eleven-year-old Terrance Anderson last week held up a handwritten sign outside the store where Sterling was killed. "We are the children of the future," it read. "Protect us."
"It's not fair that they are only killing black people," said the slender sixth-grader.
His grandmother said she had wanted him to experience the peaceful crowds gathering nightly near a makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals at the spot where Sterling died.
"I had to help him understand that all the world is not mean," said Denise Matthews, 60. "I hope he learns that life goes on."
Walter McLaughlin said he knew it was time to talk when his 10-year-old daughter asked him during a drive home: are police racist?
The 36-year-old father of three uses content filters to block inappropriate websites and television in his Baton Rouge home but was surprised at how much his daughter still absorbed recent events.
He said he sat down with his 14-year-old son and offered advice on how to act around police and white people to make them comfortable: stand tall, make eye contact, avoid sullen facial expressions.
"These are things that are unfair, but this is the world that we live in," he explained. "Some of these are the right things to do. Some of them are the wise things to do. And some of them we are fighting, so we don’t have to do anymore."
Research released this month by the Center for Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York confirmed what many have long known anecdotally – police are far more likely to use force in interactions with blacks than with whites.
From stun guns to batons and body contact, police used force on blacks at rates more than three times higher than for whites, the researchers found in a review of data from 12 police departments representing a cross-section of the United States. Even after factoring in higher arrest rates among blacks, racial disparities persisted in how force was applied.
Explaining such systemic injustice was a conversation that Brandon Simmons, 38, had been afraid to initiate with his 10- and 13-year-olds. His childhood in southern Louisiana was defined by racial inequities, with a white girl spitting in his face in the third grade. He believes his children are growing up in a better, more accepting society.
"I don't want to paint a horrific perspective of what happened and almost rape them of their viewpoint of the world,” said Simmons, who showed them the video of Sterling's death at the urging of a friend who teaches middle school. "I was very cautious in my approach."
Living blocks from Sterling's shooting in Baton Rouge, Wajeedah Jones, 37, debated how much to show her young children. Then her six-year-old son told her that he knew why she had been crying.
An older relative had showed him the video. Her 13-year-old also had seen the footage, and he said it left him heartbroken.
"It could be anyone, any day," said her son, JaKairick Young. "We all know that."

Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests

The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry
Food waste is supported by
Suzanne Goldenberg US environment correspondent
Wednesday 13 July 2016 01.00 EDT Last modified on Monday 18 July

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.
From the fields and orchards of California to the population centres of the east coast, farmers and others on the food distribution chain say high-value and nutritious food is being sacrificed to retailers’ demand for unattainable perfection.
“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”
Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.
By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year - one third of all foodstuffs.
Edible food dumped by vendors in a New York market
Edible food dumped by vendors in a New York market. There is a demand for ‘blemish-free produce’ in the industry. Photograph: LA Times/Getty

But that is just a “downstream” measure. In more than two dozen interviews, farmers, packers, wholesalers, truckers, food academics and campaigners described the waste that occurs “upstream”: scarred vegetables regularly abandoned in the field to save the expense and labour involved in harvest. Or left to rot in a warehouse because of minor blemishes that do not necessarily affect freshness or quality.

When added to the retail waste, it takes the amount of food lost close to half of all produce grown, experts say.
“I would say at times there is 25% of the crop that is just thrown away or fed to cattle,” said Wayde Kirschenman, whose family has been growing potatoes and other vegetables near Bakersfield, California, since the 1930s. “Sometimes it can be worse.”
“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.

Researchers acknowledge there is as yet no clear accounting of food loss in the US, although thinktanks such as the World Resources Institute are working towards a more accurate reckoning.

Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service for “ugly” food in the San Francisco Bay area, estimates that about one-fifth of all fruit and vegetables are consigned to the dump because they do not conform to the industry standard of perfection.

But farmers, including Kirschenman, put the rejection rate far higher, depending on cosmetic slights to the produce because of growing conditions and weather.
That lost food is seen increasingly as a drag on household incomes – about $1,600 a year for a family of four – and a direct challenge to global efforts to fight hunger, poverty and climate change.

Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: 1.6bn tonnes of produce a year, with a value of about $1tn. If this wasted food were stacked in 20-cubic metre skips, it would fill 80m of them, enough to reach all the way to the moon, and encircle it once. Taking action to tackle this is not impossible, as countries like Denmark have shown.

The Obama administration and the UN have pledged to halve avoidable food waste by 2030. Food producers, retail chains and campaign groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have also vowed to reduce food loss in the ReFED initiative.

Food experts say there is growing awareness that governments cannot effectively fight hunger, or climate change, without reducing food waste. Food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than India or Russia.

“There are a lot of people who are hungry and malnourished, including in the US. My guess is probably 5-10% of the population are still hungry – they still do not have enough to eat,” said Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. “That is why food waste, food loss matters a great deal. People are still hungry.”
That is not counting the waste of water, land and other resources, or the toll on the climate of producing food that ends up in landfill.

Within the US, discarded food is the biggest single component of landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Food dumps are a rising source of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But experts readily acknowledge that they are only beginning to come to grips with the scale of the problem.
The May harvest season in Florida found Johnson with 11,000kg (24,250lbs) of freshly harvested spaghetti squash in his cool box – perfect except for brown scoring on the rind from high winds during a spring storm.

“I’ve been offering it for six cents a pound for a week and nobody has pulled the trigger,” he said. And he was “expecting an additional 250,000lbs of squash,” similarly marked, in his warehouse a fortnight later.

“There is a lot of hunger and starvation in the United States, so how come I haven’t been able to find a home for this six-cents-a-pound food yet?” Johnson asked.

Such frustrations occur regularly along the entirety of the US food production chain – and producers and distributors maintain that the standards are always shifting. Bountiful harvests bring more exacting standards of perfection. Times of shortage may prove more forgiving.
Retail giants argue that they are operating in consumers’ best interests, according to food experts. “A lot of the waste is happening further up the food chain and often on behalf of consumers, based on the perception of what those consumers want,” said Roni Neff, the director of the food system environmental sustainability and public health programme at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore.

“Fruit and vegetables are often culled out because they think nobody would buy them,” she said.
But Roger Gordon, who founded the Food Cowboy startup to rescue and re-route rejected produce, believes that the waste is built into the economics of food production. Fresh produce accounts for 15% of supermarket profits, he argued.

“If you and I reduced fresh produce waste by 50% like [the US agriculture secretary] Vilsack wants us to do, then supermarkets would go from [a] 1.5% profit margin to 0.7%,” he said. “And if we were to lose 50% of consumer waste, then we would lose about $250bn in economic activity that would go away.”

Some supermarket chains and industry groups in the US are pioneering ugly produce sections and actively campaigning to reduce such losses. But a number of producers and distributors claimed that some retailing giants were still using their power to reject produce on the basis of some ideal of perfection, and sometimes because of market conditions.

The farmers and truckers interviewed said they had seen their produce rejected on flimsy grounds, but decided against challenging the ruling with the US department of agriculture’s dispute mechanism for fear of being boycotted by powerful supermarket giants. They also asked that their names not be used.

“I can tell you for a fact that I have delivered products to supermarkets that was [sic] absolutely gorgeous and because their sales were slow, the last two days they didn’t take my product and they sent it back to me,” said the owner of a mid-size east coast trucking company.
“They will dig through 50 cases to find one bad head of lettuce and say: ‘I am not taking your lettuce when that lettuce would pass a USDA inspection.’ But as the farmer told you, there is nothing you can do, because if you use the Paca [Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930] on them, they are never going to buy from you again. Are you going to jeopardise $5m in sales over an $8,000 load?”
He said he experienced such rejections, known in the industry as kickbacks, “a couple of times a month,” which he considered on the low side for the industry. But he said he was usually able to sell the produce to another buyer.

“They are just not going to call because that will be the last order they will ever sell to them. That’s their fear. They are really in a pickle.”

Bill Cosby is ‘completely blind’ and homebound

Bill Cosby is now “completely blind,” said a well-placed source, who added that the embattled comic is “in his own personal hell.”

The disgraced comedian once known as “America’s Dad” is now confined to his Pennsylvania home with only his incomprehensibly loyal wife, Camille, at his side.

The source close to Cosby told us, “His alleged victims may take some solace in the fact that he’s in his own personal hell. He has been suffering from a degenerative eye disease and is completely blind . . . All his Hollywood friends have turned their backs on him.

“He is confined to his house in Pennsylvania, and the only person on his side is his wife, Camille, who is masterminding his defense. His only friends are the small army of lawyers on his payroll.”

Although his top lawyers, Brian McMonagle and Angela C. Agrusa, didn’t respond to questions from Page Six, Cosby’s sight has been slowly fading for some time. In January, Monique Pressley, another of his lawyers, said of his strange appearance in his mug shot, “He’s a 78-year-old blind man who they’ve chosen to charge. That’s not a defense to a charge, that’s just a fact.” It explains why he is led into court by lawyers and reps on both of his arms. (He turned 79 on July 12.) Since then, the condition has become far more severe.

Bill and Camille CosbyPhoto: AP

Cosby reportedly has a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus, a condition that causes the eye’s cornea to bulge.

A judge this month ruled that Cosby will stand trial on sexual assault charges, at a date yet to be determined. Cosby faces three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University. She was the first of more than 50 women who’ve accused Cosby of sexual misconduct.

But, on Monday, a judge in his civil case ruled Cosby will be allowed to sue Constand — who claims he drugged and raped her in 2004 — for allegedly breaching a confidentiality agreement she signed with him after he settled with her out of court in 2006.

Marvin X. Jackmon

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