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raceAhead: Is Time Up for R. Kelly?

Singer R. Kelly performs in concert during the '12 Nights Of Christmas' tour at Kings Theatre on December 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough New York City.Singer R. Kelly performs in concert during the '12 Nights Of Christmas' tour at Kings Theatre on December 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough New York City.
Lifetime airs a six-part documentary that explores credible allegations of the star's sexual abuse of women and minors.Noam Galai—Getty Images

Here’s your week in review, in haiku.



History is a

mystery: Many bad deals,

lots of sand and death



Apple disappoints,

Powell releases the doves.

Stock market whiplash



We want women to

lead! Just not Pelosi or

Unlikeable Liz.



House Calls: Gavel like

Nancy, trash talk like Tlaib,

dance like AOC



I believe he should

fly (to jail)…think about it

every night and day…


Have a powerful and equitable weekend.

On Point

Is “Time Up” for R. Kelly?It remains the question of the #MeToo age: Why has singer/producer R.Kelly continued to get a pass despite years of credible allegations of abuse and sex with underaged girls? Executive producer Dream Hampton aims to remedy that with a new six-part series on Lifetime called “Surviving R. Kelly.” She interviewed more than fifty people, including a score of mental health experts, but notably absent are the legions of stars who enabled Kelly’s career and looked the other way. John Legend was not one of them. “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he tweeted. “I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”NPR

A healthy dose of optimism for 2019
As a long-time magazine writer, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of a good list. And the folks at WordPress have done us a solid by identifying 14 people who have done wonders with their lives and for the world, and yes, they use WordPress to spread their good work. You’ll meet Congolese-American sisters building a haircare empire, a pre-teen journalist, a non-profit combating misinformation about the Arab world and the heartbeats behind the It Gets Better Project, a site that collects supportive stories for LGBTQ+ youth who may feel isolated or are being bullied. It’s also a great reminder that everything doesn’t happen on social media, y’all.
WordPress Blog

New St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell makes some changes
Bell, who was sworn in this week, began his work with a few bold moves. He fired three prosecutors, including the veteran prosecutor who was the central figure presenting evidence to the grand jury that declined to indict then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown. He also made good on some key campaign promises. For starters, the department will no longer prosecute certain infractions, like marijuana possession under a certain amount, and failure to pay child support. Bell also eliminated cash bail for misdemeanor cases. Click through for the rest of the changes, which read like a reverse playbook designed to reign in prosecutorial overreach.
St Louis Today

Neil deGrasse Tyson gets grounded
National Geographic has pulled the interview show StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson from its schedule as they continue to investigate reports of inappropriate sexual behavior that have been leveled at the star. The two claims, one by a peer at a conference and the other by his former assistant, came to light in a story published last November. “In order to allow the investigation to occur unimpeded we chose to hold new episodes of Star Talk until it is complete,” the company said in a statement. Tyson has denied the allegations.
Hollywood Reporter


The Woke Leader

Black women cheerleaders have a long history of demanding to be included
This is a fascinating look at the history of cheerleading in the U.S. and the late-in-the-game inclusion of black women among cheerleading ranks in schools. For the most part, black cheerleaders took it upon themselves to demand to be considered in equity protest movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s, partly for their right to expression, and partly because cheerleading gave them access to sports and physical education. But it was more complicated than that. “First, this critique targeted the gendered constraints of integration that valued Black male athletic bodies and created early avenues for school integration that were rarely open to Black girls,” writes Amira Rose Davis, a professor at Penn State and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down

What the obsession with skincare says about the way we think about poor people
This snappy piece from Amanda Mull is a great reminder that the rich have always sought to look effortlessly attractive, and the current skincare craze is just a variation on a theme. A very expensive theme. The generic advice is largely nonsense: get plenty of sleep (tough for double-shifters), drink lots of water (if your tap water is safe, natch), and deny yourself junk food (try living in a food desert) and you’ll be beautiful! The truth is, toned bodies and perfect skin take time and money to achieve, and a dedication which is now inextricably linked with American virtue and well-deserved success. She quotes writer Jaya Saxena who echoes her theme. “It’s not that we think having bad skin is a moral failing. It’s that we think poverty is.”
The Atlantic

Facing America’s difficult past
This essay begins with an assertion that I hadn’t considered: The United States has been at war every day since its founding, sometimes covertly, oftentimes in more than one place. Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz digs into our national record of violence against Indigenous people, noting that we’re not exceptional in this. “Extreme violence against noncombatants was a defining characteristic of all European colonialism, often with genocidal results,” she says. But what is unusual is the mythmaking that’s associated with this plunder. To work toward justice, she says, we have to acknowledge the violent impulses that are part of our historical DNA. Not unlike, oddly, what white supremacists are doing now. “White supremacists are not wrong when they claim that they understand something about the American Dream that the rest of us do not, though it is nothing to brag about,” she writes. To make progress, we must face the facts about ourselves.
Boston Review


I want to talk about this because I am a survivor. A three-time survivor. That latter fact is important because it took me a long time to say or think or write those words. I am a survivor—but there are layers to survival. I am also a black woman who was a black girl trying to navigate what survival—in the sense of continued existence—meant at 6 years old and at 9 years old and at 12 years old in a community steeped in silence and choking on its own complicity. There aren’t enough conversations about what that child does, whom that child turns to and where that child rests those worries. Child sexual abuse is a pandemic.
Tarana Burke