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Getting the Jump on History

November 12, 2019, 7:00 PM UTC

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It’s a simple object with a long history and a powerful place in the lives of Black women.

Kyra Gaunt, an ethnomusicologist, says the jump rope has been around forever and was a reliable bit of worldwide fun. It may have started with the ancient Egyptians, but it became all the rage in Europe (particularly, spoiler alert, the Dutch) after the leg-freeing pantaloon was created. Even enslaved kids jumped rope with the white children of their enslavers. But it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that jumping rope—single strand or Double Dutch—became a powerful cultural expression for Black girls in the U.S., and the background sound for impressionable Black boys who listened to their rhymes and rhythms from the sidelines.

From her short and snappy, TICK-tat, TICK-tat, TICK-tat, TICK-tatty TED talk:

“Double Dutch jump rope remains a powerful symbol of culture and identity for black women. Back from the 1950s to the 1970s, girls weren’t supposed to play sports. Boys played baseball, basketball and football, and girls weren’t allowed. A lot has changed, but in that era, girls would rule the playground. They’d make sure that boys weren’t a part of that. It’s their space, it’s a girl-power space. It’s where they get to shine.”

When you’re done, fire up some Nelly and ask yourself which U. City, Mo., Double Dutch power-girls he was recalling when he wrote this.

I thought we could all use some nostalgic #BlackGirlMagic today. Enjoy.

Ellen McGirt


On Point

Hollywood has a student loan crisis Hot on the heels of the #PayUpHollywood hashtag, which revealed the low pay and grim conditions experienced by many industry assistants, comes this story which explains how crippling student loan debt is making it impossible for young creatives and staffers to both live and pay their student loans. Developing a project that might get them noticed is absolutely out of the question. Insiders say it’s quickly become a race and class issue, poised to reverse any meager diversity gains the industry may have made. Student loan debt "becomes a question of access, and not everyone, especially minorities, have connections in the entertainment industries," one Latinx production coordinator tells The Hollywood Reporter. Says television writer Deirdre Mangan, "There is a small number of people who can afford to take that pay, and it’s rich white kids."
The Hollywood Reporter

Will high interest rate loans finally be banned? Payday and other lenders can charge up to 300% interest and ensnare low-income folks in a terrible cycle of debt. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed a law that capped interest rates that can be charged to active duty service members, but the lenders still target plenty of veterans and other low-income citizens. Now Congress wants to expand that cap to protect everyone. A bipartisan group of Congress members plan to introduce an expansion of The Military Lending Act, but lenders are already pushing back. "Our estimate is that this will redline 150 million Americans from access to credit," Mary Jackson, the CEO of the Online Lenders Alliance, tells NPR.
WOSU Public Radio

Rapper Chamillionaire launches a $100,000 competition to find and invest in a "minority" owned startup The Grammy-award winning rapper Hakeem "Chamillionaire" Seriki is also a busy investor, with investments in more than 40 startup companies. He also took an early position in Lyft. So, his announcement yesterday on CNBC was real news. "Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but it’s even harder for minority and women-led companies," Seriki says. "These people are solving new and unique problems and I think the only thing in their way is capital." But Seriki also says the awareness the Shark Tankesque competition will also be helpful to those who don't make the cut. "When people say they can’t find African-American startups to invest in, it just sounds a little crazy to me," Seriki said. Start-up founders can submit their pitches on Convoz, a face-to-face social app that I just learned about (sorry). It was launched by Seriki in 2016 "to enhance public collaborative communication."

The APA updates their scholarly style guide to embrace the singular "they" This use of "they" as a singular third-person pronoun has been officially adopted for use in scholarly writing as of the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This helpful post breaks down all the whys and hows to use "they" correctly, but here’s the bottom line: "When readers see a gendered pronoun, they make assumptions about the gender of the person being described (Gastil, 1990; Moulton et al., 1978). APA advocates for the singular 'they' because it is inclusive of all people and helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender."
APA Style

On Background

Remembering Pedro Zamora For an astonishing number of Americans, Pedro Zamora, the charismatic star of the reality television show The Real World San Francisco (1994), was the first person they ever knew with HIV and AIDS. He died 25 years ago yesterday. The Reality Blurred blog has put together a lovely tribute to Zamora, who was an outspoken educator and activist, and a figure well ahead of his time: In addition to being the first television personality to live openly with AIDS, he thrilled his fans when he married the love of his life in the first-ever televised commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple. While his story may seem commonplace now, his life, love, and death electrified the country. "At a time when people are saying that young people don’t care, Pedro has proved them very wrong," said President Bill Clinton after his death. "Through his work in classrooms and other public forums, Pedro has given a voice to a disease that is still too often treated with silence."
Reality Blurred

Technologist Kathy Sierra received her first online threat 15 years ago Back in the mid-2000s, Kathy Sierra, a busy technologist and blogger, was one of the first women ever to be harassed, receive sexualized death threats, doxed, and ultimately driven from online life. She wrote a blog post about the experience a couple of years ago which is worth revisiting now. "I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, 'following,' 'liking,' 'favoriting,' retweeting," she explains. "In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) 'drunk the Koolaid.' Apparently, that just can’t be allowed." It is a painful, necessary reminder.
Serious Pony Blog

What is systemic racism? Racism. Is it really a thing? These days, it may be hard to sort that out. The Center for Racial Justice Innovation has an eight-part video series that helps explain how racism is a part of everyday life, in areas like employment, housing policy, incarceration, infant and maternal mortality, and the like. They’re well researched, and infinitely shareable; the narrator is Jay Smooth, one of my favorite internet/radio personalities and commentators.

Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.


“Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right? These sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status. It may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.”

Toni Morrison


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