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44-D Book Diaries with Audiegrl: Susan L. Taylor’s All About Love

Today’s interview features Susan L. Taylor, discussing her profoundly inspirational and thought-provoking book, All About Love: Favorite Selections from ‘In The Spirit’ on Living Fearlessly.

All About Love is a gathering of Susan’s favorite In the Spirit essays, as well as the favorites of many Essence readers. Several themes reoccur ~ finding harmony with ourselves and others; shedding the old skin of anger and bitterness; opening the heart and soul fully to love; wealth building and abundance; commitment to personal and social change; strengthening our families and communities; and primarily, keeping faith and finding the face of God in all our challenges. These are the principals and values that embody the wisdom Susan tries to live each day.

Susan L. Taylor is synonymous with Essence magazine, the brand she built—as its fashion and beauty editor, as editor-in-chief and editorial director. For 27 years she authored of one of the magazine’s most popular columns, In the Spirit. For nearly three decades, as the driving force behind one of the most celebrated Black-owned businesses of our time, Susan Taylor is a legend in the magazine publishing world.

She was the first and only African-American Woman to be recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award—the industry’s highest honor—and the first to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award for visionary leadership and has honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.

A fourth-generation entrepreneur, Susan grew up in Harlem working with her father in his women’s clothing store. She founded her own cosmetics company, a first for Black women, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence. She is the author of four books: In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor; Lessons in Living; Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives, which she coauthored with her husband, Khephra Burns; and her most recent, All About Love, Favorite Selections from In the Spirit on Living Fearlessly. She is a much sought-after speaker, inspiring hope and encouraging us to reclaim our lives and create sustainable communities.

AG: Susan, start by telling our readers about All About Love.

ST: These writings are my and Essence readers favorite “In the Spirit” columns, which I have rewritten and deepened. Essentially, they are to help us remember that we are not weak or incomplete, but more than enough. We are human and divine and with our mind, we can create the joyful, peaceful and prosperous life God created us to have. All About Love is our encouragement to cast off negativity, doubt or fear–they grow when we give them power–and keep on stepping toward our goals and plans with walk-on-water faith.

AG: What inspired you to create this collection of essays?

ST: For years, Essence readers have been asking me to compile the ones that have been most helpful to them in a single volume. I also wanted to be able to read the ones that are most meaningful to me, the truths that have saved my life and that I must remember and practice to keep balance and inner peace at the center of my crazy-busy life.

AG: You founded a mentoring program called National CARES Mentoring Movement. Can you tell us about this project and what motivated you to create it?

ST: This is the painful truth we can no longer avoid addressing: Of all African-American births, 6.6 percent are to girls under the age of 18. Among our children, 58 percent of Black 4th graders are functionally illiterate. In some cities, nearly 80 percent of Black boys aren’t finishing high school.

Everyday more than a thousand Black children are arrested. One in every eight Black men between the ages of 25 and 29 is incarcerated, and the leading cause of death for our Black boys is homicide. What I and people all over the country are saying is, “Hell no! Not on our watch.” Millions of our young are in peril and the negative forces claiming them–the mothers and fathers of our tomorrows–are more powerful than our community’s or country’s effort to secure them. The goal of the National Cares Mentoring Movement is to put a caring and loving adult in the life of every vulnerable child and to increase the rate of high school graduation among Black youngsters by 10 percent annually. Now there are 22 cities at various stages of launching local movements. Already in operation are Atlanta Cares Mentoring Movement, Chicago Cares, Memphis Cares, Baltimore Cares, and the fearless brothers of MADD DADS are organizing the state of Florida.

AG: Being the “face” of Essence magazine for a number of years, you left the magazine to work on building the National Cares Mentoring Movement. Was this a difficult decision for you?

ST: It’s time for the next generation to take the reigns of Essence. They are energized, well trained and hard working. At times we older ones hold on too long. I did what I came to Essence to do; my 37 years there have seasoned me well. Now I’m ready for the heavy lifting, for even tougher, mightier work–linking arms and aims with the many caring people throughout the nation who have a passion for justice and understand that neither public policy nor political will is going to rescue our young and that this is our call to commitment, Black people’s work to do.

AG: What are your long-term goals for the National CARES Mentoring Movement?

ST: Oprah Winfrey put out the call for one million people to sign on to mentor. She devoted a show to the National CARES Mentoring Movement and ran it twice within a month. This gave the movement a tremendous life. Mentoring costs nothing and saves lives. We asking every able, stable Black person to devote four hours a month in a one-to-one mentoring relationship, or to with a group of friends mentor a number of youngsters–say those in a group home. Not only do mentees benefit, mentors grow in ways that are immeasurable.

The long-term goal, is ending the carnage in our communities, the over-incarceration of our young and turning every failing public school into a top-tier, safe learning environment that young people want to be a part of. Also, the leaders of the four national Baptist convention, that together have over 16 million congregants, have agreed to encourage churches to open their doors after school and enlist retired teachers to offer homework help, and on Saturdays for the accurate teaching of our history. We need our women and men to organize their congregations in churches, temples and mosques to do this critical work. This is the overarching goal.

National CARES Mentoring MovementAG: Where can our readers find more information on joining this movement?

ST: Readers can log on to National CARES Mentoring Movement for more information and to sign up to mentor. Just enter your zip code and a list of mentoring opportunities in your area will appear on the screen. Select one that appeals to you, investigate it and sign on.

AG: Are you working on any other upcoming projects?

ST: I am working on a healing and stress-reducing meditation CD. And a book about how we sisters and brothers can build solid lasting relationships is in my heart. All of my work is in synergy. We need inner peace and we need to get along with one another in order to secure the children and rebuild our communities. Peace and love begin in our individual hearts and homes, then we can live and build together well. We have to practice forgiveness and non-judgment every day. This is the most difficult and most necessary walk we humans must take. The most revolutionary thing we Black folks can do is learn to love one another.

AG: Name one thing that the world does not know about Susan L. Taylor~the person?

ST: Many folks think I have it all together all the time. Life is a school room, and I am learning how to listen to my life and my own intuition. When I don’t, things fall apart, I get depressed, lose faith and suffer. Them I turn to a wisdom book, or someone who helps me remember this: Magnify God, not the perceived obstacle. We combine with whatever we focus on. “God’s ways are ingenious; God’s methods are sure.” Each day I’m learning to trust God more and more.

Please visit the National CARES Mentoring Movement website and watch Susan and Oprah discuss the movements inspirational success stories.

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Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Meets the 21st Century

Posted by Audiegrl

It’s been 166 years since the publication of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ seasonal story of redemption wrapped up in a biting indictment of 19th-century capitalism.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Telegraph.co.uk/Paula Bustamante—Yet in the era of global financial crisis and multi-billion-dollar fraud, Jim Carrey believes Dickens’s tale about how the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge learns to change his ways remains as relevant today as ever.

I think it’s a very pressing story nowadays, too,” said Carrey, the star of Disney’s re-imagining of the classic, released in North America on November 6. “I think stories get told at times when they’re supposed to be told.”

a_christmas_carol_jim_carrey_photoScrooge is the first corporate scumbag. The unloved scumbag. So, in this time when all our constructs are breaking down because of greed, this story is so pressing,” Carrey added.

“Everybody loves a good transformational story. You know, somebody who sees the light, who finally finds out what’s important in life. And, this is one of the greatest ones ever written.”

Just like the character of Scrooge, Carrey was confronted with a vision of his future during the making of the film.

But while Scrooge’s insight came via the spooky Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Carrey’s own premonition was entirely due to his appearance after the 3D movie’s special effects wizards went to work.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Instead of the familiar 47-year-old face known to millions in hits such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty, Carrey said he was left staring at the spitting image of his father.

When I saw the movie, one of the first things I said when I saw the first close up of Scrooge is, ‘my family is going to have a heart attack, because that is my father,'” he said.

It’s unbelievable. It’s really a look into the future for me. Not the long chin and the long nose, but the look is what I’m going to look like when I’m old,” Carrey added.

Disney’s new take on the classic is the latest in a long line of adaptations of the beloved 1843 novella, with the first screen version coming more than a century ago with in the 1901 British short Scrooge.

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A Christmas Carol Tops Weekend Box Office with $31 Million

5926A Christmas Carol unsurprisingly topped the weekend box office with an estimated $31 million in receipts.

The latest foray by Robert Zemeckis into motion-capture filmmaking came in lower than initial expectations but easily bested the $23.3 million open by The Polar Express, his last holiday CGI film. With the holiday season only now ramping up, A Christmas Carol should continue to play strong for weeks to come.

A Christmas Carol starring Jim CarreyCharles Dickens’ timeless tale of an old miser who must face Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come, as they help to bring kindness to his otherwise cold heart. The Ghosts remind him of the man he used to be, the hard truth of what the world is today, and what will happen if he does not strive to be a better man. Set around Christmas, the most joyous day of the year, Scrooge realizes the sharp contrast of his own personality.

Jim Carrey plays four separate roles in this updated version of A Christmas Carol. Carrey portrays Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts (Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come). His dynamic character roles keep the four characters as diverse as being played by four actors.

Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy) has his chance to dabble in telling a story through the windows of time, as he directs the long-awaited remake.

Our Favorite Versions

Each December my family and I watch our favorite versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. What’s your favorite?

A Christmas Carol starring Alastair SimA Christmas Carol starring George C. ScottA Christmas Carol starring Patrick StewartScrooged starring Bill MurrayEbbie starring Susan Lucci
Ms. Scrooge starring Cicely Tyson

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Mentor Washington Girls

Posted by Audiegrl

Will join staffers Desiree Rogers, Susan Sher, Tina Tchen, Valerie Jarrett

First Lady Michelle Obama, Fran Drescher and Sheryl Crow

First Lady Michelle Obama, Fran Drescher and Sheryl Crow

Chicago Tribune/Katherine Skiba—First Lady Michelle Obama — and some of her Chicago “sisters” in the White House — on Monday will launch a first-of-its-kind mentoring program with about 20 high school girls from greater Washington.

As the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s election nears, it’s the first lady who is making history now. Call this chapter “Girl Power.”

Observers say her leadership and mentoring initiative has not been done by a first lady before. It will see Obama — and White House staffers including Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen, Susan Sher and Desiree Rogers, Chicagoans all — act as mentors to high school juniors and sophomores.

Jarrett is a senior White House adviser. Tchen leads its public liaison office. Sher is the first lady’s chief of staff. Rogers is White House social secretary.

The proteges were chosen by high schools, the Girl Scouts and military families, including Gold Star families who have lost a loved one, said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady’s spokeswoman.

A similar initiative for young men is coming later, she said.

Tchen, an attorney from Chicago long active in politics, said the program builds on a March event at the White House that saw high school girls interact with the first lady, White House officials and a cast of celebrities including singers Alicia Keyes and Sheryl Crow; actresses and sisters Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad; actress Fran Drescher; and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel into space.

The First Lady chats with Fran Drescher and Alica Keys

The First Lady chats with Fran Dresche and Alica Keys

Tchen said the program launch will see proteges visit their mentors’ offices and gather as a group for dinner. The inaugural class’s duration has not been decided, she said, adding that she expects discussions of college, careers, and balancing work and motherhood.

The mentors, she said, want to give proteges a “window to a wide variety of different opportunities to play out your dreams.”

Letitia Baldrige, who was a top aide to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, said the mentoring program was “definitely” a first for a presidential spouse. She called it “wonderfully imaginative,” but cautioned it will be difficult in part because of the ongoing commitment it requires.

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Book Review: Dave Neiwert’s The Eliminationists

Review by Guest Contributor Susan G

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right By David Neiwert

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right By David Neiwert

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right
By David Neiwert
$16.96, 174 pages
Paperback original
PoliPointPress, May 2009: Sausalito, CA
Available for $11.53 @ amazon1

It’s a neat trick. Not only has the village lunatic gained permission to continue wandering the town square poking everyone he dislikes in the eye with a sharp stick, but he gets to claim victimhood when the victims respond angrily. Unfortunately, in the process, the whole village is transformed, and not for the better.

Rarely has a book been released at a time when it’s been more relevant than David Neiwert’s The Eliminationists. Neiwert, an award-winning journalist and blogger at Orcinus and of late, at Crooks and Liars, has focused for years on that fine, scary line where heated rhetoric gives way to pure hate speech, and where fantasies of inflicting violence morph into the real thing. With the killing of three Pittsburgh police officers by a white-supremacist radical, an understanding of the right-wing extremists now deeply embedded in the modern conservative movement is more important than ever.

And lucky we are to have such a guide as Neiwert, who over the years has become the absolute master of the study of hate speech, authoritarianism and violence. His new book is the culmination of decades of watching the far right, listening to talk radio, tracking militias and extremists, and cataloging incidents inspired by false facts and the stoking of paranoia. Heck, for the naming of the phenomenon alone, he should be thanked:

Eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.

Admit it: We all knew there was a better word we were waiting for. Finally, it has arrived. While we’re at it, let’s have him define an overused (but strangely enough, underdefined) term for us at the outset:

Fascism is passionate nationalism, allied to a conspiratorial dualism and a crude Social Darwinism, voiced with resentment toward the forces, or conditions, that restrain “the chosen people.”

Sound vaguely familiar? It should. As Neiwert shows, this country since the 1990s has been undergoing what he terms para-fascist tendencies going mainstream as those once on the fringes have begun infecting one of the two major political parties and co-opting conservatism, making of it the paranoiac, reactionary–and, most frighteningly–increasingly violent crew we now hear regularly on Fox News and on talk radio.

The first portion of The Eliminationists lays out in careful detail the evidence, in cite after cite, of

… a particular trend that has manifested itself with increasing intensity in the past decade: the positing of elimination as the solution to political disagreement. Rather than engaging in a dialogue over political and cultural issues, one side simply dehumanizes its opponents and suggests, and at times demands, their excision. This tendency is almost singularly peculiar to the American Right and manifests itself in many venues: on radio talk shows and in political speeches, in bestselling books and babbling blogs. Most of all, we can feel it on the ground: in our everyday lives, in our encounters, big and small, with each other.

His insistence on the right-wing nature of modern eliminationism holds up, despite cries from the conservatives that “liberals do it too.” Neiwert acknowledges that leftists have been known–less frequently–to toss around talk of assassination or insurrection but, he points out, they tend to focus on threatening talk toward an individual (think Cheney or Bush), not an entire category of human beings. The far right, on the other hand…

In contrast, right-wing rhetoric has been explicitly eliminationist, calling for the infliction of harm on whole blocs of American citizens: liberals, gays and lesbians, Latinos, blacks, Jews, feminists, or whatever target group is the victim du jour of right-wing ire.

This distinction is crucial, and Neiwert makes an alarming case for the fact that the rhetoric that leads up to violent crimes against whole classes of individuals is a necessary ingredient to the carrying out of the penultimate acts, that without the vicious cheerleading, many of the acts would not be carried out because, he says, “such rhetoric has played a critical role in giving permission for it to proceed, by creating the cultural and psychological conditions that enable the subsequent violence.” At the bottom of such rhetoric is a savagely anti-democratic, American-hating ethos too, despite the flag-cocooning in which the shouters participate.

Continued @ daily kos logo

Blogger Note: Please take the time and read the entire review by Susan G and check out the book if you can. Even though this review was written in April of 2009, the extremism shown in the last few months make it more timely that ever.

Dave Neiwert was a featured guest tonight on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Neiwert is being interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell in the video:

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