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August 2018

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angela Cho Janet Dallas Thomas Russell Holt Zilingo Christopher Nwuke Alfonzo Porter Shakara Robinson Chiquita Vaughn ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

“If you want a happy ending - that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Everyone has a story. But not everyone tells their story. Since 1987, the Denver Urban Spectrum has been telling stories – other people’s stories. Some have been humorous, others have been entertaining. Many have educated and enlightened while others were provocative. Still others have been heartbreaking and sometimes sad. This month, our stories have a little bit of all starting with our cover story. DUS executive consultant and MSU professor Alfonzo Porter looks at the current climate of African American men (and women) and the judicial system with his Presumed Guilty commentary. From the 1921 Black Wall Street saga and Emmitt Till who was brutally murdered more than 50 years ago (of which both stories were based on lies), to today where a multitude of stories surface daily across the country with no backbone or merit to the racist accusations against Black men and women. In his State of the City Address, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock shared his account of the city’s progress, acknowledged those who helped and announced major efforts that will improve, strengthen and add to what we love about the city while strengthening Denver’s sense of community. New DUS contributors, Shakara Robinson and Chiquita Vaughn, share Papa Dia’s story about his goal for coming to the U.S. from Senegal, how he would like to bridge the gap between Africans and African Americans, and the story behind his formation of the African Leadership Group in 2006. Allison Kugel brings all the story elements in her conversation with comedian/actor and now author, DL Hughley who discusses in his new book today’s realities from race, politics, and relationships in a frank yet humorous in your face banter. Lastly, and certainly not least, are the stories that bring sadness and heartbreak to our readers from the loss of loved ones – family, friends and/or community people. As of this writing, Rae Taylor and Evis Ray Robinson, two DUS friends have left our midst. We pray for her family and Joyce Robinson, along with the families of Reese Deveraux Grant-Cobb (Beverly Grant and Roger Cobb) and Archie Jones. May they all rest in peace as we dedicate this issue to their memory. Yes, we all have stories, whether we share them or not. But eventually, everyone’s story will be told, either by choice or by reason. If you have a story, share it when you have a choice to ensure it has your desired ending.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix


The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2018 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at


Lamm Opened Doors To The Black Community

entered politics, thought we were a little over the edge. But Lamm made up for it in the future. During his time as governor, for the first time in Colorado’s history, he broke the color line and appointed many African Americans to his cabinet and key board positions. Among those he appointed were Rudy Livingston, director of personnel; Dan Muse, member of Public Utilities Commission; Dave Smith, the first African American appointed to the Real Estate Commission; Dick Doby, the first African American appointed as banking commissioner; Lucille West and Margie Cook, the first Black nurses appointed to the Colorado Nursing Board; Charles Mitchell, the Colorado Health Board; and William Coker, to Colorado Housing Board. In 1981, Lamm appointed me as the Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. He also supported me in the 1991 mayoral race. Black voters recognized Lamm cared about the community, and the Black community supported his reelection. But the Black community is like any other group – it is not monolithic. My history lesson is to show Lamm’s administration was inclusive and opened doors at the state Capitol that previously were closed to the

Editor: I recently read an article in Colorado Politics about the Black community being angry with former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm. It lacked many key elements, which I need to explain to give historic perspective. I served with Lamm in the state legislature and I joined other Black lawmakers in protesting his first inauguration in 1975. We were upset that Lamm had not appointed an African American to his cabinet. Dan Muse, King Trimble, and I, along with others in the Black community, helped raise $2,500 for an ad in the Rocky Mountain News, written by a Black media professional, outlining the Black community’s concerns. We spoke with Lt. George Brown, the first Black lieutenant governor, and Lamm and warned them if Lamm didn’t appoint one of the many qualified Black professionals to his cabinet, we’d walk out of his inauguration ceremony. He didn’t heed our advice, and we walked out. The TV cameras and newspaper photographers captured us leaving: me and Wilma, Arie Taylor, Regis Groff, Paul Sandoval, Rich Castro, Leo Lucero, Odell Barry, Dan Muse, Bill Roberts and Elvin Caldwell. Many people supported us; my grandmother, who was the reason I

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Rosalind J. Harris Publisher

Black community. We need to remember that fact.

Wellington E. Webb Denver, CO

Editor’s note: The Honorable Wellington E. Webb served as Denver’s Mayor from 1991-2003.

Decency and Fairness Needed In Law Enforcement Officers

Editor: My friend Paul Pazen was just sworn in as the new Denver Chief of Police. He is a Denver native and an outstanding and talented man. I wish him well, as I am sure we all do. I was in the first class to start in kindergarten at Northeast Parkhill’s Smith School in 1954 and continued to Continued on page 28 Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

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Presumed Guilty The Ease of Criminalizing African Americans By Alfonzo Porter


t’s been my greatest fear as a

black man living in America – that of fitting the profile, looking like some-

one else; someone who may have

committed a crime and followed by

being railroaded through the criminal

deadly for black people over the course of our history in the US. It continues to inform our presuppositions that simply being black is enough to be questioned, and in some cases detained by law enforcement.

was automatically assumed that he had assaulted her in some way. A mob of white men quickly gathered with blood in their eyes but not before a group of black WWI veterans confronted them to avoid a lynching and insisting that the boy be given a proper hearing because he had the right to the presumption of innocence. A shot was fired and a riot broke out. It ended with more than a dozen white men and two black men dead. Greenwood was, at that time, the wealthiest black community in America. It is paradoxical that in a Jim Crow reality, African American communities flourished. The black citizens owned a bank, movie theatre, grocery stores, hotels, lawyers’ offices, doctor’s clinics, pharmacies, auto shops, furriers, restaurants and every manner of enterprise created to largely serve African Americans. Over the next days it would all be burned to the ground leaving nearly 200 hundred businesses destroyed, 39 black people dead, more than 800 admitted to hospitals and an estimated 10,000 black residents homeless— all because a black child was presumed guilty with zero evidence to substantiate his guilt. Yet, the Till case and the plight of Black Wall Street, are not the only exemplifications of the type of mania that surrounds the mere presence of black folks to this very day. The horror visited upon unwitting, innocent African Americans resulting from the cruel misrepresentations by some arbitrary white person is not a matter of either historical or contemporary lore but a deep seeded belief that black people are inherently guilty of something. Even the president of the U.S a dignified, honorable, globally respected African American figure could not escape the twisted delusions of those who opposed him. In fact, it was the

justice system, convicted of an offense

that I did not commit. If that sounds a bit irrational, then perhaps talk to the

tens of thousands of black men who, over the years, have fallen victim to

this absurd actuality in a country that

feigns to view us all as innocent until

proven guilty. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, in 2016 more than 150 men, who were wrongly convicted, were released after spending an average of 15 years in prison. Even though the system was to blame for this egregious error, these black men will forever be stigmatized as a convicted felon. Their ability to take advantage of the rights and privileges guaranteed to each citizen in this nation is effectively rendered null. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees every person, even immigrants, equal protection under the law. However, it is Article 11 of the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights that establishes that “everyone charged with any offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that no one will be held guilty of any offense on account of any act or omission which does not constitute an offense under national or international law.” Although it seems pretty straight forward that the burden of proof must rest with the one bringing the charge, it leaves many of us wondering why this simple statement appears to evade people of color; particularly African Americans. Essentially, it occurs when some random white person for whatever reason, feels threatened. However, it does very little to defuse the lies and suspicions prompted by a thoughtless, mean-spirited assertion of guilt. These petty, unfounded apprehensions can and indeed have proven

We are well acquainted with the infamous case of Emmett Till, the 14year-old Chicago elementary school student, who while visiting a relative in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, encountered 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, a white woman accused the teenager of whistling at her in a grocery store and the rest is history. He was brutally beaten, murdered and discarded to the bottom of the Tallahatchie River with a 75 pound iron device tied to his body. The white men who killed the child were acquitted and the woman would later admit that she lied. It didn’t matter whether he did it or not—he was presumed guilty. Many of us are also familiar with the case of the so-called Black Wall Street of the early 21st century; nearly 100 years ago. It was Memorial Day weekend in 1921 in the all black community of Greenwood, Oklahoma when a young African American male shoe shine boy allegedly brushed up against a 17-year-old white female elevator operator –she screamed and it

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


current occupant of the White House that disseminated the false notion that Barack Obama was somehow an illegal alien—that he was not born an American citizen. However, any elementary school civics student can tell you that a child born to an American citizen, regardless of where they are born, is an American citizen. But millions of white Americans bought it. It harkens backs to the days when freed slaves were expected to present proof of their freedom. In other words, the message to President Obama was, “show me your papers, boy!” He was forced to endure being called a liar in the well of the US Capitol during a worldwide State of the Union Address. Heretofore, it was unimaginable for anyone to assault the president in such a manner. But in the minds of many, a black president is clearly not due the same respect as a result of being presumed guilty. Juxtaposed against the consistent, blatant, habitual stream of untruths stemming from mouth of our current president, it extends conjecture of the presumption of guilt to the realm of the ridiculous. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a single scandal surrounding the Obama Administration over the course of its eight years. Apparently, irony and hypocrisy fails to register that a dishonest, thoroughly corrupt, disrespectful, cruel, treasonous, racist, sexist, misogynistic, ignorant, demagogic, con artist of a white man asserting that a law-abiding, trustworthy black man is anything but honorable is totally overlooked; and many in America’s white population accept his mendacity as truth. This is at the root of why it is so easy to indict black Americans with little more than a sheer contention of wrongdoing. And the lies didn’t stop there. Since then, Mr. Trump has alleged that President Obama gave away

Ukraine and Crimea to Russia; that he bugged Trump Tower and placed FBI agents in the Trump campaign. He has asserted that Obama instituted the policy of removing children from their families at our southern border with Mexico. He circulated the lie that during an Obama speech in Chicago, two people in the crowd were shot and killed. He claimed that his inaugural crowd was larger even though aerial photographic evidence clearly confirmed the opposite. Trump also declared that very few people were eve covered under Obama-Care—in fact, 22 million Americans were covered under the Affordable Care Act. What is so remarkable is that millions actually swallow these blatant, outlandish lies because it is easy to believe the worst about African Americans; even the most honorable among us.

These incidents occur every day in the lives of black people in this country in the ordinary course of simply existing. This treatment has also, of course, hit close to home. I, like the vast majority of us, have not been able to escape this “guilty syndrome.” While meeting a student at the Aurora, CO library for a tutoring session, I noticed a white woman in one of the study rooms packing up appearing to be prepping to leave. I quietly peeked in and asked if she was packing up. To my surprise, she rudely quipped, “I’ll be here for a while.” Five minutes later a security guard appeared informing me that the

woman alleged that I had threatened her. I don’t mind admitting that I was infuriated to have been lied on. The worst part is that the coward left the premises before she could be confronted with her barefaced, deliberate fabrication. I felt disgraced at being force to explain myself in the face of her deceit. What is so acute is that these falsehoods have very real consequences for black people. We’ve tolerated violence, incarceration and even death as a result. The larger question is why are well trained law enforcement officers still so gullible and susceptible to these ridiculous and apparently racist

More recently, two black men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks because they asked to use the restroom while awaiting a meeting. This is a stark illustration that we are presumed guilty on sight. What crime did they commit? They were guilty of not making a purchase. They were placed in handcuffs, humiliated and carted off like common criminals.

When Lolade Siyonbola, a black graduate student at Yale University, had the nerve to fall asleep while writing a paper in a common area on campus, a white woman called the police. Miss Siyonbola was reportedly questioned for more than 15 minutes before producing her student identification and using a key to open her dorm room door to prove that she was a student at the Ivy League school.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


accusations? And why are there no penalties for those bringing such hateful, bigoted indictments of innocent people? It is exhausting to live as a suspect—having to continually prove your blamelessness. It turns out that my long-held fears are the same trepidations held by most people who look like me. Racial bias has not been an aberration but a dangerous reality. Perhaps the worst part is that the detestable, repulsive and irresponsible rhetoric emanating from the White House promises more of the same moving forward. .

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock Delivers 2018 State of the City Address

Photos by Bernard Grant

Mayor Michael B. Hancock deliv-

ered his 2018 State of the City

Address, honoring the accomplishments the city and its people have achieved together. The Mayor

announced an equity platform focused on extending economic opportunity to everyone and protecting the history,

character and sense of community in

Denver’s neighborhoods in the midst of growth and change.

“Denver, this is a transformational moment in our history,” the Mayor said to an audience gathered at the new Carla Madison Recreation Center. “We should be proud of how far we’ve come. We are a city on the rise, and our clarion call is to seize the moment and set Denver and everyone who lives here on an equitable path of prosperity for the next 100 years.”

The Mayor congratulated people in every neighborhood for leading Denver out of the Great Recession and taking the city to new heights, including: •The creation of 90,000 new jobs and 6,600 new businesses, a 2.4 percent unemployment rate and one of the strongest economies in the nation; •The creation and preservation of nearly 5,000 affordable homes, apartments and condominiums for families citywide; •Placing 6,000 homeless families and individuals into housing, and launching innovations like Denver

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Day Works and Social Impact Bond housing for the chronically homeless. •Establishing 41 new domestic and international destinations out of DIA, creating new opportunities for local businesses, tourists and conventiongoers; •Expanding access to early childhood education, afterschool programs, healthy meals, and cultural experiences for Denver children; •Repaving streets, improving walkability and bike-ability, protecting 1,000 acres of parkland, and boosting access to neighborhood playgrounds and outdoor experiences.

Mayor Hancock also noted three other citizen-led efforts that will help keep the city sustainable, accessible and inclusive for decades to come: 1. The $1 billion Elevate Denver infrastructure improvement program approved by voters last year; 2. Expansion projects at DIA, the Colorado Convention Center and Stock Show site; 3. Denveright plans that will guide how the city grows over the next 20 years. “Often, a city’s progress is measured by the tangible, by what was built — roads, parks and monuments,” Mayor Hancock said. “But I believe our progress must be measured by the intangibles, by what builds people up: social justice, access to opportunity, promoting equity in our communities, particularly during times of prosperity. That is the full measure of a city on the rise. “More than 100 years ago, Mayor Speer launched the City Beautiful Movement and ushered in a new era of parks, infrastructure and architecture that we continue to benefit from,” the Mayor added. “Today, we are launching a new movement – an equity movement – that is about extending economic opportunity to all people, strengthening our neighborhoods, and

preserving our history, culture and sense of community.” Key components of the Mayor’s speech and his equity platform include: •Seeking City Council approval next month to double Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund using marijuana tax revenue and bonding to create and preserve more than 6,000 affordable homes in the next five years. Working with numerous partners, the Mayor is also examining how Denver can utilize even more affordable housing tools, such as land trusts, property acquisition, city-owned real estate, accessory dwelling units, resident-preference and income non-discrimination policies, and extending minimum affordability periods. •Launching a Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team, or NEST, to better support residents and businesses facing significant changes to their neighborhoods. The team will deploy services specifically tailored to neighborhoods at risk of losing their identity and affordability as they experience surges in public and private investments. •Expanding the number of financial empowerment and resource centers and financial navigators to help

connect residents in need of a helping hand with city services and support. •Kicking off a new initiative where city crews will visit different neighborhoods – starting with the Sun Valley and West Colfax areas this summer – and work with residents to identify and make needed repairs, from replacing stop signs to improving bikeways and parkways to fixing potholes and much more. •Ensuring local residents and minority- and women-owned businesses benefit from the $6 billion in public projects in the pipeline for the next decade. This includes targeted recruitment of local residents for construction jobs and strengthening contract opportunities for M/WBEs. •Kicking off a Race & Social Justice Initiative that will train city employees to help achieve better outcomes for working families and communities of color. Mayor Hancock also announced other major efforts that will improve, strengthen and add to what we love about the city while strengthening Denver’s sense of community: •Accelerating the buildout of Denver’s bicycle network by adding 125 more miles of bike lanes over the next five years, piloting new mobility options such as dockless bikes and electric scooters, and testing new ways

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


to fill transit gaps with city-funded shuttle services. •Releasing the city’s 80x50 Climate Action Plan to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Strategies include meeting 100 percent of the electricity needs for municipal facilities with renewable sources like wind and solar by 2025, and meeting 100 percent of the entire city’s electricity needs with renewable sources by 2030. •Strengthening the city’s social safety net by improving services for those experiencing homelessness, mental illness and substance misuse. Specific efforts will include launching a 24/7 drug treatment-on-demand pilot, and expanding the successful Denver Day Works program and supportive housing for the chronically homeless. “The State of our City is the State of Each of Us – everyone living and working in every part of our city. Every person in our city is important, and Denver only succeeds when all of our people succeed. To those who have been left behind by our recent successes, you are the people we are working hard every day to lift up,” the Mayor said. Editor’s note: For the full text of the speech visit,

African Leadership Group

Bridging the Gap Between Africans and African-Americans By Shakara Robinson and Chiquita Vaughn


apa Dia moved to Colorado from Senegal, Africa in 1998 with a goal that most immigrants have – to find opportunities to support the families they left behind. He didn’t expect to create a local organization that has become a pillar of support for one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in United States for more than 14 years through his organization African Leadership Group. Its mission is to help the African diaspora integrate and prosper by connecting cultures. Dia earned money by working at the Tattered Cover Bookstore stocking books, often times for more than 10 hours a day. He moved on to a bank job, where he quickly became a visual

hero and social support system for other immigrants. “My fellow African people would be surprised to see me working in a bank,” Dia explains. “Usually, that was not the common thing, to see African immigrants in such a professional environment.” Dia saw firsthand how African immigrants struggled with transferring their skills and knowledge into a new country, and quickly learned that TV portrayals of becoming an instant millionaire after arriving in America were far from reality. “We have people that were doctors back home,” Dia says, “professionals back home, but when they come here, it is a nightmare. They end up being cab drivers or working at McDonald’s.” The transition of living in America has proven more difficult than overcoming language barriers. Dia noticed that most of the established organizations provided tempo-

Papa Dia congratulates graduates of ALG's Public Speaking Class in May 2018.

rary resources for refugees. As customers started showing up at the bank and asking him for help with building credit and with translation and immigration papers, the bank started to express concern. So Dia created a resolution that focuses on sustainability. Dia founded African Leadership Group in 2006. The organization consists of several committees that focus on three specific impact goals: social impact, educational impact, and economic impact with the goal of supporting the professional integration of African immigrants. There’s also a strong focus on young people with the Youth Empowerment Program. Through public speaking class, visit to the state’s capital, and Friday spent at the African Leadership Group Community Center, youth become more equipped for success in America and less susceptible to the struggles faced by many immigrants. Dia isn’t alone. ALG has several volunteers, leaders and facilitators invested in its work. But ALG’s focus isn’t solely on people from abroad.

Bridging the Gap

While ALG’s work has proven to be a successful way of blending communities, Dia acknowledges there is still work to be done – specifically in deepening the relationship between African immigrants and AfricanAmericans. “There is a gap between African and African-Americans,” Dia says. “We never talk about it. We each stay in our corner and remain very judgmental toward each other.” Dia says there’s plenty of support from the Black community from organizations like the Denver Urban Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


League and the NAACP. However, lack of education on both sides can lead to division and missed opportunities between immigrants and Black people. “Overall, there is a need to educate one another, there is a need to work together and to get to know each other more,” Dia says. “Yes, I have had interactions with African-American brothers and sisters and it was not that great because they just did not understand and vice versa.” That may be hard to digest, considering the fact that both African immigrants and African-Americans face discrimination. Although our experiences are different, our struggle is the same, Dia says. “We face even more of a challenge now with the youth,” Dia says. “I think this is where parents need to be mindful because youth, when they hear a conversation around them, they listen. And when they go out, they repeat the exact same thing they hear from their parents.” Natalya Montague, 12, was born in Colorado. Her mother is from South Africa and her father is from Ohio. She’s been a part of the Youth Empowerment Program at ALG for a few months and said she feels at home. “At school, there aren’t a lot of other African kids, and I feel like when you are African, some kids turn it into a bad thing,” Montague says. “I’ve learned that I’m not alone and there are other kids I can be myself with and connect with here.” Juliet Sebold is the Youth Empowerment director and moved to the United Stated from Sierra Leone when she was 12. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a

Juliet Sebold facilitates a Youth Empowerment Program discussion at ALG.

Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Management. As someone who immigrated at an impressionable age, Sebold can relate to Montague’s feelings. “Coming here at that age can be confusing,” Sebold explains. “For most kids, they were born here, but I have African parents, which is completely different when you’re growing up in that household, but you’re an American.” Sebold says she needed to redefine who she was in certain ways. Kids weren’t the best at recognizing and accepting differences. “When I went to school, I spoke with an accent, and kids let me know I spoke with an accent, like, ‘Oh, you said that differently!’ Sebold recalls. Now, she focuses on helping young people like Montague understand that it’s okay to be African or have African parents. It’s okay to be diverse, and it’s okay to educate other people to break stereotypes.


ALG’s signature event, AfrikImpact is a three-day festival this year, marking its third annual celebration. Dia and Sebold both emphasize that this is a community event. You don’t

will include props and symbolic wardrobe to educate the community about African history before slavery. Dia says African pre-slavery history is very important. He asserts that it also bridges the divide between Africans and African Americans. To support that effort, the festival will close with the Afrik-Impact Gala on Saturday, August 11, at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The keynote speaker will be the Honorable Wilmot Collins, a Liberian refugee who made history by becoming the Sylvia Karanja, ALG's Education Coordinator, first Black mayor listens in on a conversation in the Youth of Helena, Empowerment Program. Montana. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at

Future of Afrik-Impact

When asked about obstacles of the African immigrant in comparison to AfricanAmericans, Dia says, “Our struggles are not different, but our experiences are different.” Dia is continuously finding ways to promote positive integration. “We’ve got to stop allowing people to divide

have to be African or AfricanAmerican to attend. The event’s purpose is to showcase Afrik-Impact’s influence in Colorado. This year’s topic is leadership and education. Its long-term objective is to have the month of August recognized as African Immigrant Month by the State of Colorado. Afrik-Impact starts on Thursday, August 9, at Denver Botanic Gardens with a concert that will feature performances by special guests from Africa. On Friday, August 10, ALG will highlight its impact on African diaspora youth through the African Wax Museum. Similar to the height markings on a wall – the event celebrates the progress of youth. Their visual project

Papa Dia enjoys a surprise birthday card from members of the Youth Empowerment Program on July 13.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


us to conquer,” he says. “We’re not different. Whether they call us African immigrant, African-American – we are all Black people. We’ve got to come together.” ALG is looking to expand its language course offerings. Right now, ALG offers public speaking classes to help African immigrants feel more comfortable with their English. Dia would like to offer French language courses, as French is the primary language in many African countries. Offering French language courses would aide in overcoming the barriers between Americans and African immigrants by eliminating the stress placed on African immigrants to adapt. Dia’s goal is to continue to foster an environment where everyone feels welcome at the table. “Everything we do is around people. I want to help African people prosper and immigrate by reaching out to every culture,” Dia says. The commitment to helping people through service has led ALG’s success and preparation to reach new heights. The organization plans to expand on a national and international scale. “What we do is so big,” Dia says, “that we are needed in other cities.”.


Technology Will Enable Black Men to Catch a Taxi! (Maybe) But at what cost to the community? By Thomas Russell

When Cornell Belcher was a

young college graduate in the ‘90s, he often worked late hours as a waiter in an upscale Washington D.C. restaurant. When his shift ended at midnight, city buses were no longer running and rail service did not exist. This would normally not be a problem because taxis were still providing service. However, it was a huge problem; taxis would not stop for him. Taxis would swerve around him and “pick up white patrons, or my white colleagues.” Cornell, now a political contributor of CNN and president of Brilliant Corners, an international democratic polling firm, would lament, “I came face-to-face with overt discrimination in a way that, even as a child of the South, I frankly never experienced in such a direct way.” In the fall of 1999, actor Danny Glover, his daughter Mandisa, then a senior at New York University, and her college roommate, stood at 116th and Seventh Avenue trying to hail a taxi. Five yellow taxis passed them by. He filed a complaint with the City Taxi and Limousine Commission, charging discrimination. Glover made a comment that revealed the type of acquiesce many Black men experience when he stated; “I don’t expect to have a taxi. I’ve been conditioned to

think that someone is not going to stop for me.” A decade later, Christopher Darden (remember him?) tried to hail a taxi while the Good Morning America cameras were on. He was successful in the daytime, but after the sun went down, his luck changed, finally getting a ride when a Black driver stopped for him after two taxis passed him by. This is a well-known and common experience for African American men. The fact that the chances of a Black man hailing a taxi is much lower than that of his white peers, is a reminder that African Americans still have plenty of reasons to be conscious of being Black, even in the most innocuous of situations. When a Black man tries to hail a taxi, he is wondering if his color will be the deciding factor on whether he’s successful or not. That is an experience totally foreign to a white person. This problem is not your common Black and white racism. Very few taxi drivers in New York are white. According to a recent study conducted by Bruce Schaller, a taxi industry consultant based in Brooklyn, 84 percent of the over 99,000 taxi drivers in New York City are immigrants. They come from places such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the West Indies, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It does not take them long to learn the New

York City landscape, and apparently, it does not take them long to learn the racisms and prejudices of America. Even the Black immigrant taxi drivers hold this same view of African American males. The problem is not limited to the traditional taxis. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that Black Uber and Lyft users waited 35 percent longer and received higher cancellations rates than their white counterparts. Also, according to this research, having an African American sounding name could also get their ride cancelled. Names such a Todd, Allison and Brad would get fast and reliable service, but if your name is Aisha, Darnell or Rasheed, you may have a very long wait, if you get a ride at all. Uber and Lyft blame this on the individual drivers and say this is not a reflection of their companies. Lyft drivers can see their passengers name and profile picture before they accept a passenger. This information is available for Uber only after they hit accept. Presently, the revamped taxi industry is still not stamping out racism, even though the element of money is totally eliminated. To look at this problem from a wider lens, Black men who have trouble catching a taxi is part of a broader anxiety directed towards them. Law abiding teenager Travon Martin was killed for simply defending himself against an armed adult stranger who

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


confronted him. His killer’s intrinsic fear of Black males found an understanding audience and that was enough to set him free, even though he was the one who actually created the incident. When a taxi driver passes a young Black man, regardless of the time or circumstances, no one should be surprised. It’s part of the American biography. Is anyone surprised about this problem? However, there’s a chance technology will help solve this problem. Autonomous cars are in our future. The transition will not be overnight, but the testing is already being done in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Pittsburg. The accepted scenario goes something like this; Uber (and other ridesharing apps) are on the rise and Yellow Cab use is on the decline. Eventually, Yellow Cabs will be replaced by Uber drivers. After Uber drivers are in place, they will be replaced with self-driving cars, effectively eliminating the need for human taxi drivers. The transportation landscape of New York City, as well as the rest of the country, will be changed forever. Of course, this change will not be that simple, but there are some facts that can’t be ignored. Uber plans on replacing their human drivers with autonomous cars. They announced in February of 2015 that they will build a fleet of automated cars. These cars are equipped with about two dozen cameras, radar and lidar technology, GPS and technology that use lasers to “see” and interpret their environment. Machine learning algorithms enable the car to traverse its surroundings. The cars know the difference between a fire hydrant, a stop sign, and a traffic light. Transportation Institute claimed that self-driving cars were involved in fewer accidents than cars driven by humans, even though a human was killed by a self-driving car a while back. On the surface, this technology is good news for Black customers. Taxis will be able to pick up and transport anyone to anyplace at any time. Physical money does not need to be exchanged, the thoughts of racist taxi drivers do not need to be considered, and most important, service would be extended to everyone equally. Computers are not racist. Right? We are not in the clear yet. The same algorithms that can distinguish between a fire hydrant and a stop sign can also be used to distinguish between a Black person and a white person. Those same algorithms can teach a computer which areas are more likely to be trouble. We have to ask ourselves what type of data will be fed and analyzed for deep learning.

Does data such as income level, crime rates, and ethnicity have a place in autonomous car technology? If that type of data is collected, Blacks will still find it difficult to catch a taxi. I don’t consider myself to be a Luddite for nothing. I image that technology can also be used in a way that reflects the norms and attitude of society in which it is created. It will not be too far-fetched to see that the Ubers that travel to places like the South Bronx will be ruggedized: Little tank like vehicles, ideal for war-torn areas, creeping throughout the neighborhood. In low income areas, there’s a tendency to make things that could withstand the toughest wear-and-tear. In the parks, there are designs devoid of aesthetics or finesse. Instead everything is hard. There are cement slabs for tables and benches, stores and banks are fiberglass fortresses, the furniture of national fast food restaurants are designed to be indestructible and uncomfortable (they do not want people hanging around) and bland brick housing projects, devoid of any artistic embellishments beside a place to store people, dot the landscape. These designs are not made to inspire, only to gain security with concrete and steel. The ruggedizing of the self-driving cars will follow this idea. There’s no reason to think that the autonomous cars in the Bronx and Brooklyn neighborhoods will be the same as the cars in Manhattan. We don’t have to look any further for proof of that. Today, if you compare the midtown yellow cabs of Manhattan to the beat-up and wornout taxis that serve the Bronx, you can see where we are going with this. It can get worse. Suppose security surveillance cameras are attached to these vehicles, or at least some of them. What type of data could law enforcement collect and what will they do with it? At least these are issues we should think about. With the recent data breaches experienced by Facebook, it is not far-fetched to believe all collected data is not is not for benevolent services. Big data analytic companies would salivate at the chance to collect trillions of points of data that these automated vehicles could collect. This data collection will be at the expense people who are the subject of the collection, but who have no control over how the data is going to be used. Currently, many cities use crime predictive software to help to police troubled areas and predict the types and location of crimes. The majority of this software is used in impoverished areas and most of the people living in these areas are African-American and Hispanic. This predictive software is fed a constant stream of historical

data, such as time and location of crimes as well as “hotspots” of crime such as the locations of convenience stores and ATM machines. The information produces maps which are drawn to identify the places with the highest crime rates and/or the potential for crimes. These are the areas that are highly policed, which results in more arrest, those arrests are feed into the data, and then those areas are marked as high crime rate areas, and those areas are marked for high policing. This creates a cycle that is difficult to break. Imagine taking the present scenario and adding hundreds of cameras in those same areas. The cameras will feed more data into this digital cauldron and is further stirred with algorithms. It would be naive to think law enforcement would ignore the opportunity and potential for the goldmine of data that will be collected. Each selfdriving cab is equipped with dozens of cameras. There is a very real potential for poor neighborhoods to become places where cameras are a ubiquitous part of the landscape, not unlike those dystopian societies depicted in books and movies and not unlike some cities in China. Mugshots can be fed into the system and suspects will be flagged as they walk the streets. One of the glaring flaws in facial recognition technology is that it does not work well with people with dark skin. This technology will affect criminals as well as law abiding citizens. This is a high price for a cab ride. There’s a possibility that self-driving taxis could help mitigate the negative effects of the present racism, but as all new technology, it creates a whole new slew of other problems that have to be dealt with. Roadblocks (both legal and technical) abound for Uber, as they try to position themselves in the future. However, the technology will force its way into our society, regardless of the obstacles. Change is coming, but meanwhile, Black men will consider catching a taxi a sketchy endeavor. Some will have to use their white spouses and friends to act as decoys for them, some will give up and find different transportation, some will continue trying and until a taxi actually stops for them and some will be not try out all; arranging their personal logistics to match more reliable modes of transportation. I’ll be in New York this summer and I may or may not be in a situation where I have to hail a taxi. But if I do try to hail a cab, like many other African Americans, I’m going to hope and expect for the best experience, but prepare mentally for the worse. And no technology will change that. . Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Internation al Cuisine: SEOUL EDITION By Angela Cho Photos by Angelo Cho

Pig intestines, cow liver and live

octopus sound like creatures from the Discovery Channel or an episode of Fear Factor. It’s safe to say that the last thing a Denver native would expect to see being offered to them on the side of the road is a pig’s nose or beef’s liver, however this is not the case for the streets of Seoul, Korea. The smells of spicy ddukbokki (rice cake) and fresh mandu (dumpling) travel from the streets of Myeongdong, down the stairs of the subway station directly capturing the water in the mouth of every passerby.

Myeongdong shopping market is just one of many streets in Seoul, Korea flanked with carts of exotic food and boundless amounts of shopping. However, not all street food markets in Korea are created equally. Namdaemun is known for its more traditional items, in terms of both food and shopping. Dongdaemun, on the other hand, is best known for its designer malls and is the habitat for young people looking to experience the nightlife while enjoying an assortment of street food. Gwangjang market was the first established market and is also home to some of the most eccentric and exotic cuisine of the country.

Easily one of the best parts about street food is eating on the street while shopping. In these markets, there are tents with benches or side tables where you can enjoy with your meal, soju, a Korean alcoholic drink typically made from rice or potatoes. Most natives prefer their food to be served in a Styrofoam cup and toothpicks for utensils. Unfortunately, not all the food can be eaten easily with a toothpick or two - it may wiggle itself off. South Korea is widely known for its seafood, but most people wouldn’t expect their seafood to arrive on a plate still crawling around. Nakji (small or “baby” octopus) is a delicacy in this country and often served live.

For foreigners, the initial reaction when the plate arrives is twisted faces and wide eyes. This distress is only heightened when they realize that these tiny critters will literally suction themselves to the inside of the mouth while trying to chew. Luckily, the locals will chuckle at the reaction but will proceed to offer their advice on the proper way to eat this cuisine. The directions go as follows: ,Pick it up fast and hold your chopsticks stiff – as they will try to slither away ,Add sesame oil , Dip in gochujang (red chili paste) , Quickly slurp it up but be sure to keep your mouth closed; they will try to escape and stick themselves to your lips. , Chew quickly or swallow right away Enjoy!

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Travelers everywhere take a deep sigh of relief, because there is something for even the pickiest eaters. Nakji may be one of the more bizarre dishes, but not all the food is this unconventional to the western world. South Korea has perfected the art of junk food, with a distinct specialty in the realm of all things fried – from cheesy corn dogs and fried chicken to all the seafood one can imagine, battered up and crispy; every junk foodies dream. The food has not always been this diverse, however. The history behind street food has remained the same.

While there is no shortage of food on the streets in Korea, there is also no shortage of friends. Coworkers and family members often gather under tents or sit around a grill toasting and laughing. In South Korea, street food is embedded in the culture of the country because enjoying food there is not about the fare as much as it is about the fellowship. .

Partnership Provides Homeownership Opportunities

By Zilingo Nwuke

A unique situation led to a connection between Ericka York, a loan

officer for Fairway Independent Mortgage Co., Yatenesh “Yati” Riskey, a real estate agent for the Broker’s Guild and Aster Waldu, a real estate agent for the Broker’s Guild. The trio created a partnership that would benefit numerous families in Colorado’s African community by putting their families in homes throughout Aurora.

L to R:Yatenesh Riskey, Aster Waldu and Ericka York

The partnership began with an unlikely source – children from Africa! York and her husband have twin boys adopted from Uganda. Riskey is from Ethiopia and grew up in Sudan. She moved to Colorado in 1998. Waldu is from Eritrea. She went to college in India for six years and moved to Colorado in 1999. They both have two boys and one girl. York and Riskey’s sister, Wuba met while dropping off and picking up

their children from preschool. They would converse with one another and built a friendship. One day York mentioned she was in the loan business. Wuba said Yati was a real estate agent and they should get to know each other. They did and the rest is history. “I met for the first time,” York says, “this hot shot real estate agent who said, ‘Well, here’s a client. Let’s see how you do.’ That was our first meeting and we clicked. I met Yati first and then she introduced me to Aster, her business partner. We’ve worked together ever since and it’s been about a year.” From that first meeting, the partnership has flourished. Since Riskey and Waldu were already well known in their community, York was able to jump right in. She began helping Riskey and Waldu’s clients find home loans.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


“One of their discomforts was working with a lot of different lenders,” York says, “because they had been in business a long time. They really had to jump in a lot, because of the language barrier and the technology and stuff that was needed. So they were looking for someone that would take a little bit of extra time and meet with their clients more and spend some more time with them. That’s why it worked for both of us. The majority of their clients are Ethiopian, so they are well known in that community and a lot of real estate agents or loan officers just won’t take the time to dig in and help these clients.” With York’s help, things started to come together for everyone. They were able to work together and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Their teamwork enabled them to change a lot of lives. The work they have done has been beneficial to the people from the African community enabling them to move into new homes. They have been able to overcome language barriers in order to help their clients. They have been busy finding properties realtors are no longer interested in, renovating the property and putting the properties back on the market as soon as possible for their clients. They love to help people fulfill their dreams of owning a home, and make lives better. “Everyone is different,” Waldu says. “They are all unique.” Their clients have been very grateful for the work and the help York, Riskey and Waldu have provided them. This has motivated the trio to continue their work and work harder than in the past. “We just leased a house recently,” Yatenesh. “When we first saw the house, my first reaction was, ‘Oh My God! How are we going to lease this house?’ It needed a lot of work. I talked to Aster. We looked at it. A lot of people thought it would take three months. We completed that house and put it in the market in two weeks. The client is the happiest person.” The triumphant trio really goes above and beyond for their clients. That is why they receive so much respect in their community. York, Riskey and Waldu have been creating miracles all over Colorado. Their efforts in the African community have not gone unnoticed. They are changing the lives of many people barely making it; working two or three jobs, 50 to 60 hours a week. The trio has opened doors to new opportunities for their clients to move into new homes, making their dreams a reality. . Editor’s note: For more information, call Yatenesh “Yati” Riskey at 720- 229 -3821 or visit


Champion And

Warrior For


L iberian activist and Nobel Peace

Laureate, Leymah Gbowee realized at a young age that she was called to lead. It was 1989 and she had just graduated from high school when a group of rebels, led by Warlord Charles Taylor invaded Liberia marking the start of the civil war. It was one of the bloodiest wars that killed approximately 250,000 Liberians with millions internally displaced or fleeing to refugee camps in bordering countries. Leymah’s family took refuge in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in the capital of Monrovia where thousands of others had taken refuge. However, their safety was short-lived as government forces attacked the church, raping and killing. Fortunately, Leymah’s uncle had stopped by the church the day before and managed to get the family out with a lie – stating the family belong to the tribe of the soldiers. The civil war lasted 14 years with a brief period of peace between 1996 and 1999. During the first part of the war Leymah learned of a UNICEF program that was training social workers to serve in refugee camps. Understanding the need, she trained as a social worker and worked with women who had suffered trauma and had been raped – as much of the violence had been directed at women. As the war continued, it didn’t take long for her to realize that women were the main victims of this prolonged war. Tired of the negative impact of the war, Leymah galvanized Liberian women of all faiths and backgrounds to strategize nonviolent approaches to achieve peace and security. These

By Monica LaBiche Brown small gatherings started off at the fish markets in Monrovia, where they knew Taylor’s convoys would pass every day. Grounded in her faith, Leymah led the women to sing, pray and fast. The gatherings grew larger and developed into the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. They became stronger and more organized and had daily protest gatherings where they wore white tee-shirts and headscarves, so they would be noticed. As a recruitment tool they handed out flyers that read, “We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of our children being raped. Women wake up – you have a voice in the peace process!” Beside the praying and fasting, the women even launched a sex strike, refusing to have sex with their partners until they put down their weapons and stopped the madness. In 2003, the women’s protest led to an invitation from Taylor to attend the peace talks in Ghana. Leymah headed the delegation but as the peace talks dragged on for a couple of months, she and several hundreds of women barricaded the front door to the hotel and threatened to take off their clothes if a peace agreement was not reached soon – they gave the opposing parties three days to reach a total ceasefire. Though this was a humiliating threat, they realized that they had to get creative to draw attention and let the delegation know they were serious. Furthermore, they knew they would get a reaction because in Liberia it is a curse to see a naked married or older woman. A few weeks later the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, and Taylor resigned and went into exile in Nigeria. Leymah’s work with the women’s movement continued to grow stronger and paved the way to the election

of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president of Liberia, the first elected woman leader of an African country. In 2011, Leymah and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and women’s right to full participation in peacebuilding work. She continues to be a world-wide ambassador for peace and justice and has been honored with several awards. On August 18, Leymah will add one more award to her collection of accolades. Africa Development Promise and A New Dimension of Hope, two nonprofit organizations based in Denver, Colorado will present Leymah with the Leaders Overcoming Obstacles to Peace Award at the Arvada Center in Arvada. Both organizations work in countries that are transitioning from post-conflict reconstruction to development. Through their programs, they address the multiple priorities of African women to achieve economic empowerment while also educating children to become the next generation of African leaders. Leymah’s life work fits well with their respective missions because it provides hope and promise that their work is as relevant as ever. . Editor’s note: Tickets can be purchased on

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Exposing Fashion in the Mile-High City

Troe Williams

When people talk about high fashion, Denver isn’t the first city that comes to mind. Fashion designer Troe Williams, proprietor of Vandalism Designs, is a veteran in the industry celebrating 31 years. Williams believes the Mile High City can become a must stop in the fashion world. Colorado is a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors – meaning most people are comfortable wearing blue jeans and flip-flops for pretty much any occasion. However, Williams is working diligently to transform and enlarge the fashion world in the Mile High City– despite the unfortunate hurdles they continue to face concerning nationality. “It should be more about the quality of a designers creations and less about the color of skin,” Williams says. “My goal is to bring national attention to Denver’s black fashion scene.” William’s has been able to identify the perfect market: Producing one of the kind specialty pieces for his buyers. Inspired at a young age while watching Diana Ross on The Ed Sullivan Show, Williams knew then he would become an imaginative designer. “One thing my customers never have to worry about is seeing someone else in the exact same piece,” Williams explains. The pieces in Vandalism Design’s collection are Avant-garde and derived from a moment in fashion history like no other, according to Williams whose collections are described as futuristic black excellence.

Despite being reluctant to the idea of their nephew’s dream to sew, Williams’ aunts provided the material for his first garment. Full of passion, Williams designed a dress from a curtain in the fifth grade and never looked back. He prides in being different. Williams’ slogan punctuates his creative drive: “Sometimes you have to standout, to fit in.” The skills Williams learned and used to garner such an eclectic fashion house were developed in Detroit, under the keen eye of a cousin, who is a fashion designer. That single curtain dress extended itself into a phase of reupholstering furniture, customizing clothing for a wide range of clients, and eventually Williams’ talent established a following allowing him to move to Hollywood. While residing in Hollywood, Williams created garments for big names such as Jada Pickett-Smith and Denverite Pam Grier, despite reaching an all-time high in a creative industry that doesn’t always fare kindly. Nonetheless, Williams used this as a tool for his success and motivation to climb higher heights. “It’s important to follow your dreams,” he says. “Don’t give them up!” Williams believes anyone with confidence and a little strut can fulfill their dream of modeling. His first upcoming event entitled ‘OLOS’ is slated for showing later this year. The social media fashion show will showcase Williams’ new leather and copper jewelry collection as well as new clothing designs. He will participate in the Denver Tattoo Convention on Sept. 29, promoting his abilities and expanding his horizons in the community before his big event. On Oct. 6, Williams is scheduled to host the runway ‘Fashiontopia.’ This week-long event is meant to enlighten the local fashion industry regarding the talent and uniqueness of Black designers, an outlet where local and national Black designers can display their finest work. Williams believes “Fashiontopia will acquire significant attention for our black fashion community and could provide a bit of competition for Colorado’s Denver Fashion Week, scheduled for Nov. 4 to 11. Sewing, beading, hand painting or embroidery, if you can describe it, Williams can design it.

Wilbourn Sisters Designs Inc.

By Janet Dallas

Sheryl Renee

Williams isn’t alone in getting things on the move in Colorado. Vocalist Sheryl Renee, now producer, is a professional entertainer fostered in the industry and entertaining for 37 years. In 2009, Sheryl Renee had the honor of singing the National Anthem for President Barack Obama. Although Sheryl Renee has sewing abilities, surprisingly she would rather spend her free time bargain shopping, saying she loves the thrill of the challenge.

says this to all Black women, “Accept who you are and love yourself.” Renee will be hosting a fashion show at the Field House event center displaying the Wilbourn Sisters Designs on August 12. Additionally

Wilbourn Sisters Designs Inc.

At a young age Renee’s grandmother Elizabeth Crowe inspired and validated her confidence in the saying that, “Black is Beautiful.” Confirming this to be true, it was essential to attend performances by the Ebony Fashion and the Traveling Black Models in the 70’s, to stimulate zeal and self-esteem. To this day, Renee Wilbourn Sisters Designs Inc.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


there will be a pop-up sale for those who wish to purchase customized designs before the main event, which starts at 5 p.m. Renee is excited to bring the Wilbourn sister’s fashion collection to the Mile High City for the first time. While residing and performing in Atlanta, Renee met the creative

Wilbourn family in 1991. Their relationship flourished in respect, admiration and support for one another. All seven Wilbourn daughters were taught by their mother to become seamstresses carrying their legacy forward with the family tag: “To God be the Glory.” The Wilbourn sisters own two boutiques, one in Los Angeles the other in Atlanta. Janice and Carolyn Wilbourn, owners of Wilbourn Sisters Designs Inc., are proud to say that God has blessed them to become international fashion designers. “We design and manufacture designs to soothe the soul,” says Janice. They are two of seven sewing sisters originally from Jackson, Tennessee who learned their skills and talents from their mother, known as Queen Mother Elizabeth. “Our mother taught all her daughters to sew, to be creative and become entrepreneurs at a very young age,” says Carolyn. “We market and sell our own line of fashions all over the world. Our family has been in business for more than 50 years.” They have traveled and worked extensively abroad in West Germany, Paris, France and producing formal and informal runway fashion shows throughout the United States, as well as, traveling to the Islands. “We work with a passion and will travel wherever requested, whether for profit or nonprofit organizations,” added Janice. Wilbourn Sisters Designs are exclusive original fashions for women and men of all nationalities ranging from soft, flowing ensembles to wrap dresses that fit all sizes. The overall mission for Wilbourn Sisters Design, Inc. is to continue their Mother’s legacy by passing on the trade of sewing and designing to the next generation.

Carol Mier

Equally important is the delightful Carol Mier who is a mild mannered woman with an authentic passion to design clothing, and loving the idea of creating something different. Mier eloped at the age of 17 and found herself in Colorado following her dream – which she has been operating for 20 years. Carol Mier Fashions, located on Santa Fe Drive, offers assorted customized accessories. Every first and third Friday of the month, all the galleries on the block are open to the public and everyone is welcome. “It’s like being at the Mardi Gras,” says Mier. Taught by her best friend in junior high to sew, Mier’s obsession explod-

Filettas Couture Boutique in Northfield

A Carol Mier Design

ed. She attended Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver when classes were $2 a semester, learning everything offered concerning sewing. She later worked seven years in alterations for the May D&F department store becoming proficient in her craft. “I have always had an appreciation for fabric,” Mier says with a smile. “It draws me. I purchase and receive fabric from all over the world. I believe it’s connected to a higher power.” “I had to work for everything I have,” Mier explains. “I’m grateful I can grab something out of the alley and make it beautiful. My mother taught me to be resourceful and I am grateful for that. It would be a sin not to believe in myself.” Mier devotes her time to sewing and creating designs for various ages and gender from children to celebrities included. She teaches one-on-one sewing classes for those wishing to develop their talent, as well as offers an internship sharing her unique skills and flair. “It’s not so much about the money; it’s about celebrating life while you’re living,” Mier says. “My inspiration grows from people looking and feeling beautiful about them.” Mier desires to bring out the neglected beauty buried within. Her goal is to empower women to look pretty and feel good about themselves. She deems it’s a way for her to give back while remaining inspired by what she does best.

Jaketa Rowe

Likewise, Jaketa Rowe, the elegant soft-spoken owner of Filettas Couture Boutique, who recently relocated to 8246 E. 49th Ave. in Northfield, promotes unique garments designed by local, national and international fashion designers for the busy casual woman. Filetta’s has been operating for two years. It’s open seven days a week and

installed with a runway for fashion shows and clients who wish to walk the red carpet. The customers have their picture taken and presented as a gift of appreciation. Rowe says her clients need to know the garments they wear are customized and unique, making them feel comfortable and good about them. Rowe retired from 25 years of service in the financial realm of corporate America has a Bachelor’s degree in business and is studying to obtain her Masters. Besides managing her boutique, Rowe is happily married with two children, two grandchildren. Her husband and daughter support the family business. “I’ve always wanted to open a boutique,” Rowe says. “I was inspired by my mother and named the boutique after her. I love what I do, helping to enrich people and giving back.” Filetta’s fashion model is, “We are a boutique who empowers women to look and feel elegant with confidence.” Though Rowe is no seamstress, she collaborates with those who are, showcasing various artist fashion designs on a monthly basis. Her boutique is filled with customized garments from various places like Canada, New York and California. She believes to take an old piece of clothing – cut, re-shape or add to it – defines altering. It’s creating something new with something old and that’s ingenuity,” she says. “If I see something I like,” Rowe says, “I can visualize it on myself or other ladies, the skin tone, the uniqueness of the garment, creativity and the happiness it inspires.” Rowe’s genuine compassion for people allows her to make a difference in the lives she has the pleasure of interacting with. Rowe understands if people look good they feel good. Rowe is involved with the community and believes in giving back by partnering with organizations like

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Dress for Success and the Hope of Colorado, an organization that helps young teen-age mothers turn their lives around and become responsible contributions to society. Rowe relishes in holding local shelter fashion shows twice a year where she gives away garments, inspiring women to pull upward. She also collects toiletries for distribution to local shelters. As a beacon of light, Rowe understands people are valuable and no one in this world is exempt from reality or the curves life brings. Rowe believes in confidence-building and prompting women to feel good about them. .

Mayor Hancock, State and Educational Leaders Dedicate Building to Lifetime Activist, Anna Jo Garcia Haynes


lifetime civil rights activist and advocate for early childhood education,

Anna Jo Garcia Haynes. The center,

located at 2851 Tremont Street, is now called the Anna Jo Garcia Haynes

Early Learning Center.

brother jeff photography

Last month, Mayor

Hancock, joined by city, state and educational leaders, dedicated one of the Mile High Early Learning centers to

Anna Jo Garcia Haynes founded Mile High Early Learning, Denver’s oldest and largest provider of subsidized, quality early childhood care and education. She has served as pres-

ident and president emeritus for more than 35 years, and in 1965, spearheaded the efforts to bring the Head Start program to Denver. Anna Jo has been Denver’s driving force for early childhood care and education, spending her entire career, well over 50 years, providing visionary leadership to improve the lives of children and families across the state of Colorado. As a co-founder of the Colorado Children’s Campaign and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, she chaired both the Mayor’s and Governor’s Early Childhood Commissions, and was a pillar for the establishment of both the Colorado Preschool Program and the Denver Preschool Program. “Anna Jo has been engaged as a champion activist for women and early childhood education for more than 50 years and has led the efforts to campaign for city and state policies that promote and support the changing and diverse educational needs of our children,” Mayor Hancock said. “Her service and contributions made on behalf of our children have been invaluable, and there is no one more deserving of this dedication than Anna Jo.” “When the banner fell to reveal my name, my heart swelled with pride

and sheer joy,” said Anna Jo Garcia Haynes. “I saw a sea of smiling faces, and I knew they were saying, ‘job well done.’ I realized that the advocacy work I have accomplished with my coworkers and colleagues lives not only in the hearts of the children and their families at the center, but also in the hearts of the many people in our community who recognize the importance of ensuring quality care and education for Denver’s children and their families.” “Anna Jo has devoted her life to guaranteeing that our most vulnerable children have what they need to thrive and grow,” said Dr. Pamela Harris, President and CEO of Mile High Early Learning. “We are gratified that we can commemorate her legacy by naming an early learning center in her honor.” Anna Jo Garcia Haynes is a proud Denver native who grew up and still resides in the Five Points neighborhood where she started her career. Today, she continues to advocate for the education of the children in Denver and supports initiatives working to improve and develop systems that provide all children high-quality childcare and early educational opportunities.

Making transmissions well since 1983. Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


How to Lose Belly Fat M

By Kim Farmer

illions of people would like to lose excess belly fat, and unfortunately, belly fat is often the most resistant to dietary changes and harder to lose than other areas for some. Excess fat around your mid-section affects your aesthetics when you want to look good in a bikini at the beach or fit into a form fitting outfit. In addition, belly fat also carries a risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Most men claim that next to a head full of hair, they would love to have a firm and toned waistline. The waistline is also the area that women would love to minimize the most, second only to hips and thighs. So can you get rid of belly fat? Yes! But you should understand that it won’t happen overnight. You will have to put in an extra effort to have your belly look trim, toned and sexy.

crunches, and ab-roller exercises. Another great exercise is to walkout from a push up position. This is a difficult exercise but is very effective. Try doing 10 reps of three sets of three different types of exercises at a minimum. You can progress by adding other types of lightweight training by using a fit ball, exercise tubing and doing various exercises using a weight bench or step. Add variety and take a yoga or Pilate’s class (or DVD) on the weekends.

Eating Right

The other aspect of losing belly fat is to eat the right foods in the right portions. Try to minimize your sugar intake from cakes, cookies and other junk foods and of course avoid eating fried foods. Focus instead on eating a large variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grain foods. Drink plenty

of water before, during and after exercise. Reduce your alcohol intake to one1 drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, and also get adequate sleep. Studies show that people who get less than six hours of sleep tend to over eat junk foods to keep their energy levels elevated.


In order to lose belly fat, you need to be consistent in your physical activity. Just going for a walk once a week or doing one set of push-ups is not going

Cardiovascular Exercise

Next to proper nutrition, cardiovascular exercise is the most important thing to incorporate into your daily life. Keep in mind that any exercise is better than no exercise. While there have been hundreds of exercises developed for people who want to lose belly fat, there is no one exercise that is better than the other. It all depends on your lifestyle, the time you have available and your health. If you don’t ‘exercise at all, the easiest thing to do is to start walking. Walk at least 1 hour a day 4-6 days a week, building up the intensity as your fitness level improves. Other options for cardiovascular exercise include jogging, biking, rowing, and swimming to name a few. If you do not feel like doing structured exercise, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, play soccer with your kids or perform some other household duty that gets your heart rate up. Remember that you do not necessarily have to join a gym to lose weight (and more specifically belly fat).

Strength Training

Strength training that target your midsection will help builds the muscle underneath any excess fat. Start with exercises that target your abdomen including basic exercises like crunches, and full sit ups. To add variety, try planks, side planks, pushups, reverse

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


to do it. More importantly once you have achieved some success, you will still need to continue exercising regularly and eat the right types (and amounts) of food. Unfortunately we tend to gain weight as we age with slower metabolisms, so you’re eating habits may need to change as you get older. Finally, try and minimize and control your stress levels. One of the best ways to lower your stress is to exercise – it is much cheaper than counseling. If you remain dedicated to exercise and proper nutrition, then you could lose the belly fat within three to six months so be patient. . Editor’s note: Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers inhome personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email


Jason Shankle Receive Community Service Award

Jason Shankle, MA became the first therapist from Denver to receive the National 2018 Community Service Award from the Association of Black Psychologist in recognition of his positive impact on the welfare of the African American Community. Shankle is the CEO/founder of Inner Self Wisdom, LLC, a private therapy practice. He is a psychology professor at the Community College of Denver and author of Therapeutic: Soul Searching Poetry. Additionally, he is longtime community volunteer in the Denver Metro area and has devoted countless hours to the development of African American youth. He also coordinated several Black Melee Summits and is an active member of the Denver- Rocky Mountain Association of Black Psychologists.

Denver City Council Elects New Leadership

Denver City Council elected Councilman Jolon Clark as its next president and Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore as the president protem. Clark is replacing Councilman Albus Brooks who served two terms as council president. Clark and Gilmore, both first-term members, were elected to City Council in 2015. Clark represents District 7 and Gilmore serves in District 11. Both have a background with nonprofit organizations and plan to apply their experience from this sector to leading the City Council. Councilman Clark was born and raised in Denver and graduated from South High School. For 18 years prior

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


to being elected to City Council, Clark worked to connect communities to parks and open spaces and to provide compelling and engaging programming for children and adults along the South Platte River through The Greenway Foundation’s South Platte River Environmental Education program. Today SPREE serves more than 6,000 Denver kids each year and has won more Excellence in Environmental Education awards than any other program in the state. Gilmore was born and raised in Colorado and has lived in Denver since 1989. Prior to running for council, Gilmore and her husband Scott founded the nonprofit, Environmental Learning for Kids in 1996. ELK cultivates a passion for science, leadership, and service in a diverse community of learners. In 2014, ELK was nationally recognized by the White House with the Champion of Change award for engaging and educating youth about science and the outdoors, introducing them to careers, and supporting them during their transition from high school to college. A new president and pro-tem are elected each year in July. The council president presides over the Monday night meetings, determines the council committees and serves as a member of all the committees. Clark has announced he will maintain the current committee structure but will announce some committee membership changes.

Project Greer Street Members Selected for Summer Programs Cole Jackson, a junior member of Project Greer Street, has been selected from a national pool of students to attend the prestigious MEET Kelley Summer Business Program at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University at Bloomington. Myles Patterson, a junior member of Project Greer Street, has been selected from a national pool of students to attend the prestigious MEET Kelley Summer Business Program at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University at Bloomington. The chosen students will compete in a business case competition, learn


practical business and marketing skills and make connections with members of the School of Business faculty, and experience life on the beautiful campus. Musie Yonas, a junior member of Project Greer Street, has been selected to attend the 2018 Key Bank Business Leadership Summer Program at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The chosen students will learn realworld business skills from a variety of business professionals and Program sponsors that include Key Bank, Arrow Electronics, Phillips 66, Shell Corporation, Xcel Energy and Enterprise Holdings. The residential component will enable the students to experience a college campus and interface with faculty and administrators in the Business School. The students will also compete in a marketing campaign to win a scholarship to the Leeds School of Business. Editor’s note: Project Greer Street is a ground-breaking educational enrichment program for African-American males launched by Ronald Sally, a graduate of Duke University and the UCLA School of Law. For more information regarding Project Greer Street, please email

Five Points Lion Club Presents Community Appreciation Day

The Denver Five Points Lion Club presents the annual Community Appreciation Day on Sunday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the California Park East Apartments, 2770 California St. in Denver. There will be free school supplies, hot dogs, chips and a chance to win free gifts including a raffle with cash prizes. Children in grades K-12 must be present to receive school supplies. For more information, call 303-3330805 or 303-504-6293.


Montbello 20/20 Back to School Wellness Fair

The Montbello 20/20 in partnership with be well Health and Wellness Initiative, Girl-Trek and others will host, Just for the Health of It Back to School Wellness Fair on Saturday, Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 E 53rd Ave in Denver. Montbello 2020 is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization founded in 2008 to bring together a diverse representation of the community with similar interest and perspectives focused on sustaining the health


For more information call 303-292-6446 or email




Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


of the community. The goal of the event is to promote health and wellness in the community. Participants will enjoy health screenings, fitness demos, massages, health tips and resources. There will also be food, community walks and prizes that will encourage attendees to focus on selfcare in their daily lives. Free school supplies and book bags will be given away while supplies last. For more information, email, call Djuana Harvell at 303-468-3239 or email


Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

l1/2 By Laurence Washington

fter the first two Jurassic Park films, you would think that during an InGen Company board meeting that somebody would raise their hand and say, “Excuse me sir/madam, making dinosaurs is a bad idea. In fact, doubling down and making super dinosaurs is an equally bad idea that always ends badly.” But no, it was not to be. Jurassic Park scientists keep making enhanced dinosaurs, and Universal Studios keeps making Jurassic Park movies, each one worst than the last. Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom is no exception to this rule. It’s riddled with rehashed scenes from the previous films – especially The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and plot holes big enough a brontosaurus could fall through. Due to premise, the film centers around rescuing 11 species of dinosaurs from Jurassic World on Isla Nubar. Due to a spending volcanic eruption to aid in the relocation, enter Dino lovers Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) who were almost killed in the last film. What were they thinking? The operation is bankrolled by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a billionaire who had cre-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


ative differences with Jurassic Park’s originator Dr. Hammond. Lockwood had bowed out of the Dino business until now. He tells Owen and Claire that he has an island where the dinosaurs can thrive and be free from human interference. Of course Lockwood’s plan goes sideways and the dinosaurs end up on his huge estate. Once off the island, The Fallen Kingdom digresses into a typical and boring Monster in the House film. All the charm, wonderment, thrills and amazement of the

first Jurassic Park are just dusty memories. To the film’s credit, the dinosaurs look better and better with each film. However, all the advanced CGI magic cannot save a movie if the plot is extinct. While watching the film’s impressive volcanic eruption (I must say they got it right after watching Kilauea on YouTube), one might ask, don’t volcanoes make islands instead of sink islands? That’s just a thought to ponder. However, we wouldn’t have a movie if there were a dormant volcano. Nobody is scared of a dormant volcano. In an effort to protect the box office, the filmmakers had dinosaurs trying to eat anybody in their way during their escape from spewing lava and shooting fireballs into the sky. Logic dictates that when a volcano erupts, your basic instinct is to haul ass - never mind what’s for dinner. And will someone please notify the filmmakers that T-Rexs and Raptors do not save the day. In fact, those particular species of Dinos do quite the opposite. By all rights, Barney the blue T-Rex should be eating children. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as scientist/philosopher Dr. Ian Malcolm, who tells a U.S. Senate hearing that taking dinosaurs off Isla Nubar is a bad idea and to let them die in the volcanic explosion. Too bad


Goldblum is only on screen for a cup of coffee. He was the only bright spot in the film. However, the Jurassic Park franchise has a presold audience, and should do well at the box office. Fans of the films will be glad to lean that the ending lends itself to plenty of sequels to come.



l By Khaleel Herbert

ill Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is a safety assessor for The Pearl - the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong and the world with 220 floors making the Empire State Building look like a toothpick. The Pearl, designed by Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), is a city all in one building with recreational features, a park and living facilities throughout. The mighty tower also holds a small dome at the top where you can see all of Hong Kong. The skyscraper has gadgets, gizmos and self-maintenance features to keep it running smoothly. Things turn sour when thugs, led by Long Ji’s powerful enemy Botha (Roland Moller), set a floor of the mighty building on fire. Will’s family (Neve Campbell, McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell), who reside on a neighboring floor, have to escape the fire. It’s up to Will, who’s a mile away, to save them. Let’s get the good news out of the way. Skyscraper gets kudos for having an interracial family as the main characters in the film. We get a nod toward the physically impaired community with Will and his prosthetic leg kicking booty and saving his skin on a regular basis. There’s plenty of fire, explosions and epic leaps of doom from Johnson. Now let’s discuss the flaws. It’s hard to take The Rock as an action hero here. I haven’t seen his earlier work like The Rundown or Walking Tall, but I’m sure it’s waaaaaaaay better than Skyscraper.

It’s hard to take Will seriously because in the beginning of the film, there was a catastrophic event that affected him and gave him his prosthetic leg. Although he met his wife, this scene set a dark tone that kept us intrigued. But that tone didn’t carry throughout the movie like it should

have. Flashbacks or PTSD, anyone? Not to mention he gave up serving his country to become a safety assessor. How did that happen? There are simple explanations that one could easily miss if they don’t pay attention. Denzel Washington is one of the best action stars because he makes all of his characters realistic and believable. They all have flaws and regrets that are established early on. In Man on Fire, Creasy is a bodyguard who has to revert back to his old ways as an assassin to save a little girl. The Taking of Pelham 123 has Walter Garber, a man with his own sins, reaching out to a man hijacking a train for money and to point fingers at society. In Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo franchise, we have a man who struggles with his past as a human killing machine, save prisoners and his own colonel from enemy lines. These ghosts, flaws and checkered pasts make these characters moving and relatable. Some can relate to Will, but not in depth. This whole film lacks depth because the characters and plot are too straightforward and mediocre. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber should have used the formula he used in Central Intelligence. Both Johnson and Kevin Hart’s characters were meaningful and fun to watch. The final straw of Skyscraper was the remedial ending. It makes the audience feel like ignorant little children. For people who love Johnson in action, Skyscraper is a hit. But for those who want to chew on substance with their explosions and gunfire, Skyscraper lacks nourishment.


Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018





lll 1/2 By Khaleel Herbert

t’s been six years since Whitney Houston’s passing. For some, it seems longer. We’ve lost other AfricanAmerican musical legends from Michael Jackson and Prince to Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and Fats Domino. But on Feb. 11, 2012, the world lost one of the greatest voices in music. Before the fame, Whitney was known as Nippy in the slums of Newark, New Jersey. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was out touring as a backup singer for Aretha Franklin and others. She had her own singing career. Whitney and her brothers lived with various family members while their mother was on tour. As time went on, Whitney discovered she loved to sing, and sung in the church choir. This led to her mother’s mentorship and a record deal with Clive Davis of Arista Records. The world was in awe when they saw her first TV performance on the Merv Griffin Show in 1983 and the music she created soon after. Kevin Macdonald’s thoughtful documentary covered a lot of ground with interviews of the singers’ relatives, friends and colleagues including Kevin Costner, Bobby Brown and more. There’s plenty of archival footage even some diehard fans may not have seen. Documentaries celebrate and highlight someone’s life. Macdonald does this to a tee, chronicling the highs and lows of Houston. It’s a film that pierces your heart because Houston suffered from her fame as a drug addict. But this film makes you smile Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


because her voice touched so many people, especially after she performed the “Star Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl. There were some things I felt were missing or didn’t get a lot of screentime. For example, Dolly Parton’s thoughts of Houston covering her song, “I Will Always Love You,” making it a great hit. It would have also been nice to mention the alleged “beef” between Houston and Mariah Carey and how they put those rumors to rest with their collabo, “When You Believe.” Even the relationships she had with Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson could have been extended. Macdonald’s style of Whitney wasn’t Lauren Lazin’s style for Tupac: Resurrection or the recent PBS special Diana: In Her Own Words where the subject described their life in their own words. But Whitney is a living breathing celebration of her devoted life that newbie fans can appreciate.

Lisa Leslie says “Uncle Drew is a light hearted comedy with a really good message behind it” By Samantha Ofole-Prince Photos courtesy of Lionsgate


o have the opportunity to play someone who is in their 80s, I thought was pretty cool, especially with all of the prosthetics,” says Lisa Leslie of her role in the warm-hearted comedy Uncle Drew, a film which follows an aging team of former ball players who compete in a basketball tournament. “Initially when I went in for the audition, I actually dressed up as an old lady, talked to everybody like an old lady and was moving slowly with a bible in my hand.”


Leslie plays Betty Lou, a staunch preacher’s wife, who is initially skeptical about letting her husband return to basketball with all its temptations. “She is feisty, fierce, independent and she doesn’t take any mess,” Leslie describes. “She’s bossy and likes to be in control, but she is also very in love with her husband and wants to make sure he stays on a positive path.” One of the funniest characters is a character the WNBA champion modeled on her grandmother who she says is a devout Christian. “She is definitely a church lady and she walks kinda hunched over, but on Sundays she would have on her suit head to toe with a blazer and a hat. She is one of those ladies who has always been in the church.” For Leslie, a four-time Olympic Gold Medal winner and Basketball Hall of Famer who first started acting while playing basketball in high school, and has starred in movies Love & Basketball and Think like a Man, taking on the task of playing an elderly woman was a challenge she embraced. “I love acting and I think it’s the closest thing to the feeling that I felt when I played basketball and I really love it and I hope to do more.” To perfect the look of Betty Lou, layers were added to Leslie’s cheeks, forehead and chin, a daily process which the actress says took a couple of hours. “When I first saw her in the testing scene, I did not like the way she looked. I didn’t want her to look too ugly as I am out here with these men, and I thought she was too masculine. It was important for her to look a little more feminine so I showed them a picture of my grandmother as I wanted them to see that Black women age a certain way. They really listened and we took a little bit off and brought it

down to what I would really look like if I was aged,” she adds. With humor and a heartwarming message “Uncle Drew” follows Dax (Lil Rel Howery) a shoe salesman who has been dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team and his gold-digging girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish) to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the basketball tournament and the cash prize, he stumbles upon the legend Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and after convincing him to return to the court one more time, they cobble togetherDrew’s old basketball cronies.  The bunch of seniors includes the grumpy Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), a sight-impaired gentleman called Lights (Reggie Miller), the charismatic character Boots (Nate Robinson), who is obsessed with his hoop shoes and Preacher (Chris Webber) who after retiring replaced his basketball with the Good Book of the Lord. Dax is initially skeptical of Drew’s elderly squad, but with no other options he’s forced to go along with Drew’s plan that a group of seniors can still win the big league. “There is that underlying message which is that if you fall you have to get back up,” Leslie continues. “It happens in life and we have a lot of things that we hold on to that happen to us in life and we let that shape us - it can be something that is negative. Howery’s character was holding on to something that happened that was so traumatic and because it was negative it held him back in so many other areas of his life. It is a comedy and it’s light hearted and it’s fun, but it also has a really good message behind it.” A predictable, but delightful sports drama directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), Uncle Drew has a bunch of definable and lovable characters, which exalts the humor. .

Tune in to Denver 89.3FM, Breckenridge 89.7FM, Vail 88.5FM or download our app today and listen anytime, anywhere.


Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


D.L. Hughley Shoots Straight on Police, Mark Fuhrman and Racial Profiling H

By Allison Kugel

ailed as one of the most prolific standup comedians of the past three decades, D.L. Hughley has never been afraid to dig into ethnic stereotypes, economic disparity, relationships, politics… nothing’s off limits. His words are explicit and paint an accurate portrait of societal contradictions and pain in fast forward. From his legendary standup material and his nationally syndicated radio show, The D.L. Hughley Show, to his upcoming Netflix series, The Fix (a hybrid game show/issues-based panel talk show), D.L.’s platform as an outspoken advocate of civil rights is unconventional and tinged with offcolor language. But as he shared with me during our conversation, he believes that to reach people with a heavy message, you’ve got to get them to let their guard down through laughter. His latest book, How Not To Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People pulls no punches and offers no apologies, as Hughley puts forth his satirical and bitingly sarcastic take on racial profiling, police shootings, President Trump, and the advice that white people often give black people on how to adequately assimilate into American society. Nothing is off limits

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as he covers topics like black names versus white names, dressing black versus dressing white, how white people advise black people to talk to the police, neighborhood profiling, “the race card,” and a hosts of other hot button, racially charged issues. D.L. goes in. The book doubles down on D.L.’s already controversial public platform. It is filled with humor, sorrow and irony, and it will make you a bit uncomfortable no matter what side of the fence you are on. Allison Kugel: Did the motivation to write your latest book, “How Not To Get Shot (And Other Advice From White People),” come from a place of fear, love, hope, anger…? D.L. Hughley: I think all those things. Fear, frustration, anger… they all kind of mirror each other. When I was writing this book, I realized that society would never take a good look at itself unless you make it feel good; unless you give them something to make their ears tickle a little bit. My overall thought was to be clear enough where it doesn’t seem trite and to be satirical enough where peo-

ple can’t tell if I’m being serious or not. And I needed it to be angry enough to mirror the people who go through these things all the time. Watching people of color being slaughtered at the hands of police is nothing new. I grew up in Los Angeles, so it happened quite often. Everybody always wants to say they want to start this conversation, and this book is my contribution to that conversation. Allison Kugel: Do you feel safe living in the United States? D.L. Hughley: I don’t think I ever will… black men and safety don’t go together. There are a lot of words that black people use to describe how they feel, but I don’t think “safe” is one of them. Allison Kugel: What do you tell your kids when they ask if they’re safe? D.L. Hughley: That we’re going to do the best we can to make sure we are. I think that America’s never seen a person of color that lost their life where the powers-that-be were compelled to do something about it; where they were actually moved to action. Whether it was Emmett Till or Trayvon Martin, I think they have a certain kind of distance when it comes to black people dying. The first thing they’ll say is, “Well, if you wouldn’t have done this?” or “You shouldn’t have done that.” The impetus for me writing this book was going on Megyn Kelly’s show (Megyn Kelly TODAY) and we were going to talk about the police and policing, and she had Mark Fuhrman (disgraced detective in the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial) on the same show. She didn’t tell me he was going to be on, and he went on before me. They had Mark Fuhrman on to talk about policing. He got fired for lying. He lied so much that he got a murderer off. He got O.J. off! And this is how we start the conversation about policing, and about good police versus bad police? Even other police will tell you that Mark Fuhrman was a bad [cop]. That’s how they decided to start the conversation that day. That’s when I knew I would write this book. Allison Kugel: Does fame and money insulate you at all from racial profiling and police harassment? D.L. Hughley: It didn’t insulate Bill Cosby’s son (the late Ennis Cosby). He was still shot down by violence. It didn’t insulate Tupac when he was shot. There was a member of Earth Wind and Fire who was shot by the Santa Monica Police Department for holding a fireplace holder. I think when you’re black and nobody knows that you’re famous, it doesn’t matter anyway. Before they see anything else, they see that you’re black.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Allison Kugel: There was one page in the book where you ask the reader, “Who can say the “N” word?” and then you answer, “Fucking black people, and that’s it.” Using myself as an example, not only do I not want you to use racial or religious slurs against me as a Jewish person, I have no desire to say them about myself either. Why do you even want to have the right to use the “N” word? Why use it? D.L. Hughley: I don’t want to have the right. I wish it didn’t exist, but it does so I won’t pretend that it doesn’t. The most annoying thing is that people will blame the use of the “N” word on black people. They’ll say, “Well, if you didn’t use it, then maybe we wouldn’t use it. You use it in hip hop all the time.” That word has been a part of the American lexicon since the early 1700s. Hip hop’s been around since 1975. What came first, the word “nigger” or The Sugarhill Gang? To pretend that black people can stop saying it and then all people will stop feeling that way about us, and that it will go away, is ridiculous. There has never been a word in our lexicon that equates to that word, not one. Allison Kugel: I’m going to share my perspective at the risk of you getting mad at me… D.L. Hughley: I won’t get mad at you… Allison Kugel: To give my perspective as a female, I have always felt that the B word was used to dehumanize women, and I can remember that word stinging from the time I was a little kid. I remember thinking, “Does that word mean that I’m less than human?” So, from where I’m sitting, a de-humanizing word is a de-humanizing word. Am I way off base with that one? D.L. Hughley: There is no equating the two. They took a word “bitch,” which means a female dog, and equated it to something else, that is true. But they made up a word to describe us. Bitch is horrible, but it had another meaning. “Nigger” never had another meaning. They invented a word just for us. To me, there is no comparison and no other word that equates to our word. Allison Kugel: What’s your opinion on the song, The Story of O.J. by Jay Z and the music video for the song – brilliant social commentary or offensive imagery? D.L. Hughley: Brilliant is a word that’s used a lot. I think it was demonstrative. I got it. I wouldn’t call it “brilliant,” because that word is overused. I think it was clear and interesting, and satirical. But brilliant would be a whole different level or category.

Allison Kugel: I know of some people who thought it made an interesting and accurate social statement, and other people I know were completely offended by it because of the negative stereotypical images it portrayed. D.L. Hughley: There’s a book called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (W.W. Norton and Company). It’s about stereotypes and how they started. Stereotypes exist because somebody embodied them. I’m not saying most people, but some people did. And it was clear enough where people took that as the majority. I was on a plane one time and it was me and a bunch of other famous comics. A lady came up to us and said, “Are you guys in entertainment?” because we were in first class. They all got offended. I was like, “Motherf*cker, we are in entertainment, and we are sitting in first class, so shut up!” (Laughs). Most black people you know who are wealthy are in entertainment or they’re athletes, so stop pretending like that’s not true. It doesn’t mean that all of us are that, but a lot of people embody that fact. Allison Kugel: Where is the elusive bridge of communication, for example, between police officers and the black community?

D.L. Hughley: Here’s the way we have a dialogue; it starts with accountability. The same accountability you demand from us as a community, we should demand from you as [law enforcement] professionals. When a mayor in Los Angeles says we need to teach our children to respect the police, well children are just children and that’s why you have parents. You have to guide them at that age, and in the process they make a lot of mistakes. But is a reasonable solution to a communal problem to say that children need to be more responsible than trained adults? When Megyn Kelly has me on her show to talk about the police and says, “I’m going to talk with Mark Fuhrman first,” or when you tell children to act more responsible than adults who are fully trained by the state, that’s based on a false premise. Allison Kugel: What do you think the police are afraid of? D.L. Hughley: I can’t speak for them. I can’t tell you what they’re afraid of. But I can tell you this, that I don’t only teach my children to respect the police, I teach them to fear the police. If the police treated us like the human beings that they say they serve, then we would be okay, but they don’t. What the police do is what they’ve always done to black people,

to keep us in our place. You’re suspicious if you’re somewhere you don’t belong. The reason we have all these policemen getting called is because [black people] are in places where people aren’t used to seeing them or are uncomfortable seeing them. That’s always been their mission. Maybe we should change what their mission is. Maybe it shouldn’t be to just keep us in our place. Maybe it should be to treat us like citizens. If you call the police on somebody for barbequing, for sleeping in a common area at Yale, or walking to a mall, or eating at certain places, what that tells you is the police’s goal is to make society feel safe from us. I got the police called on me in my own neighborhood, and I’ve lived there for seventeen years. My wife has had that happen and my children have had that happen. You can look around Calabasas (a tony suburb in Los Angeles’s northern San Fernando Valley) and you wouldn’t see many people who have lived there longer than me, but I’m the stranger! Allison Kugel: Have you had some positive interactions with the police? D.L. Hughley: Sure. Generally, they work for me (laughs). I have three police officers that work for me. But, it’s been ninety percent bullshit and ten percent cool. I think white people would say it’s the other way around.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Allison Kugel: I’ve often heard black men say that if they are too outspoken about racial issues and/or if they’re platform should grow too big and too powerful, they then become a target and the government will now see them as a problem that needs to be dealt with. Do you ever think about that? D.L. Hughley: I’m going to do what it is I believe. I can’t say how people will respond to it. That’s not my job. You gotta be doing something when you go. I teach my children to stand up for what they believe in and to be willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. And I can say that my children know who they are as people, and they know who I am and what I believe. . Editor’s note: D.L. Hughley’s book, How Not To Get Shot (And Other Advice From White People) is available everywhere books are sold. His radio show, The D.L. Hughley Show, airs weekdays, 3 to 7 p.m. in national syndication. Editor’s note: Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment and pop culture journalist, and author of the book, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel and visit Article photo credits: Book Cover Art: William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; D.L. Hughley Portraits: Shannon McCollum.

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Continued from page 3 Smiley Jr. High School. In 1961, we had a combined 5th and 6th grade class with a fabulous teacher named Mrs. Childers. She loved all the kids and made us all feel important. One day when we were planning a field trip to the auditorium she had a slip of the tongue and said that we were getting seats in N‌.r Heaven. My African-American next door neighbor, a fifth grade student, was in the class. Mrs. Childers immediately recognized the gravity of her indiscretion and took this student out into the hallway to apologize to her. She came back in the room to let us know that she had explained to our classmate, my friend, that the term is an old one that is extremely derogatory to AfricanAmerican students and that she was mortified that she had said it. She was near tears herself. How easy it is for any of us, no matter what our intentions, to slip into behavior that degrades others who may be different than the dominant culture. An important fact to tell you is that Mrs. Childers was the wife of then Denver Chief of Police Childers. She took us on a special field trip to the downtown Police headquarters building that is now part of the downtown cultural complex of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Chief Childers’ term was marred by the scandal of more than 20 policemen who were caught in a burglary ring. He lost his job over it. The issues raised in the incident of racial comment in the year 1961 that I speak about, are still with us, as rank and vicious as they always were. Policemen all around the country have slipped into behavior that makes assumptions based on skin color. Just as my dear teacher Mrs. Childers needed to take care to act in a fair and just way, police and other officials in our present day need to do the same. It may be too much to ask that all the cultural assumptions, biases and prejudices disappear from everyone’s heart now and completely, but is it not too much to ask for decency and equanimity? My friend Chief Paul Pazen grew up with the specter of prejudice against Latino-Americans. I know he is sensitive to all issue of bias and prejudice. Let us hope, and say our prayers, that we can keep decency and fairness always in the actions of our law enforcement officers and our government officials. Lord knows I sure do. I have never gotten over what Mrs. Childers’ inadvertent actions did to my friend, and that was 58 years ago.


I wish is that it will never happen again. My experience tells me that it will. My heart tells me that we need to be always vigilant for our own actions, and always be ready to confront injustice wherever we find it.

Mike Sawaya Denver, CO

On Denver Black Economics

Editor: Reasons Black Coloradans have no real business presence in the state: the existence of a dominating system of white governance that maintains a system of relative economic apartheid. This is a pattern found globally when Whites live in close proximity to people of color. Whites cannot tolerate “racial� equality tending to be aggressive towards people of color. Blacks in American have been conditioned to self-destruct. That conditioning is constantly reinforced through “Education,� the media and through maintaining of concentration like inner city communities. The obvious denying of business opportunity in terms of loans to black people, bring up another problem: Blacks do no own and control their own financial institutions. Leadership (Black) that is way too conservative

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


when it comes to promoting the interest of oppressed people. Leadership that is either powerless to enact change, lacking in vision or have simply sold out! Churches that don’t work together as one organization, brainstorming to destroy the “slave mentality,� but instead preach pie in the sky theology that does not empower anyone except perhaps the preachers because it is safe and that is what they were taught on the plantations. The way I see it is that these are just a few of the problems crippling blacks in America. Martin Luther King taught passive resistance to gain civil rights. That tactic will not gain blacks admission into the economic mainstream. Blacks will have to do something they naturally did before being brought to America – p starting now! They must work together on all fronts. Form coalitions that address ills not being address. Build their own educational institutions as well as other necessary institutions going into the future. Teach blacks who have vast wealth that have a responsibility not just to themselves but more importantly to the group. This backward slide into the abyss must be halted.

Antonius Aurora, CO


In Celebration, Honor and Thanksgiving for Life Reese Deveraux Grant-Cobb July 20, 2000 - July 2, 2018

When Reese was four year’s old, he met someone who did not want to be his friend. His mother attempted to explain that not everyone he would meet in life would become his friend. Reese fervently exclaimed, “Mom she is my friend, she just doesn’t know it yet!” Reese attended elementary school at Polaris at Ebert where he was quick to make friends and clung to the notion that everyone is his friend. This is a trait that followed him throughout his life.

Reese was accepted to the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) Middle School in where he would continue his education with the DSST Family by attending DSST Stapleton High School.  Reese attended all four years at DSST and was a graduate of the class of 2018. He was scheduled to attend the University of Northern Colorado where he planned to major in Bio-Medical Engineering. Reese was blessed with a kind heart and generous spirit. His smile and presence could light up any room. He had a genuine love for people and always looked beyond hate, racism and bigotry. He loved music and could create a play list or dedication in an instant. Reese always volunteered his time to help others. He was an integral part of the mo’betta green farmers market for which his mother is the founder and president. Reese

was also known for being an empathetic listener and a compassionate problem solver. He was taken from this earth too soon. Reese touched the lives of so many and the family is by hearing the stories of how he touched the lives of so many others. The family would like to thank all for their love and generosity and while their donation will help them cover expenses, they pledge to that any remains contributions will go to honor Reese with a Memorial Scholarship. To make a donation visit, H22EMTQs

Archie Jones

The president of the Black Transplant Action Committee, Archie Jones, died in his sleep at Denver

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Health and Hospital early Monday morning on July 9. Jones, 75, will be remembered for his advocacy in organ and tissue donations and his love for the community. Several years ago, Jones was one of several individuals prominently featured in a local advertising campaign for Da Vita Inc., the largest kidney care providers in the U.S. The recipient of several awards and recognitions, Jones was an active member of the African American Institute, the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center and the Kwanzaa Committee of Denver. Elder Jones was inducted into the KCoD Circle of Wisdom in 2012.





2018 Colorado Black Arts Festival


Denver Mayor

City Park West - July 13, 14 & 15 - Photos by Lens of Ansar


“State of the City Address”

Denver Urban Spectrum — – August 2018


Photos by Bernard Grant

Denver Urban Spectrum August 2018  

DUS executive consultant and MSU professor Alfonzo Porter looks at the current climate of African American men (and women) and the judicial...

Denver Urban Spectrum August 2018  

DUS executive consultant and MSU professor Alfonzo Porter looks at the current climate of African American men (and women) and the judicial...