Page 1

Volume 29

Number 4

July 2015

Afrikmall: Afrikmall Aurora’s Gateway to All Things African...4 It’s Summertime in the Rockies

Colorado Black Arts Festival - More Than Just a Festival ...8


MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR Volume 29 Number 4

July 2015

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Angelia D. McGowan

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS H. Soul K. Gerald Torrence Theo J. Wilson FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Angelia D. McGowan ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome. – Isabel Allende

In the wake of the murders last month at Emanuel AME Church, these words from award-winning Chilean-American author lift my spirit and remind me that people can choose to be amazing no matter the circumstances. In this issue of the Denver Urban Spectrum, we highlight people who choose to be amazing. The cover story for this issue of the Denver Urban Spectrum details the tenacity a group of African business leaders have employed to bring an economic and cultural boost to Aurora, Colo. “Afrikmall: Aurora’s Gateway to All Things African” by contributing writer Charles Emmons, whets our appetite for this month’s grand opening and the subsequent business that is sure to come. “Colorado Black Arts Festival: It’s Rock Steady at 29 and Counting” makes it clear that through thick and thin the festival is here to stay. In a bold move to address a taboo topic, Natacha Gutierrez and Jessica Jackson-Barrows have penned, “Human Sex Trafficking is Modern Day Slavery and Our Children are Vulnerable” to bring light to the reality facing many youth. In this issue, you will find an opinion piece by Theo E. J. Wilson titled, “Nobody is Coming to Save Black People,” as well as perspective – with a twist – from Hasira Ashemu in “I’m Pissed Too.”

In Memory We remember the life and work of Aurora state Rep. John Buckner. We remember the names of those who made an amazing sacrifice on June 17 at Emanuel AME Church: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59. Congratulations Best wishes to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority “Her Story” scholarship recipients as they prepare for college and amazing lives.

Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar

ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANT Robin James Byron T. Robinson DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

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 2015 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 www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Higher Energy Costs Will Put an Unfair Burden on Colorado Families

other states also depend heavily on coal, which means that the affordability of electricity for millions of Americans is at stake. The problem with the EPA’s plan is that the power plants in question often provide the largest portion of our electricity, and usually at the most affordable rates. No matter one’s views on the climate issue, the EPA’s approach is simply too blunt. There is already a consensus among energy experts who oversee the nation’s public utilities that the EPA plan will cut power production without offering reliable alternatives, and will have almost no actual impact on climate. The only tangible result will be a significant jump in the cost of electricity for both homes and businesses. So let’s focus for a moment on those families who are struggling to make ends meet. What will higher monthly utility bills mean for them? Paying for electricity is not a discretionary expense. The poor and the elderly on fixed incomes already pay an out-sized portion of their limited budget in order to have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. And they already have fewer dollars to pay for these necessities. I understand the intended reasoning of the EPA plan, namely to cut carbon dioxide emissions. But we already have it within our power to move toward a cleaner environment without causing harm to lower

Editor: As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), I frequently travel throughout the U.S. And in my journeys, I’m quite often struck by the fact that so many families are struggling to find financial security. I find it troubling that hardworking Americans are often eking out a living, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. I often wonder how these families are managing to keep food on their table. And how, during a particularly bitter winter season, did they manage to keep their homes warm? I raise this point because I’m particularly concerned by new regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing. As a step toward addressing climate change, the EPA wants to greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants, and wants governors across the country to close the coalfired plants in their states. Such a move could hit Colorado particularly hard since coal-fired power plants provide roughly 64 percent of the state’s electricity. Many

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

3

income Americans. We have clean coal, and advanced technologies are already helping us achieve lower emissions. And U.S. power plants are already far cleaner than factories and power plants in Asia. We can get to a cleaner environment without victimizing those who are already struggling financially. And so, before the EPA adopts these measures, it should think twice about pursuing extreme rules that will have a negligible environmental impact, but could bring great pain to hard-working everyday Americans.

Dr. Charles Steele Jr.

Editor’s note: Dr. Charles Steele Jr. is president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

DenverUrbanSpectrum@urbanspectrum.net

Publisher Publisher@urbanspectrum.net Editor Editor@urbanspectrum.net News & Information News@urbanspectrum.net

Advertising & Marketing Advertising@urbanspectrum.net

Distribution & Circulation Distribution@urbanspectrum.net


Africa Meets Aurora Through

Afrikmall

By Charles Emmons

C

olfax Avenue is the longest

commercial strip in the United States. Its eastern route spans two cities,

Denver and Aurora. In its prime, East Colfax Avenue was a bustling com-

mercial district with automobile deal-

erships, motels for travelers and independent businesses, but as suburbs

and shopping malls developed, these types of main streets fell out of favor with the new growing communities.

Aurora has grown significantly, and is

now Colorado’s second most populated city. Much of this growth is attributed to the increase in immigrants

eager to be successful in a new home.

The African immigrant population has

increased over the last 10 years. With the grand opening and ribbon cutting set for July 16, Afrikmall, a concept nearly 10 years in development, aims to capitalize on this with a cultural center and retail mall providing goods and services to the community. Afrikmall will be located at 10180 E. Colfax Ave. (Colfax and Galena), in a building with strong commercial roots in old Aurora. Built in 1952, up until recently it housed the Broyhill furniture store and was the original JC Penney in Aurora. The nearly 57,000 square feet of space has been remodeled and at opening will have nearly 25 signed retail tenants occupying spaces averaging 400 square feet, with some ranging 800 to 1,000 square feet. Afrikmall is an original, yet evolving concept. Besides retail it will also include a cultural and educational center, and conference and meeting spaces. It will be for the enjoyment and use of the entire community, and will be an especially strong amenity for anyone wanting to know more about the different cultures of African countries. Afrikmall started as a concept about eight years ago in the Ghanaian community. A group

Aurora Cultural Arts District (ACAD) corridor, and already has an ally in the organization. The ACAD board president is Bob Hagedorn, a former state senator who represented Aurora south of Colfax for years. With years of government experience at all levels, Hagedorn has offered technical assishad booked conference space in a term lease was negotiated with tance and interfacing with the city for hotel, intending to celebrate their inde- Afrikmall. a successful grand opening. Major retail tenants will include a Afrikmall “is well thought out in my pendence day but was told that the beauty salon, barbershop, beauty supopinion. Quite frankly I think it is a brilrevelry was too loud. Afrikmall CEO ply business, Ghanaian, Ethiopian, liant business plan,” said Hagedorn, Cobina Lartson, Ph.D., was the public and Senegalese boutiques, a grocery who is also CEO of FAX Aurora, the relations officer for the group, and store and a lounge. Additionally, there third iteration of a business organization thought it may be time to find a space will be eight kiosks in the first floor for urban Aurora. “And when I talk for events. “It started as a response to mall corridor and six food court about a brilliant business plan, I am talka community need, a space where we restaurants representing seven differing about bringing people, increasing could do things ourselves without ent African countries. On the second traffic, human traffic, customer traffic, interfering with the public,” said level mezzanine, there will be more retail traffic, whatever, into the area. So I Lartson. They first looked in northretail, an educational, cultural and think it’s just a great business, because it west Aurora, near Montview and conference center, and possibly a spa. is going to bring a lot of people here.“ Dayton, but were not able to raise The grand opening in July is just Located a short walk from the enough funds for the desired location. the beginning, and the space is decepAurora Fox Theatre and the Martin It seemed the African community was tively large. The 5,000 square feet Luther King, Jr., Library and about a willing to support the concept, but Mandela ballroom can be partitioned mile from the University of Colorado finding money was an issue. into smaller rooms also named for Anschutz Medical Campus, Afrikmall is Eventually fellow Ghanaian, African leaders, Haile Selassie and positioned to revitalize this part of old Emmanuel Eliason, brought the conKwame Nkrumah. There will also be a Aurora. New development is someversation to Innovation Pavilion, a second phase in the development. The times sparse, driving east or west on business incubator in Centennial, third floor, featuring 9,000 square feet, East Colfax Avenue. The byway in the Colo., and they were able to partner is slated to be a business incubator area is a ghost of its former self and has with Colorado-based Northstar that will be divided into offices and been dominated by near transient busiCommercial Partners, a real estate cubicles. Lartson notes that those in nesses, vacant spaces and those that development company that buys the community should consider the cater to poor people like pawnshops buildings in communities with the center for events and meetings instead and rent-a-stores. There is a perception intent of fostering jobs and economic of going downtown or to the DTC. that East Colfax Avenue is unsafe. growth in neighborhoods. Northstar Afrikmall will be a jewel in the Lartson is out to change that by bringbought the Colfax location and a longing people from neighborhoods Left to Right: Emmanuel K. Eliason, Kobina Lartson, Albert K. Quartey, Edward K. Mensah, Seth Nyarko Assabil between CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Stapleton and Lowry to Afrikmall to do business. Whether you need postal or printing services, want to get a bite to eat or cup of coffee, or need a new outfit for a special occasion, Lartson and Eliason want you to think of Afrikmall as your go-to place. While you are there you will be able to experience some of the distinctive African culture the center offers with art exhibits and educational programs. “Tracy Weil is our managing director of the ACAD. We as well Continued on page 6 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

4


Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Presents 21st Annual International Summer Dance Institute

Since 1994, the International Summer Dance Institute (ISDI) “One Spirit Many Voices” has been the premiere program for intensive dance training and cultural enrichment in the West. The five-week artist-in-residence program hosts some of the dance world’s most extraordinary artists at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance School. The institute provides expert instruction in various techniques of jazz, ballet, hip hop, modern, African and cultural dance. Three weeks of intensive dance training are offered Monday, July 6 through Friday, July 24. Advanced, pre-professional and professional level teen and adult students will find themselves challenged by daytime classes, while beginning and intermediate level dancers will find themselves very welcome and at home in the evening classes. A two week long Children’s Week Day Camp for dance students ages 314 runs Monday, July 6 through Friday, July 10 and Monday, July 13 through Friday July 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Faculty for the first week includes Jeanette Trujillo (Mexican Folk dance), John Williams, “Mr. Tap” (tap), Re Gupta (East Indian and Bollywood), Fara Tolno and Kissidugu (West African dance). The faculty for week two includes Jeanette Trujillo (Mexican folk dance), Brazilian guest artists (traditional and contemporary dance of Brazil), Mauli Ola Cook (Polynesian, Hula), and Crystal Frazier (African and Hip Hop). This year’s Teen and Adult Institute faculty includes Milton Myers (Horton Technique), Cleo Parker Robinson (Cleodance), Winifred Harris (modern), Stephanie Powell (ballet), Viviana Basanta (contemporary Ethnic Fusion), and Joe Caruano (contemporary ballet).

The diversity of the Summer Dance Institute’s master teachers attracts students from all over the world who seek exposure to a variety of dance disciplines and cultures all in one intensive course. Winifred Harris Past students have remarked that their experience compares to taking dance classes from all parts of the globe without ever having to leave the city of Denver.

Adult classes begin at $25, and Children’s Week Day Camp is $350 (Week 1) $350 (Week 2) or $600 (Both weeks), plus a $20 registration fee. Partial scholarships are available based on individual need. Information, fees, registration and a full schedule of classes are available online at www.cleoparkerdance.org. Editor’s Note: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is an international, cross-cultural, dancearts and educational institution rooted in African American traditions, and dedicated to excellence in providing instruction, performances and community programs, for intergenerational students, artists and audiences.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

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Afrikmall

Continued from page 4 as the ACAD board are very excited to have access to and so close to the arts district, African art and culture. For us it obviously complements the arts district. We are one of the more unique arts districts, and from the get go have engaged our neighbors as our major constituent group. Santa Fe is just now reaching out, but I would say that we have the diverse arts district. Africa just adds to our credibility as being the diverse cultural arts district.” The journey to opening has been long. Eight years ago Afrikmall was envisioned as a non-profit, but when funding did not come, they had to revisit their vision, which now combines revenue generating retail spaces and Afrikmall LLC with the Afrikmall Foundation, a non-profit that operates the cultural and educational center. In March 2014 there was buzz that it would open last summer, but finances and unrealistic expectations in the construction process delayed the opening for a year. Lartson said that the five board of directors, which include Lartson and Eliason as well as 17 other individuals or organizations, have put in their own monies to get Afrikmall open. He added that the African community was solicited and enlisted in the

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

6

process, and those who listened and contributed stand to benefit. Lartson related the story of trying to raise funds for the project within the African communities. He was looking for $1,000 investment from 4,000 people, yielding $4 million, which would have allowed them to buy the building and complete the remodel and have cash for operating. There was caution in the community as if someone was going to run off with the money and never be seen. “I want that part of the story told to let people know that we are still here. We have not run off with anybody’s money. There are more than five of us,” said Lartson. “Some people listened, and we are still looking for people to be a part of this as we become successful and move forward to the next location and the next level.” There are numerous African businesses throughout the metro area, but according to Lartson, operate in isolation and in most cases under difficult circumstances. Rent in Aurora Mall and larger malls are steep and often unpredictable. Aside from the financial measures, Afrikmall’s success will be determined by how effectively it is in its mission, which is to bring the community together. “Whether we will be able to open this and sustain it is dependent


Afrikmall Groundbreaking Event

on the ability to pay the rent, our investors, ourselves and have some cash for expenses, because we are looking at possibly five more locations in the next 10 years,” said Lartson. “The other measure of success is the impact we have on the community, the Africans and African American community. The motto we stand on is ‘uniting the community through commerce and culture.’ ” Eliason said, “One other measure will be how the businesses here will thrive. How many new ventures are created and sustained or incubated in this space. One element of our philosophy is if we have the ability to be the bridge between the United States and various African countries in terms of investments, to just know Africa, we become the central location in Colorado or the United States to reach out to the continent of Africa for eco-

Afrikmall Businesses Abyssinian Fashion Afraccino Coffee African Gifts African Fabric & Art Afrikmall Cultural Center Afrikmall Grocery Afrikmall Salon Akwaba Restaurant Akapoco Restaurant All Soul Mobile Ama Beauty Supply BG Ice cream Everyday Print & Ship Center Gamstyle GG Restaurant Jonori European Boutique Jonori Restaurant (Congolese) Konjo restaurant Mary African Fabric Monica Fashion Niamke LLC Peace & Joy LLC Queen of Sheba Exotic Elements Rosema Designs Sankofa Lounge Terranga Restaurant Teranga (Senegalese Boutique) Travel Agency

7 GERALD HERITAGE HERITA HERIT AGE EVENTS CENTER PRESENTS

FFRIDAY RIDAY AY nomic development and other things. I think that would be a good measure of success for us. That’s a greater impact that we could have on the world.” A worldview has been driving Lartson and Eliason since they arrived here from Ghana more than a decade ago. Lartson, who taught high school science for 10 years, was on the first flight from Ghana following 9/11, and came to Colorado to pursue a master’s in environmental leadership at Naropa University in Boulder. He connected with the small African community in Boulder but then moved to Aurora and commuted. He eventually moved his family here, and subsequently received his Ph.D. in educational leadership and innovation at the School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver. Eliason, the Afrikmall chief business development officer, has a similar story. He first came to Colorado in 1997 for a few weeks working for an oil and gas company based in the Ivory Coast. He returned to Colorado just before 9/11, and received his Bachelor of Science in computer information systems with a minor in management from Columbia College in Aurora and then a master’s in organizational leadership at Regis University. The bios of the other members with ownership in Afrikmall are similar. They have Ghanaian roots, and have come here to better themselves and their families wanting to pursue the American dream of opening a business. Management team members are professionals and bring their business acumen and a wealth of experience in management, information technology, project management construction and real estate. They share a commitment to make Africans successful here as well as on the continent. According to Lartson, Afrikmall will attract people who want to be a part of something new and those who have not traveled to Africa, but aspire to experience the best of African culture. “That is something that this location will bring,” he said.  Editor’s note: The grand opening celebration is July 16-18 with a variety of events planned. For more information, details and tickets, visit www.afrikmall.com.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

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Colorado Black Arts Festival

IS RO CK STEADY

D

ana Manyothane was in

high school when her uncles, Perry

Ayers and Oye Oginga, created the

Colorado Black Arts Festival 29 years

ago. It was a family affair. Her mother, Florence Ayers, helped. Manyothane

even helped to coordinate some of the performance stages in the early years. She eventually left for college, earned

a biology degree, married and started

a family, moved out of state and main-

tained a teaching career. A week prior to the 2010 festival she returned to Denver and picked up where she left off, filling in where needed. In 2013 she stepped in as acting executive director. Now, her four children – ages 12, 10, nine and eight – are watching her as she carries on the legacy that she hopes they will also carry on someday. The 29th Annual Colorado Black Arts Festival takes place at Denver’s

AT

29

AND

By Angelia D. McGowan

City Park West on July 10-12, and is the fifth largest event of its kind in the United States, attracting more than 54,000 people. It is open to the entire Colorado community and admission is free. This year’s theme, “Rock Steady,” was chosen to capture the essence of the festival, which has withstood the test of time to ensure that the preservation of rich cultural history is passed on from generation to generation. Manyothane said, “Sometimes it’s overwhelming – so much to do.” She handles the nuts and bolts of organizing a festival, for example getting the city permits, scheduling the toilet deliveries, and developing and maintaining working relationships with sponsors. Tying up administrative loose ends is worth it for her to see the end result. “I’m out there looking at family, stages everywhere, and people having a good time with smiles on their face,” she added. But there are hurdles that she and the rest of the festival core have been working to overcome as it relates to recapturing the spirit of the yesteryears. They want to find the answer to the question: “How do we get those who stopped coming to come back?” She and Ayers can see where some of the glory has been lost and where they need to be more consistent and present a more powerful showing. That includes trading out the four Ts for the four Fs. “We’re getting away from the trinkets, turkey legs, tents and t-shirts and adding more fun, fine art, food and festivities,” said Ayers, who doesn’t want it to become just a festival. “Anybody can do a festival. It’s just another event,” said Ayers. “But if there is no heart there, you’re just going through the motions. As an art festival, we have to get back to the real deal.” The real deal includes drum and drill teams, themed floats in the parade, cultural exchange activities with the African community. “This year, we are paying more attention to detail.” One detail is making sure festival participants understand the mission — to raise the level of appreciation for the role that Black arts and culture

COUNTING…

play in the development and wellbeing of the community. It means providing a medium for local Black talent in the areas of visual and performing arts, educating to stimulate cultural awareness and cultivating harmony, pride and self-esteem and unity. Singer Sheryl Renee, part of the festival since its third year, understands the mission. She has participated as an artist and co-producer, but mostly she’s come to just experience the festival. This year she kicks off her Rocky Mountain Love tour at the festival. “Honestly, the older I get the more I appreciate and embrace my Black culture,” said Renee, the festival’s closing act. “People need the education and ethnic offerings that come with this type of community event.” In recent years, Ayers has said that he wants to pass the baton to a younger generation of leaders. His niece is a start, but she believes the chances of him stepping away are slim. “Perry’s the glue. He can’t pull back. He’s still our creative force. He is the reason I get to my computer every day and work.” She concurred with him on how best to move forward. “We really want to pull up from younger ranks and include people with passion for the arts,” she said. Organizers also want to expand beyond the festival. In 2009, the Denver Black Arts Festival changed its name to Colorado Celebration of African American Arts and Culture, dba Colorado Black Arts Festival, an appropriate name in light of the statewide reach of the event. “In the near future, we want to develop so that festival is only one of the many projects under our banner,” said Manyothane.

Festival Attractions Feature Something for Everyone

The 2015 Colorado Black Arts Festival staff and volunteers are prepared to present a visual feast of color, movement and pageantry. Two dynamic stages will present music

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

8

that includes jazz, blues, soul, gospel, hip-hop, reggae, world beat, and traditional African. Dance performances will include African drum and dance, modern, praise and interpretive dance. Noted African American visual artists as well as emerging artists will showcase their work. Attractions include: The African American Visual Arts Avenue will be most prominent for festival attendees to enjoy and purchase artwork of professional and rising artists. Noted elite and seasoned African American visual artists will exhibit their finest original works. An all media show will include paintings, oils, acrylics and watercolors, drawings, etchings, pen, ink, charcoal and silk screen. Other media includes collage, photography, glass, fiber, wood carvings, jewelry, ceramics and sculpture. The Art Garden will be throughout the festival grounds this year. The Boogaloo Celebration Parade’s theme for 2015 is “Rock-Step-Steady.” This year’s parade will feature the Las Vegas High Steppers form Nevada and a drum and drill team from Omaha, Nebraska. The parade route spans 22nd Avenue between Downing and York Streets. Parade participants include celebrity guests, local politicians, sports and media personalities. A vintage Car Show will feature community car clubs displaying their treasured and well-preserved hot-rods and cars for festival goers to enjoy and discuss with the owners.


The F. Cosmo Harris Gospel Stage is a popular festival venue that allows the audience to witness the tradition and art of gospel music. Saturday’s stage will feature a tribute to Denver’s media legend, F. Cosmo Harris, for whom the Gospel Stage is named, musical education on gospel music through history, and a Gospel Theatre presentation. The Food Court will feature delicious foods from the American South, the African continent, the Caribbean, Asia and European nation’s at affordable prices. The Health Highway Pavilion, features healthcare professionals. The House II House: “Time to Feel the Rhythm” program features nine of the most soulful House Deejays in the Denver area.

The Joda Village Compound is a setting reminiscent of a small Nigerian village. This venue was named in honor of Adetunji Joda, a teacher, master drummer and dancer who taught traditional Nigerian African Dance and Drum in Denver for more than 40 years. The Joda Village showcases creative interpretations of capoeira, Caribbean and African dance, spoken word, African roots music, and African drumming. The Kuumba Stage is the main creativity performing arts stage that features blues, and rhythm and blues on Saturday and jazz on Sunday. Many talented local bands and vocalist will also grace the stage to make this a dynamic weekend of performing arts. The Louise Duncan Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts is a community service based award presented to AfricanAmericans in the Colorado community, whose talents and contributions have made a great impression and difference. Named for the first recipient, the award has become a treasured tradition of the CBAF. This year’s honoree is Bennie L. Williams, a musician, educator and founder of Spiritual Voices. The award ceremony is Sunday, July 12, at 5:30 p.m. on the Kuumba stage.

The Opalanga D. Pugh Children’s Pavilion for Art and Learning provides a fun interactive learning experience for children ages two to 13. Denver’s major arts, education and cultural institutions including Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Public Library, History Colorado Center and Colorado Symphony who will present special exhibits and hands-on educational activities featuring toys and games of the African continent-past and present. Children will be able to take their art creations home. There will be storytelling by local storytellers, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library staff and community leaders.

The Watu-Sakoni Marketplace is a place to purchase goods and services from an array of vendors that offer exotic clothing oils, incense, handmade crafts, unique t-shirts, music, home décor, jewelry, African masks and drums. Special services from nonprofit and socio-civic organizations that provide bone marrow transplant registration, child adoptions, sickle cell awareness, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, businesses opportunities, employment and educational opportunities, media outreach and military recruitment.  Editor’s Note: For more information about the Colorado Black Arts Festival lineup visit www.colbaf.org or call 303-306-8672.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

9


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Human SEX Trafficking is Modern Day Slavery and Our Children are Vulnerable I

magine your 14-year-old daugh-

ter Janice is hanging out at the mall.

An attractive 17-year-old man named

Paul approaches her. He tells her that

she is beautiful and that she is special. He gets her number and tells her they

should hang out some time. Paul calls the next day. Janice is so excited and

feels really special. They begin spending time together and hanging. Paul buys her gifts and takes her to nice

places. One day, Paul tells Janice he really needs her help. He cannot pay his rent, but knows a way that she can make some money to help him. Paul takes Janice to a club where she can “dance” and make some quick money. Janice agrees and makes $500 dancing that night. Wow! It is the most money she has ever earned. Paul says, “I know how we can make some real money.” Janice is excited and wants to know more. Paul takes her to a house where she is raped by several men. Paul is never heard from again by Janice. Unbeknownst to Janice, Paul has sold her to a pimp. Janice is no longer human, she has become a commodity. So, when she says she wants to leave, her pimp tells no, and that

By Natacha Gutierrez and Jessica Jackson- Barrows they will kill her and her family if she attempts to leave. He knows where she lives. This is one of the ways that modern day slavery is accomplished, also known as child sex trafficking. The phrase “human trafficking” conjures up images of young foreign women being holed up in foreign countries as sex slaves or being forced into unpaid labor, again in foreign countries. But what has become painfully clear is the fact that girls are being lured or kidnapped and sold into prostitution here in the United States. What is even more shocking is that Colorado is one of the state’s leading the pack. The scenario described above is known as “boy-friending.” Boy-friending is only one of the ways children become victims. Kidnapping is another. Another common ploy is to offer “modeling,” “acting,” or “dancing” jobs. In our culture of five-minutes of fame, our children are particularly at risk. The Internet has made it easy for predators to target children right under the noses of unsuspecting parents. There are estimates that there are more people who are victims of this type of slavery than there were in the transatlantic slave trade, and our children once again are vulnerable. The most heart breaking factor is that victims of this crime are children,

generally between the ages of 13 to 18 years old. Many are runaways or throwaways and the perpetrators are manipulative and dangerous to these children. These people most often use physical/sexual violence and manipulation in order to keep control of these children. In addition, because many of these children have no home these pimps create a kind of parent/lover relationship with the child who is extremely confusing and virtually impossible to detach from without help. Another factor is that these pimps are often connected to larger organized crime, which makes them extremely dangerous. The statistics certainly bear out that the majority of the kids who are at risk come from the most vulnerable communities. Statistics bear out that 70 to 90 percent of the victims have been sexually and or physically abused. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six runaways will be sexually exploited or trafficked and 68 percent of these victims are under the care of social services or the state system. Continued on page 12

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

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Sex Trafficking

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Continued from page 11 Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be lulled into the false sense of security that modern day slavery will not visit you at your front door or neighborhood. All children are at risk and we are all responsible for what happens to all of our children. Not just because it is the right thing, but also because they grow up to be adults and have an effect on our lives. At the risk of sounding harsh, if you think that it is just happening on Colfax you are kidding yourself. In the United States 244,000â&#x20AC;&#x201C;360,000 children are at risk each year of being trafficked and sexually exploited. Youth who are at risk most: â&#x20AC;˘Are under 18 years old and under. â&#x20AC;˘Walk to school or the store alone. â&#x20AC;˘Are attracted to consumer goods. â&#x20AC;˘Desire to develop romantic relationships. â&#x20AC;˘Sometimes feel insecure. â&#x20AC;˘Feel misunderstood. â&#x20AC;˘Fight with their parents. ÂśSometimes feel that their parents donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care. â&#x20AC;˘Want more independence. â&#x20AC;˘Test boundaries and take risks. Sounds like a kid you know? It sounds like a kid we all know, knew or were. Now imagine you grew up and now live in Northeast Denver in the area now known as the Clayton neighborhood. You have a work deadline, so you head to work about four in the morning and decide to stop at your favorite convenience store at the end of the block to get coffee. As you enter the store, you notice three girls who are barely five feet tall looking as if they have just entered puberty. One of the girls is speaking with a man who she does not know, asked his name. The stranger appeared to be going to work as he was wearing one of those yellow construction worker vests. To say the girl was flirting is an understatement. No tilt of the head or a bat of an eyelash here. It is full on proposition kind of stuff but you do not see money exchanged. Now you are leaving the store and notice a large SUV pull up. Two of the girls walk out of the store behind you and approach the man in the driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seat. A fourth teenage girl gets out of the SUV. As you get into your car and drive to work, you wonder why were those little girls out so late and why such a young girl was so overtly sexual with this much older man. Now the answer should be clear. These children were being sex trafficked. This story in the Clayton Neighborhood is a true story and a very real experience for one of the authors of this story. This experience

Denver Urban Spectrum â&#x20AC;&#x201D; www.denverurbanspectrum.com â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 2015

12

inspired the desire to make others aware. So what can you do? Get involved, keep your eyes open and act. Get educated. Learn the signs of child sex trafficking. Get involved in the lives of at-risk children. It takes a community to raise healthy kids. Participate in programs that help children. Be aware. Pay attention to inappropriate age differences in relationships. Is your child receiving too much attention from someone much older? Are the gifts the child is receiving a bit too expensive? Do you see an adult or older child that is spending too much time with young girls and boys? Tell Others. Educate your children, their friends, your friends, and anyone who will listen about this issue. The way to end child sex trafficking is awareness. If you see something, say something. If you believe that a child has been abused report it immediately. The sex trafficking hotline number is 1-888-373-7888.

Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note: Natacha Gutierrez and Jessica Jackson- Barrows are owners of their own individual solo practices in Denver. Gutierrez graduated from Tulane Law School in 2002 and began practicing medical malpractice defense in her native New Orleans, LA. She started her solo practice in 2003 in New Orleans, LA, moved to Colorado in 2010 and began representing Colorado residents in 2011. Gutierrez currently helps families recover from lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mishaps by practicing personal injury, medical malpractice, real estate litigation, and debt settlement. She is a member of the Louisiana Bar Association and the Sam Carey Bar Association. She can be reached at 303-900-8291. Jackson-Barrows is an experienced criminal trial lawyer and former Brooklyn, NY prosecutor. She specializes in criminal defense and appeals; felonies and misdemeanors; drug possession; domestic violence; assault; employment law and DUI/DWAI/Traffic Offences. She can be reached at 303-8982698.

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Back to Black By K. Gerald Torrence

I

f there were ever a clarion call for African American college bound students to reconsider their increasing predilection to choose white universities as their preference for higher education, it is now. The recent flurry of high profile incidents of racism, expose the underlying racist undercurrent and hostility toward African American students at white institutions of higher learning. The noose hanging incident (April 1, 2015) at Duke University only days before winning the NCAA men’s basketball championship underscores the discrimination that black students and faculty endure on a regular basis at white colleges across this country. Shamefully, but not shockingly, the noose incident at Duke University is only one of several examples of blatant acts of racism including hateful speech occurring on the Duke campus directed at black students. In an MSNBC interview, a leading African American student at Duke profoundly stated the realities of Black college life at white universities when he said that “the occasional display of public demonstrations of racism doesn’t bother me. What’s most concerning is the daily acts of racism that black students contend with every day.” Sarah Burks, another

African American student at Duke, was quoted as saying “punishing the culprit will not change the culture of racism on campus.” She added that friends of hers also experienced racism at Duke. The noose hanging from a tree outside the student center is only the latest reincarnation of a centuriesold symbol used to terrorize and intimidate Black people by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, and individuals seeking to deny equality to Blacks. The fact that this potent symbol of racism and white supremacy is being openly flaunted on college

campuses more than 50 years after the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka speaks volumes as to the continuing resistance to Black acceptance on white college campuses. Although the Brown case outlawed the doctrine of “separate but equal” and opened the door to integration in schools previously denying entrance to Black students like Ole Miss, University of Alabama and others, it’s impossible to legislate morality and civility. The

underlying culture of white supremacy and Black inferiority is too deeply ingrained in the social and political fabric of this country. The United States of America was constructed with the building blocks of separate and unequal. Racism is in its DNA. Forced integration has not, and will never change the hearts and minds of those whose birth right and promise of prosperity, rests on the bedrock principles of European dominance and control. The recent racist video chant at the University of Oklahoma by the white fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon members is another

example of the volcanic eruption of racism at white colleges across America. The chant, “There will never be a nigger at SAE … You can hang them from a tree, but they will never sign with me … There will never be a nigger at SAE,” illustrates I believe, the true sentiments of whites with regard to Black integration into white colleges and universities. These institutions are the bastions and gate keepers of Anglo/ European culture and white supremacy. The reaction to the

video by OU president David Boren and head football coach Bob Stoops was predictable and more than a little contrived. Their feigned outrage begs the question of motivation, and is consistent with this modern age of political correctness. After all, what could they say? Other than to condemn the racist acts as an anomaly, and not representative of the University as whole, there was no other viable response. Shortly after the incident became public, head coach Bob Stoops participated in a protest and “walk out” along with Black OU football players and supporters. Stoops, of course is no dummy. He realizes that his livelihood and the millions of NCAA dollars that flow into the OU campus coffers, rests on the contentment and participation of the Black athletes who comprise more than 85 percent of the starting lineup. This statistic is also true of the other major college football powerhouses. In these modern, ultra-competitive times, major sports programs can’t compete at the elite levels without the Black athlete. They’ve tried and failed. Former University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant fielded mostly all white teams until the very end of his career. Bryant finally capitulated after other white universities began to saturate their teams with Black players which resulted in a competitive advantage. Bryant then employed the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Wow! What a difference a few decades make. I can remember sitting in front of the television set as a small boy with my father and asking, “Daddy, who are you pulling for?” My father’s answer would invariably be, “I don’t know chief, which team has a colored boy?” It’s amazing how far we have come in the way of integrated college athletics, where now in the two major market sports of football and basketball, you are hard Continued on page 13

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Back to Black

Continued from page 12 pressed to find a white player on the starting lineup. All the star players are Black, and all of the coaches and athletic directors are white, with very few exceptions. Yet, what seems like a windfall for Black athletes has actually been a financial windfall for white colleges and universities. Those same institutions that once vowed never to integrate have changed their tune and now openly court Black athletes and tolerate the average Black student non-athlete as a necessary evil. One of the biggest lies, myths and pre-conceived notions about modern day big time college athletics, is that in order to be drafted you must attend one of the big name white universities. This is historically untrue, and a newage variation of “the white man’s ice is colder” syndrome. Black players were going into the pro’s in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s from Black colleges like Tennessee State, Florida A&M, Grambling, Bethune-Cookman, Southern University, and Texas Southern long before integration took hold as inevitable and acceptable on white college campuses. Then just like now, if you have the talent, white professional scouts will find you. So the question of whether it’s necessary for Black students and athletes

to suffer the humiliation and degradation of racism and disparate treatment, in order to reach their goals of success at the professional levels and beyond academia can be answered unequivo-

fooled. The oppressor has always sought to hide our greatness and take credit for our accomplishments. If it was good enough for my father and mother, it’s good enough for me.

cally. History shows us that the answer is “No.” We don’t have to be validated by involvement at white institutions to prove our worth. We never did. Black over achievers from HBCUs has been making made their mark on society for over 150 years. The tragedy is that many of these successes have gone unrecorded, and therefore unnoticed. Let us not be

At one time it was useful and necessary to break down barriers of legal and social discrimination. That time served African Americans very well. Now is the time to return home to our roots, and strengthen by our attendance and patronage, the nurturing hand of Black colleges which gave the Negro race its first opportunity for higher education. When all of the other doors were closed for our educational advancement due to racism and Jim Crow, we built our own, and we educated our own. In many ways integration was the death knell for the celebration of the spirit of Black, educational and entrepreneurial independence and excellence. We have truly lost our way. Even though the University of Oklahoma expelled two students for leading a racist song that sparked outrage across the country when it became public, that action by the university doesn’t solve the problem of racism on American college campuses. The underlying problem is systemic and endemic. Racism and white supremacy is ingrained in the social, economic and political fabric of these institutions which were built on the backs of Blacks, but not for the education or inclusion of Blacks. So while universities and the national media will try to paint the picture of acts like these being isolated incidents, common sense and high profile examples of racism in all facets of American life tell us it’s not. My question is: Why? Are we Blacks gluttons for punishment or just so enamored with the prospects of assimilation with white folk, that we willingly suffer the slings and arrows of demoralizing abuse and disparate treatment? I again ask the question first raised by

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14

W.E.B. DuBois, “What is it about whiteness that makes it so desirable?” Surely in 2015 African Americans must realize that there is nothing inherently magical about being white, and nothing inherently inferior about being Black. We have the ability to create our own institutions and traditions of excellence, just like our ancestors. “Back to Black” must become more than just a slogan, but a mantra that symbolizes and mobilizes a return to our rich heritage and legacies which produced many of the great African Americans of the last century. I suggest that the solution is not to try to change white folk’s opinion of us or demonstrate that we are just as competent and talented as they. We’ve done that for centuries, and it has not made us any more acceptable as a race in any significant way. What we need is a return to our historically Black colleges and universities in numbers and patronage which equals our mass exodus over the last 40 years to the universities of the Empire. We must return back to Black colleges where we are not marginalized, tolerated or stereotyped all in the name of diversity, which in reality is a concept that is unattainable aside from numbers and quotas on a spreadsheet. Real diversity can only come through genuine acceptance, shared respect, and cultural appreciation for that which has forever been viewed as inferior among Europeans. With respect to the African American Oklahoma football recruit who decided against attending OU after the racist video rant came to light, I applaud his decision. A message must be sent! I caution the young man however, against substituting one racist institution for another. All white colleges and universities contain racist elements and attitudes which will not go away in our lifetimes if ever. Why not return to our Black colleges, the only safe haven against the spoken and unspoken anti-Black sentiments which undergird the very fabric of this country. I say, “Back to Black,” young African American man and woman. Let’s rebuild and re-establish the proud legacies of our own historically Black colleges and universities before it’s too late. Our schools are under attack just like our young Black men and the civil rights gains of the last 50 years. We must make “Back to Black” more than a slogan. We must make it a movement  Editor’s Note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truthteller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.


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he Center for African American Health will present the 5th Annual Destination Health Walk/Run/Learn Event on Saturday, July 25 in Denver City Park at the Pavilion. The steering committee for this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s event is cochaired by Happy Haynes and Rev. Rodney Perry with state Rep. Rhonda Fields serving as honorary event chair. The entire planning team has gone all out to make this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s festivities the best one ever. The setting in Denver City Park at the Pavilion is spectacular and there will be something special for everyone. Destination Health 2015 will feature a 5K run/walk or a one-mile short cut for folks wanting a more leisurely route. There will be a Health Learning Expo where participants and visitors will have access to dozens of exhibitors offering a wide range of health information and resources. A special Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health and Safety Area, sponsored in part by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Piton Foundation and Live Well Colorado, will provide activities and health information for children and parents. New this year is a special cooking demonstration in the Pavilion by Chef Keith Jones, spokesperson for the Honey Smoked Fish Company. Entertainment will be provided by Denverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s First Lady, Mary Louise Lee and her band performing Jazz, R&B and 60s hits. And, back by popular demand, line dancing for everyone including an opportunity to break the record for the largest crowd ever doing the Wobble! More than 1,200 participants are expected this year and there will be strong competition for the largest teams in a number of categories. Last year, New Hope Baptist Church took the traveling trophy for the largest church team but New Hopeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pastor, Rev. Eugene Downing expects the competition to be much stiffer this time around. The event will recognize the largest church, youth and social group teams among others.

Participants will receive a t-shirt and all registered finishers will be presented a unique medal to commemorate their participation. Participants are invited to join in the pre-event warm up activities beginning at 8 a.m. before the official start and the 5K Walk/ Run will begin promptly at 8:30 am. An award ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re very pleased that Becky Taylor has agreed to serve as mistress of ceremony for this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s event. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait! Register online today at www.caahealth.org to be part of the 2015 Destination Health. And encourage your family, friends and co-workers to take part, too, by forming a team. The event benefits the programs and services provided by the Center for African American Health, including: Diabetes Prevention and SelfManagement Programs; A Matter of Balanceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;fall prevention program for older adults; Just Check Itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;home blood pressure monitoring and support program; Connect for Health Colorado Assistance aimed at helping folks with health insurance enrollment options and applying for federal tax credits; an Annual Health Fair; and a host of health promotion and education resources. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Destination Health is a fundraiser but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also an extraordinary opportunity for the Center for African American Health to join hands with participants and sponsors in promoting active lifestyle behavior and improving health literacy in our communityâ&#x20AC;? said Grant Jones, founder and executive director of the center. Among the major sponsors this year are: The Colorado Health Foundation; KeyBank; Eli Lilly & Company; The Denver Museum of Nature and Science; CBS4; The Piton Foundation; Denver Health Foundation; Jamminâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 101.5 and Flo 107.1; King Soopers; Walgreens; The Denver Urban Spectrum and 5 Points News. Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note: For more information or to register, visit the center website at www.caahealth.org or call 303-355-3423.

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Denver Urban Spectrum â&#x20AC;&#x201D; www.denverurbanspectrum.com â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 2015

15


Webbs Honored for Their Political and Love Story

Curious Theatre raises thousands with one-night play

The love story of Wellington and

Wilma Webb and their partnership in Denver politics played out in front of a sold-out crowd and raised money for the Curious Theatre on June 3. The yearly fundraiser, called Denver Stories, celebrated its 10th anniversary with “One Degree of Separation: The Esteemed Legacies of Wilma and Wellington Webb“ written by Josh Hartwell and directed by Christy Montour-Larson. It featured actors Keith Carlton Smith and Jada Suzanne Dixon as the couple. Seven additional actors played several roles as they chronicled the couple’s lives from casually knowing each other as Manual High School students to reuniting as divorced adults, each raising two children and merging their

families. Also highlighted was the couple’s desire to enter politics, not as a job, but to make a difference in their community, state and country. Wellington served in the state legislature, as Denver’s auditor and 12 years as Denver’s first African American mayor. Wilma served 13 years in the state legislature, including sponsoring the bill that created the Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday. Both fought for social justice issues, including anti-discrimination laws for women and gays and police brutality. The one-night play, which cost $1,000 a ticket to benefit the theatre, attracted longtime political supporters, former administration members and the couple’s children and grandchildren. The couple praised the actors and script for depicting their lives inside and outside of the public spotlight.

“Many people only saw one side of us, the public side,” Wilma said, following a standing ovation from the audience. “This played showed our private side as well.” In preparation, the couple spent hours with Chip Walton, producing artistic director, and scriptwriter Hartwell. “It became clear to me early in the play development process that they could easily provide enough material for us to produce a full-length play for each of them,” Walton said. Hartwell also read, “Wellington Webb: The Man, the Mayor and the Making of Modern Denver,” Webb’s autobiography published in 2007. Wellington called the play “awesome.” “I did not see the script beforehand so I had no idea,” he said. “It was great, better than I could have hoped.”

Mayor Michael Hancock could not attend the performance but wrote a tribute in the play’s program. “Tonight you honor a couple who have individually and collectively blazed many trails and opened the eyes of an entire generation as to what is possible when you believe in right and are willing to work hard toward the goal,” Hancock wrote. “Their vision, courage and integrity set the standard for taking on the hard issues, asking the right questions and working for the benefit of all people.” Surprised guest actors who revised their roles in the couple’s lives included former state Sen. Penfield Tate, who also worked in Mayor Federico Pena’s administration; Paula Herzmark, Mike Dino, and Fabby Hillyard, all instrumental in Wellington’s 1991 mayoral campaign; and Andrew Hudson, who at 28 joined Webb’s administration as his communications director shortly after the 1995 election. The play was the main fundraiser for the theatre founded 16 years ago and now home for 28 professional actors. Previous “Denver Stories” have featured Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Gov. Richard Lamm, bluesman Otis Taylor, concert promoter Chuck Morris, Westword editor-in-chief Patricia Calhoun and Denver Health Foundation Director Paula Herzmark.

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Nobody is Coming to

Save Black H

By Theo E.J. Wilson

ave you ever felt like the only cow on the farm who knows how hamburgers are made? Did you ever wonder how no one seems to connect the dots, even with their lives on the line? The writing is on the wall, and we remain willfully illiterate. Therefore, we are passive participants in our own demise. We have to be realistic. In the martial art of Aikido, they teach that the most powerful weapon one can have is an accurate assessment of reality. No filter, no distraction, just naked truth. Therefore, any ideology, philosophy, or paradigm that distorts and filters reality is dangerous and must be discarded, or else that ideology can be weapon-ized against you. Cows are captive to barbed wire, but humans are captive to ideas. Reality has kicked our teeth in again with Charleston. Never mind that Dylann Roof, a disturbingly familiar, troubled and racist white male, sat in Bible study with his victims for an hour before the massacre. Forget that the Emanuel AME Church was co-founded by slave revolt leader, Denmark Vesey. What strikes me is the fact that the Confederate flag still flies at the capitol building, and we thought we were safe. We let our guard down to the reality of this country. Perhaps our non-violent ideology turns the horrific nature of racism into background-noise. Dylann‘s crime was despicable, but so are streets named after Confederate generals that Blacks in Charleston must drive down. These are not just street signs, they are warning signs. It’s like Jews living in Germany under a swastika

People!

flag, driving on streets named for Hitler’s generals. When put in those terms, it’s pretty clear. Yet the Blacks in South Carolina have been convinced that these conditions were just a part of “Southern Heritage.” From 16th Street Baptist to Emanuel AME, we have not learned our lesson. Racism has one inevitable conclusion. The natural fact is that Dylann Roof did what he did because he could: because he had the conviction to carry it out. That’s the nature of power. Just like dropping the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, the culture of violence in White America spares no means to victimize the “other.” No physical thing could have stopped him but a bullet to his head, a gift most “good” people are not willing to give those who have tortured us for centuries. We are then, yet again, left to pick up the pieces. Shorter AME Church (the church I was raised in), hosted a candle light vigil for the victims the night of June 18. Rev. Timothy Tyler, who lost a personal friend in the shooting, broke into tears recounting the life of his fallen comrade. The church was packed with leaders from all walks of faith. Jews, Unitarians, Muslims, Yoruba Traditionalists, and even the Sikhs showed up in full regalia. A ‘Who’s Who’ of Denver’s power players showed up to lend condolences. Terrance Carroll, Angela Williams, Mike Johnston, Albus Brooks, Reginald Porter and Brother Jeff showed solemn support. While playing the Djembe, I watched a slide show of the victims that ripped my heart out. All of them, so familiar, so natural, so alive in their pictures I

could almost hear their voices. I fought back tears and played on. Suddenly, as the prayers went up in solemn conviction to the most high, a thought struck me like the lightning crashing outside the church spires that night: ‘What if nobody is coming to save us?’ ‘What if all of these prayers are for naught?’ The thought crushed me inside. I looked at all those faith leaders, thinking of the masses and congregations they represented and how their devotion would be but a hollow ritual if it were true. But then, the thought did something else to me: If we fought for good in this world like no one but us could make it right, we wouldn’t have to wait to see Heaven after we died, because this world would be Heaven already. “Savior-ism,” is the background music to our decisions. “Somebody’s going to clean it all up.” The belief that someone will come from on high and set right the wrongs actually lessens our estimation of our own impact and short-circuits the problem-solving process. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The “Saviorism” ideology is a lens that distorts not only our true responsibility, but the dangers that we face, and how to truly handle evildoers like Dylann Roof. We cannot pray and forgive our way out of this. There is no one coming to save us. No messiah, no prophet, no “chosen one,” no Mahdi, rapture, no aliens will come down and set right the wrongs of the wickedness of the world. That’s our job. The Emanuel AME members did not die because they were late on tithes, back-sliders into sin, and fell out of “favor” with the lord. They were not sacrificial lambs for the sins of the church or society. It’s not that they didn’t pray hard enough or that “Satan” wanted to test the resolve of believers. They died because racism kills...period. An accurate assessment of the situation says that we forgot White Supremacy honors no sacred spaces, no temples, no synagogues or mosques. In fact, White Supremacy built most of these places of worship. Therefore, we are effectively livestock for this power. We are raised for the slaughter, for the sacrifice, for fleecing and for profit. That’s a predator-prey relationship. Predation is totally legal under universal law! It’s why the first law of survival is self-defense. If any creature does not have the means to effectively deter a predator, it goes extinct in time. Most believers even refer to themselves as the “flock,” not seeing the full ramifications of this identity. Their ideology provides a context that ultimately profits the mas-

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ters of the institution. If you watch a church service on mute, you’ll see a person who looks to be yelling, people getting emotional, and then those people opening their wallets. That’s the raw mechanic of institutionalized religion. Along with these ineffective ideologies is the demoralization of violence. Gandhi and King’s legacies are used to pacify the masses by the very people that killed them. Violence is just a force, like gravity or electricity. It takes violence to deter violence, which is why police never show up to a hostage negotiation with Bibles in hand. The good must learn how to fight. The good must learn how to kill, and do this without being consumed by fighting and killing. This is why martial arts are taught with philosophy, so you not only know how to strike, but when...and when not to. Ultimately, a Messiah or Savior would cheat humanity out of its potential. We don’t even use all of our all latent abilities, and cry for someone to clean up this mess. Why would a creator come up with a human being, then not give the challenges those humans need to delve into their true power? Notice I said “Creator.” ‘No savior’ doesn’t mean no God. Something had to create all this, and we are latecomers to this creation. We share a power with that God, and that is the power of our minds. If you want the super natural, look no further than what is behind your eyes. The human mind is a force that literally supersedes the natural world. We bend, shape, and wield the blind forces of nature, to ends that suit us, and we have to start thinking big picture. There is a world beyond our five senses, but there is a reason we cannot see it – because we are on Earth to figure out what to do with Earth. The planet and universe are like a piano. There are harmonic and dis-harmonic energies. They are impartial, but in the process of mastering them, we master ourselves. We learn virtue, patience, discipline and love: the true jewels that can be taken when we leave. All else is doctrine, interpretation fodder for holy war. What is a human being, really? Every tragic incident and victory teaches us a little more to answer this question. We have great powers of destruction, great powers of benevolent creation. Thus, the final frontier is to explore the universe within. It is the true Alpha and Omega of our experience here in this world. It is in the garden of the mind and heart we sow the seeds of triumph or tragedy. When we finally get it right, humanity will collectively thank God that no one came to save us from ourselves. 


Charity Golf Tournament Benefits “Cleats for Kids”

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he Denver Broncos alumni blanketed the Omni Interlocken Resort Hotel and Golf Club in orange and blue during their recent 9th Annual Denver Broncos Alumni Charities Golf Tournament and Gala held in Broomfield. The beneficiary, Cleats for Kids, is an alumni program started this year to ensure that children of all means have the opportunity to experience the wonderful life lessons that football has to offer. The program will help underserved kids in the community, families struggling to help their kids participate in youth sports, by offering free cleats to the athletes in the leagues that the alumni association supports. “In this first year, the alumni association is partnering with Nike and Sports Authority to provide cleats to league partner Denver Police Activities League (Denver PAL) to put cleats on 700 kids in two of their leagues,” said Le-Lo Lang, president of the Denver Broncos Alumni Association. Through Denver PAL which was founded in 1967, members of the police force coach young boys and girls in sports, help with homework and provide other after-school activities for children, including educational and leadership programs. The purpose is to build character, strengthen police-community relations and keep children off illegal drugs, out of gangs, and on a positive path. The program relies on support and help from volunteers in the community. The children that Denver PAL support come from some of the toughest neighborhoods in the state of Colorado. These are neighborhoods that see the highest numbers in dropout rates, teen pregnancy, gang activity, drug use and crime rates.

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Denver Broncos Alumni

Odell Barry, president of the Alumni Charities and chair of the golf tournament committee, said, “This was our biggest turnout yet. There was so much alumni support, from Ring of Fame members, alumni, and celebrities, the atmosphere was like a Bronco reunion and all of the sponsors, golfers and participants had a smile on their face.” The mission of the Denver Broncos Alumni Association is to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and honor. Members commit to enhance their communities through active service and devotion. Learn more about Cleats for Kids at www.denverbroncosalumni.org/cleat s-for-kids and Denver PAL at www.denverpal.com. 


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Delta Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Denver Alumnae Chapter presented scholarships to 18 young women graduating from 13 Denver area high schools. Held on May 17, the scholarship presentation and reception was held at Rising Star Baptist. All the recipients plan to attend a college or university pursuing a bachelor’s degree; one recipient is attending Colorado Technical University pursuing a master’s in business management. Djuana Harvell, Ph.D., chapter president, and members of the scholarship committee presented awards that ranged from $500 - $4,000. Following are the scholarship recipients, schools attending and proposed majors: Madisyn Barnes, Penn State, premed; *Daryn Fouther, Howard University, business marketing; *Shivawni Kenney, Prairie View, business management; Vantasia Kentris, Johnson

& Wales University – North Miami, travel tourism hospitality management; Octavia Ervin, Colorado State University – Pueblo, nursing; Kendall Pegues, University of New Mexico, radiology/economics; Kiana Phillips, Brown University, political science; Jessica Saffold, Northwestern University, civil engineering; Kristen Stucker, Bethel University, elementary education; Alexis Walker-Dunham, University of Denver, political science; *Kamri Williams, Jackson State University, social work; Mya Green, University of New Mexico, radiological sciences; Kadiatou Kouyate, Colorado Technical University, business administration (MBA); Nyece Smith, University of Northern Colorado, Sports Management; Puleng Marutle, University of Colorado – Boulder, chemistry; Kiki Smith, University of Colorado – Denver, pre-med; Keziah Nduku Ulanga, University of Colorado – Denver, premed; and Dureti Ahmed, University of Colorado – Boulder, computer engineering. *(Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities). During the program, parents and students attended an orientation and were treated to words of wisdom from two young ladies who are making a difference in the community, Theresa Burleson – Miss Juneteenth and Joshalyn Green – Miss Black Colorado

USA 2015. Guest vocalist Mary Louise Lee dazzled the 200 plus audience during the program and Vasa “Peaches” Sellers shared the importance of ‘Supporting our Scholars.’ The program culminated with a reception. The Denver Alumnae Chapter has had a long ‘Her Story’ of awarding scholarships through fundraising, private donations, corporate donations, events such as The Mile High Step Show and previously, a Jabberwock which highlighted some of the top

African American youth in the community. Funds are also donated by members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority who have committed themselves to being a part of the success of young women. The scholarships help recipients support their college needs. Recipients are also assisted and encouraged throughout their college matriculation by Delta mentors.  Editor’s note: To learn more about Delta’s scholarships and the application process, visit www.denverdeltas.org or email milehighdst@gmail.com.

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sweet tea À la carte only.

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It was a beautiful

Atlanta morning. We had stopped off in mid-town to grab a Sunday Bloody Mary from one of the many chic restaurants in the area. It was clearly a gay restaurant and when I say gay – I mean boldly unashamedly gay, and in the south that’s a rarity. The reason why this is of any significance will make sense in the coming paragraphs, so just put a pin in it at this point. Any who, as we sipped our drinks and chatted about our spirited host, who was rocking cut-off jeans that would have made Beyoncé blush, I spotted a young white man walk into the restaurant with what I assumed was his partner. I immediately became transfixed on his t-shirt, thinking that either I was misreading it or perhaps he himself wasn’t quite sure of the meaning of the phrase that he was proudly sporting across his chest or even worse, perhaps he was making a mockery of the term – #blacklivesmatter. Either way, I was determined to get to the bottom of exactly why he was wearing this t-shirt. Lucky for me, this young man sat directly across from my table and I was able to easily lean over and make my query as to why a fairly young gay white male was rocking a t-shirt that was surely gaining him plenty of attention, wanted and unwanted from both Blacks and whites alike. My confusion about this spectacle is clearly understandable. I mean this white man has the world at his feet. He is the quintessential American trifecta…young, white and male – Boom! Like the commercial, “who could ask for anything more?” #blacklivesmatter So I leaned over and said, “Excuse me.” He didn’t hear me the first time or perhaps he wasn’t sure why a 6’4 Black man with this mustard Pirates cap turned backward (shot out to Chuck D) was trying to catch his attention especially since he was obviously partnered. Leaning a little bit closer and raising my hand to make sure he could see I was calling him, I said again a little bit louder, “Excuse Me.” He then turned to me – “yes?” “Hi, I was just wondering why you are wearing that t-shirt.” Now, let me say this: one of the things I love about our openly gay brethren, especially those who live south of the MasonDixon Line, is that they are f-ing unapologetic about who they are. #blacklivesmatter Right?!?! I mean you just have to know that these homosexual warriors

“I’m Pissed Too!” Acknowledging and Maintaining Our White Allies By Hasira Ashemu

have endured more than their fair share of that Bible belt bullshit. They’ve already been condemned to eternal hell fire by those as close to them as their parents or siblings and scorned openly by the judgmental southern eyes that burn hotter than a Mississippi heat wave. Anyway, I digress. #blacklivesmatter In response to my question, this guy didn’t even have to glance down at his chest to remember what shirt he had decided to don that day. He knew damn well what he was rocking and walked around as if to say, “I dare you to ask me about it, I dare you to stare at it and better still I don’t give a flying funk what you think about it – deal with it!” Looking me straight in the eye without blinking or trying to read my face for approval of what many would call his “cultural appropriation” of a movement slogan, he declared the strongest and most profound three words that I had heard uttered out of a white mouth in a very long time: “I’m pissed too!” #blacklivesmatter And at that moment, my love and appreciation for this kindred soul grew as well as my admiration for his courage to wear his politics and openly declare his solidarity. #blacklivesmatter We spent the next 30 minutes discussing everything from Ferguson to income inequality, to white privilege and apathy to Black awakenings and the power of our youth. We all agreed that there was indeed a natural mystic blowing in the air and nothing could stop it. #blacklivesmatter After speaking with our newfound friends, I knew that I would have to write about it. This personal experience of mine holds an important lesson for all of us in the movement and that lesson is this: Those of us that are marching towards freedom and justice for all human beings in this society must recognize and keep firmly in our mind the essential and critical role that

our white allies play and have always played in our justice movements. #blacklivesmatter Of course, the reactionary, repressive and divisive forces along with their media mouthpieces would love for us to buy into the paradigm that police brutality, income inequality, and social justice are unmistakably Black vs. white issues. They would love for us to adhere to the rhetoric of scarcity that pronounces that ‘in order for one to win the other must lose.’ They would love for this young man to believe that as a white male he has been discharged with certain inalienable rights that he must defend from the colored hoards who are seeking vengeance for the past 500 years of racial abuse at the hands of his kinsmen. These intransigent forces would be ecstatic if I were to adopt the paradigm that informs me that he’s nothing but a privileged cracker menace that walks these fruited plains of America with the blood of my ancestors stained with each step. However, for either one of us to adopt these views we would have to conveniently ignore the history of Black/brown justice movements in this country. We would be suffering from historical amnesia if we were to forget who fought along side us, paid heavy prices and sometimes sacrificed their lives. #blacklivesmatter The abolition movement, the civil rights movement and even the Black power movement all were conducted with the strong influence and assistance of white allies. From the John Browns to the Jane Fonda’s we have a historical formula for our movement’s success and we cannot allow the divisive and reactionary elements that pervade corporate media to inform us differently. No, we can ill-afford to fall for the ole racial okie-doke. #blacklivesmatter Conversely, our solidarity cannot be a paternalistic one either. The fight for racial equality must be spearheaded by those who are most informed

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and intimately aware of the injury, the pain and reality of what it means to be a person of color in America. #blacklivesmatter It only takes a cursory glance at the racial makeup of the marches conducted by the Occupy movement, the Ferguson’s, the Baltimore’s to see that our white allies are with us and willing to lay it on the line for a better and more just society. Have you noticed how mainstream media conveniently ignores this truth whenever they cover the various disruptions that are taking place around the country? The corporate media and politicians dare not expose the race wizard behind the curtain who is frantically pulling at the racial levers in an attempt to hypnotize the American populace. #blacklivesmatter It is up to us to rebel against and rewrite the narrative of ‘us vs. them’ to be inclusive of our white allies. They must know that their time and energy is welcomed, encouraged and indeed necessary although they wear the skin of privilege. Indeed, it because they have this privilege that their sacrifice is truly a great one. #blacklivesmatter The Abolitionist, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, to the Occupy Movement to #blacklivesmatter are all proof to anyone who reads history without the lens of bigotry that whites have always been a key and critical factor in Black and brown freedom movements. This of course is not the narrative that you will hear recounted and surely not promoted by the corporate media and the average American classroom. #blacklivesmatter Therefore, let us continue to work together in solidarity for the betterment of our communities, our nation, and our world. Let us hold firm and celebrate the necessary diversity of our movement with the understanding that together and only together we will win! #blacklivesmatter  Editor’s note: Hasira Ashemu is a prolific writer, speaker, progressive social activist, and communications professional with more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning columnist and radio/television journalist. Hasira also lived in Ghana, West Africa for more than 10 years working in the non-profit and governmental sectors as a communication specialist. Currently, Hasira is the producer of two-online publications and a syndicated TV show by the same name Soul Progressive on Free Speech TV. He attended East High School and Howard University Alum. Follow Hasira Soul: Website: www.soulprogressive.com; Twitter: @SoulWatson; Facebook: Soul Progressive


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Ground Rules

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

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Tia Terlage is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com On Facebook, Follow Blackflix.com On Twitter

A far too familiar scenario from today’s headlines, Silver’s film, which won a Special Jury Award for Social Impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the RiverRun Film Festival, runs July 3 through July 10 at the Chez Artiste Theatre, 2800 S. Colorado Blvd. Silver had unlimited access to Ron Davis and Lucia McBath lives after their son Jordan Davis, 17, had been shot repeatedly by Michael Dunn, 45, for playing rap music too loud in the parking lot.

the time it took Dunn to drive into the parking lot and fire 10 bullets into Jordan and his friend’s SUV. During filming, Dunn didn’t grant Silver the same access Ron Davis and Lucia McBath had allowed, so Dunn comes off unsympathetic and disconnected through courtroom and police interrogation video footage.

a racism problem. If you cannot admit there is a problem, you cannot solve the problem.” Editor’s note: 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets is playing at the Chez Artiste, 2800 S. Colorado Blvd. from July 3 to 10 with free parking. For more information, call (303) 758-3496 or visit www.landmarktheatres. com/denver/chez-artiste-theatre.

Ron Davis and Lucia McBath at rally.

Jurassic World

3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets Documentary Punctuates Today’s Tragic Headlines By Laurence Washington

Director Marc Silver’s riveting documentary, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets recounts the saga of an AfricanAmerican youth gunned down by a white middle-aged man at a Jacksonville, Fla. gas station following a verbal altercation the day after Thanksgiving 2012. 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets

After the shooting, Trayvon Martin’s dad phoned Ron Davis and said, “I want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in.” Jordan and his three friends, Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson – had been playing loud rap music when Dunn pulled alongside them and asked the youths to turn down the volume. They did – then they cranked it back up. What happened next is how Silver found his title. It was approximately

Dunn’s version of the shooting, in which he contradicts himself, states Jordan threatened to kill him, then, Jordan opened his car door and pointed a shotgun in his direction which prompted Dunn to open fire. However, police never found evidence of a shotgun in Jordan’s SUV. “I have no doubt there are many people who see Black men as Michael Dunn sees Black men,” Silver says. “This perception is based on a combination of ignorance, stereotyping and bias, which ultimately is dehumanizing. This isn’t about a few bad apples; this is about a country that was built on racism that values whiteness above blackness. Essentially, I think it is fear. It’s a fear that is constructed and perpetuated by the mass media, in their representation of Black men.” Silver’s explosive a documentary challenges Florida’s stand-yourground laws, which green lights lethal force whenever a “threat” is perceived. Silver explains the problem with “Stand Your Ground” is it’s used within self-defense laws too often, and the only person who can challenge the situation is dead. He adds if people in a society are biased when it comes to the perceived threat of a Black man, then it becomes easy to believe that the dead Black man deserved his fate. “No one was allowed to discuss race in court because Dunn was not charged with a hate crime (no witness had heard him use racist language),” Silver says. “But for everyone outside the courtroom, and for Dunn himself as revealed by his phone calls from prison, race clearly was a huge factor. America does not want to admit it has

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Jurassic World

 By Laurence Washington

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urprise! Surprise! Dinosaurs escape from their confines in the fourth Jurassic Park installment, and begin taste-testing people. Bet you never saw that coming. Fast-forward 22 years from the original film, the re-launched Dino theme park is up and running hosting hotels, monorails, throngs of tourists and genetically engineered dinosaurs. But that’s not good enough. InGen stockholders want new and bigger attractions every year with more teeth to increase revenues. So Jurassic Park scientists, led by Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), the only holdover from the original film, concoct their own dinosaur. Enter Indominus Rex. He’s bigger and meaner than a T-Rex. And he’s genetically engineered with other enhancements such as camouflage and Raptor intelligence. So how could you possibly go wrong with an intelligent, hungry, pissed-off dinosaur that can camouflage itself? Well… Indominus escapes. Another surprise – or there wouldn’t be a point in watching a two-hour movie where people are not lining up to be a hot lunch. With that being said, Jurassic World’s dinosaurs look fantastic, however, the movie lacks the humanity of Jurassic Park (’93). They spent too much time on special effects such as 3D and CGI and not enough on the script. You just don’t care what happens to the main characters, two


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teenage brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) who are visiting Jurassic World that is managed by their aloof Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). The only interesting characters are dinosaur whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt), who has a rapport with the raptors he raised, and InGen heavy Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) who plans to weaponize dinosaurs for military purposes. Hoskins reminisces they could have used dinosaurs in the Gulf War. Jurassic World gives several winks and nods to Jurassic Park (’92), however, the ending covers familiar territory. The storyline suggest a sequel, which hopefully will be original. Now that will be a surprise. Jurassic World has a few good jolts, but its PG-13 rating is closer to “PG” than “R,” so a lot of Indominus’ fine dining experiences are off camera. It’s not as intense as the original, so bring the kids.

soon-to-be-ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino) is stuck on the rooftop of a swanky L.A. eatery. Once reunited, they set off to find their only daughter, Blake, played by Alexandra Daddario, in the aftermath of a second quake 400 miles away in San Francisco after she’s ditched by her mother’s boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd). We follow their treacherous journey, through the avalanche of debris as the film tries to imagine the largest magnitude earthquake in recorded history (a 9.6). It’s a quake Caltech seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) predicted, but of course, no one listened (they never do). He believes that there is worse to come and manages to warn everyone when he hacks into a media network but the warning comes much too late as sheer chaos overcomes the west coast. Director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) follows a similar recipe that paid off lucratively in disaster movies Independence Day, 2012

San Andreas

and The Day After Tomorrow. There’s a large dose of destruction, a sprinkling of character development and ounces of scenes involving our heroes narrowly avoiding death – numerous times. With a staggering series of visual effects pieces San Andreas has great visuals. Roads buckle, bridges snap, fires erupt across multiple cityscapes and buildings fall, smashing into other buildings on their way down like goliath dominoes. The most impressive being a 15-story tsunami – a virtual wall of water which comes crashing into San Francisco. As the events unfold and one extreme moment after another careens off the screen, you feel like you are living through these events with the characters. Speed, drama, humor is all inclusive but a weak dialogue and scenarios weigh it down. Still, it’s good popcorn cinema and is a decent summer fare that will

San Andreas

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 By Samantha Ofole-Prince

he problem with large-scale disaster movies is that we’re always given a few people to care about, out of presumably millions of lives. If buildings and bridges are collapsing in Los Angeles and a massive wave is turning San Francisco into an aquarium, who cares whether some random guy will heroically rescue his estranged wife and daughter? In San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson is the random guy. His character Ray is a doting father and a search and rescue helicopter pilot on the verge of a divorce. He rescues a girl stuck in her car wedged between two mountains and saves his chopper unit in the first couple of scenes. When an earthquake slams Los Angeles, he’s back in heroic mode as soon as he discovers his

earn a profit. Will it make the top 10 list of best disaster movies? No. Does it entertain? Yes. Dope

Dope

 By Samantha Ofole-Prince

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an there be anything about life in high school, particularly life in a high school in the hood, audiences haven’t already seen? Well, maybe there is for a little bit of it turns up in Dope, an appealing teenage comedy with something of a fresh perspective on the subject. Dope follows a punk rock-loving ambitious Black nerd called Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore) who dreams of going to Harvard University. Raised by a single mom (Kimberly Elise) after his Nigerian father fled back to Africa, they live in “The Bottoms” of Los Angeles, AKA Inglewood, California. Despite his surroundings, he resists stereotypes. He gets straight A’s and is a “self-identified” geek obsessed with ’90s hip hop and plays in a punk-rock band called Awreeoh along with his best buddies Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons). A tomboy who likes to dress like her male counterparts, Diggy, we learn in the first few scenes, is a “self-identified” lesbian while Jib, who is clearly of Indian descent, feels he’s justified in using the n-word because he’s 14 percent African. They like all types of music (throwback hip hop, rock, and blues) enjoy riding bikes and doing sporty things and are all carefully surviving life in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood and an equally tough high school. Malcolm has a crush on the neighborhood hottie Nakia (Zoë Kravitz) who he feels is clearly out of his league. When he bumps into the local drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky), he inadvertently, along with his buddies,

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gets invited to Dom’s birthday party. Hoping to snag a dance with Nakia he instead gets lumbered with Dom’s

stash of party drugs (Molly) after a backroom drug deal goes bad. From jail, Dom instructs him and his pals to give the “Molly” to its rightful owner, Harvard alum-turned-drug kingpin Austin Jacoby (Roger Guenveur Smith). But instead of accepting the delivery, Jacoby gives them an ultimatum: move the weight and pay him in cash in the next few weeks – or else. The film is loaded with a slew of talent who are effective and believable and all the young actors are relaxed, funny and natural. The movie’s real scene-stealer is Moore who comes across as smart, funny, and relatable with his collection of “Yo! MTV Raps” cassette tapes to his high-top haircut. There are several other characters interspersed throughout the film, including Jacoby’s sexy wackedout daughter Lily (Chanel Iman), her cocky brother Jaleel (Quincy Brown) and the stoned hacker Will (Blake Anderson) who they enlist to help them sell “Molly” through a blackmarket website. There’s a particularly funny scene where the white Will argues about using the infamous nword as freely as a young Black male. The dialogue is sharp and the soundtrack rock pop and hip-hop-heavy, thanks to Oscar-nominated songwriter-producer-performer Pharrell Williams who not only wrote and produced the songs performed in the film, but also serves as executive-producer. That said Dope is not a perfect film. Famuyiwa (The Wood) often struggles to find a balance between drama and silly humor and could easily have shaved off a few minutes from its one hour and 55 minute running time especially as it’s at least an hour in before the plot takes off. Continued on page 24


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Continued from page 23 Still, these are very minuscule flaws as the beauty of this film is that it doesn’t shy away from dealing with serious issues such as violence, drugs, homosexuality and feminism with brutal honesty. It’s also funny in its handling of subjects that are so touchy such as stereotypes and race. While teensploitation movies thrive just on juvenilia, sex jokes, and nudity, this film is character-based and character-driven. Dope is a movie with new faces, fresh voices and inspired insights sprinkled with genuine laughs and is certainly one of the smartest, funniest, most perceptive satires I’ve seen in a long time.

Insidious Chapter 3 Offers More Jolts and Jeers

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 By Samantha Ofole-Prince

he best horror movies have you jumping at the slightest sounds and this third installment of the Insidious franchise is exactly that kind of film. Set years before the haunting of the Lambert family and Elise’s battles with spirits in Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2, the film injects a great deal of additional humor into the proceed-

Insidious Chapter 3

ings along with some very scary moments. At the film starts, we meet 17-yearold aspiring actress Quinn (played by Stefanie Scott) who has sought out psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) in hopes of communicating with her dead mother. Elise, citing retirement, sends her packing but it’s not long before Quinn’s father (Dermot Mulroney) returns to plead for Elise’s assistance after Quinn is attacked in her bedroom by a malevolent super-

natural entity. To protect Quinn, Elise is forced to venture into a dark world she calls ‘The Further,’ and summons her powers to contact the dead. She’s supported by two new acquaintances, unlicensed parapsychologists Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell) who supply enough laughs as possible as a pair of ghost hunters. “Elise had been killed off as part of the struggle to save the Lamberts in the last movie, but I loved the character and I wondered how I could bring

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24

her back,” shares writer, director and franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell who also stars in the film. “Dealing with ‘ghost Elise’ wasn’t the idea; I wanted her alive. People enjoyed the time-spanning storytelling that we advanced in the second movie, and I felt that would help me find a story that gives deeper meaning to her journey.” An effective scary cinematic experience complete with creaky doors, hollow walls and lots of suspenseful sequences, this installment takes on the classic ghost story with jump-scare amusement that shocks. “Everyone has fears, no matter their culture or country. At its core, every ghost story is about death and loss. That is why they are relatable. Insidious: Chapter 3 is no exception; people can see this movie having seen neither of the previous chapters and they will understand what the characters here go through,” continues Whannell. “My approach on this film was to take it back to the realistic horror tone of the first movie, where you’re with a family who don’t know what’s happening to them and can’t imagine what’s to come.” If you’re seeking a bump-in-thenight funhouse ride, Insidious: Chapter 3 absolutely delivers. 


Corporations Over People Here we go

By Laura Finley

again. Another court decision favoring businesses over human rights. Sadly, it is no shock that the Supreme Court is friendlier to business more than anything or anyone else. From its 2010 Citizens United blunder that allowed even greater corporate influence on our political process to the 2014 Hobby Lobby case affirming the “religious beliefs” of private corporations, the court’s continual siding with corporate entities over individual rights is maddening and ludicrous, but not surprising. Now, we learn that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of employers in a case that addressed whether persons with lawful medical marijuana cards can be fired for testing positive for the substance. In a 6-0 decision, Colorado’s highest court ruled that an employer’s zero tolerance law trumped the state’s medical marijuana legislation. The court held that employers can fire employees for testing positive for the substance even if usage was lawful under state law and occurred when the individual was off duty. Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic after a car accident, has been lawfully using medical marijuana to control leg spasms. Dish Network, his employer, fired him in 2010 after he tested positive on a random drug test. Coats had informed his employer before the test about his use of medical marijuana and displayed his state-certified medical marijuana card. The issue, according to the court, was the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which they determined covered only activity that is lawful under both state and federal law. Since federal law still considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 controlled substance, use of it is not protected even though state law allows it, said the court. The Supreme Courts of California, Montana and Washington – all states that have legalized medical marijuana – have ruled similarly in past. Spokespersons for Dish Network

commented, “As a national employer, Dish remains committed to a drugfree workplace and compliance with federal law.” So, Coats was told that he could cease using the only legal substance that actually helped him or he could find an employer that didn’t have a zero tolerance policy. Great choices. The Denver Post has reported that when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana last years, employers responded by expanding drug testing. So, essentially corporations determined that they would exploit the discrepancy between state and federal law. Rife with problems, workplace testing has not been found to deter illicit drug use, nor to increase workplace productivity. It doesn’t reduce absenteeism or on-site accidents, as is often claimed. Instead, like Coats, many positive tests simply detect drug use, typically marijuana, that occurred days or even weeks ago and that has no impact on the individual’s abilities. In fact, research has shown that very tired or distracted workers are a greater risk to the workplace than are those who smoked marijuana five days prior, but no such test is administered to assess sleepiness or distractibility. Coats is a Colorado resident. He, like the residents of the 22 other states in which medical marijuana is legal, should be confident that he won’t be arrested, fired, or otherwise face sanctions for behavior that is consistent with state law. There is no evidence that he was anything less than a good employee. Not only should all state laws be consistent on issues like this, but the federal government should take cases like that of Brandon Coats as yet even more reason to revamp its antiquated designation of marijuana. Here’s hoping that Coats’ case can further propel that movement.  Editor’s note: Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

THANK YOU! Thank you to our 2015 sponsors and silent auction donors. Despite some weather challenges, the tournament was a great success!

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Ed Dwight - Isle of Capri in Black Hawk - Hyatt Regency Convention Center - Applewood Golf Course - Park Hill Golf Club - Soulful Heart Massage and Bodywork - YaYa's Place - Gaye and Lee Morrison Rockies Tickets - The Wild Animal Sanctuary - The Grubbery - Dunbar's - Dazzle Jazz Outback Steakhouse - Summit Steakhouse - Downing Street Grill -Welton Street Cafe - Fresh Fish Company - Dairy Queen on Leetsdale and Quebec - Hair Works - Supreme Style Barber Shop 89.3 KUVO - Arbonne (Leotis Compton) - David and Wynona Thompson.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

25


Tuskegee Airmen Sick “Rise Above” Transmission? Flies At Rocky We have Mountain Airshow

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The achievements, success story

By Adam Morgan

and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen have long ago flown to their secure position in history. The highly important keys to their legacy they will leave with us are the six guiding principles instrumental to their success. These principles that we can still personally adopt and instill into youth so they too may also achieve their goals in the spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen are 1) Aim High, 2) Believe in Yourself, 3) Never Quit, 4) Be Ready to Go, 5) Use Your Brain, and 6) Expect to Win. These principles anchor the traveling exhibit, “Rise Above,” on display August 14-16 at the Rocky Mountain Airshow at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, located at 11755 Airport Way

in Jefferson County near Broomfield. Also on display and performing a flying demonstration is the Tuskegee Airmen’s legendary aircraft the P-51C Mustang Redtail escort fighter which is accompanying the exhibit. In addition to the exhibit, there will be a screening of the film Rise Above that documents the pilots and ground crew keeping them in the air, and the role of the six guiding principles to their success. The film also provides an exciting feel for what it is like to pilot the P-51. “This is real history with present day relevance,” says Steve Shepard, support coordinator for Rise Above. “The Tuskegee pilots were young, entering a new arena and being counted out to fail, much like many of today’s youngsters,” he continued. “However, their guiding principles, courage and determination inspired them to succeed, the same can be

accomplished by youth today,” Shepard added. Youth groups, organizations, and parents are encouraged to attend the “Rise Above” Traveling Exhibit and the aerial P-51C flying demonstration piloted by CAF, Commemorative Air Force, Red Tail Squadron pilot Bill Shepard. Every school student visiting the exhibit and viewing the movie will receive a free military styled ‘dog tag’ inscribed with the six principles. The exhibit also has an electronic ramp for wheelchair access. The movies Tuskegee Airmen and RedTails related the story of the Airmen at home and at their base in Italy respectively, as they moved from an experiment to a highly requested elite flying unit. Now the “Rise Above” exhibit provides the once in a lifetime opportunity to touch the aircraft similar to the planes they flew while learning the same principles for success to incorporate into life’s journey. “Rise Above,” shares the story of the Airmen, especially to young people, to serve as a real life inspirational example of how you can reach beyond your grasp to access new levels of achievement no matter how challenging the circumstances.  Editor’s note: For more information, email Steve Shepard at shep9432@msn.com or call 303-709-4341.

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Legendary Jazz Musician and Composer Don Byron Joins MSU Denver Music Faculty

Legendary jazz musician and composer Don Byron joins Metropolitan State University of Denver in the fall of 2015 as the Department of Music’s newest full-time tenure-track faculty member. “In addition to his status as one of the most celebrated jazz musicians active today, he’s a great teacher and scholar of the art form,” said Peter Schimpf, associate professor and chair of the department. “He also draws on a wide variety of music in his playing and composing – from the blues and classic jazz to klezmer to classical – which fits with the kind of program we’re building here.” Bryon is a highly regarded multiinstrumentalist known for his ability to redefine multiple genres of music, no matter the style. A Pulitzer Prize music composition finalist in 2009, he has earned multiple awards and recognition including the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, U.S. Artist Prudential Fellowship and Rome Prize fellowship. He is a welcome addition to the Jazz and American Improvised Music degree program and joins worldrenowned musician and faculty member Ron Miles, director of the jazz program. The program, accredited by The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), takes a progressive view of jazz education, and explores the connecting thread of improvisation through many forms of American music. Byron has been consistently voted best clarinetist by critics and readers alike in leading international music journals since being named “Jazz Artist of the Year” by Down Beat in 1992, and featured in TIME Magazine, London’s The Times, Spin Magazine and National Public Radio. Classes Byron is scheduled to teach in the fall include Jazz Improvisation I, Private Jazz Saxophone, Jazz Styles – America’s Music, and Jazz Combos.

NEWSVIEWS

Jazzy Leadership Music Camp

The Jazz C.A.F.E. (Cultivating A Future of Excellence) is hosting a 3day Summer institute July 9th, 10th and 11th, at Montbello Recreation Center located at 15555 East 53rd Street. The Jazz C.A.F.E. is designed to offer youth grades 6 – 12 an opportunity to master the music genre of jazz, and gain valuable leadership skills. Cost is only a $15 registration fee. For additional information call 720334-7408.

Meal Program to Help Ensure Students and Families Don’t Go Hungry during Summer Break

Free Daily Breakfast and Lunch Available to Children at more than Sixty School Locations throughout Denver Summer break is underway for most Denver Public Schools (DPS) students, but that doesn’t mean the district will stop providing access for kids and their families to critical meal and nutrition services. DPS, through its participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, will provide free breakfast and lunch to children under 18 years old, as well as provide adults with affordable meals from Monday through Friday at more than 60 school locations. Nationwide, the Summer Food Service Program will serve more than 200 million free meals to low-income children. “Hunger is a year-round issue and through this program we are able to make sure that students who rely on school meals during the school year don’t have to go without during the summer,” said Theresa Hafner, executive director of DPS Enterprise Management. “Last summer, we served 221,410 meals to Denver children and their families, so you can see this truly makes a difference in our community.” Meals will be provided to all children ages one to eighteen without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meal service will be provided five days a week – there will be no service on weekends or on Friday, July 3. Adults can purchase lunch at a cost of $3 each if they eat at the school and $3.25 each if they choose to take lunch to go. Adults can purchase breakfast for $2.25 each. For a complete list of the schools, call 720-423-3628.To file a complaint of discrimination, immediately write or call: USDA Director, Office of Civil

Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, 800-7953272 or 202-720-6382.

EAA Seeks Youth To Offer Free Airplane Rides In July

The EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Young Eagles and the EAA Chapter 301 are looking for youth ages 8 to 17 to provide a free introductory flight. These rides are provided through the generosity of nearly 30,000 volunteers, EAA pilots and members of other authorized aviation organizations throughout the world. Through thus program, the EAA Young Eagles hope to inspire a new generation to explore the exciting world of aviation. All participants must be between 8 and 17 years of age and attend the ground school in order to fly. Ground school will be held on July 24 at 7 p.m. (Location to be announced). Flying will be held July 25 at 8 a.m. at Front Range Airport 5200 Front Range Parkway in Watkins, CO. Space is limited. If you’d like to participate in this fun experience, or know someone, reserve your place by contact Gilbert F. Wheeler Jr. at gandmellc@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.youngeagles.com.

Hindus Seek Diwali Holiday in Colorado Schools with Sizable Hindu Students

Hindus are urging Colorado schools, public as well as private, which have significant number of Hindu pupils, to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu holy day, as a

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

27

school holiday in their 2015-2016 school calendars and beyond. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement today, said that it was not fair with Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion. Moreover, it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students, Zed added Rajan Zed stressed that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be a step in the right direction. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the Colorado pupils well-nurtured, wellbalanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. Rajan Zed further says that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on November 11 in 2015. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.


The Life & Legacy of the Honorable

John W. Buckner

Sunrise September 12, 1947 - Sunset May 28, 2015

Husband - The Honorable John W. Buckner was born, September 12, 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Robert G. Buckner, Jr. and Rachel D. Hardrick Buckner. He was the second of four children and had two brothers: Robert G. (Eva0 Buckner III, Stephen L. (Debra) Buckner, and a sister, Beverly A. (Rex) Williamson. John was baptized at an early age at Allen Chapel A.M.E Church, where his family was amongst the founding members, and his uncle was the church Bishop. John remained a faithful member at Allen Chapel, and considered New Hope Baptist his church home in Denver. John graduated from Shortridge High School in 1965 before enrolling at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he was a founding father through the Zeta Phi chapter, and Basileus of the Upsilon Beta chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity incorporated. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1969.

The Early Years - It was at Ball State where John met Janet during their freshman year. They married in Lawrenceburg, Indiana on August 16, 1969, and were married for 45 glorious years. Shortly after their marriage, John and Janet moved to Elgin, Illinois, where John began his career in the Cherry Creek School District as an assistant principal at Laredo Middle School. Throughout his 33- year career with Cherry Creek, John served as an administrator in many capacities, rising to the rank of Executive Director of Excellence and Equity, from which he retired in 2008.

Educator - John is best known and most proud of his role as Principal of Overland High Scholl, a position he held for 17 years. He was an unabashed advocate for equality in public schools, and the impact he had on students reaches far beyond the classroom, John was exceptionally perceptive of his student’s needs and fought tirelessly for educational innovations to help youth achieve their full potential. In return, he asked for nothing less than their effort. He was ever- present on the sidelines at Overland sporting events, and was proud of every accomplishment of the Overland community, especially Overland’s first 5A Boys State Basketball Championship in 2015. John touched countless lives, a surrogate father to many, who empowered people to achieve their dreams. He stands as an icon of the Overland community, whose legacy he himself found humbling. John had a passion for learning and considered knowledge a reward in itself. He completed coursework to meet PhD requirements at the University of Colorado at Denver. It was his love of learning and kind nature that enabled his accomplished career as an educator and community leader. The gym at Overland High School is named in his honor, and the STEM Institute of Science and Technology at the Overland-Prairie Campus is the realization of John’s vision and commitment to provide students with the advantages required to succeed.

Public Servant - John served on the boards of the Colorado Institute for Educational Inquiry, the Multi- Cultural Task Force for Cherry Creek Schools, and the Colorado State Board. He retired from Cherry Creek in 2008; however, his dedication to public service and advocacy for equity in public education led him to accept a second career calling to run for elected office as the State Representative for House District 40 in Aurora, Colorado. John was the first African American and Democrat to win HD40. He used his cerebral nature, good humor, and caring heart to express his values as a legislator. He sponsored legislation and passed bills that aligned with his ideals; that every student, regardless of income level or race, is given equal opportunities in the classroom to effectively prepare for postsecondary education and the workforce. At the Capitol, John enacted that now requires the State of Colorado to measure opportunity gaps in course- taking patterns, as well as the reduction of standardized testing.

Family Man - John was an avid sports fan and jazz enthusiast. His holiday parties are those of legend, and he enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his beloved wife, children, grandchildren, and a wide network of close family and friends. John is survived by loving wife, Janet P. Buckner of Aurora, Colorado. His son, John William (Erin) Buckner resides in Denver, twin daughters, Jennifer Erin (Floyd) Cobb of Aurora, and Joy Elizabeth Buckner of Dubai, UAE. His greatest joy was seeing his children and their families flourish. He regarded raising children as life’s greatest blessing- and one of the most fulfilling gifts that “Gramps” was given were his three grandchildren: Sydney, Ashlyn, and Darien.


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Up Close and Personal with Hazel Miller! at Jazz@Jacks

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Photos by Lens of Ansar

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2015

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Saturday, Saturday , July 25, 201 2015 DENVER CITY PARK PARK A AT T THE PAVILION P PA AVILION - 7 7:30 :30 a.m. to Noon T

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Denver Urban Spectrum July 2015  

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication in Denver, Colorado and has been spreading the news about people of color since 1987. Th...

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