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Volume 34 Number 10 January 2021

On Edge: 2020’s Impact on Mental Health “It’s come to feel like quicksand out there… There’s only so much the human psyche can take.”…9

“One of the best things you can do for yourself is reach out and talk to someone.”…11

“I felt like, ‘I’m dying and I am going to die by myself.’”…14 “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

“Everything seems to be a battle”…“I feel like I have no control over anything.”…24

Also... “I don’t want to cry right now, but we’ve been through a lot.”…12

Is King’s Dream of Peace Still a Possibility?.........4


MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Peace: freedom from disturbance; tranquility; a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. Volume 34

Number 10

January 2021

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alfonzo Porter COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer Barry Overton Dr. Lane Rolling FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alfonzo Porter Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, his dream of a peaceful world is at the forefront of our memories of this great man. Social injustices, civil unrest and the pandemic still plaguing our communities and nation make his dreams more important now than ever for our country and the world. Denver Urban Spectrum Editor Alfonzo Porter asks several leaders if Dr. King’s hopes for peace will come to fruition. This year, many celebrations to honor Dr. King will be virtually presented. For information, visit www.mlkbusinessawards.org and www.auroragov.org. Contributor TaShia Asanti talks to scientist, microbiologist, founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, Darnisha Harrison, who hopes her new drug, a developing medicine, will help cure COVID-19. To capture and document the current psyche of our state, DUS is partnering with nearly 100 others through the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) to produce news stories on how Coloradans are coping with COVID-19. Our hope is that this reporting and the conversations that follow will break through the stigma around mental health struggles, and prompt better understanding of widely misunderstood and hidden experiences. Susan Greene goes deep with a psychiatrist as she talks about her patients’ pain. Tina Griego talks to Elizabeth Torres about her fears after surviving COVID-19 and how she is afraid to go anywhere. She also talked to a Lakewood family who says their mental health challenges began long before 2020. Other COLab submissions include how special treatment helped the Colorado Mesa University graduation go on, and how many more people are using Colorado Crisis Services today compared to 2017. Although it’s a new year, reflecting back on 2020 brings memories of sadness for many who lost family members and friends, be it from COVID-19 or other unfortunate circumstances. Sadly, this month, we pay tribute to two significant DUS family members. Our award-winning contributor Charles Emmons and Mary Gertrude “Grandma Trudy” Cobbins passed away on December 4 and 5, respectively. Please take a moment and read how they impacted those closest to them. We dedicate this issue to them and the many others who we bid farewell in 2020. As we search for peace – freedom from disturbance and the presence of tranquility during this time on earth – may they all Rest In Peace.

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Member 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 2021 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 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR watching the video of the death of George Floyd with the feeling of frustration that we all have felt at seeing the callous brutality that had no compassion for George Floyd as his body had the breath and life extinguished. I can see him saying “why in the name of the great savior and the compassionate deity is this still happening to Back Folks?” I think he would have joined in the immediate condemnation of the institutionalized, endemic and pervasive racism in policing that has not been diminished or abated. I have no doubt that he would have insisted upon the emphasis of “Black Lives Matter!” I do believe he would also have shed a tear that ancient racial biases are still being taught in private homes. I think he would have spoken with his unique eloquence to tell everyone that all children must be taught about their self-worth,

Imagining What Dr. King Would Say About BLM Editor: Without being presumptuous, and hoping to be humble in the name of the ultimate civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have let my thoughts of now and the future imagine that Martin Luther King could comment today on the Black Lives Matter movement. I have let myself imagine what he would say about the retort “All Lives Matter.” I also let myself imagine how he would comment on the method of the protests, the racial and social makeup of the Black Lives Matter protests. I was hoping to come up with something that would carry a small measure of his spiritual impact together with the emotional impact that he so brilliantly made. Coming through clearly is an image of our great departed civil rights leader tearfully

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that it is unique, that it is special, that it is a gift, and that every child must be coached not to squander it, or allow it to be spoiled by anyone. I imagine he would tell us that not only has the time come to move entirely behind racism, it is way past due. I imagine he would tell us that never can we waiver in our firmness against racism, segregation and demonization of races. I see him saying that kindness need never get in the way of firmness. He would ask us all to see how the essential caring, kindness and strength of the folks that came from Africa have persisted over time. He would, I am sure tell us that not only is kindness and caring needed by Black Folks, it is essential to both their character and their salvation. He would emphasize how that kindness has shown through in the Black Lives Matter protests. He would exult in watching Continued on page 29


Is King’s Dream Of Peace Still A Possibility? Why Many Leaders Remain Encouraged “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Alfonzo Porter

A

s we pause and reflect in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday this month, America is still reeling from a year of massive nationwide protests against systemic racism and the recurring incidents that caused these unprecedented uprisings. Some 75 American cities were set ablaze this year reverberating from George Floyd’s execution on the streets by police. The images are eerily reminiscent of 1968. Many police officers today, as in the past, brutalize innocent bystanders and protesters with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, and bean-bag shotguns. King’s name is being invoked as if it were somehow a tranquillizer against the violence we are witnessing. His well-documented commitment to peaceful solutions continues to be his most enduring legacy. However, the dream continues to be unfulfilled. White Americans both then and now act as if nonviolence should only be practiced by Blacks and the poor. King’s call for racial peace acknowledged the tremendous depth of the nation’s racial and economic violence. He launched the Poor People’s, in

essence the first Occupy Movement, to expand his vision of eradicating poverty in the world’s richest nation. Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler is a community leader who believes that King’s dream is within reach. “Much of what is occurring in today’s social climate is we are experiencing the last gasps of white supremacy and all of the other associated factors that come with a country mired in power structures built around whiteness, male-ness, heteronormativity, and xenophobia/anti-immigrant sentiments,” Mosby said. “When these power bases are dulled, we see exactly what we are experiencing today – a fight to maintain the status-quo. I

believe Dr. King would be naming this in much the same way as I am.” Mosby remains optimistic. More than 50 years after King’s death, she can’t help but believe that the civil rights icon would hold close to his heart the notable progress that has been made in this country, while being equally as troubled by the residuals of our discriminatory past that are not yet tackled. “Throughout this moment and movement, I have never lost hope. Many of us don’t realize the heightened national temperature is an expected part of doing equity work,” Mosby insists. “When you work to dismantle, deconstruct or reimagine systems, there is a fight. Human beings like to hold on to what they know, even if what they are holding on to isn’t all that great. Also, inclu-

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sive and equity-centric leadership matters. For systems of equity to occur, we must have credible, prepared and equipped leaders at every level of decision-making in our country – from government to corporations to philanthropy to nonprofits. Everyone will need to have a racial equity lens for this to work. We cannot continue to politicize lives,” she explained King identified four features that are essential for both doing and being peaceful: justice, love, interconnectedness, and the practice of nonviolence.

Love King pointed out that the initial step in loving our enemies is developing and maintaining the power to forgive. He said that forgiveness is the catalyst for producing the environment needed to begin anew. He clarified his position saying, “Forgiveness does not mean that you discount what has happened, but it removes it as a barrier to creating a better relationship.” He further explained that: 1. We love because returning hate for hate amplifies hate. 2. We love our enemies because hatred mutilates the soul and disfigures the personality; hate is just as harmful to the person who hates as to the person who is hated. 3. We love our enemies


because love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. 4. We must love our enemies, because only by loving them can we know God.

Justice King identified justice as an indispensable ingredient of peace. His drive for justice involved not just racial equity but expanded to include economic justice. His Poor People’s campaign held that as a central tenet in his desire to eradicate what he termed the triplets of despair: poverty, materialism, and militarism.

Human Connectedness He insisted that by relating to one another we achieve a connectedness and a greater sense of peace. He encouraged us to embrace the extended world community and recognize that we are all part of the same human family. He famously said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. What effects one directly, effects all indirectly.”

Practice of Nonviolence In his autobiographical essay, King laid out how nonviolence operates. His so-called six basic principles of nonviolence were outlined as follows: 1. Nonviolence is not for the weak. It takes self-discipline, control, and courage than responding in kind. It is defined as active non-violent resistance to evil and is ultimately the way of those with incredible strength. 2. The goal of nonviolence is not to defeat or humiliate. It remains keenly focused on the humanity of those who oppose you. 3. It is directed against the forces of evil and not against persons who happen to be doing the evil.

4. Nonviolence presents a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation. This is possible only through the power of forgiveness, which allows suffering to be transformative. 5. Nonviolence does not contradict. It is void of both external physical violence and internal spiritual violence. 6. Nonviolence, he said, is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. In a famous quote, he stated, “The universe arcs towards justice.” Those who practice nonviolence must possess a creative force that aspires towards universal wholeness. Tom Hastings, Director of the PeaceVoice Program at the Oregon Peace Institute, said he believes that King would be pushing for action and opposition to the violence in today’s reality. “I believe Dr. King would be offering wise counsel and likely try to help white ministers understand that silence is violence. I also believe he would be trying to help make the postGeorge Floyd murder uprising maintain nonviolent discipline in order to be more effective,” Hastings said. Hastings also said he believes that MLK would still be a force for global change. “He would counsel all of us that the least sustainable resistance is violence, since it makes the masses of white people afraid, and fear drives repressive violence. To work to reduce and ultimately eliminate racism, Dr. King would be stressing how strategic, not merely moral, it is to use robust assertion, not aggression, and that seeking the Beloved Community is the path to longterm prosperity, equity, and societal stability,” he said. But for Dr. Mosby, having grown up in Atlanta with a

front seat to civil rights history, King’s relevance could not be more pronounced today. “I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up seeing and experiencing the commitment to and advancement of justice work around me,” Mosby said. “The pastor of my church was Rev. Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy, the chief partner of Dr. King in the Civil Rights Movement. It was commonplace for me to be in the presence of these leaders.” According to the Peace Alliance, a Washington, D.C. based organization that works for domestic and international peace building; violence only ends up defeating itself. The organization aligns its mission to one of MLK’s most prominent quotes: “Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the

opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” Yet for Mosby, it all comes down to our ability to find grace. “National unity will come because we have held grace as our nationally espoused value. This is a value that allows us to be direct, do the most important work, hold each other accountable,” Mosby expressed. “Yet, we do it without having the constant pressure of being judged and critiqued at every step. Grace opens the door to understanding. Understanding opens the door to change. Even Dr. King told us that.”.

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Across America in early 2020, people began arriving in hospital emergency rooms with alarming symptoms. While it was initially assumed the symptoms were caused by a new strain of influenza, doctors soon realized they were dealing with something different. The infection rate skyrocketed. Numerous victims of the mysterious illness were admitted to hospitals, many directly into intensive care units. Tragically, the Trump Administration downplayed the virus, telling Americans it would be gone by April 2020. As the numbers continued to soar, scientists worked frantically to track the origin of the virus and stop what they feared would become an epidemic. The virus was traced back to a research lab in Wuhan, China and later classified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses as SARSCoV-2 i.e. the novel coronavirus. In February 2020, the World Health Organization gave the virus the name COVID-19. Researchers declared that COVID-19 was not only highly infectious but noted a dangerous replicating factor that had the power to overwhelm an immune system in days. This RNA factor made the virus virtually unstoppable, potentially decimating healthy blood cells and shutting down major organs like the lungs, kidney and liver. Medical experts raced against time to respond to an illness that was circumventing the globe. Hospitals would be flooded with patients, some of whom had to be intubated to stay alive. The medicines that seemed to help patients had horrendous side effects and took too long to work. By the summer of 2020, mega pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna took the lead in devel-

African-American Scientist Develops ENU200 Drug to Treat COVID-19 By TaShia Asanti

ous is that the virus is highly transmissible. Again, 80% of people who are infected can fight COVID-19, but in the other 20% there is an immune system response called the histamine complexes. Histamine is normal and everyone’s body has it. However, involved in the histamine complex is something called Interleukin 6. When those IL6’s get involved, a patient can go downhill very fast. The IL6’s are actually trying to correct and balance the immune system’s functions to respond to the COVID-19 virus. But because the virus replicates so quickly, the immune system goes into overdrive, which affects the organs. This is what causes people to die from COVID-19. And this is why we developed ENU200,” she said. When asked about race and COVID-19, Harrison offered the following. “COVID-19 is a pandemic, which means it is a virus that can kill anyone of any race, ethnicity or nationality. As a research company, we have a politically and racially agnostic culture. That allows us to stay balanced in our research and focus on the diverse make-up of people who are infected with COVID-19. Are there systemic issues related to race, COVID19 infection and treatment? There very well could be. I think it’s important to address these both systematically and on a case-by-case basis. Part of the disparities might be con-

oping vaccines. Meanwhile, scientist Darnisha Harrison and a team of researchers developed ENU200, a medicine that was showing success as a treatment for COVID-19. Harrison, the founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, said, “After graduating from Louisiana State University, I landed my dream job at Georgia State University as a microbiologist. I also spent several years at Amgen, an international biotechnology firm and 16 years working in pharmaceutical research. That experience prepared me to develop the ENU200 drug, a medicine we believe is extremely promising in helping save the lives of people infected with COVID-19.” Harrison also spoke on myths about COVID-19 and what makes the disease so dangerous to some. “We know that 80% of COVID-19 cases range from mild, moderate to asymptomatic. Most people’s immune systems are able to fight off the disease and help the person fully recover. It’s not that COVID-19 itself is so very deadly – what makes it danger-

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nected to hospitals being overwhelmed by the number of patients they’re serving. That is something only a thorough investigation can get to the bottom of,” she explained. Ennaid Therapeutics has designed a plan aimed at helping hospitals cope with the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. “Our plan includes launching 150 medical mobile units stocked with state-of-the-art equipment such as ventilators and oxygen tanks. The units will be staffed with one doctor, a physician’s assistant and a nurse. We believe this support will help get COVID-19 under control and help patients of all ethnic backgrounds get life-saving care a lot sooner and more efficiently,” she said. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed a marked difference in the mortality rate of African Americans and Latinos infected with COVID-19. In a report released October 30, 2020, the CDC found that Blacks have an 18% greater chance than Whites of dying from COVID-19. The National Nurses United Organization released a report with data from nurses working in COVID-19 units across America. Their report confirmed a distinct difference in how Blacks and other people of color were treated for COVID-19 versus Whites. Factors include Whites being more likely to receive medication and early treatment for COVID-19 related illnesses such as pneumonia. White COVID-19 patients were also more likely to be hospitalized at the onset of serious symptoms such as shortness of breath. Blacks and Latinos were often sent home. Some believe the lack of early treatment for Blacks and Latino COVID-19 patients is a critical determinant of mortality. The prevalence of pre-existing conditions among Blacks and Latinos with COVID-19 was also found to be a factor in the increased death rate.


In May 2020, after extensive scientific research, Harrison filed a patent for the ENU200 drug. She and her team made a groundbreaking discovery after testing a previously developed anti-viral drug that showed strong scientific evidence of blocking the two proteins that cause COVID-19. Ennaid’s research showed that ENU200 could stop the virus COVID-19 from invading healthy cells and replicating. “Drug discovery and development is quite the process. The first step is confirming that you have found what is called a ‘new chemical entity,’ i.e. a discovery backed by concrete data showing that a medication can target a particular disease. Next, you have to do what is called ‘proof of concept testing.’ Again, you’re looking to provide data that shows the drug has positive results. You then proceed to animal testing under very safe and humane conditions. You look for a response that most closely

mimics the disease in humans and the drug’s effectiveness on it. You want to make sure there is no harm to the major organs in the animal. Once that’s complete, you start a human clinical trial, which requires four levels of testing. There is a focus on efficacy i.e. the effectiveness of the drug and its safety to humans. Then you fill out an application for what is called an investigational new drug. The FDA takes all your findings into consideration as you go through the process for final approval,” she explained. The ENU200 drug is what is called a repurposed drug, which means it is currently or once was on the market for a different indication or health issue. This means it already has human safety and discovery data and proof of concept, which confirms what Ennaid found in their discovery process. “With a repurposed drug, almost 100% of the time a developer can skip the animal studies because we don’t have

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to prove safety. This allows a developer to go into what is called a Phase 2B/3 clinical trial. This phase is to ensure safety for human subjects and that the drug is effective. That’s the stage we’re on with ENU200. We’re actually and literally ready to put labels on our clinical materials and ship them to our clinical manufacturing site for our home, self-dosing clinical trials. You [TaShia] spoke earlier about the 80% of patients who have mild or moderate symptoms being sent home – those people would be ideal for our in-home clinical trials,” Harrison said. She continued, “The patient would just need to quarantine at home while they’re taking the drug and participate in an app-based study of the results. We also developed a very simple app to track the improvement of patients. We anticipate the quarantine period being much shorter than the current

14 days. This is the final confirmation process for ENU200.” On December 15, CNN released a chilling report that every 60 seconds an American citizen dies of COVID-19. To date, over 300,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and related complications. 16 million people are reportedly infected with the COVID-19 virus in the United States. In such dire circumstances, emergency use authorization from the FDA could fast track ENU200 and start saving lives. “With the right financial backing, supported by the FDA or another regulatory agency, we could have the ENU200 product commercialized by or before summer 2021. We can also have mobile medical units ready as early as February 2021, or even during the winter. Because ENU200 comes in a pill or capsule form, it makes it simple to manufacture and ship across the world. It doesn’t Continued on page 8

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Continued from page 7 require any special storage or containment. Your doctor writes you a prescription for ENU200 at the onset of COVID19 related symptoms. If our research findings hold up in the human trials, after a few days, we expect symptoms will start to ease. Then the body can do what it was built to do in helping people get well,” she said. Dr. Lane Rolling is a virologist and COVID-19 expert who recently published a book called Navigating a New World, which is a guide to staying safe and healthy during the pandemic. Rolling has what he feels are valid concerns about ENU200. “I’m concerned about how the ENU200 drug will counter the RNA factor of the COVID19 virus. COVID’s mutation factor is what kills people. There are also at least 25 genetic mutations of the virus. COVID19 is what is called an obligated intracellular parasite. In laymen’s terms, that means the virus is inside of a cell. It has to get inside of your cells to live. How can you kill something inside of a cell without killing the person? I’m talking molecular biology here,” he said. Until ENU200 is approved, Rolling encouraged people to protect their good health. “I know it sounds simple but I’ve found that simple things make all the difference in pre-

Aboriginal Medical Association, encouraged the public to utilize holistic strategies to combat COVID-19. He did not respond to inquiries from Denver Urban Spectrum on his opinion on the ENU200 drug but in his video on the COVID-19 vaccine, Muhammad too promotes simple solutions such as taking Vitamin D and spending at least 30 minutes daily in direct sunlight. He also encourages people to utilize supplements such as B5 i.e. Coenzyme A and talks about the benefits of a supplement called Acetylcholine, which he says is a “neurotransmitter that strengthens nerve cells impacted by COVID-19.” While subtly endorsing Trump during the 2020 presidential election, Muhammad is known for his radically proBlack, openly anti-vaccine and anti-Western medicine beliefs. He claims his concerns about the harmful effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are rooted in scientific research. In his December 9, 2020 viral video, he said he believes the COVID19 vaccine will harm Blacks and other people of color specifically. He, like Dr. Rolling, connects that harm to the prevalence of underlying conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes among Blacks. He also cites the effects that quarantining and wearing masks for the last 12 months have had on

venting and treating COVID-19. Eat healthy. Take your vitamins if you’re not disciplined with how you eat. Medical studies have found that vitamin D and C are extremely helpful in strengthening the immune system. Get regular exercise. Try to keep a positive mental attitude. Following CDC protocols that include wearing a face mask every time you go out. Using antiseptic hand soap and sanitizing shoes after a trip outdoors. It’s also important to clean meat products thoroughly as the virus has been linked to certain meats. I salute the work of scientist, Darnisha Harrison, and her company, Ennaid. I would be honored to support her research in any way I can. It’s important for scientists and doctors to work together to find solutions.” Concerning the dangers and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine, Rolling said, “There is a learning curve with any vaccine in terms of efficacy. I am a proponent and supporter of vaccines. However, it’s important that we do watch and see in particular the effects of the vaccine on people with underlying conditions. We need a vaccine that is effective for all people, not just some.” In what has become a viral video circulating on social media, Chief Amaru Namaa Taga Xi-Ali Muhammad, the founder and president of the

people’s immune system. “What will help is eating foods like cantaloupe, avocados, grapes, dates, prunes, lemons, and oranges that are high in the nutrients listed earlier. Ingesting oils such as avocado, grapeseed and olive and eating olives are very good. Meats such as wild salmon, cod and bison if you’re a meat eater will make a big difference,” Muhammad said in his video.. Editor’s note: TaShia Asanti is an editor at large writing on issues related to social justice, disparities in healthcare and cultural diversity. More about her work can be found at www.officialtashiaasanti.com Editor’s note: Neither the article writer nor Denver Urban Spectrum are qualified to give medical advice. Consult your physician or wellness provider before following any health regimen. Sources: •CDC Report on Ethnic Mortality Rates for COVID19: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/6 9/wr/mm6942e1.htm •New England Journal of Medicine Article on Structural Racism in Public Healthcare: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/ NEJMp2023616 •Report from the National Nurses United: https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/nurses-call-more-dataaction-address-racial-disparities-during-covid-19-crisis •Aboriginal Medical Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U 3i3BnXPHs4

ROLLING WITH THE DOC

Sexually Speaking On COVID-19 For The New Year With the New Year, everyone sets goals to getting healthier, wealthier and wiser. Dr. Lane Rolling addresses living healthier in this month’s column with these COVID-19 updates. How can the virus be transmitted from person to person? Can it be transmitted through touching, kissing, and intimate contact? The SARS COVID-19 virus is transmitted through two main ways: respiratory and fecal trans-

mission. People can protect themselves by understanding the principles of the seven F’s and one R with the transmission of this virus. Respiratory – the virus can stay in the air 14 minutes and the virus can live in feces for 35 days. If you understand the principles of Face, Feces, Food, Fingers, Flies, Foot and Fomite, you can increase the mitigation and containment of the virus and transmission to yourself and your loved ones. What are the ways of entry for infection? Are people infected by the virus only via the mouth and nose? People are affected by transmission through touching, kissing, respiration through the nose and mouth and possible sexual relations. We are still early in understanding the science and Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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transmission of this virus. Is the virus transmitted sexually – intercourse and/or oral sex? Yes, why wouldn’t the virus be transmitted sexually to oral sex and intercourse? It is a virus. Will condoms prevent transmission? Yes, I would recommend using condoms. Other than abstinence, what are other preventive measures for an enjoyable love-making experience? Another part of the love-making process is a little love bubble bath, strawberries and chocolate. And lastly, enjoy a massage from heaven that will take you to heaven. Editor’s note: If you have questions for Dr. Lane Rolling, email editor@urbanspectrum.net.


A psychiatrist

What can’t be washed off: absorbs her patients’ pain

Photos by Marc A. Piscotty

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r. Patricia Westmoreland washes her hands 20 to 30 times each day she does rounds at the Medical Center of Aurora. That, she says, “doesn’t count sanitizing them who-knows-howmany times more” as an extra step to protect her patients. Nor does it count scrubbing herself down in a hot shower when she goes home, before hugging her kids. “In prior years, I would have considered the rituals I now do phobic or obsessive. I would have said that’s crazy,” the psychiatrist says. “But now we’re living in this constant anxiety and hyper-vigilance where everything you do is dictated by fear of getting or spreading an illness you can’t see. “So who knows, really, what’s crazy anymore?” Westmoreland mainly treats patients in the Medical Center’s 20-bed women’s unit. Some here were hospitalized after months of putting in 70 hours a week schooling their children, caring for parents and grandparents, and grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning in addition to their regular, paid jobs. Some lost those jobs, and, with them, their homes and even custody of their kids. Some had been drinking or otherwise self-medicating more than usual or fighting with their partners, who beat them up. Some have recovered from COVID, but not from complications such as PTSD or delirium

By Susan Greene Colorado News Collaborative

are apt to misinterpret facial cues. Masks also make it hard for her to read patients. She can see their eyes, but not always what the rest of their faces are saying. A downcast mouth, a wry smile, or a tense jaw line can be key for a psychiatrist. “We need to be astute to the most subtle expressions,” she says. “With masks... it’s basically like walking through the night blind.” Nothing in her training, she adds, prepared her for what to say to a patient whose life has been upended by a virus she believes could have been curbed by more aggressive public health policies. “How do you tell someone that the ways the government failed them have been colossal and, well, we’re sort of the laughing stock of the western world?” Nor, she notes, was she trained to keep her own head above water when she, too, is living through what she calls “a global crisis and angst, this continuous trauma on a massive scale.” As she sees it, psychiatry is about “absorbing people’s angst, their trauma, their fears.” “Psychiatrists are not generally on the front lines of the COVID virus itself, but we are

related to it. Some are grieving loved ones who didn’t recover. Some are new moms, terrified of the world into which they have brought babies. Some have been cutting themselves, gesturing or attempting suicide, or in other ways giving up. “I cannot tell you how many admissions I’ve had that, if I had to put a stamp on them, would say ‘Due to COVID. Due to COVID. Due to COVID,’” she says. “It’s come to feel like quicksand out there. There’s more than your average amount of suffering going around. You see the pain, the loss, the incredible loss in the community that you can’t remedy with medication. You can’t bring back somebody’s hope when they’ve lost everything.” Westmoreland studied medicine in her native South Africa, works as the residency training director for Health One’s psychiatry program and has served as president of the Colorado Psychiatric Society. Yet, nothing in 20 years of practice prepared her for trying to treat patients through face shields and N95 masks. Those barriers, she says, can make people feel more isolated in their illnesses – especially those with psychoses who

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certainly treating the effects of it. And this has just been so horrible, I feel like I absorb so much. There’s only so much the human psyche can take.” And so Westmoreland, proud owner of a T-shirt reading “COVID doesn’t care if you don’t believe in science,” freaked out at a cousin’s Facebook friend for posting that wearing masks lowers people’s oxygen intake. This past week, she excoriated five 12-year-old boys for knocking on her door, close together and maskless, to ask if her son could hang out. She let them have it, and then let their parents have it. And then she posted on her neighborhood blog telling anybody who’d listen, she recounts, that she and her fellow “health professionals are working hard to deal with how COVID is impacting society and it’s demeaning, devaluing and heartbreaking that people can’t be bothered to put a mask on or keep their kids from roaming the neighborhood.” Underscore. Exclamation mark. “I just have no words to describe my outrage,” she admits. Nor does she have clear lines, as she once did, discerning her own cleanliness from compulsion or professionalism from phobia. It doesn’t take a medical degree to see that Westmoreland keeps scrubbing her hands because they are what, at a time when so much feels out of control, she feels some control over. “The lack of control, the pain and grief, the ever-present fear that everyone, from my patients to my loved ones to myself, is living with” – those things, she well knows, don’t wash off so easily. . Editor’s note: This story is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. If you’re struggling, help is available on Colorado’s crisis hotline. Call 1844-493-TALK(8255)


HATS OFF TO...

BAWM Recognizes First Black Doctor, Dr. Justina Ford’s 150th Birthday

January 22 will mark the 150th birthday of Dr Justina Ford, Colorado’s first Black female physician and the Black American West Museum (BAWM) will celebrate her contribution with a live streamed tribute. The two hour event will showcase not only birthday greetings and interviews from her remaining patients and community organizations, but also includes a range of performances such as a reenactment of Dr. Ford’s only known interview and the first ever public display of her handwritten letter to the Colorado Medical Society that documents her delivery of 7,000 babies in her 50 year career. The broadcast, sponsored by Denver Community Media, takes place at the oldest African American house of worship in the Rocky Mountain West, Zion Baptist Church, where Ford

was once the First Lady. In addition to the celebration, her date of birth is now officially known as Dr Justina Ford Day, following the issuance of a mayoral proclamation that recognizes her medical care to the Denver community. Dr. Ford was the first licensed female African American doctor in Colorado however because of her race and gender, she was denied access to practice medicine at local hospitals. Instead, her home in Five Points, once the main district for Denver’s African American and immigrant communities, served as her medical office from 19111952.  Many of Dr. Ford’s Hispanic and Black patients faced similar discrimination at city hospitals due to race and economic class. Dr. Ford often accepted services and food items in lieu of payment. When she did a house call to a home that was lacking in food or heat, she often sent a basket of groceries or coal following her visit. She is best known for her obstetrics and pediatric work, and many patients knew her as the “Baby Doctor.”  BAWM produces this historic event with the financial support of  the Bank of Colorado and US Bank. It is a unique opportunity to celebrate and reflect Dr. Ford’s life and her commitment to increasing access for residents and serving

all patients in need of health care. The viewing will be Friday, January 22 at 12 p.m. at www.bawmhc.org and Denver Community Media on Comcast Channel 56, 57, 881 HD. For more information, call Sylvia Lambe at 720-276-3880.

DPS Names New High School In The Montbello Community New high school focused on STEAM education is named the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy has been announced as the official name of the new Denver high school opening in the fall of 2021. The announcement came Thursday with the school’s founding principal, Shakira Abney-Wisdom. The school bears the name of Denver Public Schools alumnus and East High School graduate Robert F. Smith, who is a Black American investor, inventor, engineer, philanthropist and entrepreneur. Smith is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, which focuses on investing and partnering with leading enterprise software companies. He is known for his commitment to philanthropy, equity, and the preservation of African

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American history and culture. The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy will be a district-run high school modeled after Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with a comprehensive approach that incorporates science, technology, engineering, art, and math (S.T.E.A.M.). The high school will be an addition to the Montbello community. “The purpose of this school is to nurture the next generation of Black leaders through deep understanding of self, reverence for a powerful past, and hope for the possibility the future holds,” said Abney-Wisdom. “Our school is designed to elevate Blackness – culture, history, and impact – and support the development of scholars and contributors in every aspect of society.” Located on a shared campus at 4501 Airport Way in Denver, the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy will open with its founding ninth grade class in August 2021. To view a video celebrating the new school with a welcome from Abney-Wisdom, Smith and DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova, click here https://vimeo.com/491752101. Families and students who are interested in enrolling can begin the process by submitting an intent to enroll form. For more information visit, https://www.dpsk12.org/hbcu -steam-high-school/ 


People Are Using Colorado Crisis Services 55% More In 2020 Compared To 2017 By Zack Newman & Jeremy Jojola, KUSA-9NEWS

As the pandemic continues to strain Colorado’s health and economy, Colorado Crisis Services has seen unprecedented demand and a record average number of disconnected calls before people can get help. Coloradans also spend more time on hold and the average call lasts longer in 2020 than it did in 2017. Raymond Vigil, an advocate for mental health awareness who has been coping with anxiety and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder for years, related to the trauma created by the “uncertainty” and “unexpected” nature of 2020. “I fit with what’s been happening in the world today,” Vigil said. “...It’s definitely a daily battle for me. I have good days and bad days, but I definitely have more good days than bad.” Vigil said sharing problems with a licensed counselor or peer professional on the crisis line provides invaluable aid. “One of the best things you can do for yourself is reach out and talk to someone,” Vigil said. “Someone is always willing to listen to you.You don’t have to ever feel like you’re alone in this.” The average number of calls and texts into Colorado Crisis Services per year went up 55% from 2017 to 2020, according to a 9Wants to Know analysis of crisis line data from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). 9Wants to Know obtained the data through an open records request. Services never crossed the 20,000 threshold before 2020. This

year, it’s happened seven times and every month since May 2020. October 2020 set a record since 2017, with 24,821 texts and calls. Bev Marquez, CEO of Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, said the surge is caused by the stressors associated with the pandemic, racial tension and the election. Remote learning has been especially burdensome to many Coloradans. “We’ve never had a time where all of these variables came together to create an unheard of time,” Marquez said. “And with unheard-of times come feelings that are catching us by surprise.” Higher abandonment rate and longer wait times Callers are on hold for more than twice the amount of time they were in 2017, according to the data analysis. That’s an average difference of waiting 36 seconds to be connected with a therapist in 2017, compared to more than a minute in 2020. Marquez said people sometimes hang up because it took longer than expected to talk with someone, or they change their mind about getting help. “We are having times that took too long than we are comfortable with,” Marquez said. On average, people waited 1.5 minutes for help in October 2020. “But when you’re in crisis, when you’re expecting a response that you would get when you call 911, then it feels like, ‘What the heck?!’” Marquez said. The average abandonment rate in 2020 so far has been 15.2% across Colorado Crisis Services, which is worse than the typical ratio. According to Marquez, the industry standard for abandonment rate is 8%. It is calculated by dividing the number of disconnected calls by the total number of calls. Colorado Crisis Services’ abandonment rate increased 6.3% compared to 2019 and 8.7% to 2017. Marquez said more calls and fewer people to answer them, which happens when staff calls out sick, can lead to more disconnections.

“Spikes are more common,” she said. “And that average during spikes also seems to be common because the resource is having trouble keeping up with the demand.” Marquez said counselors are assigned to check in with people that have been on-hold to see if they are safe to wait. If they are not, those counselors will start talking with that person. “...My plea is knowing that the system is up,” Marquez said. “Our services are effective; because of the volume we may be a little more difficult to reach and we are still here 24/7.” More people have hung up before they can get connected with a licensed therapist or counselor. On average, 329% more people are hanging up before they can get help from 2017 to 2020. There was an average of 645 abandoned calls in 2017 from January to October and an average of 2,766 lost calls so far in 2020. Lindsay Sandoval, media manager with the Office of Behavioral Health within the Colorado Department of Human Services, said the increase could be attributed to an overall higher call volume. Also, people could get nervous and hang up, the call could drop or someone could misdial the hotline. Marquez said Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners is trying to recruit more counselors and make training more efficient to be able to talk to more callers sooner. She said they added 60 employees in a year and now have 150 on staff. The toll on the therapists Richard Camp, a crisis specialist for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, is one of 150 mental health professionals on the other side of the phone as people call for help. “It is difficult work listening to human suffering, and it easy to get burned out…..it is easy for that to find its way into you,” Camp said. Camp said they develop coping mechanisms that make the work doable long-term. Above all else,

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Coloradans should reach out when things feel overwhelming. “I want people to know we are here to provide them with the support,” Camp said. “As I tell my callers, don’t hesitate, don’t even think about it. Just call. Just call. Let’s see how we can support you, and we want to.” The average call in 2020 lasted 49% longer than in 2017. A call to the Crisis Line lasted more than 11 minutes on average in 2017 and runs an average of 17 minutes in 2020. 24/7 mental health support for themselves or a loved one is available for anyone who calls 1-844493-8255 or texts “TALK” to 38255. The website is: coloradocrisisservices.org. . Editor’s note: This story was done in partnership with COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative, for the “On Edge” project. If you’re struggling, help is available on Colorado’s crisis hotline. Call 1844-493-TALK(8255).

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Last Friday evening, it was cold out at Grand Junction’s small airport and so dark you couldn’t see the imposing mesas just beyond the runway. Flood lights illuminated a sleek jet, all 58 feet of it, and a group from Colorado Mesa University walking its way. “This is pretty surreal, to be honest with you,” said CMU Vice President John Marshall. “I mean, I guess no more surreal than anything else this year, right?” Just hours earlier, 60 people — friends and families of soonto-be graduates — got tested for COVID-19 last-minute in the hopes of attending graduation the next day. For that to be possible, however, those tests needed to get on this plane. Marshall was one of the passengers accompanying the precious cargo to a lab on the other side of the state, with the clock ticking. Marshall explained this fast flight should ensure the results came in time for the next day’s two ceremonies. But first, they had to get to Loveland. “In some ways, it’s sort of a joyful, crazy ending to a crazy year, right?” he said, boarding the plane. Graduation is something most students dream about for years, but due to the pandemic, countless colleges have had to cancel, postpone or move ceremonies online this year. The University of Colorado Boulder, the largest college in the state, recently announced all its commencements will stay virtual through at least May. But CMU took a different approach. Marshall and others decided everyone in attendance could still walk with their families in attendance, as long as the guests and the graduates stayed socially distant and wore masks. The school also decided to test every single graduate, faculty member and guest planning to be at Friday’s two cere-

Colorado Mesa University Graduation Goes On In Grand Junction With Help From Private Jet By Stina Sieg, CPR News Linford Ocloo and mother, Constance Garvie

monies. Some of those people, however, were unable to get a test until the afternoon before the graduations, not enough time to normally get the results. That’s where the private jet comes in. While it might sound like a drastic solution, Grand Junction is isolated — nearly 300 miles and one big mountain pass away from the testing facility in Loveland. With the box of COVID-19 tests secured on the jet, the CMU crew buckled up. There were some giddy laughs as the plane accelerated for takeoff, and then the few lights from the community below disappeared. At one point in the flight, the group looked out their windows and saw snow rolling in. “If we had to drive the tests tonight, I don’t know that they would have got there,” said Emma Leenerman, who coordinates CMU’s testing program. After only about half an hour in the air, the plane, its passengers and the tests landed in Loveland. As they handed off the box of vials, everyone was excited, even the scientist from Warrior Diagnostics about to get down to work testing them.

The pilot, CMU instructor Erling Brabaek, grinned in his Santa hat. He saved Christmas, someone joked. “Ah, no!” Brabaek happily countered, in his Danish accent. “No, we all saved Christmas.” That includes the man who donated the jet, Kevin Davis, with Western Slope Auto, a local car dealership. “I hope the students appreciate it,” he said, adding that he hopes they “go out and make a difference in the world.” Davis dropped out of high school decades ago, but he eventually got his business degree from CMU. It means a lot to him that a large portion of these students are the first in their families to graduate college.

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“For sure, I am too. It’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting.” After just a few hours, the testing was done. Of the 60 tests on the flight, all but three came back negative. For those who tested positive, the ceremony was made available to stream online. ‘I Don’t Want To Cry Right Now, But We’ve Been Through A Lot’ The chilly air was charged with excitement the next morning for graduation, when a few hundred guests spread out in a stadium that holds 8,000. They clapped, cheered and occasionally blew air horns as each graduate received a diploma and a gloved first bump from the school’s president. The local health department gave the event the green light — as long as no one threw their cap up in the air. Officials thought pawing through a bunch of caps lying on the ground could be a health risk. After a short ceremony, 26year-old graduate Linford Ocloo walked back to the stands and waved up at his mom. “I don’t want to cry right now, but we’ve been through a lot,” he said, tears filing his eyes. “Thank you, God!” His mother, Constance Garvie, soon made her way down to her son. Originally from Ghana, she beams about his accomplishment.


“I’m really, really happy. It’s a long journey,” she said. “And hey, it’s been a tough year, but at the end of the year, we’re still happy.” Graduates started to file out of the stadium and into the parking lot, where a vintage truck greeted them with a sign in its bed congratulating the class of 2020. Plenty stopped for pictures. After a man and woman in their early 20s smiled for outstretched cell phones, the man dropped to one knee and presented a ring. Through tears, she said yes. Minutes later, newly engaged Celeste Tovar tried to describe what she felt. “I-I, a lot of things,” she said, dabbing her eyes. “I’m crying and I’m laughing and it doesn’t feel real!” Her brand-new fiancé, Blair Kratzer, admitted he was a little nervous beforehand, especially during the ceremony. “The whole time, it was in the back of my head,” he said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘I’m getting a diploma today! I’m going to propose!’’ If the graduation had been called off like so many have been this year, Kratzer would have figured something else out. “Do a Zoom proposal or something,” he joked. But he and his future wife said they felt lucky to be right there with their families, celebrating two monumental milestones — in person..

COVER TO COVER

Pastor W. Franklyn Richardson And Activist Releases Memoir, “Witness to Grace: A Testimony of Favor”

W. Franklyn Richardson “bares his heart in this poignant true-life story to give an intimate portrayal of the rise of one of the most respected religious and civil rights leaders of our time.” Richardson writes in his much-anticipated memoir Witness to Grace: A Testimony of Favor that “God intentioned him” from the survival of his ancestors through the brutality of slavery-past his father’s escape from the South “under the cover of night,” away from “the pursuit of an enraged Klu Klux Klan for a ‘misspoke’ to a white woman at fifteen years old,” to the “loving cocooning arms of his parents” and the Black church. Richardson believes that God’s grace evolved him beyond the failure of the public education system, which launched him into the world underprepared and

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influenced to believe that he was “not college material,” to muster the courage to apply to a historically Black university where he encountered, at nineteen years old, his “first Black teachers, doctors, and administrators,” who prepared him to preach, shepherd, protest, march, advocate for civil rights and social justice, and subsequently to become chairman of the board of his beloved Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) alma mater, Virginia Union University, to share Witness to Grace: A Testimony of Favor, which exemplifies that Black Lives Matter. About Grace Baptist Church: Grace Baptist Church in the City of Mount Vernon is the oldest African American congregation in Westchester County, New York. Under Dr. Richardson’s more than 45 years of leadership, the congregation continues to thrive, growing to one church in three locations, which includes more than 4,000 members nationwide. . Witness to Grace: A Testimony of Favor by W. Franklyn Richardson, Retail Price: $27.00 US (Hardback); ISBN: 978-1-940786-86-5 – available for purchase by visiting Amazon and www.bookstoreatgrace.org.

University Of Colorado Retiree Zaneta Varnado Johns Publishes New Poetry Book

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Retired human resources leader, Zaneta Varnado Johns, announced the publication of

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her new book, Poetic Forecast: Reflections on Life’s Promises, Storms, and Triumphs. This debut collection of poems, written from 1976 to present, is a tapestry reflecting the author’s intimate feelings of joy, hope, love, pain and resilience. It includes select poems that invoke positivity, challenge our thinking, and that pay tribute to family and friends by highlighting character, trials and accomplishments. Johns, believing that every word shared is an opportunity to love, said, “During this time of uncertainty, I want to inspire people to 1) own their stories and experience the emotions triggered by mine, 2) examine their thoughts, especially regarding today’s critical issues, and 3) celebrate life and the people we love. My target audience includes people who could benefit from positivity, growth, and empathy. Who do you know?” In the Foreword written by former Urban Spectrum journalist James Michael Brodie, he writes, “The forecast is bright . . . In Zaneta Varnado Johns’ Poetic Forecast, she sings because she is happy. She sings because she is free.” Brodie and Johns met in 1975 when they were eager freshmen at the University of Colorado. Brodie further adds, “Her tempo, conversational and melodic, weaves a gentle tapestry, drawing us into her understanding of the universe and her place in it.” Johns’ poems are creatively grouped by chapters analogous to weather predictions, thus the title. Book Clubs will be pleased to find the Book Club Dialogue Prompts page at the end of Poetic Forecast.. Poetic Forecast is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retail book distributors. Autographed copies are also available for preorder at www.zanexpressions.com. For more information, email Zaneta (Zan) Varnado Johns at zanjohns@comcast.net


A Denver COVID survivor finds her footing amid her fears

By Tina Griego Colorado News Collaborative Photo by Marc A. Piscotty

U

ntil this year, Elizabeth Torres would not have called herself a particularly anxious

person. Stressed, sure. Who wasn’t? Everyone has ups and downs. Torres was working a couple part-time jobs, taking care of her elderly grandparents, raising three kids on her own. Her son, the middle child, has been diagnosed with autism and he likes to get right up into her face, something she really can’t deal with now. When he comes to her lately, “Mom,” on his lips, she can imagine a fine spray of coronavirus cells landing upon her cheeks, nose, and eyes. She and her three kids were living in the basement of her grandparents’ place in southwest Denver when COVID-19 hit Colorado in early March. She made sure her grandma, who has dementia, and her grandpa, whose heart was failing, took their medications, and that her grandpa had his lunch when he headed to dialysis every other day. Torres started feeling feverish toward the end of March. With frail grandparents, she decided to play it safe and move into a friend’s bedroom to quarantine.

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And then it was like dominoes falling. Her grandpa was hospitalized after a fall and then diagnosed with COVID-19. Torres’ fever spiked and she began laboring for breath. She went to the ER twice before being admitted with her own case of COVID, her grandpa in a room somewhere nearby. She is in her 30s, but overweight with high blood pressure and asthma, and the virus hit her hard. Her lungs felt like they were burning. “I felt like, ‘I’m dying and I am going to die by myself,’” she says. When her fever finally did break and she was able to breathe on her own a week later, Torres was discharged, oxygen tank in tow. Her 85year-old grandfather wasn’t so lucky. He died at Denver Health on April 1, a few days after she left the hospital. Torres uses the word “passed,” a word like “died” that fails to convey the surreal-ness of his last days. She mourns not being able to say goodbye to the man who raised her as a father would.


It has taken months for Torres to begin to feel herself again and she says she does feel better, mentally and physically, though she would not call it back to normal. Fear accompanies her now. She says her kids think she is paranoid. She has “panic attacks from hell.” “I don’t want to go out anymore,” she says. “I don’t want to have it again. I think if I get it again, I might die.” Torres wore a heart monitor for a while after she left the hospital because she was experiencing pounding palpitations, which may be an after-effect of COVID, but also could be stress. That she doesn’t know for sure frustrates her. Too much is uncertain now. Too much unknown. There are times when she does not recognize herself. Who is this cautious woman whose heart hammers when she hears her kids cough or when the latest national political outrage pops up in her social feeds despite her best efforts to avoid the news. The late summer fires, the smell of burning forests when she opened her front door, filled her with dismay. Who is this woman who dreads going out? “I just feel mostly sad,” she says. “I am not like this. I am a person who loves to be out and about. I am very social. And there is just all of this. I can’t go outside. I can’t be with my friends. Coping with that has been very hard.” Until recently, she was not one to speak so candidly about her feelings. She might have confided in a few friends. But in the calamity that is 2020, she became so sick she thought she was going to die. Her grandfather did die. And what she knows is that she needs to talk because the words lift weight off her. She is certain that others are struggling and wants to reassure them that they are not alone. Be hopeful, she wants to say. “It is what we need. Hope.”

So, Torres wakes in the morning now and says to herself, to the universe; Thank you. “I say, ‘Thank you for my health. Thank you for my strong heart. Thank you for my strong lungs.’ I say, ‘Thank you for my pillow.’ Simple things. ‘Thank you for my comfortable bed. Thank you I am awake and alive and breathing.’ I say, ‘I have food. I have a job. My kids are healthy.’” She has taken to meditating frequently and has changed her diet, drinking juices, taking vitamins, eating healthier, trying to walk in nearby Garfield Park. When she feels really bad, a friend will take her for a car ride; she will tell her kids that she just needs to chill for a while. Torres knows there will still be ups and downs, good days and bad, and that there remain big question marks on the horizon. But sometimes, the way forward does not require motion. It does not require answers or even thought. Sometimes, she has found, the path forward means sitting in her backyard, planting her feet on the ground, face turned toward the sun, heat bathing her until the anxiety passes and, once again, she feels rooted and whole. . Editor’s note: If you’re struggling, help is available on Colorado’s crisis hotline. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255)

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IN MEMORY...R

Remembering Charles Emmons January 22, 1956 – December 4, 2020

A devoted husband and son, loving uncle and brother, philanthropist, and award-winning journalist, Charles Walker Emmons died in Denver at 64.

It is not surprising that only after his passing were the depth and breadth of Charles Emmons’ journalistic achievements fully realized. A quiet, family-oriented man who could sit for hours without saying a word, Mr. Emmons’ contributions to Denver Urban Spectrum alone comprise more than 40 articles — about 20 of which were cover stories—produced during an accomplished second career. “I am [a]...writer and content provider who is passionate about telling stories that might not otherwise be told,” Mr. Emmons once posted. “Writing about business and community leaders, politics, entertainers, sports figures and lifestyles, my subjects are varied, but always pertinent.” A compilation of some of his work and a video tribute from his friends and colleagues is available on the Spectrum’s website, DenverUrbanSpectrum.com. Mr. Emmons earned a B.A. in Russian Studies from Principia College in 1978 and briefly considered leveraging his language skills in the armed forces. Following a visit to Russia however, he chose to settle in Denver where his mother, Audrey, and brother, Thomas, lived. He worked for the Auraria Bookstore for more than 30 years and retired as the store’s general merchandise manager in 2011, a role in which he managed a $1.2M budget and was responsible for both purchasing and marketing all non-book products, including computers, clothing and school/office supplies. During his tenure at Auraria, Mr. Emmons earned a M.A. in Mass Communications from the University of Denver in 1991 and launched a side career in journalism and public relations. In addition to Denver Urban Spectrum, his work has appeared in Colorado Tennis; CORE, Colorado’s Business Resource

Magazine; In the Black Magazine; Perspective; The College Store; and YourHub.com. He earned the Scribe in Excellence Award from the Colorado Association of Black Journalists in both 1998 and 2013, and was described by Denver Urban Spectrum publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris as a reliable, go-to writer. “He was quiet,” Ms. Harris says. “When I would ask him to cover a story, it would take him a couple of minutes to answer. Then he would ask questions, but he would always say yes. I don’t think there was one time when I asked him to write for us when he said no.” Mr. Emmons was a dedicated philanthropist as well. While his resume notes roles as a volunteer for KUVO radio station in the early 1990s and as a Trustee, member of the P.R. Committee and volunteer for Denver Kids, Inc. in the mid1990s, his commitment to improving the lives of others ran much deeper than those references indicate. “In high school, Charles was like a wonderful, big brother...always watching out for me and setting a great example to follow,” says long-time friend Eric Mosley. “Later in life, I continued to look up to Charles, admiring his grace, wisdom and kindness. He is deeply missed.” Margaret Fomer, the retired executive director of Denver Kids, Inc., shares that sentiment. “He had a servant’s heart,” Mrs. Fomer says of Mr. Emmons. “He was a father figure who helped kids understand what it means to be a leader. He was an effective mentor who saw kids’ potential and helped them succeed. He was very caring—he was the real deal.” Mr. Emmons’ philanthropic work extended to another community-based organization, Youth with a Future, as well. He wrote articles that garnered public attention and, as a mentor, would encourage students to complete and excel in school. He would also review students’ essays for the organization’s e-book. “He was very encouraging and supportive of young people,” says Dr. Robert Fomer, Youth with a Future’s executive director. “He was a gifted writer who was willing to share his talent. We would meet in coffee shops. He would sit across the table and listen to our needs...and then he would say, ‘Let me see how I can help.’” Mr. Emmons is survived by Jackie, his wife of 20 years; his brother, Thomas; nieces, Amber Cook (Jarid) and Miranda Emmons; grandniece, Eddison Cook; and grandnephew, Phillip Cook. .

Journey... ... to ... to the the White White House...4,8,10,12 House...4,8,10,12

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Editor’s note: Join Denver Urban Spectrum and friends for a memorial tribute to Charles Emmons on Friday January, 8 at noon. This special video presentation will premiere on the Denver Urban Spectrum’s YouTube Channel. This presentation and a digital publication of his many contributions over the years will be presented. Read his last two contributions in the December 2020 issue.. For more information, email publisher@urbanspectrum.net or call 303-292-6446.


REST IN PEACE

A Tribute to Trudy

Remembering a friend…

September 10, 1935 – December 5, 2020

Van Levern “Vance”Johnson

It’s hard to find words to say goodbye to someone who was so special, but thanks to my friend Marlina - I must. (Mary) Gertrude “Trudy” Cobbins was that special person whose time expired with us on Saturday, December 5. She was my son Larry’s grandmother, whom he loved more than life itself. Although miles separated them, he took pride in sending her simple gifts like Lorna Doone cookies and Baby Ruth candy bars while never missing birthdays, holidays and other days in between to express his love and affection. They had a special five decade bond, only a grandmother and grandson could have. I will miss talking to her and hearing her ask how Lil Larry was doing. Trudy always looked out for everyone, and protected everyone whenever and however she could. As a young woman, she understood young people, making them gravitate to her as a friend-mother-mentor - making her house on Lafayette Street a welcoming home for everyone. She loved life and loved to laugh. Many people will miss her but no one will miss her more than John, Clarence, Denise, me-and especially Larry. We will miss her smile, laughter and, beauty. Thank you Trudy for the compassion, support and love you poured into our hearts. We will always love you and carry your memory in OUR hearts. You will be missed but never forgotten. We know you were tired. Rest peacefully now you beautiful soul. You deserve it and so much more. You and Ruth have a lot to talk about. We know as always, you’ll be watching over us. So until we see you on the other side, may God bless you and keep you - always and forever.

I’ve known Vance Johnson for almost 30 years and I would see him many times a week as I had been to the many barbershop locations he held. He was a great entrepreneur, with a fierce spirit of independence. Brother Vance was also a true humanist who helped organize community support when African immigrant Oumar Dia was murdered by skinheads in Denver in 1997. In 2005, Brother Vance co-founded the nonprofit organization African Heritage Celebration and worked tirelessly to raise funds that provided teaching and aid that impacted more than 70,000 students in Senegal. Many of those students are now pursuing higher education degrees and/or training to become the country’s next generation of leaders. Kwame Toure once said during a 1973 Black leaders discussion that included Fannie Lou Hammer and Angela Davis, “Marcus Mosiah Garvey never saw Africa, but he undeniably worked harder for Africa than anyone in his time.” Brother Vance understood the importance of developing friendship in order to make our world better a place. Vance Johnson passed away Tuesday December 8, at the age of 65. Mohamadou Cisse African Heritage Celebration Executive Director

Rosalind “Bee” Harris

ahcchildren.com

Gone but not forgotten in 2020. May their memories live on and they all

Rest In Peace

Allen Wayne Webb, Sr. • Charles Emmons • Crystal Gayles • Darrell S. Elliott • Debbie Johnson Lee • Dr. Cottee J (CJ) White • Dr. Wilton Flemon • Dwayne Pride • Edream Moore • Freddy Rodriguez Sr. • James Walker Sr. • Janet van der Laak (Ruiz) • Johnnie Stewart • Keith Lee • Kobie Taylor • Landri Taylor • Louis Freeman • Mary Gertrude “Trudy” Cobbins • Patricia “Trixie’ Carter • Mattie Springfield • Mr. Lawrence Pierre • Rev. Milton Thomas Sr. • Robert Jackson (Construction) • Van Levern Johnson • Wilbur “Wil” Redwine…and many more. Carol Sutton • Chadwick Boseman • Charley Pride • Congressman John Lewis • Elijah Cummings • John McCain • Joseph Lowery • Kobe and Gianna Bryant • Natalie Des-

selle-Reid • Rev. C.T. Vivian • Ruth Bader Ginsburg…and

many more.

Ahmaud Arbery • Breonna Taylor • George Floyd • Rayshard Brooks…and

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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many more.


Commit To Your Health This Year By Kim Farmer

T

he holidays are a time of sharing and caring but also a lot of eating and relaxing for most of us. We might experience a little guilt or regret after eating all those yummy deserts and buttered rolls and it’s easy to fall off the bandwagon of a consistent fitness regimen. No worries! The start of a new year is the perfect time to make a resolution to GET in shape and STAY in shape the entire year and many years to come. Most of us have no problem starting a healthy lifestyle, but very few of us have the discipline or drive to make it a lifetime habit.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that: Don’t Procrastinate. Forget about how you may have failed in the past! It’s never too late for new beginnings so start again now. Not next week or next month, start today! Begin with a small goal like drinking two extra glasses of water or taking a short walk and then build from there. Try not to skip a day of your new healthy habit, do something to remind yourself if needed like setting an alarm to remind you to drink more water that day. Stay Motivated! At times, we all need a little help getting started or sticking with our exercise routines. Put some thought into what helps keep you motivated, whether it’s because you feel better, have more energy, want to lose weight, etc. and write it down. It is also very reasonable to enlist a friend to work out with you, or to hire a trainer to get you started or keep you going. Consistency and accountability are two of the most important parts of sticking with an exercise or nutrition regimen and another person (or group of people) can be very beneficial and motivating. If you do choose to work with a personal trainer, make sure that the trainer is certified from a nationally recognized organization such as NASM, A.C.E or ACSM. Plan Ahead. Consider your schedule and what day and time works best for you to exercise and plan/prep your food. A lot of people have tremendous success with sticking to their exercise routines if they do it first thing in the morning. For people with small children, this time is usually before the kids are awake which makes for precious, uninterrupted time for parents. You are more likely to stick with it if it your time for exercise is at the same time every day. Some people find Sundays a great day to plan their meals and snacks for the Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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upcoming work week, making it easier to stick with healthier options. Mix it Up. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing every time you decide to exercise. Try to get creative and have fun doing the things you like to do. If you like running or walking, consider joining a walking or running club to make new friends that share a common interest. Perhaps swimming is your pleasure? Find a local pool and dive in! It is important that you change your routine and add new activities to keep it fresh. Make it Convenient. Does your apartment complex have a fitness center that you’ve never seen? Is your treadmill collecting dust or being used as a coat hanger? If so, it’s time to make a change and form a new habit! There’s no excuse for not exercising regularly if it is convenient for you to do it. If necessary, join a gym nearby so that you can visit it on your way to or from work. Make a Commitment. It is easier to stick with a commitment if the goal is written in a clear and precise format. For example, “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of February” or “I will drop a dress size by March 1st”. With a combination of good nutrition habits and regular exercise, you can achieve consistent and healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. It usually takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so start now! It is necessary to exercise and make wise eating choices consistently in order to reap the benefits. If you need motivation to get started, a personal trainer or a gym membership is wise investments in your health. Happy New Year and Happy Exercising! . Editor’s note: Contributor Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email thrive@milehighfitness.com.


Forbearance: Friend Or Foe How to use the forbearance program to your advantage

By Barry Overton

W

hen I asked people, “What is the one word that comes to mind in describing 2020 for you, as the word that you will attach to this year, forever?” I hear words like resilience, challenge, and pivot. But if you are a homeowner that has been impacted by the shutdown from COVID-19, in many cases, your word is forbearance. For many, this word will either be a savior or foe, just depending on how it works out for them. As you read this article, I want you to look at the word and what it is – forbearance is a tool that can be helpful to make a bad financial situation a better situation. I think we must first start with understanding what forbearance is. Simply put, it is a method that allows mortgage companies to assist a homeowner going through a financial hardship. Whether a loss of a job or reduction of income, forbearance provides the ability to either lower payments or no payments for a short period of time that won’t put them in threat of losing their home. Eventually the homeowner will have to make up those payments, either at the end of the forbearance period or on the back end of their loan. 2020 has been a year of financial challenges for many. Communities of color have been hit much harder than white Americans in regards to forbearance. In July, based on a survey 10% of white homeowners had deferred or missed

a payment the previous month, compared to 21% of Black and Hispanic Americans who had deferred the previous month – more than double the number. When considering going into a forbearance plan, here’s some best practices to consider. The most important thing that everyone wants to know is when do those deferred payments have to be paid back? In some instances, people are required to either pay the full amount or start making payments towards the amount at the end of the forbearance plan. This could be six months to a year after starting the plan. This can create a new hardship once you get to the end of the forbearance plan. The better plan is to negotiate with your mortgage company to defer the payments to the end of your mortgage. In many instances, this would be paid off when the homeowner either sell the house or refinances it. Another key component when considering going into forbearance is to stay current on your payments prior to the forbearance agreement, as well as while in the forbearance agreement. Your credit score is your power. Keeping a strong credit score during the process will give you options and the ability to be able to refinance and possibly even purchase, or use your equity to buy another home that is more affordable if it comes down to downsizing to in order to stay afloat. Also, ensure that your property taxes and insurance are still being paid for. If you have an

arrangement set up where money is put into escrow by your mortgage company to pay those items; that should still occur even during the forbearance period. But if you are responsible for paying your property taxes and insurance, you must ensure that there isn’t a lapse in that payment. The final area I want to touch on is the alternative of selling your home which may be a viable option. If you purchased a home in the last three years or longer, and you haven’t refinanced and pulled out your equity, there’s a very good chance that you have a significant amount of equity in your home. While it can be a tough decision, sometimes it may be necessary that at the end of your forbearance, you’re still not in a position to be able to maintain your payment and keep the home. It’s okay if you have to sell it. Author Willie Jolley once wrote a book, A Setback Is a setup For a Comeback. Sometimes we must embrace the setback and prepare ourselves for the comeback. And if you can do this in a way where it keeps your credits intact and maybe puts you in a position of being less comfortable in your home for a short period of time, it is worth it. Imagine that you’re in a position where you can pay your mortgage, your forbearance is finished and you have to make a decision, selling your home and earning $150,000 in equity that allows you to bounce back during this rough time is not a bad alternative. Before making any decisions, consult with a trusted Mortgage Broker or Real Estate Professional for the best options for your particular circumstances.. Editor’s note: Barry Overton is a licensed Real Estate Agent with New Era Group at Your Castle Real Estate. He has been an agent since 2001, and started investing in real estate in 1996. For more information, email barrysellsdenver@msn.com.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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Making transmissions well since 1983.


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Editor’s note: Samantha OfolePrince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com on Facebook, follow Blackflix.com on Twitter Chadwick Boseman

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It’s Chadwick Boseman’s last performance, and he’s searing in this faithful adaption of celebrated playwright August Wilson’s fuel-filled play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Boseman plays Levee, an ambitious cornet player, who has his own ideas of how the legendary blues singer Ma Rainey’s signature song needs more zing in its swing during a recording session in a 1920s Chicago recording studio. However, Levee quickly faces the cold reality that changing arrangements of the “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey’s (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis) song is a career ending mistake. Viola Davis’ performance of the runny makeup, fire-breathing diva is equal to, if not surpasses Chadwick Boseman’s own performance as the slick-talking Levee.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom running time is an hour and 35 minutes, but what an hour and 35 minutes. “Yikes!” Most of the characters are either aggressive or antisocial. The set piece takes place during a recording session where the Ma Rainey’s four musicians are waiting for her arrival. When fiery Ma shows up late, she makes no apologies, demands three Coca-Colas and tests the will of her white producers. Ma knows her worth and controls her music. She doesn’t yield an inch when it

comes to including her nephew in the recording session, getting paid in cash, or signing the release of her recorded songs. Of course Ma’s demands only add to the tensions and temperatures than have been already seething within the band, thanks to Levee wanting to play his own style of blues and form his own band. He’s even written several songs that the white record producers have verbally committed to recording, but have no intension of honoring.

Confrontations between the band members build in the scruffy rehearsal room, and inevitably spill over into the recording studio session. For a brief moment, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom seemed like a Hollywood musical where there’s an epiphany and Ma’s music will change and give the people what they want – a phrase her manager keeps bantering about. However, playwright August Wilson deals with realistic portraits, not fairytale endings and characters.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Glynn Turman, Michael Potts and Colman Domingo. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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Chadwick Boseman as Levee and Viola Davis as Ma in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

part of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle a 10-play collection punctuating realistic black lives in their time periods, not just contrived Hollywood cardboard cuts outs. Adapting characters from the stage to film relies on an abundance of speeches for background and character development, which is masterfully handle by director George C. Wolfe and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Producer Academy Awardwinner Denzel Washington (who directed the 2016 film of Wilson’s Fences) said recently on CBS Sunday Morning he’s glad to be in a position to bring Wilson’s stories to audiences beyond Broadway, and the notion of doing 10 films did not seem overwhelming. “No, it was what’s left for me to do, professionally?” Washington said. “This is perfect, you know? It’s not hard. It’s a joy, it’s an opportunity, and it’s a privilege, really, to shepherd [this] material. You

Viola Davis as Ma in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

sure’s not on me. The pressure is on the filmmakers.” It’s worth to mentioning that Boseman’s and Davis’authentic performances are Oscar worthy. Let’s hope the academy remembers during Oscar time. Veteran actor Glynn Turman is a welcome addition to the cast as one of Ma Rainey’s musicians along with Colman Domingo and Michael Potts. It is an amazing ensemble.. https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=ord7gP151vk

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RECYCLING YOUR TREE AFTER THE HOLIDAYS IS EASY! REMOVE all decorations, lights, and the tree stand from your tree. SET YOUR TREE OUT for collection by 7 a.m. on one of your scheduled trash collection days between January 4 and 15. PICK UP FREE MULCH made from your tree at the annual Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale in May.

COLLECTION SCHEDULE January 2021 SU MO 28 3 4 10 11 17 H 24 25 31

TU 29 5 12 19 26

WE 30 6 13 20 27

TH 31 7 14 21 28

FR H 8 15 22 28

SA 2 9 16 23 30

Download our Denver Trash and Recycling app for Treecycle collection reminders! If you do not receive Denver Solid Waste Management services, please visit DenverGov.org/Treecycle for our list of drop-off sites.

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Local Attorney Shares Seven Gifts To Ensure Strong Family Legacy By Niambi Nicholes

O

ver the past 12 months, the pandemic and civil unrest have caused most people to pause and reflect on their lives, embrace their families, and think about their future. Undoubtedly, the year has been incredibly difficult for many, but with challenges comes opportunity as we look towards welcoming a new year. Denver attorney and author Michelle Adams wants people to seize the lessons learned from this critical period to begin taking the steps today to build a stronger future. Her recently published book, “Family Strong - 7 Gifts For A Lasting Legacy” reminds readers in this ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to be intentional about the foundation upon building families – that it’s never too late to strengthen and transform family bonds. In doing so, it is one of the best gifts we can give. She shares with Denver Urban Spectrum her vision for the book and highlights the seven gifts. Denver Urban Spectrum: What inspired you to write “Family Strong – 7 Gifts For A Lasting Legacy?” Michelle Adams: Family is truly the foundation that supports and nourishes the next generation. If the family is not strong, then our children and our community, by extension, pay the cost. Strong families do not mean perfect families because we all have some meas-

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ure of dysfunction in our family tree, but that don’t have to define us. We can each decide to be deliberate about the impact we want to have on those who will come after us. Denver Urban Spectrum: What does the term “legacy” mean to you, and why is it a gift to be shared? Michelle Adams: People often associate legacy with families who have wealth. However, regardless of monetary value, every family has the opportunity to create a meaningful and rich legacy. It merely takes being thoughtful, strategic and intentional about the legacy you want to leave for generations to come. When you incorporate the 7 Gifts in your life and a family structure, a legacy is created. Denver Urban Spectrum: What are the 7 Gifts that families should consider when they want to be intentional about establishing a legacy? Michelle Adams: 1. Gift of Your Story – As a family, it’s essential to share your story so that children/relatives know who they are and from where they come. In doing so, you create a greater understanding of your family ancestry, history and storied traditions. The gift of the story is one that can continue to tell the wisdom of the past. 2. Gift of Connection – Is about determining who we want to be as a family and building a strong connection through shared family values that drive what you do. 3. Gift of Wellness – Focuses on how emotional health and well-being can set the foundation for growing and building healthy families. This gift is multi-faceted, from giving family health history to ensuring ongoing spiritual wellbeing. Are we blessing family members with an understanding of how to be their best selves physically and mentally – are we creating positive images of who they are?


4. Gift of Preparation – This gift is about having a plan that prepares for the future. Preparing includes having a financial plan to build and pass on generational wealth versus damaging long-term family debt. This includes, having a succession plan and preparing our kids to take over family businesses or creating a mindset to build them. To give this gift, people have to be mindful of the lessons they model and teach their children about planning and financial health. 5. Gift of Compassion – We live in a time and age where the soul of our country and the world is hurting. More than ever, we need to give the gift of compassion and look at ways to show empathy and concern for others. We must instill in our children and family members that giving your time, talents and gifts to help someone else is a responsibility. Establishing a Family Foundation or Family Donor Funds allows every family member to have a voice and platform to support the issues and causes they are concerned with, creating a philanthropy legacy. 6. Gift of Curiosity – There is so much in this world to see, discover and understand that it’s vital for parents to give their

children the love of learning – that they remain curious about the world. Take the time to travel and teach them something new about their environment and eliminate the fear of exploration. 7. Gift of Possibility – When we think about children, we think about all the things they can bring into the world. However, we must remember that children are not to be molded but to be unfolded. We have a responsibility to unfold what’s within them so they can embrace the possibilities of who they can become. We must ask: Are we intentional about developing their skills, strengths, and passions? Are we discouraging or encouraging by planting the seeds of possibilities? Are we giving young people every opportunity or chance to explore what they can do? Are we challenging and pushing them to discover their real purpose for being here on this earth? Denver Urban Spectrum: Why are these gifts essential measures for people to take? Michelle Adams: •They allow you to focus on the things you want to achieve as a family •They strengthen family connectivity and bonds with one another

•To capture a greater understanding of family history and rich lineage – to preserve your family story for years to come. •To pass on a family legacy and blueprint for the younger generation to continue to model and build their family. Denver Urban Spectrum: Having witnessed everything that has occurred this year, why is now the time for people to act? Michelle Adams: This year was challenging and served as a reminder that tomorrow is not promised to any of us, but what we do today matters. We all have a chance to plan for the life we want and be thoughtful in the actions we take moving forward – all of which can strengthen our family dynamics and change future outcomes. Denver Urban Spectrum: What are the steps people can take to build generational wealth? Michelle Adams: •Have a vision for the future – where you are today and

where you want to be tomorrow •Be intentional about building a long-term plan •Establish financial principles •Determine a family philanthropy strategy Denver Urban Spectrum: Having worked with families in the legal field for years, what is one crucial lesson you’ve learned and want to share? Michelle Adams: Talk with loved ones about hopes, dreams and values. Share stories about life and encourage the dreams of the next generation. Remind them of the glorious possibilities that exist within them. It’s never too late. Legacies are created every day by how we live our lives and the impact we have on others. Make yours worth remembering.. Editor’s note: For more information about Michelle Adams and her book “Family Strong - 7 Gifts For A Lasting Legacy,” visit www.familylegacystrong.com.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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They love each other. That should go without saying. They have, in fact, gone through hell and back for one another — and that was before 2020 rolled out its string of gut-twisting, sleep-depriving upheavals. Still, Janay Barfoot will be the first to say that hers is a difficult family and this year has tested them all. Difficult as in a 20-year-old who has autism as well as a heart condition and bipolar disorder. He has been hospitalized on and off over the last eight years because he’s been a danger to himself and others. This 6’5”, 250-lb. child of hers, who still wants to cuddle, whose goofy smile blazes with innocence, now spends too many of his days playing video games in his basement room. His voice ricochets through the house, and all Barfoot can think is that she wants a better life for him than this. Difficult as in a 14-year-old who started her freshman year online and who aches for connection, but who keeps her computer camera off when she can during online classes. She is smart and cracks up the family with her quick wit, but fears that the curious eyes of her classmates also may be judging eyes and she is certain she does not measure up. Depression stalks her. Difficult as in Barfoot having decided to stay home after the pandemic struck because she has an autoimmune disorder and felt unsafe in the surgery center where she worked intake and billing. Quitting that job means her husband’s job at the water company is their sole income. One income means less income and more stress. Their Lakewood home feels as though it is shrinking around her. “Everything seems to be a battle,” she says. Barfoot, who is 53, also grapples with depression. She regu-

Photos by Marc A. Piscotty

For one Lakewood family, mental health difficulties aren’t just about 2020 By Tina Griego Colorado News Collaborative larly sees a therapist through the Jefferson Center for Mental Health. “[My therapist] has always told me to think about it as being on an airplane,” she says. “They tell you to put on your oxygen mask first.” You would have thought Barfoot says that a life punctuated by the stress of coping with the intertwining of mental illness and physical disability would have prepared her for 2020. But, no, this year’s added layer of uncertainty has proven unrelenting in its ability to make her feel powerless. “I feel like I have no control over anything,” she says. School is online, then hybrid, then online. Her son’s job training is meeting today, no, tomorrow. Her daughter’s Westernaires horse club meetings are in person, then remote — too few and far between for a child who finds comfort in the company of animals. Moods in the house lurch from zero to 60. Her son is pacing again, up the stairs, down the stairs. The continuity he requires no longer exists. Her daughter wants

help, but doesn’t want help. Dishes wait in the sink, laundry in a pile. It is a whiplash existence. Barfoot finds respite in walks with her sister along the nearby foothills or visits with their parents, who live nearby. She finds solidarity in the online groups for parents with kids who have special needs. She will steal away to her room to read when she can. But she is not a woman who sugarcoats. Not the thousands of dollars in medical debt. Not the stress of her children’s needs. Not the tension so much constant pressure inevitably creates between her and her husband of 23 years. Her candor for this story has a purpose: It is too easy for people to skim the surface of mental illness, she says, too easy for people to speak of anxiety and depression as if 2020 has given rise to something new when, as she sees it, all it has done is crack open a window too long sealed shut. “It’s not just 2020,” she says, emphatic. “I think our world is spinning out of control right

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2021

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now, but everyone goes through their own internal struggles and yet are afraid to talk about them. Right now, it’s OK to talk, but prior to COVID, I think it was ‘fake it ‘til you make it,’ and that is such a big thing that I really hate because it puts up this front, keeping people’s feelings still so suppressed. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ says if you have these feelings, hide them, we don’t want to know about them. We don’t want to see them. We just want you to say what we want to hear.” She does not doubt that more people are struggling this year with anxiety or depression. But she greets the rising conversation around mental health with something approximating a suspicious embrace. Yes, let’s talk, she says, but let’s be real when we do. What her family has gone through over the years has required hundreds of hours of therapy. It has required specialists. It has required nearly a year of intervention from Social Services. It has required child psychiatrists who are in short supply. It has required never-ending vigilance over how the schools respond to her children’s needs. Next year may bring the end of social distancing and quarantines. It may bring less unemployment and recovering businesses. It may bring less political and social division. But what it cannot bring, she insists, is a return to ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’ Or to tolerating discrimination against those with serious mental illness or to a status quo in which mental illness is considered less urgent than physical illness. A window has been cracked. It’s time, Barfoot says, to open it wider.. This story is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. If you’re struggling, help is available on Colorado’s crisis hotline. Call 1-844-493TALK(8255)


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“Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America” by Michael Eric Dyson c.2020, St. Martin’s Press, $25.99 / $34.99 Canada, 240 pages

You’ve got mail. No, real mail, delivered by a carrier in a mailbox outside your door. It doesn’t happen very often and it’s rarer if there’s a letter in those envelopes because everybody you know texts or emails and a hand-written, lick-the-envelope, put-a-stamp-on-it letter is so old-school. Who even writes letters anymore? Author Michael Eric Dyson, that’s who, and in “Long Time Coming,” you’ll want to read them. “Dear Elijah McClain...” he begins. When the grief of history is a part of a burden, the pain of now becomes keener and the action more urgent. “Black death” has been in this country for more than 400 years. We know how Elijah died and the knowledge is unbearable. It’s time for a “reckoning.” “Dear Emmett Till,” it hurts to know that if you were a boy today, your life could be taken as easily as it was in 1955. Maybe not the same way, but taken nonetheless and the fact that it happens is something most white folks don’t see. We need all eyes opened

When George Floyd died, it echoed what happened to you, “dear Eric Garner.” You said you couldn’t breathe; Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Neither of you were real troublemakers, but both of you called out in pain to the “blue plague,” and lost your lives anyhow. Why is it that Black women are victims, too, but we don’t talk about them quite as much as we do Black men? “Dear Breonna Taylor,” there’s irony in the fact that you served as an EMT but the city you served gave you no justice after you died. “Dear Hadiya Pendleton,” we can’t use “cancel culture” as justice. No, “dear Sandra Bland,” we must eliminate “white comfort” before we can end the lack of knowledge that contributes to the end of Black lives. As you may have guessed – especially if you’ve read any other works by author Michael Eric Dyson – there’s a lot to unpack inside “Long Time Coming.” It starts without preamble, as Dyson dives straight into his series of letters written to Black Americans whose deaths demand a reckoning with racial issues. This abruptness is unusual in a work of nonfiction, and it forces readers to pay immediate attention. Though there’s a lot of repetition from story to story here, each chapter examines a separate aspect of racism by speaking directly to a deceased individual while also referring to another. There’s an urge embedded in this, to understand each issue before dismantling it, and to see how it matters. Readers may also find Dyson’s choice of subjects to be interesting; there are other victims of racial violence he could’ve picked, as evidenced by his long list of names, each of which begs to have their own stories told.

Perhaps the most crucial thing about this book, though, is that it’s not so much for Black readers as it is for White ones who metaphorically started school late last May. Respectful discussion, soul-searching, urgency: if that’s what you need, “Long Time Coming” delivers. .

“We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy” by Elijah Cummings with James Dale c.2020, Harper; $28.99; 272 pages

Things could always be worse. You didn’t sleep well last night, your day started earlier than usual, and traffic, ugh; then you forgot your lunch and lost a bag of chips in a vending machine, and you never did catch up. You had a rotten day but look on the bright side: you’re above ground and breathing and, as in “We’re Better Than This” by Elijah Cummings with James Dale, someone had your back. Throughout most of his life, Elijah Cummings’ parents were his guide lights. “Neither had much education,” he wrote; they were sharecroppers who moved north so that their children could have better opportunities and they motivated Cummings to become a lawyer,

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Civil Rights worker, and a Congressman. They inspired him to serve, he said, and “I believe that is why I was put on this earth.” His service began early but his biggest “fight... for our democracy” began in 2017, following his first meeting with the newly-inaugurated president. Cummings believed that despite their fundamental differences, Trump had listened then, and understood the needs of Cummings’ constituents, especially in reference to the cost of prescription drugs. Instead, Cummings’ words were dismissed and nothing happened. Though not the type to carry a grudge, Cummings never forgot. When he was asked to serve on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform two years later, his first thought was for the American people, and the responsibility that his position as chair of the Committee demanded. The Trump Administration, he said, had had no real oversight until then, and he hoped to rectify that. He still had a passion for lowering prescription drugs, but his new position demanded a broader scope of attention. In months to come, that would include a fight to keep important words off the 2020 Census. It included mentoring and guiding freshman Representatives. And it included the groundwork for impeachment proceedings that Cummings did not live long enough to see. Not just for its political implications, but for the everyday lessons inside it, “We’re Better Than This” is a book to have now. Writing literally as he was dying, author Elijah Cummings began his book with two people who appear frequently in it: his parents. From there, he sparkles as a storyteller, sharing vivid memories that are both per-


COVER TO COVER - THE BOOKWORM SEZ sonal and professional, and that give readers a sharp sense of what drove him. This part speaks volumes about Cummings himself. It’s hard not to be thrilled as he proceeds to his recollections of what happened while he was chair of the Oversight Committee: riveted as we were by it, Cummings’ account of the drama offers further behindthe-scenes peeks at, and his thoughts on, those proceedings. Wisdom, a charming ownership of his constituents, some welldeserved back-patting, and an awareness of his impending death add further luster. In his introduction, co-author James Dale writes about his friendship with Cummings, and about finishing this inspiring read without him. That alone is poignant; the rest is insightful; and reading “We’re Better Than This� is really the best idea. .

“Dear Justyce� by Nic Stone c.2020, Crown, $18.99 / $24.99 Canada, 267 pages

Your birthday card had a Black History postage stamp on it. As always, it was from Grandma and though it’s kind of corny, you look forward to it ever year: a blue or red envelope outside, a sentimental saying with a few bucks tucked inside. Other than bills, ballots, and ads, she’s the only person you know who snail-mails any-

thing, but in “Dear Justyce� by Nic Stone, help can be delivered, too. The first time Vernell LaQuan Banks ran away, he was nine years old. His mother’s new man had been beating her again and though Quan hated leaving his little brother and sister there, he knew it was safer for them if he left the house. And so he went to the park, where he met Justyce McAllister, who was also taking an after-dark break from home. They kinda knew one another; they lived a block apart in Southwest Atlanta and as it turned out, Justyce’s best friend was Quan’s cousin but that was it. See, Justyce kept clean, stayed in school, studied hard, and went to some fancy white college after graduation, while Quan was arrested the first time at age thirteen for stealing a deck of cards from a convenience store. The second time was for possession of a firearm. His third arrest got him labeled as a “career criminal� and three months in youth detention. By then, his mother had stopped caring what happened to him. And so Quan found his own family. He joined the Black Jihads, led by a man named Martel who ruled his “men.� Suddenly, there was someone who cared where Quan was and that he had something to eat. The Black Jihad took care of their own. And in return, Quan took care of them when something happened, quick-quick-quick. Once, Justyce had visited Quan in prison and Quan never forgot it. On his darkest days, he thought of Justyce and how their lives were so different. And so he took out a piece of paper and took a chance at friendship... Argue this: sometimes, is a choice really a choice? Or is it like a narrow alley with one way out, and somebody’s push-

ing from behind? That’s one of the hard questions inside “Dear Justyce.� Really, the entire first part of this book is hard, starting with author Nic Stone’s note to her readers, explaining how this book came to be. It sets you up for what’s about to happen in the story, though it can’t prepare you enough. Not to be a spoiler, but Quan’s letters to Justyce are a gut-punch and what’s toughest to take is that teens – particularly boys, particularly Black boys – may recognize the raw authenticity of every page of it. The second half, though, is more fictional, with a Hollywood-worthy courtroom drama that’s a little predictable but that’ll nonetheless please an adult as much as it will a 14-to17-year-old. So hand this book to your teen, and be sure to sneak it back for yourself. “Dear Justyce� deserves both your stamps of approval..

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Rose Community Foundation Announces Significant Investments In Advancing Racial Justice Grants Support Broad Array of Local Nonprofits Working to Promote Equity in Greater Denver.

In response to longstanding structural inequities and emerging opportunities to create more racially just systems, Rose Community Foundation recently awarded 14 grants totaling $735,000 to Greater Denver nonprofits advancing

racial justice. These grants represent the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to equity and build upon additional investments made earlier in 2020 to advance economic inclusion and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in communities of color. This latest slate of grant recipients includes organizations working at the intersection of racial equity and justice and a wide range of other issue areas, from economic and educational opportunity to health equity and environmental jus-

Covid-19 is keeping us from coming together this year for our annual 100 Men Who Cook Black Tie Fundraiser but we still need your help. Our bene昀ciaries’ work hasn’t stopped. We’ve established the 1,000@$100 Campaign to help us continue supporting youth in our community. Join the ranks by sending your contribution to www.100menwhocook.co or 100 Men Who Cook - PO Box 7188 – Denver, CO 80207

tice. The organizations also embody a variety of approaches to combatting systemic racism; some groups specialize in program– or service–delivery, while others focus on policy, advocacy and community organizing. This round of funding comes at a moment when longstanding disparities and inequities have been both highlighted and compounded by COVID-19, and opportunities for change and impact have accelerated following incidents of police-related deaths, nationwide demonstrations, and subsequent dialogue and reforms happening locally and across the country. “In 2020, national tragedies have focused long-overdue attention on structural racism within our country and our community in very public and personal ways,” said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, Rose Community Foundation’s president & CEO. “Given our longterm focus on equity and inclusion, our grants to racial justice organizations this year are only the beginning of our work in this space. It’s important to talk about these issues but talking is not enough. We are putting dollars where our voice, values and vision intersect.” This round of funding comes after months of active community outreach and conversations between Foundation staff and racial equity leaders across the Greater Denver region. It is also informed by the Foundation’s late-August web briefing about community-driven solutions to systemic challenges that local Black-led, Black-serving organizations are pursuing. That webinar featured a panel of four nonprofit leaders from The Center for African American Health, Empower Community High School, Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities and Second Chance Center, each of which

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are Rose Community Foundation grantee partners from previous funding cycles. In describing the work of the organizations receiving funding in this racial justice grantmaking slate, Jicelyn Johnson, founder and Chief Visionary Officer of The Black Business Initiative, said, “We each tackle issues facing the Black community from different angles, but we have a shared commitment to advancing the well-being of our community.” “We are hopeful that the tragedies and challenges of 2020 may be catalyzing in creating real change to advance racial justice” added Chet W. Sisk, cofounder and board member at Co-Lead International, one of the nonprofits receiving funding. “Our collective efforts in Greater Denver inspire hope and real change.” Those interested in supporting the Foundation’s future racial justice grantmaking may contribute to its Community Action Fund for Racial Justice. Every dollar donated to the Fund will be deployed rapidly and strategically to local nonprofits on the front lines of racial justice work. “We are here to improve the quality of life within our community and support the diverse people that make up and define Greater Denver, and for Rose that means a focus on valuesdriven philanthropy that is inclusive and equitable; to carry out our mission we must be committed to expanding relationships with organizations on the front lines of racial-justice work in our community,” said Steve Cohen, chair of the Rose Community Foundation board of trustees. General operating support was provided to give nonprofits maximum flexibility in deploying the grant dollars, unless funding for a specific project was requested..


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from page 3 folks of all social and racial backgrounds marching in the streets in the name of the martyr George Floyd. Yes, I do believe he would be proud. Yes, I do believe he would be worried that we still have so much racism and hatred motivating those who oppose the protests. I can’t say he would be entirely happy. None of us can be. I can see him praying that there be more folks who can marshal the eloquence he found to bring us all together, to see from the mountain top that all children be allowed to breathe free, to find their unique and special voices, and to allow everyone to pursue the happiness that both the Creator and the Declaration of Independence would desire. Yes, if you have communication with our Creator, Reverend King would ask that we find those special voices that will speak of the time when racism and hatred are past memories, so that we motivate folks to find their own kindness and their own caring for everyone. In the meantime, we ordinary folk need to say with our firm insistence that “ALL LIVES MATTER!” Mike Sawaya Denver

Electoral College Editor: The debate has started again as to whether the US Constitution should be amended in order to change the presidential election process. Some promote eliminating the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote for president while others believe the Electoral College should remain unchanged. Just as compromise solved the initial problems of the framers so it is that compromise can solve this problem. The solution is to change the

electoral votes to electoral points and reward each candidate a percentage of points based on the percentage of popular votes received in each state. This would eliminate the “winner takes all” system thus allowing for all the votes to count. A voter is more apt to believe their vote counted when a percentage of popular votes are taken into account rather than the “all or nothing” system currently in existence. Further, this new system would integrate the desire for a popular vote for president with the need for the individual states to determine who actually gets elected. For 2020 multiplying the percentage of votes each candidate received {in each state} times the number of electoral votes {in each state} results in the following: Biden 267.23 and Trump 252.33. Multiplying the percentage of popular votes each candidate received {nationwide} times the total number of electoral votes {538} results in the following: Biden 274.92 and Trump 253.40. Joe Bialek Cleveland, Ohio

COVID’s Second Wave Underscores the Threats Facing Disabled Americans Editor: The second wave of COVID19 has arrived with a vengeance. But there’s hope on the horizon. Pfizer and Moderna just announced their experimental vaccines proved more than 90 percent effective in clinical trials. People in the highest risk categories — namely, healthcare workers and those with chronic illnesses and disabilities — will receive prioritized access to these vaccines. That’s as it should be. Putting them at the

front of the line for a vaccine is a way to collectively acknowledge that their lives matter. But unfortunately, when it comes to diseases other than COVID-19, society doesn’t show nearly the same level of concern for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. In fact, many self-styled healthcare experts have proposed “reforms” that would limit these individuals’ access to treatments. That’s wrong, plain and simple. By now, it’s well known that COVID-19 disproportionately harms people with pre-existing conditions and disabilities. Of the roughly 250,000 Americans who’ve lost their lives, 94 percent had another condition listed as a factor in their cause of death. COVID-19 patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities have died from the virus at roughly twice the rate of the general patient population. These vulnerable patients could soon face even more challenges if health insurers listen to groups like the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER). The influential non-profit has appointed itself as an arbiter of new drugs’ cost-effectiveness. ICER recommends a “fair price” for medications based on the analyses it performs. To conduct these cost-benefit analyses, ICER uses a controversial metric called a “qualityadjusted life year,” or QALY. A treatment that adds a year of perfect health to a patient’s life provides one QALY. And the more QALYs a drug generates per dollar, the more valuable ICER considers it. In theory, QALY assessments provide an objective way to quantify a drug’s effectiveness — and ensure that patients, insurers, and taxpayers are getting a good bang for their buck. But in practice, these assessments discriminate against

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patients with disabilities and chronic illnesses. That’s because patients with certain chronic diseases and disabilities may never achieve a full QALY. A drug could completely alleviate the patient’s symptoms — but wouldn’t deliver a full QALY. In other words, ICER uses its QALY metric to devalue the lives and well-being of vulnerable populations. And ICER’s clout cannot be underestimated. If it considers a drug to not be cost-effective, insurers may listen and deny the medication to those who need it most. The dangerous consequences of ICER’s pseudoscientific evaluations don’t end there. By placing such a low value on these treatments, ICER discourages biopharmaceutical firms from investing in drugs that disproportionately benefit Americans with disabilities. ICER isn’t alone in signaling that drug companies shouldn’t waste their time on treatments for Americans with disabilities. The outgoing Trump administration is still pressing forward with its efforts to tie Medicare drug reimbursements to the artificially low price of drugs in Canada and Europe, where price controls have long restricted patients’ access to new medicines. If the administration’s changes were implemented, investors could pull the plug on research projects targeting rare diseases. Americans agree that the most vulnerable patients deserve priority access to COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines. It’s time for people to recognize that these vulnerable populations deserve access to treatments for other conditions as well. Angela F. Williams

Editor’s note: Angela F. Williams is president and CEO of Easterseals, a leading provider of services for people with disabilities, veterans and seniors. This piece originally ran in the Times of Northwest Indiana.


Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship Slated For March 2-4

Metropolitan State University of Denver is proud to honor Rachel B. Noel’s legacy of activism, social justice and equity with a distinguished visiting professorship, now in its 40th year. On March 2-4, the university will be holding the 40th anniversary series of events online. As we move into the New Year, the planning committee has decided to focus on “Healing and Hope” for the theme of the ruby anniversary. The professorship brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to MSU Denver to conduct classes, seminars, performances, and lectures for students, faculty, and the larger Denver community. The past few speakers have been Joy-Ann Reid, Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Philip Hart, and Rep. Wilma J. & Mayor Wellington E. Webb. The university will be honoring deserving people that are living the legacy of Rachel Noel with the Hope for the Future Award. Nominations are currently open for the award and will remain open until February 1. Past award recipients have included Congressman Joe Neguse, Mayor Wellington Webb and Marie Louise Greenwood, Denver Public Schools first African American teacher. MSU Denver will recognize the awardees during the event in March. The Noel professorship develops multiculturalism,

Colorado Community College System Awarded $1 Million From Colorado Health Foundation To Reshape Law Enforcement Training The Colorado Community College Foundation announced that The Colorado Health Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) to reshape law enforcement training and better prepare future officers to serve and protect all members of Colorado’s diverse communities. The grant will allow CCC’s Law Enforcement Academy Curriculum and Training project team to review current course objectives, program requirements, and instructor techniques to identify opportunities to embed a focus on social justice. The redesigned curriculum will be offered to academy cadets and delivered statewide to current officers. An early review of Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) curriculum indicates that only eight credit hours of the required 556 total credit hours focus on issues of ethics and anti-bias policing. The remaining hours are dedicated to tactical topics and skills such as criminal processes, basic law, driving, and hand-to-hand combat. While all are critical aspects of officer training, CCCS’s project will provide necessary balance specifically in the areas of racial justice, diversity, implicit bias, and de-escalation to better reflect the activities that most officers engage in every day. “Our commitment to our students and to our communities is to improve lives and increase opportunity through education. We acknowledge that as the state’s largest provider of post-secondary training and workforce education, we have a responsibility to re-examine diversity and academic excellence at MSU Denver and continues to reflect historic achievements and inspire future generations of leaders. An announcement of the 40th Anniversary Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor will be coming soon! . Editor’s note: For more information or to nominate someone for an award visit www.msudenver.edu/noel.

our law enforcement curriculum that prepares hundreds of new police officers each year,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “We are grateful for this generous support from The Colorado Health Foundation that will help us move our initiative forward and empower us to make a lasting impact on the health and safety of our communities.” “The Colorado Health Foundation is proud to support this project aimed at transforming local law enforcement training to better reflect, represent and serve Colorado’s diverse communities – particularly folks who have been historically and disproportionately harmed by police violence, such as Black, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander and Native/Indigenous populations,” said Karen McNeil-Miller, president and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation. “The safety and well-being of everyone in our state is critical to our mission to bring health in reach for all Coloradans. We see this collaborative community effort as a potential game changer, and as one piece of a larger puzzle to create more inclusive, equitable institutions and systems.” Partners in this important work to review programs statewide include the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the POST Board, community organizations such as Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, and prominent leaders in the community. Higher education partners include Colorado Mountain College, Aims

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Community College, and Western Colorado Community College. CCCS and these college partners collectively house 11 of the 24 Law Enforcement

Academies in the state, all of which are governed by the POST Board, training close to 700 cadets per year. The initiative includes three phases. The first phase is a comprehensive review of current law enforcement training programs and development of a new, culturally responsive curriculum. In phase two, instructors will complete training using the new curriculum that includes high impact simulations for explicit training around issues of social justice and racial equity. The second phase also includes intentional efforts to expand the diversity of instructional staff within academies. Culminating the project in phase three is the creation of a second training program for working officers to be delivered through half-day modules or multi-day sessions. The redesigned curriculum is expected to be offered in 2022 to cadets and the new training for officers will be available in 2023. .

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Kool 1970

Kool 1976

JUUL 2015

Different era, same Big Tobacco. Tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol-flavored cigarettes to kids and Black Americans for decades. Menthol cigarettes are easier to start smoking and harder to quit. That’s why 70% of Black American youth smokers use menthols. Today, Big Tobacco’s still at it – with e-cigarettes also hooking a new generation with new flavors. Let’s stop pretending tobacco companies and vape shops care about public health or the health of our children. It’s time to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products to protect our kids and communities. Take action now by visiting FlavorsHookKidsDenver.org to tell your City Council Members to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. Paid for by Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund

Profile for Denver Urban Spectrum

Denver Urban Spectrum January 2021  

Denver Urban Spectrum pays tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. DUS is partnering with nearly 100 others through the Colorado...

Denver Urban Spectrum January 2021  

Denver Urban Spectrum pays tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. DUS is partnering with nearly 100 others through the Colorado...