13 Books You Absolutely Must Read Before Seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Detroit’

This work appeared on BookTrib on August 4, 2017

The Summer of ’67 was a unique time in America’s history that some fondly remember as a season full of love, music and flower power. Still, for others in major American cities, that summer was awash in civil unrest, where waves of injustice led to rebellion and social change. A new film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter and Algee Smith re-enacts the 1967 incident at Algiers Motel in Detroit that left three young men dead. This event marked a turning point in the civil rights movement when lost innocence gave way to a revolution now undeterred by fear. The youth of the day had seen the worst and they were ready to fight so in the future these things would be only recalled in history books. Unfortunately, we are reminded, daily, that little has changed since then and while there has been progress over the last 50 years, the incidents at Algiers Motel and in the City of Detroit can occur at any time, in any city and people are still rebelling and fighting for justice when it does. For many seeing Detroit in theaters this weekend, this will be their first time hearing of these events. For others, it will be like reliving that time all over again. Whether you are new to this history or can remember where you were when the Detroit crisis began in the summer of 1967, these 13 must-read summer books will give you a better understanding of what really happened there and set up a clear context for viewing the film afterward.

Read the full article athttps://booktrib.com/2017/08/detroit-film-books-2017/

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Full Disclosure

Published on July 10, 2017 by Huffington Post

 

Words are wonderful. Together, they can inspire and uplift, they can be a catalyst for change, and they can also be used to hurt and destroy. My job is to write, in every position I have held, it has been the one asset that set me apart from my peers. I have always taken it very seriously because I know that someone can sue you for defamation if you get it wrong or run completely on emotion. The more you defame someone in an effort to gain support, the bigger the fish you are to fry in a civil suit, particularly if you represent an nonprofit or charitable organization.

I have worked for 501c3 nonprofit organizations and state registered charities from the time I was 20 years old. I have served as the Director and Assistant Director of research centers and think tanks, worked in tandem with public relations teams, and even served as an Executive Board Member At-Large of the Women’s Caucus of my state chapter of the Young Democrats of America. In over 20 years, my career experiences have taught me the one skill every administrative officer of an organization should master: how to finesse the press and address unflattering media coverage.

The best code of conduct for handling such a crisis is to acknowledge shortcomings, admit to wrong doings, impart a set of solutions, and direct people toward the positive outcomes. The worst code of conduct in this manner is to attack people individually, or in groups. Many think this is okay because they see President Trump do it daily, but know he’s not operating in the real world. If you, as a named officer of a nonprofit, engage with the media and other individuals the same way, know that you will reap the repercussions for your behaviors. Essentially, that bad decision can backfire, make your organization suffer and you will be forced to own all of that. This is what hurts nonprofits the most—- thin-skinned leadership. When you accept the leadership role offered, you also accept the responsibility that goes along with being a leader and that includes, sometimes, getting bad press. If you cannot control or manage your emotions, it is best not to respond. This is not a time for being impulsive. This is a time, however, to reflect on the ethical and legal ramifications of your behavior and how deeply your organization will be impacted by a defamation suit where not only the nonprofit is listed, but individual officers are also named.

When you are listed as an an officer, a President, Vice President, Director, Assistant Director, CEO, COO or any other position, even if you are a volunteer in charge of fundraising for a nonprofit, you can’t just go online and begin shooting off at the mouth issuing threats because someone wrote something you didn’t like; it’s not ethical. You definitely don’t threaten to “strangle” any media person covered by the first amendment with your “bare hands,” or threaten to uproot their child from a loving home when you have no evidence of how they are taken care of; that is illegal. You especially don’t even broach this subject if your only proof is they wrote something that hurt your feelings; that’s ridiculous and filing a false report to child services is a punishable crime. New England states, particularly, have very stringent laws with regards to this. If you are reckless and irresponsible enough as the leader of a nonprofit to do so, that media person should have you reported, file charges on behalf of the child and have a social media order of protection put in place to protect the minor. Adults don’t threaten children. Grown men don’t threaten little girls, and nonprofit professionals definitely don’t threaten anyone and expect it to not be reported to both the IRS and the state Attorney General after it has been reported to law enforcement.

As a writer, if I gather together all of the social media rantings and harassment of individuals at the hands of a nonprofit officer, say the Vice President of an animal rescue, and turn it into a story about cyberbullying, that is me doing my job. If the VP of that rescue threatens to call child protective services to remove my child, tell everyone how I was violently assaulted five years ago today, or expose “family” secrets of people he believes are my relatives, but are not, just to prevent me from continuing to investigate the nonprofit’s activities and to soothe his ego over some writings that may or may not be mine, he is not acting as a proper leader or with the best interest of the nonprofit in mind. His threats of exposure will not repair whatever damage is done to his image or that of the organization he represents. It also won’t stop most writers from doing their job, either. In the end, it just makes him look like a big bully and ultimately the words he’s used and how he’s used them in an attempt to control another individual will do him more harm than good.

This is where I find myself today as a writer who worked in the nonprofit sector for many years. The aforementioned scenario isn’t just a hypothetical, it is happening in real time where the Vice President of a 501c3 in California has taken to social media threatening to “expose” my “skeletons” when in truth he knows very little about me except that at one time I taught at Southern Connecticut State University (2009-2010) and that I have quite a few publications, a fact he tries to minimize because if people knew I have over 100 publications in the last two years alone, everything he’s said about my credibility would fall apart. The truth is, I don’t keep secrets. I worked with enough politicians to know that secrets get you in trouble, Anthony Weiner can attest to that. But, when you unveil your own, no one can do you any harm; their words don’t matter and you are free from any type of fear they believe to have instilled in you. So, full disclosure about me and the very things that nonprofit VP believes can hurt me or shut me up, even:

Read the full article on HuffPost at: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/full-disclosure_us_59627e52e4b08f5c97d06ab7

Soul Cry: Prince

In 2009, I lost a friend I grew up with. I was so devastated, it took one year, 18 days, 3 hours and 12 minutes before I cried for her. I know because I counted every second, every day, every week. When I finally did break down, it was a gut-wrenching cry from somewhere deep in my soul; a place I hoped would never reveal itself again. I don’t remember sleeping, eating or anything else, really, but for four days I cried non-stop.

I have this amazingly innate ability to compartmentalize my feelings; a coping mechanism I am sure was developed as a child, but that September day in 2010 when I finally cried, I knew a pain for which I was unprepared.  I struggled through it and in 2012, I put it away in its own neat little compartment in my heart and in the recesses of my mind. And that was that.

Or so I thought.

I woke up a year ago today and that pain I packed away four years prior was the first thing I saw staring at me from across the room. It said, “Pop Icon Prince Dead At Age 57.” I stared back in utter confusion and disbelief, my head swimming as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing.  The man, whom I never met, but through his gift, his tenacity, and his drive shaped who I was.  I learned about life from him; he helped me to embrace all of who I am, to love every part and to never apologize for being authentically myself.  For that I will always be grateful.

Today, my soul cries. One year and my soul still cries for him. It feels like that September day in 2010 all over again. I don’t like this new reality at all, but this time, I won’t be putting my feelings away in some compartment, I will just deal.

We will all just have to deal.

And the world will understand because Prince didn’t belong to just one of us, he belonged to all of us, he was our gift from God sent here to remind us that there’s no shame or sin in being ourselves. And to love who we are, unconditionally, just as we loved and still love him.

My post, “I Wish U [Soul] Heaven” from April 21, 2016:

I woke up this morning and my heart was broken, shattered into a million pieces, and my tears fell to the ground like (purple) rain. It hurts, it burns and it has left me truly overwhelmed with emotions I cannot clearly define. To me, artists like him, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Teena Marie were immortal. They each occupy a special place in my heart, in my very soul. They were my favorites. They could do no wrong and could never die.  They were here, they gave us all they could possibly give and then one day, without notice, they were gone. He was the last and now, like Michael, Marvin and Teena, he is gone.

Gone. My Prince is gone and I am devastated.

I believe there is a soul heaven, a “place where all the good [soul] children go.” Today, it’s gates opened and welcomed him. The last of my musical idols who transcended the boundaries of musical artistry has now transitioned. My final inspiration is gone and I feel it in every possible way.

Rest eternally in New Power Soul, my sweet Prince. Take your seat beside the King of Pop, the Prince of Motown and the Ivory Queen of Soul. You’ve more than earned it.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/akstaggers.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/i-wish-u-soul-heaven/amp/

 

Why 2016 Is The Year I Don’t Want To Remember, But Will Never Forget

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In less than three hours, 2016 will be but a harsh memory and 2017 will begin.  What can I say about the year I don’t care to remember but will never forget?  In a nutshell, 2016 has been the year nothing made sense.  Prince is dead and Donald Trump, imp that he is, was elected to serve as the 45th President of the United States. And I don’t understand any of it. Not at all.

It is like I entered into some unparalleled universe on April 21 where the lines of reality, fantasy, and horror were corroded and much of my time since has been spent trying to find my way out of it; or last least find peace and some semblance of sensibility where there appears to be none.  And common sense, such that it is, seems to be on a permanent vacation.

It has left my heart not wanting to leave this year behind even though my head knows better. It was a terrible year, one I wish I could forget. But because of these nonsensical circumstances, I doubt I ever will be able to erase it from my mind.

Everything that happened this year was colored by the loss of my idol, my most favorite musical talent of all time, and a teacher of sorts.  If I had to say one person who taught me as much, if not more than my parents, one person I could look to and say, “he helped raise me,” that person would be Prince.  And he never knew it.  Through his music I learned things about love, sex and that being different isn’t so much the detriment we tend to believe, but a unique gift bestowed on only a select few.  Being different, quirky, is something to be celebrated, out in the open with no regrets.  I also learned from him that it can, at times, be a lonely existence when you are different by societal standards.  He gave us his music and that was often, for me, the gift I needed to make it through many lonely days as a child and teenager.

His influence on my life, through his music, has had a greater impact than can ever be expressed in words and I am hurt beyond belief that he no longer walks this earth and by how he left it behind.  There is a hole here that no other artist or person can fill. I am 42, and I will live the rest of my life in a world he is not a part of.  At midnight, we will enter into the first year of my lifetime where he does not exist, but as a memory, and I am devastated.  The election in November was just insult to injury and solidified my stance that 2016 was the worst year ever.  On some level I am glad it is almost gone. On another, I wish I could go back to March, equipped with all the knowledge April 21st on has provided.

I hope that 2017 will prove to be a lot kinder, more loving and spare us our legends. I hope… but if I learned anything from 2016, there are no promises, no guarantees. And life, as we have learned all too painfully, can be fleeting.

Prince, you were greatly loved and are greatly missed.

***Upon finishing this article, I learned 1977 was a more deadly year for celebrities. I don’t know why The Telegraph, CNN, and others thought this would be some sort of consolation, especially for those of us who can’t remember 1977, but they did. And it was insensitive, to say the least.

Wherever You Are (For Prince)

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Six months….half a year….
When I lost a friend some years ago, my sister told me that time passes, seasons change and the only thing that remains the same is the pain that someone who once was is no longer here. So I have come to not only view death as the passage of time, but as days turn into months, I view it as the passage of seasons and eventually, like all things, seasons return.
Wherever You Are (For Prince)
 
Spring has passed, taking you with her.
 
And I am jealous that she can now be wherever you are for eternity.
 
Summer came and away she went, too…to that place you now call home.
 
That place…
 
The one that is so very far from me.
 
With fall comes memories of you I have always held dear.
 
But soon she, too, will go away to be yours and bask with you in that heavenly place.
 
Then winter will hit me with her coldness before she goes to find you as well.
 
I know Spring will return, not the one I wish I could have again, but one who knows you,
 
And where you are.
 
And when she does,
 
In April, I will ask her to tell me the good word.
 
“How has he been?
 
What new sounds have you heard?”

‘I Wish U [Soul] Heaven’: Saying Goodbye To My Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson

1958-2016

“We had fun, didn’t we?”

fp_3790899_ang_prince_conce

I woke up this morning and my heart was broken, shattered into a million pieces, and my tears fell to the ground like (purple) rain. It hurts, it burns and it has left me truly overwhelmed with emotions I cannot clearly define. To me, artists like him, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Teena Marie were immortal. They each occupy a special place in my heart, in my very soul. They were my favorites. They could do no wrong and could never die.  They were here, they gave us all they could possibly give and then one day, without notice, they were gone. He was the last and now, like Michael, Marvin and Teena, he is gone.

Gone. My Prince is gone and I am devastated.

I believe there is a soul heaven, a “place where all the good [soul] children go.” Today, it’s gates opened and welcomed him. The last of my musical idols who transcended the boundaries of musical artistry has now transitioned. My final inspiration is gone and I feel it in every possible way.

Rest eternally in New Power Soul, my sweet Prince. Take your seat beside the King of Pop, the Prince of Motown and the Ivory Queen of Soul. You’ve more than earned it.