INFEMNITY Productions at World Press Freedom Day

Several venues in New York hosted events in celebration of World Press Freedom Day during the week of May 1st through 5th, the most notable being the United Nations. The result of the Windhoek Declaration, which was produced at a UNESCO seminar "Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press" - held in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, from April 29th to May 3rd 1991 - t he date of the Declaration's adoption, May 3rd, has subsequently been declared as World Press Freedom Day. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the global conference. This year, the primary focus of the conference was the war in Ukraine. Several journalists have lost their lives there. The documentary 20 Days in Mariupol was screened at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College the evening of May 1st, which emphasized the importance of getting video footage out of a war zone when Internet access has been destroyed. The producers of the film came very close to losing their lives, as well as their

Are Gay Men Our Oppressors, Too?

  I was so fortunate to attend the unveiling ceremony for a sign on East 68th Street in Manhattan marking the new "Audre Lorde Way" on May 10th. Writers and dignitaries were present to praise the event and Lorde herself, including the president of Hunter College (from which Lorde graduated in 1959, and where she served as a professor for many years), NYC Council Member Keith Powers, former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and MacArthur Fellow Jacqueline Woodson, and others. To end the program before the actual unveiling of the street sign, several Hunter students came to the stage to read Lorde's essay "There is No Hierarchy of Oppressions," which, of course, got me thinking. I had just recently attended the GLAAD Media Awards a few days before, and had been struck by the numbers of drag queens, trans women performers, and gay men who walked the red carpet, as opposed to the comparatively small number of lesbians. GLAAD stands for the Gay AN

The Military Wins Again

To pass the time during this pandemic I found myself reading the diary of Virginia Woolf, and was struck by the panic and fear she expressed in 1940. The Nazis had begun their bombing raids in and around London, and she was panicked that her home and neighborhood could be bombed any day. Her fear ultimately contributed to her decision to commit suicide, because she could no longer tolerate the anxiety. At the same time I am watching the news reports of the imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and am shocked at the amount of money thrown at the U.S. military to prepare to assist the Ukrainian military. In the blink of an eye, hundreds of millions of dollars have been designated to be squandered on the threat of war, when American hospitals don't have enough funds to support staff and facilities in the fight against COVID-19. Our economy and security as a nation are being controlled by Vladimir Putin's whims. The threat of this invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news cycle

In Case You Haven't Noticed, Women Are Under Attack

As the Supreme Court inches toward overturning Roe v. Wade, the likelihood increases that a young American woman will no longer have any control over whether or not she will carry a pregnancy to term. Her education and her career may be interrupted, her financial status and security put in peril. It seems white men are longing for a romanticized fantasy of the good ole days when they had all the power, and women were totally dependent on them. Well, they are creating a scenario where women will have to refuse to engage with them sexually. If the Supreme Court has its way, even a child conceived from rape and/or incest will have to be carried to term.  According to the World Health Organization, about 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. The Supreme Court This represents a nightmare for future generations. It is no surprise that Donald Trump, a rapist himself, has appointed Supreme Court Justices who are invested in taking away women's freedom. T

White Supremacists Storm the U.S. Capitol

   January 6, 2021: Egged on by Donald Trump, white supremacists penetrate the Capitol Building shouting "Hang Mike Pence," and "Where's Nancy?", destroying property and stealing from offices of members of Congress. Rioters included retired and current members of law enforcement. It is no surprise to African Americans that white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement. Ask anyone who has followed the Black Lives Matter movement and is familiar with the countless murders of unarmed black men by police. But now that "Trumpets" have attacked the Capitol, and it has been discovered that many of the white men in the mob were either retired or current members of law enforcement, white people are shocked. It has been reported that white supremacist congressmen Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar assisted some of the rioters in planning their attack. It has also been reported that white supremacist members of Congress took rioters on tours of the Capit

What Would Martin Say?

Watching this whole "Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump," I am disgusted! The fact that the Republican Party is so united behind this criminal truly disgusts me. They unanimously voted against Chuck Schumer's amendments to Mitch McConnell's rules for the trial to subpoena White House witnesses and documents. How on earth is there supposed to be a fair trial without evidence and witnesses? We all know that Donald Trump is a racist. Anyone who votes to protect a racist is also, most likely, a racist. For what other reason are they trying to allow him to remain in office - aside from the fact that he is lining their pockets and cutting their taxes? "Keep me in office and you'll get richer," is his mantra; and they've swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. They may use all kinds of excuses to defend their actions. But we are not fooled. If you protect a racist, then you are a racist! The tragedy of all this is, again, black people don't mat

Some Year-End Thoughts

As we look forward to the end of 2017, and the impeachment of the POTUS, I wanted to focus on something positive, namely, the courageous action of the Church of Sweden. To quote a PinkNews article: “Church tells priests to stop calling God ‘he’ and use gender-neutral pronouns (headline). The Church of Sweden has advised its clergy to stop referring to God using male pronouns. Sweden’s national church, an Evangelical Lutheran denomination, made the switch as part of a modernization push. It advised members of the clergy to avoid referring to God using male identifiers such as ‘he’, ‘Father’ and ‘the Lord.’  “Instead of using the phrase ‘the Father, son and Holy Spirit’ during church services, clergy will be able to use the phrase ‘in the name of God and the Holy Trinity.’ The changes to the church handbook for services are aimed at reforming the church’s role in a more gender-inclusive society. “Antje Jackelen, the Archbishop of Uppsala and Primate of the Church of Sweden, ex

Book Review: "The Presidency in Black and White" by April Ryan

Nina Kennedy and April Ryan As I shared in an earlier blog, we had the pleasure of hearing White House correspondent April Ryan speak in New York at this year’s Paul Weiss Annual Diversity Networking Reception in June. We all received copies of her new book  The Presidency in Black and White , subtitled “My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America.” April Ryan has been a member of the White House Press Corps for 18 years as a correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN). Most recently she received national attention for being called-out by former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for “shaking [her] head” in response to the “alternative facts” presented at the briefing. We have seen her as a regular political commentator on CNN and MSNBC. April Ryan Speaking and the Paul Weiss Diversity Networking Reception Sean Spicer telling April Ryan "Stop shaking your head, April." Ryan interviewed three

Lisa Durden and the Burden of the False Angry Black Woman Narrative

The black person’s burden of managing white fragility is as old as slavery. Dr. Joy DeGruy speaks of this in her groundbreaking book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome . There is a delicate balance between the comfort of maintaining a superior cast system and the guilt of protecting it. And still today, people vastly underestimate the extent to which black lives are filled with a level of racial stress that most white people are not exposed to and simply couldn’t deal with. Lisa Durden, a talk show host, pop-culture commentator, film curator and adjunct professor, went on Fox News to discuss the New York City Black Lives Matter chapter’s Memorial Day party, where they asked that if people did not identify as part of the African Diaspora, that they not attend. Durden went head-to-head with Tucker Carlson to explain why she supported the New York City Black Lives Matter chapter’s decision. Durden argued that as Memorial Day was founded by disenfranchised blacks, and as blacks continue to

Jeh Johnson, April Ryan, & Deep Roots of Diversity at Paul, Weiss Law Firm

I was filled with pride when President Barack Obama appointed Jeh Charles Johnson to become our nation’s Secretary of Homeland Security. Jeh Johnson’s grandfather had served as the first African-American president of Fisk University, where my parents were on the faculty. In fact, it was Dr. Charles S. Johnson who gave my parents their wedding at the Fisk Memorial Chapel, since my mother’s father had died when she was a young girl. Dr. Johnson had indeed become a father-figure to her during her early career. Jeh Charles Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama Dr. Charles S. Johnson, first black president of Fisk University, and grandfather of Jeh Johnson Jeh and I would see each other as children on campus whenever our parents would socialize. Of course we went our separate ways when we left Nashville to go to college, but we would run into each other again over the years when we returned to visit. When Jeh returned to Fisk in 2013 to rece