NEW YORK, NY
NYC elections are a month away. The Bill de Blasio mayoralty ends on December 31. Change, uncertainty, and hope are low hanging invaders hovering over NYC. A new mayor will be tasked with monumental challenges facing this busy, chaotic, multicultural city state, the main artery of American life. NY1 TV’s Inside City Hall show has done a fine job profiling the mayoral hopefuls, Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa, each for 60 minutes. Adams has done his homework.
NY is still in a tense recovery mode from the sea change that it has undergone since the advent of the COVID virus 19 months ago. The once beloved NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned. His successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, his Lieutenant Governor, is making waves and the 24/7 news cycle, displaying her managerial heft. She named NYS Senator Brian Benjamin as Lieutenant Governor. She has issued countless executive orders, she recalled state lawyers, who were in recess, back to Albany for unfinished business and to assist in moving her agenda forward. Her executive tentacles are far reaching and intrudes regularly on NYC crises like health, education, penal system, transportation which require ASAP repair.
An advocate of vaccination mandates, Hochul’s governance style is practical, and aggressive, especially for NY Blacks, Latinos, Asian and Native Americans. She got the legislature to extend the NYS eviction moratorium to January 15. Consequently, the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program, ERAP, is up and running, paying rent arrears for tenants related to COVID work stoppages. On cannabis, a group appointed by Gov. and the Legislature is in place to roll out law enacted in 2020. Ousting Cuomo loyalists, she is forming her cabinet, naming African American MD Mary Bassett as NYS Health Commissioner, a key appointment as the COVID/Delta variant viruses continue to menace.
Gov. Hochul has weighed in the NYC Rikers Island crisis – frightened corrections officers not reporting to work; overcrowding; 12 detainee deaths there in 2021 – and a mayor reluctant and impotent to address those concerns. She authorized the release of almost 200 Rikers detainees, after reviewing causes of incarceration.
NYC: A scandal is aborning in NYC. On 10/5, the FBI raided and confiscated items from the office and home of Ed Mullins, irascible NYPD Sergeants Benevolent union chief. A vulgarian, racist union leader since 2002, Mullins is an example of some of NYPD culture dysfunction. The FBI did not disclose nature of the probe. It is probably union funds related. Mullins resigned by day’s end.
HEALTH TIPS: There has been a surge in COVID vaccinations among NYC Blacks. Is it related to the City’s new culturally relevant TV ads. The new cast of characters for vaccine outreach includes African Rev Chris of Brooklyn, whose cadences sounds akin to those of Nigerians Another commercial features a Caribbean woman pitching the vaccine, who speaks in standard English interrupted with lapses into Jamaican patois. Then there is Semone, the Caribbean sounding woman with pierced Africa-continent shaped, shoulder- length earrings, who sings the vaccine praises.
October is a good time for the COVID booster shot and the annual flu shot…… Drug maker Merck has completed its trials of a COVID19 pill, results from which will be submitted to the FDA for emergency use.
Congratulation to the 25 recipients of the 2021 MacArthur Fellowship Program. which were announced last week. The MacArthur Fellows also known as the Genius Awards are the no-strings attached $625,000 grants to people who exemplify creativity in the arts, humanities, science, and other fields of endeavor. The MacArthur 2021 Geniuses include 12 Blacks. 1) Hanif Abdurraqib, poet and author of “A Little Devil In America: Notes In Praise of Black Performance” 2) Reginald Dwayne Betts, attorney/poet 3) Jordan Casteel, fine artist painter 4) Dr. Ibrahim Cisse, Director of Biological Physics at the Planck Institute in Freiburg, Germany 5) Dr. Nicole Fleetwood, art historian, author of “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” 6) Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Boston University, author of “How To Be An Antiracist” 7) Daniel Lind-Ramos, sculptor/painter whose works focus on Afro Caribbean traditions in Puerto Rico 8) Dr. Safiya Nobel, UCLA, scholar on race, gender and digital media, author of “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism” 9) Dr. Jacqueline Stewart, film scholar/curator 10) Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton, historian 11) Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, choreographer, founder of Urban Bush Women 12) Desmond Meade, formerly incarcerated civil rights activist, who is Director of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. The Black MacArthur Class of 2021 is engaged in American themes of race, social and criminal justice reform before and after the George Floyd epoch.
THEATER: Broadway, theater’s Great White Way, boasts seven productions by Black playwrights, during the 2021 season. The plays include Ruben Santiago Hudson’s life story in a solo play, LACKAWANNA BLUES……THOUGHTS OF A COLORED MAN, about the lives of seven Black men……TROUBLE IN MIND stars La Chanze playing a stage actress confronting racism in the theater, written by Alice Childress in 1955…… CLYDE’S by Lynn Nottage, about former inmates, employees at truck stop sandwich shop, trying to reclaim their lives; Dominique Morisseau’s “SKELETON CREW about Detroit auto workers fearful that their plant could close during the Depression…….CHICKEN AND BISCUITS, a comedy, starring Norm Lewis, written by Douglas Lyons, about a family ready to celebrate the life of their father when a family secret shows up at the funeral; and PASS OVER, by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, about two Black young men talking and dreaming about their promised land until a white man walks into their space and disrupts their plans.
FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE, WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, the Ntozake Shange 1976 choreopoem, returns to Broadway in 2022, directed by Camille Brown, a Tony-nominated choreographer.
TELEVISION: OUR KIND OF PEOPLE, loosely based on the Lawrence Otis Graham book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” is a new Fox TV prime time show. Set in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, a decades long Black elite enclave, the “Our Kind of People” protagonist seems like a composite of many Black successful women, starting with Madame CJ Walker, the hair care millionaire. Cast includes Yaya DaCosta, Morris Chestnut, Debbi Morgan, Nadine Ellis and Joe Morton. Lee Daniels, Midas touch producer of Hollywood’s “Monster’s Ball” and TV’s “Empire,” a Black family saga and Karen Gist co- produced “Our Kind Of People.”
FILM: NY based filmmaker/journalist Sylvia Wong Lewis, launched her AuntyLand Film Festival, AFF, an online platform for film shorts, which will run from March 8 to March 31, 2022. AFF is a community and volunteer-based event which operates at the intersection of identity, gender and age with special interest in filmmakers of color, Aunties and other under-represented visual artists. All film genres are welcome, and works should not exceed 20 minutes. Submission dates are October 15 through January 30. Submit film to filmfreeway.com/AuntylandFilmFest, call 929.376.3006 or email FilmFest@auntyland.com
A Harlem- based management consultant, Victoria Horsford is reachable at email@example.com