Some of the most frequently banned books feature LGBTQ stories, library association says

Some school libraries ban books because characters use witchcraft. Others do because of profanity or sexual content, or because of uncomfortable themes like racism.

But a great deal of the most frequently challenged books of the last decade center around LGBTQ characters and themes, an analysis from the American Library Association revealed.

In honor of “Banned Books Week” the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom published lists of the top 10 most challenged books of 2019 and the top 100 most frequently banned books of the decade.

Lists from years past show that censorship of LGBTQ stories is a recent trend. On the top 10 most challenged books of 2019 rankings, eight were challenged because of LGBTQ content. Several of them centered on transgender characters, like “George,” about a fourth-grade trans girl, and “I Am Jazz,” a picture book about real-life activist Jazz Jennings, who transitioned at a young age.

Others range from classics like “The Color Purple,” which features a lesbian relationship, to contemporary comics aimed at grade schoolers like “Sex is a Funny Word.”

Other frequently challenged books focused on Black characters, including “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which centers on police shootings and racism, and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved.”

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told CNN that her office has seen a “growing trend” of censoring books that prominently feature LGBTQ characters.

“There are members of every community that need and wanted these resources, that want to find themselves reflected in their library’s collections and programs,” she said. “This allows them to understand themselves in the world and affirm their identity.”

The dangers of censoring LGBTQ stories Henry Cody Miller, an assistant professor of English at the College of Brockport, State University of New York, wrote about the high number of LGBTQ books for Teaching Tolerance Magazine in 2019. Omitting narratives from schools can perpetuate harm, he said.

“Framing a book that features LGBTQ characters as ‘controversial’ places the onus of conflict on LGBTQ people,” he wrote. “There is nothing controversial or problematic about being a member of the LGBTQ community.”

Books about diverse experiences are beneficial for every reader, Caldwell-Stone said. “Books, novels, true stories and memoirs are ways of developing empathy for other people and their lives,” she said. “If we take that away from young people, we’re really depriving them of opportunities to develop as individuals, to understand the world.”

The number of frequently challenged LGBTQ books, though, also signals that books with these themes and characters are being published more frequently and read more widely.

But if a book is censored by school officials, it’s almost impossible for a librarian or teacher to get that book into a student’s hands, Caldwell-Stone said. That’s why Banned Books Week focuses on advocacy, too, and features talks with authors on access to literature.

Caldwell-Stone said it’s necessary to champion the inclusion of diverse books in collections, even if those books don’t align with one’s personal views, “so that everyone can find what they need in the library.”

Five-year-old boy authors first published picture book ‘I’m Hungry!’

Los Angeles, Calif.— The children’s picture book, “I’m Hungry!” was recently released on Amazon and written by a five-year-old boy, Andrew Hutchinson based in California. Kindergartner Andrew is a first-time published author.

The vibrant pictures are illustrated by Julie Kitsulie, who has illustrated several of Angela’s other picture books. “I’m Hungry!” evolves around food with a theme of gratitude, which is certainly universal among parents, especially during the Covid-19 Coronavirus times. “It’s as if my three kids never stop eating…they always claim to be so hungry!” shares Hutchinson.

Andrew’s co-author is his mother, Angela Marie Hutchinson, who has written several published books. Angela shares the backstory behind their first creative collaboration.

“My youngest son is always hungry even after eating full meals. Andrew’s book was inspired by his big appetite and love for snacks.” Excited to follow in his mother’s footsteps, Andrew joins his older siblings in self- publishing a picture book.

To support this five-year-old’s creative endeavors, you can purchase a copy of “I’m Hungry!” on Amazon .

About the Authors

Andrew Hutchinson is a 5-year-old boy who loves to play basketball and video games. Angela Marie Hutchinson is film producer, social media professor and founder of an artistic non-profit organization. She is also the author of Create Your Yes! , which is a book deal she landed from her TEDx Talk.

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Courtesy Photo

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Trump-Biden Clash Was Watched By At Least 65 Million Viewers

More than 65 million people watched the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday night.

The television audience for the debate was down from the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, but it was higher than almost every other debate in recent years.

Tuesday’s clash was the biggest event on American TV since the Super Bowl last February.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings showed an average audience of roughly 64.7 million viewers across eight channels for the entirety of Tuesday’s prime time event.

The preliminary ratings include only Americans who watched at home on television. An unknown number of people live-streamed the debate on the internet, listened on the radio, and watched in other ways, which means the total audience easily surpassed 65 million.

Finalized Nielsen TV ratings figures are set to be released later in the day on Wednesday.

Some campaign officials and media executives predicted that the total audience would surpass the 2016 record, when the same group of channels cited above had a combined average of 75.8 million viewers.

(The final total for that debate, across 13 channels, was 84 million viewers, which smashed prior records for presidential debates.)

Politics fatigue may have been a factor in the lower level of viewership in 2020. Another reason may be the cringeworthy nature of Trump’s conduct. Many critics said afterward that it was the worst debate in modern American history.

Yet another factor to consider: The pandemic’s impact on broadcast television. With few new shows on prime time TV, broadcast viewership levels are lower than they were in 2016, which meant the debate had a smaller lead-in audience than it otherwise would have.

Streaming options are also more popular now than they were four years ago, so a greater number of people likely watched via live-streaming.

Despite the uncomfortable nature of Trump’s interruptions and the unbelievable nature of many of his claims, most viewers did keep watching until the end of the debate, according to the preliminary Nielsen data. Total viewership was quite consistent throughout the event.

Streaming viewership on CNN.com also peaked toward the end of the debate, at 10:20 p.m., according to internal metrics.

Actor/Producer Tray Williams develops series focusing on sex trafficking survivors

Actor and producer Tray Williams proves the importance of quickly bouncing back from disappointment. Feeling let down after a highly anticipated meeting that the actor director describes as “a scam,” he agreed to read a script offered him by another similarly disappointed attendee, who was a filmmaker. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and a lightbulb went on in Williams’ head. In short order, Williams relocated to Los Angeles to seriously pursue acting. Since then, the Houston native has acted in fifteen films and numerous commercials and is also fully immersed in the role of producer. Williams pro- duced popular Youtube reality competition, “Trapped With The Prince Family” and is president of TV/film distribution for Media Room 360, which provides content for Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, VOD, and all android devices. “My job is to bring in content for our platform. So we help people get distribution,” he explains.

Williams, who’s also a father of two, is very clear about his worth and value. “I went through some tough situations early in life so now nothing is going to be any harder than that. I also do a lot of research and so I’m confident because I feel prepared.”

Some years ago, Williams became acquainted with Tamra Simmons, producer of the docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.” It turned out that one of the scripts Williams presented to Simmons coincided with a project that she was developing about sex trafficking. “She was like, ‘We should just work on this together,’” he recalls.

Simmons and Williams are currently in the process of shopping the series, of which he says, “We wanted to highlight Though Black women and girls make up just five percent of the American population, they constitute forty to sixty percent of the victims of sex trafficking. In his research, Williams found that girls are much more likely to be coerced into a life of prostitution than to be physically made to do so. “A lot of them are manipulated by the men initially convincing them they really love them,” he explains mournfully.

Distressingly, Williams found that most of the traffickers are Black men. “The saddest thing for me was finding out that the ones doing most of the trafficking are Black men. That to me, is heartbreaking.”

Williams says he has thought about what he would say to anyone thinking of trafficking or using trafficked girls and women for sex. “I would ask them to think about whether or not it’s really worth it to ruin a woman’s life. You would kill someone if that was your daughter or your mother.” Recognizing that the desperate situations these young girls and women are in can cause them to ignore their instincts and ignore red flags, he says he would caution them “No matter how bad your situation is, do your research before going all in with anyone. Don’t make a bad situation worse. Don’t be so trusting. Understand that everybody is not your friend.” stories of survival, and go in depth about the impact of sex trafficking on the victims and their families.”

Compelled to write a script after watching a shocking news report, the project has been a harrowing experience for Williams in certain ways. “They were showing that young girls were just being captured and put into cars. I just felt like I had to do something about it. It was terrible, and I felt so bad.”

What Williams learned from doing the research was much different from what he assumed prior. “Most of them have been sexually abused by a mother’s boyfriend.” Compounding that tragedy, he says, is that girls are often not believed when they report the abuse. Many run away, ending up prey to thousands of sex traffickers involved in a one hundred billion dollar industry.

More than 96 percent of Maryland Residents have already responded to 2020 Census

Going into the final days of the all- important census count, Maryland has a 96.3 percent response rate, placing the state high up on the list of states that have responded.

Pending legal action, the Census count could end on September 30, 2020.In July, President Donald Trump suddenly decided to speed up and end the count by September 30.That action spurred lawsuits in California by a National Urban League- led coalition seeking to extend the count beyond Trump’s deadline.

Additionally, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have asked a federal judge in Maryland to extend the time for the census count.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation this month to allow for the continued count, while Census Bureau officials have also asked for more time.“There is current and ongoing litigation, but the one thing I can tell you is that what is going to hold true is that time is running out, and people need to respond,” declared David C. Cook, the chief public information officer at the U.S. Census.

Cook expressed concern about African Americans who are historically undercounted.“When you look at the Black and African American community, children under five typically are undercounted for various reasons,” Cook stated.

“Just to be clear, if you have a child that’s born on or after Apr. 1, 2020, they don’t need to be on the form. It’s who lived in your house as of Apr. 1. Also, Black males 18 to 25 are historically undercounted, so we’ve been targeting that demographic, and we’re letting people know that it is safe to respond. We don’t share your information. It’s the law.”

Everyone can still respond online, by phone, or by mail. Census officials continue to implore Americans that it’s vital to cooperate if a census taker arrives at your home. Census results shape the future of communities. Census data informs how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other critical programs and services for the next decade.

The most recent available count shows states whose residents have had the most significant response are Idaho (99.7 percent), West Virginia (99.6 percent), Hawaii (98.9 percent), Washington (98 percent), and Maine (98 percent). While the nation’s overall response rate stands at 93.6 percent, six states haven’t yet reached 90 percent – Alabama (85.6 percent), Montana (86.9 percent), Mississippi (87.1 percent), South Carolina (87.7 percent), New Mexico (88.6 percent), and Arizona (88.9 percent).

The Census is working on getting residents across the country to respond as they faced many challenges, Cook noted. “As a nation, the number of households who answered the doorbell is more than 90 percent. Knowing that the count continues,” Cook observed. “Looking back at the 2020 count, the self-reported rate was at 63 percent, so we know that we have to stay out in front of people and get them to respond.”

For more information about the Census, visit https://2020census.gov/en/what-is-2020- census.html

Local woman receives non-surgical hair restoration certification

Annapolis— Grace Dennis received a certification in hair loss February 26, 2020 after completing a hair loss class at the Atlanta Hilton Gardens Hotel in Kennesaw, Georgia.

As a certified hair loss specialist, Grace works in conjunction with derma- tologists and oncologists measuring and fitting chemotherapy and alopecia clients for hair loss systems and units. She is a member of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) and is a participant in the “Look Good, Feel Better” program through the American Cancer Society. Grace serves men, women and children.

If you or someone you know is suffering from hair loss issues, she can be reached at: Grace and Elegance Beauty Salon, Inc. located at 42 Hudson Street, Suite 211 in Annapolis, Maryland.

For more information, phone: 410-266-3305, email: gmdennis@verizon.net or visit her website: graceandeleganceinc.com

Grace Dennis Certified Hair Loss Specialist

Courtesy Photo

Grace Dennis Certified Hair Loss Specialist

In Memoriam: NCNW mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My heart is broken over the passing of my shero, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But as Ella Baker’s words declared and were written and set in music by Bernice Johnson Reagon: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

And that is why we must honor our sister, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by carrying on her relentless work for the emancipation of women, and the equality of all under the law.

Among Justice Ginsburg’s many critical judicial opinions were those involving disability rights, gender equality and affirmative action. The second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, she stood firmly against discrimination leveled against her because she was a woman and a Jew.

Her experiences as a woman and a mother, together with her superior intellect, shaped a legal philosophy firmly opposed to all forms of discrimination against marginalized people. She wrote bluntly in 1986, “to pretend that [affirmative action is unconstitutional] is to pretend that history never happened and that the present doesn’t exist.”

We all remember our sister’s fearless dissent from the 2013 Supreme Court decision to remove voting rights protections. Indeed it was that dissent that earned her the nickname “Notorious R.B. G.” When I vote in the November 3rd election, her name will be among the names of our heroes and sheroes that I will call. The sincerest tribute that can be paid to Justice Ginsburg is to vote and urge everyone we know to do the same.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed on the evening of the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, a time when wishes are extended for a joyous and peaceful new year. Join me in wishing that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s soul will rest ever so peacefully during her new year as an ancestor for justice…..and forever more.

The post NCNW mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

Former college basketball standout’s new book teaches ‘How to Play Basketball the Fun Way’

Jenarie Davis-Middleton is a self- described unconventional writer who likes to share life experiences. The wife and a mother of five noted that although her schedule is hectic, she tries as often as possible to incorporate quiet time to clear her thoughts— and to write books.

Davis-Middleton has penned, “How To: Play Basketball the Fun Way,” a 122-page expose accompanied with a host of “how-to” photos, which provide intriguing lessons on fundamental and expert-level hardwood acts like the two- hand chest pass, shooting a set-shot in the face of a defender, how to rebound and play defense properly.

Jenarie Davis-Middleton, a standout basketball player in middle school, high school and college has penned, “How To: Play Basketball the Fun Way,” a 122-page expose accompanied with a host of “how-to” photos divided into 11 chapters and including a page on basketball terminology and a court diagram.

Courtesy Photos/Jenarie Davis-Middleton

Jenarie Davis-Middleton, a standout basketball player in middle school, high school and college has penned, “How To: Play Basketball the Fun Way,” a 122-page expose accompanied with a host of “how-to” photos divided into 11 chapters and including a page on basketball terminology and a court diagram.

“When you think of defense in basketball, what comes to mind? For me, playing defense was my favorite,” said Davis-Middleton, a standout basketball player in middle school, high school, and college. “Playing defense prepared me to score on the offensive end. It’s exciting when you can stop the other team from scoring.”

It wasn’t until she was 12 years old that Davis-Middleton says she learned how to play basketball.

“I didn’t know how to shoot or dribble the ball,” she said, noting that her father, musician Aaron Teel, taught her the importance of timing.

“Timing the ball is an art,” Davis- Middleton noted. “If you can time the ball right, you can steal the ball from other players any time. It’s not too difficult. All you have to do is have fun.”

The book details just how to time the basketball always make sure you swipe at the ball with an open palm, hitting it upward with your fingertips.

“Never swipe down,” Davis-Middleton explained. “If you do, the referee will most likely call a personal foul.” Divided into 11 chapters and including a page on basketball terminology, a court diagram, and a bonus feature on how Davis-Middleton earned a scholarship to Jacksonville University in Florida, the book is a comprehensive tutorial on playing basketball, but getting the most fun from the game.

Davis-Middleton’s journey toward publishing the book began in 2002, during her junior year in high school. She said her father and her mother, Stephanie Teel, were inspirations. Her father urged her to “write things down,” and her mother wouldn’t allow her to quit.

“When I was in college when I first felt weak, my mother left me handwritten notes,” Davis-Middleton recalled. “She gifted me with somethings during those tough moments that I still have today. I promised that I’d stay focused and finish school, and I did. They helped me become the woman I am today.”

Davis-Middleton said she also learned her basketball skills by watching NBA games.

“Every chance that I had, I practice and learned from watching players like Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant,” Davis- Middleton said. “My dad and uncle taught me everything about the basic skills I needed to get better.”

She added that she needed all the encouragement she could muster initially trying out for the Jacksonville University Dolphins.

Before trying out, Davis-Middleton sprained her ankle.

“I drove to tryouts barely able to press on the gas pedal, but I ignored the pain and continued,” she said.

Before she arrived home from tryouts, the university coach had called her family with good news.

“Mommy and daddy hugged me so tight, and we cried together,” Davis-Middleton said. “Life experiences will teach you how to maneuver in society. Education improves your scope of thinking. Experience and education ties in together.”

To purchase “How To: Play Basketball The Fun Way,” visit amazon.com. To learn more about Davis Middleton, visit: www.Jenarie.wordpress.com.

The Maryland State Board of Elections Recognizes National Voter Registration Day

Annapolis— In conjunction with National Voter Registration Day, the Maryland State Board of Elections reminds all eligible Marylanders who have not yet registered to vote in the November 3 general election to do so. The deadline to register is October 13, 2020.

Those who have not yet registered can do so online using Maryland’s Online Voter Registration System or by submitting a voter registration application to their local board of elections or the Maryland State Board of Elections. Marylanders using the online registration system must complete the registration process no later than 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 13 in order to vote in the general election. Those who choose to send registration applications by mail must ensure the applications are postmarked no later than Oct. 13 in order to vote in the general election.

Same-day registration will also be offered to those Marylanders who choose to vote in person during early voting (Monday, October 26 to Monday, November 2) or on Election Day, November 3.

The Maryland Board of Elections encourages those who are already registered to go online and verify their voter information is accurate and up to date.

Every year, millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t certain how to register. National Voter Registration Day was created in 2012 to help address the issue, serving as a nonpartisan rallying point to help eligible voters across the country register and give them the option to participate in the democratic process. Since then, nearly 3 million citizens have registered to vote on the holiday, which takes place every year on the fourth Tuesday of September.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland State Board of Elections is encouraging voters to cast their ballots by mail. Applications for mail-in ballots have been sent via first-class U.S. Mail to eligible Maryland voters. Applications must be received by October 20. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters by first-class U.S. Mail beginning in late September and continuing in October.

In addition to voting by mail or in person during early voting or on Election Day, Maryland voters can cast their ballots at authorized ballot drop box locations around the state. Locations will begin opening roughly 30 days prior to Election Day. Once open, the ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020.

Community Action Agency of Anne Arundel County appoints new Youth Development Services Director

The Community Action Agency of Anne Arundel County has appointed Dr. Lenny Howard as the agency’s Director of Youth Development Services.

The agency’s CEO, Dr. Charlestine Fairley, says Dr. Howard brings vast experience in helping youth and young adults achieve academic goals, learn coping strategies for social and emotional management, build life skills, and foster character development.

Noting Dr. Howard’s previous stints as a school counselor and principal, executive coach and mental health counselor, and his career as a college administrator and professor, Dr. Fairley said the new appointee is the right person for the job.

“Dr. Howard has a demonstrated passion for helping young people achieve success,” Dr. Fairley stated in a news release.

The anti-poverty agency for all of Anne Arundel County, the nonprofit Community Action Agency began in 1965 and serves more than 10,000 county residents each year.

In 1968, the agency was designated the anti-poverty agency by the Anne Arundel County Council. It serves local residents through its programs developed to offer homelessness prevention, free mental health services for children and their families, Early Head Start for pregnant women and infants and toddlers, Maryland Energy Assistance, and programs to prepare youth for education success and workforce preparation.

The agency’s mission is to empower people in reducing poverty and building resilient communities. Its vision includes being recognized as the leader in addressing poverty and improving the quality of life in Anne Arundel County communities.

“Dr. Howard is providing full-time direction and leadership to the Agency’s comprehensive treatment, prevention, and education services for youth,” the agency said in the news release.“He will oversee the addition of new and innovative programming developed to help youth navigate the challenges they face.”

The Community Action Agency’s Youth Development Services has been serving children and youth, ages five to 24, since 1972. The Agency’s Youth Development Services office is located at the Stanton Center, at 92 West Washington Street in Annapolis.

“Dr. Howard is the right person to guide Youth Development Services as we expand our programming to benefit children and youth living in Anne Arundel County,” Dr. Fairley said.