As we shift into a new year we must first exhale the staleness of 2020. Then inhale the newness of 2021. TS Eliot once said, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” It is time for us to find a new voice and silence the voices from this past year.
It is time for us to reset and fix our gaze on new opportunities, new interests, and the new journey ahead. So, I ask, are you ready? Are you ready to breathe in the freshness of 2021? Are you ready to break new ground and walk into new territories? If so, then continue reading. This message was tailored to not only encourage you but awaken the triumphant warrior that is dwelling inside of you. You can make 2021 your year.
Make 2021 Your Great Year
I proclaim boldly, that 2021 will be an amazing year. If you can’t muster up the courage to say it for yourself, I will say it for you. “2021 will be an amazing year!” In Proverbs 23:7 , it says “As a man thinketh so is He.” So, that means we are a product of our thought life. If negative thoughts consumed you in 2020 make it your duty to renew and focus your mind on the goodness of life. Begin speaking into the atmosphere, what you want your reality to be. Remember, you are in charge of creating the reality that you desire, including your happiness. Therefore, leave the excuses behind. And assume your position because you are more than equipped to deal with anything that comes your way.
Make up your mind to stay motivated. Become stubborn when it comes to going after your goals for 2021. Don’t give in when trouble knocks at your front door. Go back to school or go for that new job. Forgive that person who wronged you. Or start saving for that new house. Take that leap of faith, I dare you. I dare you to work on yourself for the first six months of this year. I dare you to abandon your distractions and run after every dream, goal, and achievement you have set in your heart.
So, as you go forth and embark on your new beginning, I speak over your life and destiny right now, that this upcoming year will bring forth new opportunities for you. I speak that doors will be opened that no “man” can shut. I proclaim that your name will be mentioned in rooms that you have yet to walk into and that your finances will stabilize and increase, no more living from paycheck to paycheck. No more living in fear and in doubt. Lastly, know that the toughest obstacles that you will ever face are the ones you create, so don’t limit yourself this new year go forward and excel beyond your greatest imagination.
Republicans are attempting to weaponize being “woke.” They are ridiculing the idea of wokeness and tying it to so-called liberals and progressives. It’s more red meat for their base.
Once again, far right Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to turn a positive into a negative. They, like their dear leader, the former occupant of the White House, live in a faux reality. There words don’t mean what they mean. Positives are negatives, and good things are bad.
Republicans have used being woke to attack corporations who have openly opposed GOP state legislators’ voter suppression bills.
The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines the informal use of ‘woke,’ as an adjective. Being “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”
“Being woke is like opening your eyes; you’re no longer in the dark about things. Your mind is open. You’re well informed and you’re down to spread the knowledge,” Amàndi Rock, my millennial daughter, explained.
Republicans attack on the state of being aware, knowledgeable, aka, woke, is, in reality, a part of their anti-black agenda. It is a thinly veiled attack on blacks’ voting rights, the Black Lives Matter Movement, black culture, black history, and diversity.
Some observers say the term wokeness emerged when Michael Brown was murdered by a white cop. “Stay woke” became a warning to watch what the police and politicians were doing or not doing regarding the need for justice in policing.
Being “woke,” comes from black culture. Blacks have been using the term for decades. A 1962 New York Times writer William Melvin Kelley defined being woke in his article, “If You’re Woke You Dig It; No mickey mouse can be expected to follow today’s Negro idiom without a hip assist. If You’re Woke You Dig It.” “You dig and dig it,” were slang for understanding something, ‘You dig,” and checking out something ‘Dig it.’
In Republicans Are Crusading Against ‘woke,’ NBC News political reporters Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur quote Republicans who have redefined the term as a polemic.
“Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust?” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted. And Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., promoted his coming book on Twitter by saying “the woke mob” — those who called for his original publisher, Simon & Schuster, to drop it in the wake of his efforts to overturn the election — wanted to prevent anyone from reading it.”
Is the Republicans Party Racist
“On the right, the focus on “wokeness” has come hand in hand with an anti-“woke” agenda that GOP state legislatures have moved quickly to approve. They passed bills to limit public schools’ use of The New York Times’ “1619 Project…They have also passed measures to limit the teaching of critical race theory, bar transgender athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports and enhance criminal penalties for people arrested at protests,” the writers opined.
Republicans have also passed voter suppression laws aimed at making it more difficult for black and brown people to vote. So, in reality, their anti-woke campaign is really an anti-black campaign.
By all accounts, Republicans should stay in their own lane. What they don’t know about woke folk is this: We’ve been woke. And we’ve are hip to their shenanigans. We are not falling for the okey doke. And they can do all the linguistic gymnastics they want but we will not be moved.
Stay Woke people!
Ilene Berns-Zare PsyD
Thoughts for those wondering what they can do.
Cultural competence is the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people from a different culture or belief system.
Building multicultural competence and combating racism require systematic shifts at individual and societal levels.
Some ways to build multicultural competence include examining old beliefs, beginning to learn from where you are today, and talking to your kids.
Source: Open Clip Art – Vectors / Pixabay
With all the reports of racism on the news and across the U.S., many of us are wondering what we can do about it.
First, let’s acknowledge that learning about diversity, racism, and cultural competence can be difficult. Cultural competence involves “the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people from a culture or belief system different from one’s own” (DeAngelis, 2015).
I am not an expert on diversity, inclusion, or promoting social justice. I am a learner. I’m working to increase my awareness and understanding. And I am learning a lot, including that the increasing diversity of today’s U.S. population and the devastating consequences of hate and racism require a wide-awake, multi-faceted response to promote greater diversity, inclusion, and equity. I am learning that to reduce hate and inequity we need to understand them.
Racism, inequity, and hate are thriving in America.
In a country in which so few consider themselves racist, this may be a controversial statement. Racism creates false hierarchies of advantage and human value affecting the way we treat people – based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, gender identity, or body type. According to Ibram Kendi (2019), a racist supports racist policies through action, inaction, or by supporting racist ideas.
The U.S. has always been a country populated primarily by immigrants and their descendants, whether they arrived recently or centuries ago (Brookings Institution, 2021). As a country and as individuals, Americans are deeply affected by racism and the profound effects of marginalizing others. Slavery and racism date back to the foundation of the country and are central to its DNA, and the lens through which we see the world (Hannah-Jones, 2019).
Whether we acknowledge these issues or ignore them, whether we actively perpetrate racism or passively stand by, there are real costs for all of us and for future generations – psychosocial, political, economic, and in terms of access to education, workplaces, resources, and opportunities (Andoh, 2021; Roberts & Rizzo, 2020).
It’s hard to let go of long-held beliefs and behaviors. Racism is not inborn; it is learned, and is “a culmination of factors that are deeply woven into the fabric of U.S. society” (Roberts & Rizzo, 2020). If we don’t shift as individuals, communities, and as a society to reverse current trends, we risk perpetuating inequities and harm to future generations, whether through our actions or our silence.article continues after advertisement
How can individuals and communities transform the widespread and damaging effects of racism? I don’t have the answers, but here’s what I’m learning: Tackling racism is a process that must be addressed at every level of society. If we keep looking out there for other people to fix it, we’ll never create meaningful systemic change. To form a more just and equitable society, we need to liberate ourselves and each other from racism at the micro level – as individuals – and at the macro level – addressing pervasive systemic biases including laws, institutions, governmental units, educational systems, and workplaces.
Tackling racism is an opportunity to fully engage with humanity — to treat other people as we want to be treated. Many traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism, advocate for the ethical principle of caring about the stranger as we care about ourselves (Baumard & Boyer, 2013). As we work to soften racism, we can each play a part in creating a more compassionate and equitable world.
6 Ways to Build Multicultural Competence
1. Begin where you are today. Wherever you are, let yourself know it’s OK to begin learning from here. It’s better to begin from wherever you are today than not to begin at all. And then take a breath and take one step, take a breath and another step, and another.
2. Realize that acquiring multicultural competence involves learning new skills. The three main skills (Mio, Barker-Hackett & Tumambling, 2021; Kite 2015) include:
Becoming aware of your own cultural values and biases.
Learning to value the worldviews of other people.
Learning and using culturally relevant interpersonal skills.
3. Build your diversity and multicultural understandings. Learning new skills and examining your old beliefs is a developmental process. Here are a few strategies:
Engage a growth mindset (Dweck, 2016). Let yourself be open to learning about viewpoints different from your own.
Seek out information from a variety of sources.
Have conversations about topics such as: stereotypes, bias, inclusion, systemic racism, anti-racism.
Keep learning, growing, and challenging your old ideas and beliefs.
RELATED: A Response to the Criticism of Robin Diangelo
4. Do the work. Doing the work involves reading, learning, and even more. Doing the work involves the process of self-awareness and self-examination – looking at and owning up to our biases and working toward increasing our awareness of our own privilege (Kendi, 2019). This is not a one-time activity, rather it requires a persistent process of self-awareness and self-development.
5.Join with others to discuss and take action to promote diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and related issues. Join or form a discussion group. Take a class. Dialogue with people from different ethnic, racial, or religious groups. Become involved in a task force to create positive change.
6.Talk to your children about race and inclusion. According to experts, we adults share our attitudes about race with kids whether intentionally, unintentionally, or accidentally (Roberts & Rizzo, 2020; Hughes, 2003). Learn to talk about race with your kids.
Building multicultural competence and combating racism is a stepwise process requiring systematic shifts at individual and societal levels. In the 21st century, there is an opportunity and a mandate to deepen our humanity as we take the difficult and crucial steps toward creating a more compassionate and equitable world.
by Peter Jones
Having a solid relationship with your boss is incredibly important. It’s important to have a good rapport and to earn each other’s trust and respect. But some bosses are less effusive than others. What to do if your boss leaves you feeling in the dark as to her opinion of you? https://4bbcef6cc3b029400562beb8695ea584.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Here are 11 signs your boss is likes you, even if, perhaps, she doesn’t show it much.
1. You Only Get Tough Love
If your boss gives you a lot of feedback, and most of it is negative, this is actually a good sign. He respects you enough to give you the notes you need to improve, and is invested in your improvement. Plus, he thinks you can handle the constructive criticism. So take it on the chin and keep doing better and better.
2. You’re Constantly Given Challenges
Does your boss give you more than you feel like you can handle? Perhaps she wants to test you, or groom you, and puts you on tough assignments. This may be a bit overwhelming, but it’s usually a very good sign.
3. You Always Sniff Out Priorities
If you are tuned into what your boss’s top priorities are, then not only can you work more effectively, but you’ll know whether you are working with the same endgame in mind. Keep this channel of communication open and be sure to volunteer for the projects that align with these priorities. Quickest way to your boss’s heart!
4. You Feel Respected
It doesn’t actually matter if your boss likes you. All that matters is respect. You don’t have to go for mani-pedis together, or have each other over for barbecues, but if you can tell that your boss respects, solicits, and listens to your ideas—particularly on important matters and projects? That’s worth so much more than being pals.
Your boss always asks your opinion. You’re consulted in team meetings and asked in for one-on-ones. If your boss is showing you this kind of trust, then you’re in very good shape.
6. You Rarely Get Compliments (Yes, this is a good thing!)
Managers don’t always shower their best employees with praise, preferring to use compliments as a tool for encouraging the lesser performing individuals. If you’re clear on what’s expected of you, and you’re keeping track of how well you’re stacking up in that department, then it doesn’t matter that your boss isn’t constantly patting you on the back. Do you get the real praise at the big moments? That’s all that matters. Your boss doesn’t think you need to be reminded of your position every other day.
7. You’re the Go-To
Are you your boss’s first call? The first person he taps when something urgent or important needs to be done, or just an everyday fire needs to be put out? If you’re the go-to girl or guy, then you’re obviously quite high in your boss’s esteem.
8. Your Responsibilities Keep Increasing
Your boss is constantly upping your responsibility level. She would not do this with employees she didn’t trust or think were up for the task. Take this as a compliment and make sure you keep up the good work.
9. You’re Often Set as the Example
If another employee is struggling, or someone has a problem or needs guidance with a difficult task, and your boss sends them down to you? Or you get singled out as an example of good work for the rest of your team to aspire to? That’s a great sign you’re in the inner circle in your boss’s eye.
10. You’re Trusted with the Moneymakers
When the stakes are high, you’re the one who gets sent into the game. An important project or client comes around, and your boss turns to you. This sign of trust is a big one, and you should feel great about it.
11. You’re Not Ignored
Again, maybe you aren’t happy hour besties, but your boss does go out of her way to check in with you from time to time—to assess how satisfied you are in your job, and to make sure she’s not in any danger of losing you. That’s a great sign of just how highly you are valued.
Have something difficult to say? These are the exact words you should use.
Photo by Shannon Fagan/Getty Images
It’s time to bag the sandwich method of delivering bad news. You know, the technique where you say something nice, then drop in the criticism, and the end with something nice. It’s not like the person won’t notice that the center of the sandwich is terrible; the method is really designed to make it easier on the giver.
The old methods of feedback can have a ripple effect with your team, resulting in people calling in sick, getting upset, or even quitting. But conflict avoidance isn’t the answer. Instead, Baldridge suggests using her “velvet hammer” method, which is soft like velvet but packs a punch.
Here’s the Formula
Start with, “Got a minute? Great. I need your help.”
“It should be said in a way friendly,” says Baldridge. “Nothing about this is scary. And ‘I need your help’ is an international surrender of agenda. It’s a disarming way to get attention sincerely and genuinely. And you do need their help because their behavior is becoming problematic.”
Next, say, “I noticed that [problem behavior goes here.] (Pause) I was wondering what’s causing this problem (pause), because it cannot continue. What do you suggest we do?”
“The word ‘because’ is one of the 30 most persuasive words,” says Baldridge. “Everyone wants to know what comes after it.”
Also, asking what the person suggests we do is powerful because people are persuaded most by their own words, says Baldridge. The approach is designed to be nonthreatening, compassionate, and open-minded. It finds positivity in the way you communicate, mange, and lead, especially when you need to correct a problematic behavior.
Why It Works
Baldridge says the traditional good-bad-good “dirt sandwich” method doesn’t work. “People still use it because they’re nervous about being too critical,” she says. “The velvet hammer is actually a verbal contract you are creating with another person to better yourself as a leader and better them as team member, colleague, or friend.”
Giving negative feedback is important in many situations. If you delay or don’t approach a sensitive subject, it’s like not telling a friend they have spinach in their teeth.
“If you have spinach in your teeth, do you want to know or not?” asks Baldridge. “It’s still there. When something needs to be said, most people in the organization know it. Everyone, that is, except for the person who needs the feedback. It’s like a someone walking around the office with a ‘kick me’ sign on [their] back.”
Before You Try It
Words are power containers, says Baldridge. “Every word should be carefully selected,” she says. “Practice using the velvet hammer. Sometimes people want a script, but you don’t want to sound scripted.”
She suggests practicing and then rehearsing standing up and looking in a mirror doing it. “Rehearsing is different than practicing because it’s concert or show-time mode,” she says. “When you’re ready, it should feel planned, not canned.”
The tone you’re seeking is help rather than reprimand, says Baldridge. “You set the expectation by saying, ‘This cannot continue,’” she says. “Asking, ‘What do you suggest we do?’ makes the point that it’s us against the problem, instead of me versus you. When leaders use the velvet hammer, the conversation goes better for everyone involved.”
And a REAL Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s comments to senators during his confirmation hearing put Congress and the U.S. on notice as to how the 86th U.S. Attorney General would lead the U.S. Department of Justice. There is a new sheriff in town.
“It is a fitting time to reaffirm that the role of the Attorney General is to serve the rule of law and to ensure equal justice under the law,” Garland told the senators, CBS reported.
Political observers noted the irony and karma of Garlands 70-30 Senate confirmation.
“I hope they’re fair,” President Obama said of Senate Republicans in the Rose Garden on March 16, 2016. Back then he announced Merrick Garland, Chief Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his Supreme Court nominee. “That’s all. I hope they’re fair,” according to the USA TODAY.
Obama chose Garland to replace Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a far-right Republican on the court.
Senate Republicans were not fair. They blocked Obama’s nominee for 11 months. Later they used the nuclear option” of abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Then they confirmed Trump’s nominee, Court of Appeals Judge Neil McGill Gorsuch, a Republican, on April 7, 2021.
Garland took over the Department of Justice on March 11, 2021. It is clear that there is a new sheriff in town.
Justice proponents were optimistic that Garland, the nation’s top law enforcement official, would oversee a department whose main objective was securing justice for all, unlike his predecessor.
Political commentators often opined that former U.S. Attorney General William Barr acted more like former President Donald J. Trump Sr.’s personal attorney than the people’s attorney.
Barr used the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a sword against Trump’s opponents and a shield to protect Trump and his friends from criminal and civil liabilities.
“Barr has on numerous occasions interfered with impartial prosecutions, prioritized politics over justice, undermined the independent special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and hindered congressional oversight,” according to the New York Times.
On the other hand, Garland has held several positions at the Department of Justice. And he has a reputation for being fair and just.
“I served under five Attorneys General appointed by four Presidents. I know that some of you have notched up plenty more,” he told the DOJ’s 115,000 staffers on his first day on the job.
“All of us are united by our commitment to the rule of law and to seeking equal justice under law,” Garland told them. The only way the department would succeed would be if DOJ norms are followed.
“Those norms require that like cases be treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans; One rule for friends and another for foes. And one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; One rule for the rich and another for the poor; Or different rules depending upon one’s race or ethnicity,” Garland said.
Since taking the helm, Garland’s DOJ has launched pattern and practice investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville Police Departments. And the DOJ brought charges against law enforcement and corrections officials.
The DOJ has also charged people for fraud, money laundering, hate crimes, wrongful deaths. And the department has taken a stand for environmental justice, civil rights, and injustices committed against people of color.
The investigation of the MPD comes on the heels of the deaths of unarmed black men, George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and Philando Castile. In Castile’s murder, no charges were brought. One of Floyd’s killer cops, Derek Chauvin, is awaiting sentencing. He was convicted for murder and the other three cops have yet to go to trial. Daunte Wright’s killer has been indicted and awaiting trial.
“The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” said Attorney General Garland. “We undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”
Clearly, the outcry over the killing of Breonna Taylor, an EMT, by Louisville cops was the impetus for launching the Louisville probe.
“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully,” but “The Justice Department is “charged with ensuring that the constitutional and federal statutory rights of all people are protected,” Garland concluded.
Taylor was in bed when Louisville Police kicked in her door unannounced. They were serving a “no-knock warrant” looking for a drug dealer. No drugs were present.
None of the cops who killed Taylor have been held accountable. Then there was the killing of Michael Brown, the same thing. No accountability.
“I know that justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive, and sometimes never comes. The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history. They did not arise today or last year. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law.
The new DOJ has also brought charges against the white supremacists who killed jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
Garland’s approach to killing unarmed black people by the police is a sea change from protectionism, the benefit of the doubt, and qualified immunity afforded to law enforcement officers.
Under the Trump and Obama administrations, cops were rarely, if ever, held accountable for murdering black people.
Trump’s DOJ acquitted twelve year old Tamir Rice’s killers in December 2020.
Federal prosecutors didn’t charge former cop Timothy Loehmann in 2015. They said “the video of the shooting was of too poor a quality to establish what had happened.”
Never mind that Loehmann killed Rice two seconds after he jumped out of the patrol car because he thought the child’s air gun was real.
Rice’s family last month sent a letter to Garland. They want the case to be reopened.
In July 2020, as hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street and accelerated the Black Lives Matter Movement, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell reviewed the Michael Brown case. He declined to bring charges against ex-cop Darren Wilson, who killed the 18-year-old unarmed black teen in 2014. Bell cited a lack of concrete evidence to charge Wilson criminally, despite a video showing Wilson killing Brown as the youth held his hands up.
Obama’s DOJ and Bell’s predecessor declined to prosecute Wilson in 2015. The DOJ did, however, wrote a scathing report about the Ferguson Police Department.
In the past, cops weren’t prosecuted for murder for several reasons:
alleged lack of evidence,
state and local laws
the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt (a subjective loophole)
an evident lack of concern by local, state, and federal lawmakers about the killing of unarmed black people that continues year after year.
Make no mistake. The killings reached epidemic proportions after the election of the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. During his tenure we saw murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Terrence Crutcher, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and many others. Their killers remain free.
Despite consent decrees, settlements, and investigations by Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, state laws, local prosecutors, and qualified immunity hampered the department’s ability to criminally charge the cops and white supremacists with hate crimes.
In 2021, Americans continue to demand justice as the killings continue. President Biden and Garland’s DOJ acknowledge and understand the calls for justice and the need for diversity within its ranks.
Biden selected Lisa Monaco, a national security expert, and Vanita Gupta, a longtime civil rights advocate, to serve as deputy attorney general and associate attorney general, the department’s second and third positions.
The Senate confirmed both. Monaco, who is white, sailed through her confirmation hearing with a v 98-2 vote, but Republicans were mostly unified in their opposition to Gupta, who is of Indian descent. The Senate confirmed Gupta in a 51-49 vote.
Clearly, Monaco is eminently qualified for her new post. “She is one of the nation’s foremost national security experts,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said of Monaco during her confirmation hearing.
Monaco was in private practice before taking her current position at the DOJ.
Before that, Monaco served in various roles in the Justice Department and White House. Monaco worked at the FBI with former director Robert Mueller; she served as assistant attorney general in the National Security Division. She also worked as Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.
Speaking about Vanita Gupta’s qualifications, Senate Majority Leader to NBC News, ” In her very first case after law school, she won the release of several African Americans who had been wrongfully convicted by all-white juries in Texas.”
Gupta also worked with the NAACP-LDF, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the ACLU. Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s civil rights division as an associate attorney general during the Obama administration, will bring a “long overdue perspective” to the department, Schumer said.
Biden said Kristen Clarke, the head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, whom he nominated to run the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is an eminently qualified, highly respected lawyer. The latter has spent her entire career fighting to advance racial equity and justice.
Kristen Clarke, daughter of Jamaican immigrants and president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is still waiting for Senate confirmation.
“If Clarke, 45, is confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to lead this division since its inception in 1957,” CNN reported.
Clarke is more than qualified to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. The Harvard and Columbia Law School graduate worked in the Justice Department’s Attorney General’s Honors Program for six years during the George W. Bush Administration.
Clarke also worked on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s voting rights project and at the Civil Rights Bureau in the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she was the state’s top civil rights enforcement officer.
During Clarke’s April 13, 2021 senate confirmation hearing, the racism and discrimination fell from the mouths of white male Senate Republicans just as they did during Gupta’s hearings but even worse.
Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, and others attacked Clarke relentlessly with mischaracterizations of her words and deeds.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to vote on Clarke’s nomination, but it’s going to take every Senate Democrat and the Vice-President to confirm her.
The public health measures that slow the spread of the novel coronavirus work really well on influenza
By Katie Peek
Since the novel coronavirus began its global spread, influenza cases reported to the World Health Organization have dropped to minuscule levels. The reason, epidemiologists think, is that the public health measures taken to keep the coronavirus from spreading also stop the flu. Influenza viruses are transmitted in much the same way as SARS-CoV-2, but they are less effective at jumping from host to host.
As Scientific American reported last fall, the drop-off in flu numbers was both swift and universal. Since then, cases have stayed remarkably low. “There’s just no flu circulating,” says Greg Poland, who has studied the disease at the Mayo Clinic for decades. The U.S. saw about 600 deaths from influenza during the 2020-2021 flu season. In comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were roughly 22,000 deaths in the prior season and 34,000 two seasons ago.
Because each year’s flu vaccine is based on strains that have been circulating during the past year, it is unclear how next year’s vaccine will fare, should the typical patterns of the disease return. The WHO made its flu strain recommendations for vaccines in late February as usual, but they were based on far fewer cases than in a common year. At the same time, with fewer virus particles circulating in the world, there is less chance of an upcoming mutation, so it is possible the 2021–2022 vaccine will prove extra effective.
Public health experts are grateful for the reprieve. Some are also worried about a lost immune response, however. If influenza subsides for several years, today’s toddlers could miss a chance to have an early-age response imprinted on their immune system. That could be good or bad, depending on what strains circulate during the rest of their life. For now, future flu transmission remains a roll of the dice.
Influenza Cases Worldwide, by Region
The World Health Organization tracks influenza transmission in 18 zones. Three of those regions appear here. Only people who get tested for influenza like illnesses—typically about 5 percent of individuals who fall ill—are tallied.
Age, routines, and a sense of purpose may help foster the belief that life means something.
By Devon Frye
A sense that life has meaning doesn’t just offer philosophical benefit; it’s also tied to improved physical and mental health. What factors, apart from close relationships and personal accomplishments, foster a belief in a meaningful life? Three recent studies highlight some potential mechanisms of meaning.
What Really Matters
Researchers who study meaning in life have broken the concept into three facets: coherence (the feeling that life makes sense), purpose (having and working toward goals), and mattering (the sense that one’s life has value and makes a difference). University of Sussex psychologist Vlad Costin argues the last factor, mattering, may be the most crucial. In three experiments , participants’ sense of mattering most reliably predicted whether they saw life as meaningful one month later. Though it wasn’t known why participants felt their lives mattered, Costin thinks that it could have resulted from their “believing in God, contributing to others, or leaving some form of legacy.”
Confidence in life’s meaningfulness may be greatest around age 60, on average, a recent study suggests. Using data from 1,042 U.S. adults , University of California, San Diego, researchers found that the presence of meaning in life followed a curve over the lifespan, reaching its peak at approximately 60 before declining again. The search for meaning, on the other hand, followed the opposite trajectory, reaching a low point at 60 before climbing. Regardless of age, physical and mental well-being were both strongly correlated with a belief in life’s meaning.
Everything in Its Place
Many seek meaning through extraordinary experiences—but they may also find it in ordinary, daily acts. New research found that a preference for routines was correlated with a greater sense of meaning. Students tracked for a week reported somewhat greater meaning, on average, when engaging in everyday acts such as studying or commuting—perhaps, the authors note, because routines build a coherent sense of self. Study co-author and Rutgers University psychologist Samantha Heintzelman observes: “Moments that make sense and feel right can make life meaningful, too.”
Exploring the wide world of bourbon whiskey–not to mention trying the best bourbons–is among the most rewarding hobbies an adult male can pursue. Indeed, what’s better than a hobby that combines the thrill of the hunt with an array of flavours and the warm touch of inebriation? Nothing, that’s what (okay, almost nothing). And if you disagree, then you probably haven’t tried the world’s best bourbons yet. Or maybe you’ve tasted some of them, but not the one that will change your life.
To increase the odds in your favour, we’re listing out the world’s top bourbons. But first, what is bourbon whiskey? And what’s the history of bourbon whiskey? Also, what makes for good bourbon whiskey? We do our best to answer those questions before diving into the best bourbon in Kentucky and the top bourbon brands in the world.
We’ve listed the best bourbon whiskeys in no particular order below.
What is Bourbon Whiskey?
Whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash, and bourbon is a form of whiskey. To qualify specifically as bourbon, the whiskey must contain a mash bill (i.e. the mix of base grains used to make the spirit) of at least 51% corn. In addition to the corn, the mash bill will usually consist of grains such as malted barley, rye, or wheat. When bourbon is made using wheat instead of rye, it’s a “wheated” bourbon. All bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, and all “straight” bourbon must sit in those barrels for at least two
Bourbon Whiskey History
Bourbon whiskey is a type of American whiskey, with its origins dating back to the 1820s, with consistent use beginning in Kentucky in the 1870s. The name derives from the French Bourbon dynasty, however the exact inspiration for bourbon whiskey’s name is unknown; likely candidates include Bourbon County, Kentucky and Bourbon St, New Orleans, both also named after the French Royal House of Bourbon.
While bourbon is now made anywhere in the world, it is strongly associated with the American South – in particular, Kentucky.
While everything from ingredients, equipment, climate, distillation methods, and more can play a role when distinguishing one bourbon from the next, most good bourbons are the result of proper aging. Specifically, the highest-quality, top-shelf bourbon is usually aged no less than 7 years, and no more than 12. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule (including some entries on our list of best bourbons), but generally speaking, 7-12 years of aging allows the distillate to suck up a perfect amount of flavour and texture from the oak, without resorting to overkill. In turn, the bourbon retains a beautiful colour of dark or golden amber, while deftly balancing flavour, smoothness, and texture that you would expect from a high-end bourbon whiskey.
That said, not all the best bourbons are automatically “smooth” per se, at least not in the traditional sense. Indeed, some of the foremost whiskey brands (Wild Turkey for instance) mark their respective territory by way of robust flavour, ample spice, and a high (or relatively high) proof. As a result, there’s going to be some heat present on every sip, the kind of which you can feel in your chest. Nevertheless, the spirit still qualifies for the list of what is good bourbon, sometimes even top bourbon. It’s when the whiskey goes down hot, lacks complexity, and retains thin texture, then it’s likely bourbon of low quality. This most commonly occurs when the distillate isn’t aged for a long enough period of time, or when an expert isn’t overseeing the whole process, to begin with.
Top 21 Bourbons (in No Particular Order)
1. George T. Stagg
Named for an early industry pioneer, George T. Stagg is a top-shelf bourbon that all enthusiasts should aspire to try. As part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, this barrel-proof giant only comes out once a year, and in previously limited supply. Every batch is aged for a minimum of 15 years, resulting in a robust, full body that overflows with dense, warm flavour. Due to a handful of factors, however, the taste of this award-winning spirit can vary substantially from year to year, meaning certain vintages will be better than others. Of course, no matter what the year, George T. Stagg is going to be some of the most memorable Kentucky bourbon whiskeys to ever cross your lips. Quick tip: consider adding a few drops of water to your dram, whereas this one definitely packs in some heat.
Manufacturer: Sazerac Company Origin: Garrard County, Kentucky, USA
While we’re still bouncing around the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, allow us to introduce William Larue Weller. Made in Kentucky and enjoyed worldwide, it’s a wheated bourbon that takes its name from another industry legend, and has the power to change your life at first sip. Within its smooth, warm body of golden brown, a spectrum of flavours swirl. This is easily one of the best bourbons in the world, with the awards and acclaim to prove it. All that’s left for you to do is score a bottle, something far easier said than done.
Manufacturer: Sazerac Company Origin: Kentucky, USA
Speaking of low supply and high demand, Pappy Van Winkle’s 20 Year is about as exclusive as bourbon can get. Assuming you’re among the few and lucky men who can actually score a sip, expect a sweet and leathery stunner that goes down super smooth and lingers long on the palate. Indeed, this is the kind of full-bodied whiskey you can feel in your toes, making it a genuine contender for the best bourbon to drink neat Meanwhile, securing a bottle (or any bottle of Van Winkle bourbon for that matter) is usually a daunting and expensive task. We still say it’s worth it, as do a legion of experts and enthusiasts alike. Some even claim that this it is not only the best high-end bourbon in Kentucky but, is bar none the best bourbon in the world. Put it on your bourbon bucket list.
Manufacturer: Sazerac Company Origin: Frankfort, Kentucky
Don’t feel like spending a month’s rent on Pappy Van Winkle? Then grab a bottle of W.L. Weller 12 Year instead, which consists of Pappy that wasn’t quite great enough to make the cut. While it may not be a serious competitor for the title of “best bourbon in Kentucky”, it’s still one of the best bourbons to drink, and for a whole lot less. Old Weller Antique 107 is likewise the stuff of legend. Arguably, the best bourbon for an old fashioned.
Manufacturer: Sazerac Company Origin: Frankfort, Kentucky
While the regular small batch bourbon from Maker’s Mark is certainly tasty enough in its own right, and, one of the best bourbons for the money, this Cask Strength variant cranks that flavour dial all the way up. Naturally, the heat factor will get cranked up as well, which is bound to happen when a label doesn’t bring down the proof by adding water. By enduring the extra heat, however, you gain direct access to a luscious blend of oak, caramel, vanilla, and spice.
Manufacturer: Beam Suntory Origin: Kentucky, United States
Among mid-range bourbons, Russell’s Reserve 10 Year-Old is an absolute masterpiece. It comes to us from Jimmy and Eddie Russell, who represent two generations of master distillers over at Wild Turkey. Bottled at 90 proof, the heralded spirit balances sweetness, oak, and spice to brilliant effect, thereby firing on every conceivable cylinder. Let’s also give a quick shout-out to Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, another truly fantastic bourbon. It costs a little more than Wild Turkey – renown as one of the best cheap bourbons – but Russell’s Reserve brings plenty of bang (and a higher proof) for that extra buck. Possibly the best bourbon for its price point.
Manufacturer: ?Wild Turkey Distilling Company Origin: Kentucky, United States
When it comes to the world’s top bourbons, we prefer the ones that deliver big, bold flavours, hence the frequency of higher proofs. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is no exception to the rule. Aged for nine years, and handpicked from the best barrels, this dark amber spirit renders an immediate and formidable impression, packing robust amounts of vanilla, nuts, and oak, it is a surprisingly smooth bourbon despite its 120-proof body.
From Willett distillery comes this small batch bourbon of exceptional quality. Despite being bottled at 114 proof, Noah’s Mill nevertheless retains remarkable smoothness, lush texture, and truly balanced taste. On the palate you’ll find notes of walnut, prune, and spice, while the finish leaves a pleasant trail of burnt caramel in its wake. Purchase a whole bottle and let this one grow on you. A genuine top-shelf bourbon.
Manufacturer: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Origin: Kentucky, USA
Similar to the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Heaven Hill Distillery releases its own limited edition bourbon once a year, in honour of master distiller Parker Beam. Dubbed the Parker Heritage collection, every bottle is considered to be some of the best bourbon you can ever try. Meanwhile, the 7th edition, aka Promise of Hope, is held in particularly high regard. Sadly, its release in 2013 was accompanied by the announcement that Parker Beam had been diagnosed with ALS. Consequently, a portion of the proceeds went to the Promise of Hope fund, which helps fight the disease. A great cause and a genuine contender for best bourbon whiskey.
Manufacturer: Heaven Hill Distillery Origin: Kentucky, USA
Blanton’s is recognisable on sight due to the round bottle with a brass horse and jockey for a stopper. Inside that nifty bottle is a spirit of considerable smoothness and impeccable taste. As with all single barrel bourbons, this one can vary from one bottle to the next, but a premium tier of balance and complexity most definitely persists. In addition to being a true classic, this was also the first single barrel bourbon to see a wide release, when it debuted back in the early 1980s. If you haven’t already, add it to your list of bourbons to try.
Near the top of every whiskey-lover’s bucket list is Black Maple Hill 16 Year, an expression shrouded in mystery. According to legend, the label was initially a way for Kentucky’s most celebrated distillers to offer limited edition releases from select barrels. Whatever the case, this small batch bourbon remains the stuff that whiskey dreams are made of. On the off chance that you can actually score a dram (or a bottle), expect layer upon layer of deep, unforgettable flavour from every sip.
Manufacturer: Heaven Hill Distilleries Origin: Kentucky, USA
Call Jefferson’s Ocean a gimmick if you must, but given the heaping amounts of acclaim behind certain batches, this is one gimmick that seems to have paid off. It comes to us from a veritable label with a slew of knockouts under its belt, including Jefferson’s Reserve and Presidential Select. For the Ocean series, Jefferson’s ages a select number of barrels at sea, arguing that the increased mobility cultivates more flavour from the whiskey. Find a bottle and judge for yourself.
A quintessential sipper, Four Roses Single Barrel employs a high rye count in the mash, leading to a balanced exchange between spiciness and sweetness. Also present are notes of fruit and cinnamon, all of it delivered in a creamy, full body. Should you discover the magic of Four Roses, be sure to track down some of their limited edition releases, which are aged even longer, and all the more flavourful as a result. Does that mean the special releases are typically better than the Single Barrel? Probably. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ve put the Single Barrel on the list anyway. Plus, it’s won more awards than you can count.
Manufacturer: Kirin Brewery Company Origin: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery definitely takes the past to heart when releasing their best bourbons, with most being named after historic industry titans. That brings us to this single barrel statement, which takes its name (and bottle design) from Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr., an absolute icon whose innovative methods rendered both immediate and long-lasting impact upon bourbon’s development as a whole. Aged exclusively in the famous Warehouse C (built and used by the colonel himself back in the late 1800s), the spirit’s palate deftly balances oak, tobacco, sweetness and spice, thereby representing everything that great bourbon should be and more.
Manufacturer: Buffalo Trace Distillery Origin: Kentucky, USA
Bourbon whiskey insiders have long acknowledged that Full Proof has a distinctly rich flavour. Winner at the last two World Whiskies Awards, 1792 Full Proof delivers exquisite colour, rich aromatics, and bold flavour, all at an affordable price. Present in every sip of this 125 proof stunner are dominant notes of caramel, vanilla, spice, boasting an incredibly deep and smoky flavour. Sealing the deal is a nice, long finish. In 2019, it won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Manufacturer: Sazerac Company Inc. (Barton 1792 Distillery) Origin: Kentucky, USA
Named after its own creator, Booker Noe (grandson to Jim Beam), Booker’s was the first mainstream label to offer drinkers a taste of pure, uncut bourbon. Specifically, the brand refused to water down its whiskey when it launched back in 1988, subsequently giving birth to a barrel proof craze that’s more popular today than it ever was. Even with a slew of labels following suit, the originator still holds its own by way of a smooth, sweet and spicy body.
As the longest-running bourbon maker on the market, Old Forester has a vast reservoir of craft and tradition to cull from. That brings us to its celebrated Whiskey Row Series, which can vary from one statement to the next in terms of quality or complexity. Standing head and shoulders above its peers is Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. It layers dark caramel, graham cracker, peppercorn, oak, and spice in a dense, complex body, and finishes on notes of light apple and smoky marshmallow. Don’t be deterred by the 57.5% ABV, as this spirit delivers too many great flavours to ignore, making it one of the best tasting bourbons in the world.
For most enthusiasts, Jim Beam’s standard white label bourbon is as ubiquitous as it is unmemorable. Undoubtedly Jim Beam is one of the world’s top bourbon brands; and as such, the label does occasionally release something truly special, such as this Signature Craft 12 Year statement. From every sip, expect a creamy balance of sweetness and spice, along with subtle bursts of smoke. Needless to say, this premium bourbon is a solid reminder that one of the most famous bourbons, Jim Beam, can still throw down with the best of them.
Manufacturer: Beam Distilling Company Origin: Kentucky, USA
Although Eagle Rare has been around since the 1970s, this bourbon whiskey brand didn’t really take the world by storm until the early 2000s. That’s when avid drinkers were turned on to this 10 Year-Old bourbon, which delivers dark colour, luscious texture and top-shelf flavour at a mid-range price point. It’s then no surprise that the rise of Eagle Rare’s popularity directly correlates with the ongoing bourbon craze. Rarely does such high quality come in at such low cost. One of the top bourbons to try.
Rounding out our list of bourbons is Angel’s Envy Port Finished. Until recently, Angel’s Envy sourced their distillate from another producer, but that never stopped the brand’s flagship statement from resonating with absolute distinction. As a result of being finished in port wine casks, this medium to full-bodied bourbon delivers creamy waves of fruit and sugar, accented by mellow blasts of spice. This incredibly nice bourbon goes down super smooth, to say the least, revealing new flavours with every sip.
Manufacturer: Louisville Distilling Co LLC Origin: Louisville, Kentucky
Since their emergence in the mid-1990s, Woodford Reserve has played a pivotal role in both the development and popularity of modern bourbon. Taking cues from their Scottish peers, they were amongst the first to experiment with additional cask maturation. Rather than conceal the qualities of their flagship bourbon, the brand always aims to cultivate the whiskey’s true potential. Nowhere is that more evident than with the Double Oaked statement, a masterpiece of rich texture and diverse flavour. Imagine luscious notes of caramel, chocolate, and banana giving way to an oaky finish with subtle blasts of coffee. Meanwhile, your next sip might bring forth an entirely new set of flavours…and that’s the point.
You Might Just Spend The Rest Of Your Life In Jail
Black people make up 32% of Louisiana’s population, but account for 67% of those in state prison.
Of the 68 people housed on Death Row, 45 of them are black. That’s 66%.
There are 177 youths serving time in state prison. 149 of them are black. That’s 84%.
61% of the elderly prison population (those over 50) are black.
All in all, as a percentage, there are more black people in state prison than there are walking free on the streets of Louisiana.
The only prison demographic that blacks don’t lead in is women. Black women only make up 42.7% of the female prison population, compared to 56.9% for whites.
More fun facts:
A life sentence in Louisiana means just that, life – as in the rest of your life, as in you are considered beyond redemption, beyond rehabilitation, regardless of how sorry you are, regardless of how much you’ve learned, or how much you’ve changed, or vowed to make amends. Regardless, according to the state, you are its property until the day you take your last breath.
F.Y.I. 73.4% of people serving life in prison are black.
Over the past few legislative sessions, lawmakers have instituted a number of reforms to reduce the state’s prison population. And they’ve worked. The state has cut its population by 32%. Even with that, Louisiana still ranks first in prisoners per capita, and none of those reforms have targeted those serving life with no parole. Until…
Representative Royce Duplessis has sponsored House Bill 490, which among other things finally proposes to allow people serving life sentences to have a parole hearing after 30 years. Not parole but just a hearing to at least state their case for being reformed, which is supposed to be the reason they’re sent to prison in the first place. This bill expands on an similar attempt during last year’s legislative session.
Given the momentum building to further reduce the state’s prison population, maybe this version will face a different fate. The bill has yet to be heard by the Criminal Justice committee, but the legislative session is still young. For more information, stay tuned.
George Floyd’s murder shook up the world. The video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine minutes outraged protesters. This murder sparked the “Summer of Reckoning.” Thousands of people, worldwide, took to the streets to protest the inhumane killing, demand justice, and declare that Black Lives Matter.
So, when Chauvin was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, it was a historic moment. For the first time in U.S. history, a white cop was found guilty of all the charges brought against him for murdering a black man.
Floyd’s family, civil right leaders, mothers of unarmed Black children killed by police, and justice seekers in front of the courthouse and at George Floyd Square cried tears of joy and relief.
The victory was both brief and bittersweet. Verdict aside, what black analysts, professors, former police, and current police know is that the conviction of Chauvin may prove to be an aberration. The killings of black people by white police continues. There is an epidemic of systemic racism is U.S. in all of its institutions. This includes the ranks of officers who swear to protect and serve the public.
Even before Chauvin’s trial began, while the trial was going on, and after the trial white cops continued to kill black people. From March 29th to the beginning of the trial, the AP reported that the police killed 64 people.
Three days later after the verdict, the Floyd family and their attorney, Ben Crump, Reverend Al Sharpton, Mothers of the Movement—women whose unarmed children were murdered by white cops and white racist citizens– Marc Morial and Jesse Jackson, among others, attended the funeral of Daunte Wright, Sr., 20, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Kim Potter, a 26 year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department killed Wright two weeks after the Chauvin trial began. Potter is charged with second degree manslaughter.
Two days after his murder, Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother called for accountability. In doing so, she shared the solution to systemic racism. Accountability.
“The last few days, everybody has asked me what we want, and everybody keeps saying, ‘Justice,’ but unfortunately, there’s never going to be justice for us,” said Wright. “Justice isn’t even a word to me. I do want accountability, 100% accountability…”
Her words spread like wildfire. Accountability is now seen as a way to stop the killing.
The first black person elected statewide in Minnesota is Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. He is also the first Muslim person elected statewide there. In addressing the nation after the verdict Ellison echoed Mrs. Wright’s sentiment.
“This has to end. We need true justice. That’s not one case, that’s a social transformation: that says that that nobody’s beneath the law and nobody is above it,” Ellison said while calling for “enduring systemic societal change.
“Another way to prevent it (police misconduct) is with accountability,” Ellison continued. Passing laws and instituting policies and training is important but they must be more than words on paper and there must be accountability for violating them.”
“I would not call today’s verdict “justice,” because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice. And now the cause of justice is in your hands. And when I say your hands, I mean the hands of the people of the United States,” Ellison said.
“Today we have to end this travesty of recurring and enduring deaths at the hands of law enforcement. The work of our generation is to put unaccountable law enforcement behind us.”
“ACCOUNTABILITY,” the N.B.A.’s top star, LeBron James, said in a one-word post on Twitter after Chauvin’s conviction.
“This one verdict will not address systemic failures and patterns of discriminatory practices in the way they treat citizens,” U.S. Attorney General Merritt Garland said, when announcing an independent federal investigation into the Minnesota Police Department. Depending on the findings of the investigation, the Department of Justice can file a lawsuit. It would then force the department to make changes via a Consent Decree.
Garland said there must be a “system of accountability” to stop police abuse, brutality, and the killings of unarmed citizens.
Qualified immunity almost allows police to do whatever they want. Police are seldom held accountable for their actions because of qualified immunity. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley called for an end to qualified immunity. She wrote, “Across the country, police officers continue to escape accountability when they break the law, shielded from liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity,”
The Supreme Court invented the qualified immunity doctrine. This prevents police officers from being successfully sued for abuse of power or misconduct unless a prior case has “clearly established” that the abuse or misconduct is illegal, she explained.
“The Court’s broad interpretation of this doctrine allows police to violate constitutional rights with impunity, immunizing them for everything from unlawful traffic stops to brutality and murder. Qualified immunity shields police from accountability, impedes true justice, and undermines the constitutional rights of every person in this country. It’s past time to end qualified immunity.”
Civil rights activists, lawyers, elected officials, and college professors who advocate for justice all agree with Pressley. And they are exerting political pressure on U.S. Senators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.The House of Representatives passed the bill. It Includes-
Ending qualified immunity
holding individual police officers accountable
holding police departments accountable.
Senate Republicans selected Senator Tim Scott, a black man, to negotiate a compromise with Representative Karen Bass, the bill’s sponsor. Republicans are not in favor of abolishing qualified immunity. Nor are some conservative democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, chief among them. Scott will deliver the rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
The Republicans’ choice of Scott brings to mind Fiddler in the film “Roots, who Massa always sent to keep his fellow slaves in line. Just saying….