Before 5: #LorettaAbbott @SchomburgCenter – 02:00 PM – 03:30 PM on 12/04/2013 http://ow.ly/pmw5n @NYTMetro @HarlemCondoLife @AfricanDiaspora
Sister Mary Nerney, founder of STEPS to End Family Violence and the Incarcerated Mothers Program. She counseled inmates right until her last few days.
Sister Mary Nerney, who dedicated her life to incarcerated women and victims of domestic violence, died of cancer Wednesday. She was 75.
A pillar in her East Harlem community and a leader in the Catholic social justice movement, she founded numerous alternative to incarceration programs focused on female offenders.
“She was a fierce advocate of women who had a history of abuse and trauma,” said Lucia Rivieccio, executive director of STEPS to End Family Violence, which Sister Mary started. “An absolute inspiration and blessing to all of us.”
In 1975, Sister Mary formed Project Green Hope: Services for Women, which helped those released from prison reenter society. Eleven years later, she set up STEPS, which focused on battered women and later expanded to provide services to children who witness violence and young men who began abusing their girlfriends.
Sister Mary also founded the Incarcerated Mothers Program and was a founding member of the Coalition for Women Prisoners. She continued to counsel inmates until days before she died.
By Oren Yaniv / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
It remains unclear why the Harlem academy fell so drastically from an adequate grade of a C to a failing one. Also unclear: what will be done.
The once-prestigious Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem got an F on the city’s latest report cards this month — and families are livid.
“I’m really angry,” said one fuming woman who sends her 12-year-old grandson to the school on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and 148th St. “I want my grandson to do well, but they are making it hard.”
The 44-year-old woman — who declined to be identified citing possible retaliation from the school — said the academy “is acting like everything is good,” despite the failing grade. Her grandson, a seventh grader, agreed.
“My teachers don’t give me credit for my homework that I turn in,” he said, voicing fears that his own grades could prevent him from achieving his dream of being a lawyer . “I’m working hard, and I’m failing.”
The Department of Education grades public schools on their performance each year, examining factors like the school’s environment and how well the institution prepares students for college and a career.
But it remains unclear why the Douglass Academy fell so drastically from a C grade to a failing one in such a short period of time. It is also unclear what will be done to check the school’s decline.
West African Customers Get a Taste of Home at La Tropezienne
The customers at La Tropezienne packed in tightly near the counter on a recent Sunday morning, bundled in coats and gently shouting over one another. Babacar Mbaye, 40, gave an assertive “Hello!” in order to be noticed. Originally from Gambia, he said he drove his cab to this little bakery and patisserie in East Harlem mainly for the coffee (but also for three croissants: two chocolate, one cinnamon).
More people crammed inside, escaping the freezing wind. Roberto Ortiz, 58, who lives a few blocks away, said he had visited the cafe since the day it opened.
“This is the nice bakery. The other bakery, I don’t like,” Mr. Ortiz said. “The bread there is not so good.”
Out on First Avenue between 109th and 110th Streets, La Tropezienne is tucked among liquor stores and barber shops, not far from places that sell fresh cactus and Christmas piñatas. New Yorkers from outside the neighborhood, driving past on their way to the new Costco in Harlem, might not realize that the modest establishment is home to some of the best French bread and pastry in New York.
They also might not know that it’s no newcomer to East Harlem. Roger Bransol, a baker from Lyon, France, opened La Tropezienne in 1989. Rent was cheap, and he had a distant relative who happened to be a landlord in the neighborhood. Having trained in the South of France, Mr. Bransol named his cafe for a traditional cake in St.-Tropez. The tropezienne ($3.95) is heart-shaped, cream-filled and fits in your hand.
Over two decades, Mr. Bransol trained his staff in the fickle practice of making baguettes, croissants and pastries. Layered neatly on glass shelves are lemon tarts and napoleons, éclairs and opéras. But it’s the simple tartine — or open-face sandwich — that has sustained this little cafe. A baguette with butter is the favored tartine of West African taxi drivers, who are La Tropezienne’s most loyal customers.
“They make the same bread back home,” said Younoussa Diakite, 41, who is from Guinea. “We were a French colony,” he pointed out.
“If it weren’t for the cabdrivers, we wouldn’t have been here,” said Durinda Underwood, 47. Her official title at La Tropezienne is marketing manager, but she’s more like a longtime friend of the owners, having worked at the bakery for 20 years. “During Ramadan, we will flex our hours just to get them bread for dinner.”
The clientele extends beyond cabdrivers, though. Dottie Harris, 76, in sunglasses and a long fur coat, comes weekly, “usually when I leave Mass.” For Luz Breton, 37, who lives in the Bronx, the pastries hold little appeal. “I drive down just to buy the bread. Once a week, twice maybe.”
Customers, Ms. Underwood said, adored Mr. Bransol. “He was quite the character. A very strong, crazy, lovable man.” He died in 2011. Despite his absence, the cafe has changed only in incremental ways (addition of a red awning, expansion into an adjacent storefront). Ownership remains within Mr. Bransol’s family.
“People complain how they can’t find us,” Ms. Underwood said. “But we like that, that they can’t find us. They have to look for us.”
Lately, she’s encountered food tourists who eat their way through new neighborhoods. It’s flattering, but overwhelming.
“I don’t know if we could handle more business,” she said with an honest worry in her voice. “I don’t know where I would put the people, or the croissants.”
When I first read of Scientology’s most recent incursion into the black community in the U.S., I laughed, but that quickly turned to horror the more I learned. A small storefront on East 116th Street in Harlem had been closed, but a newer, flashier Scientology organization had been opened at 220 E. 125th Street. The New York Daily News noted it would be the Church of Scientology and Community Center of Harlem, a multimillion-dollar facility between Second and Third Aves. “Pray for East Harlem,” said the article. “Tom Cruise’s celebrity-centric church has anointed the gentrifying neighborhood as its next holy land.”
With a 200-seat prayer space, a cafe and a dozen classrooms, that meant quite a place, and the News pointed out Scientology had “opened a similar site in gang-heavy Inglewood, Calif., in 2011. Centers in rough-and-tumble areas of Chicago and Philadelphia are also being built.”
Meanwhile, Tony Ortega, former editor of the Voice, on his excellent Underground Bunker blog, pointed out that “there’s already a Scientology outpost in Harlem, on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, between 141st and 142nd Streets” and that the Chicago plans weren’t going very well for Scientology, to put it mildly.
That was good news, but I wondered why in the world would they focus on the African-American community, when any veteran Scientologist was well aware that Hubbard had been at least a closet racist, if not an open one? Then I quickly checked myself. Of course, it was the same old reason, the only one that ever mattered to Hubbard, or his dictatorial acolyte who took over Scientology, David Miscavige. There was money in them thar urban territories, and the Scientologists wanted it.
When I got into Scientology in Austin, Texas in September 1973, there weren’t any black faces around. A few months later, I became a new staff member at the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles, and only saw one African-American person, a gay staff member at Axioms Productions (an advertising agency for Scientology largely staffed by Sea Organization members). By 1974 he was gone. I never found out why, but maybe he got tired of Hubbard’s recurrent homophobia.
After 1974, I met only a few black Scientologists: a strange Sea Org member named Eunice who someone said had a “special” relationship with Hubbard, a witty Celebrity Centre staff member with the real name of Urban Roman, CC staffer Jim Kennedy (who went on to supervise the super-secret “OT3” course where Hubbard says we’re all slaves on this planet put here by space emperor Xenu), actor Michael Roberts (who played a pimp on the TV show Baretta), and talented singer Amanda Ambrose (who became the main proponent of Hubbard’s supposedly miraculous “study technology” in Los Angeles with an organization called Applied Scholastics). And then there was a mysterious glasses-wearing black Scientologist named Fred, who Heber Jentzsch (later to become President of Scientology) introduced to me as the #3 man at the National Security Agency.
I also met singer Lou Rawls at the original Celebrity Centre on 8th Street near downtown Los Angeles, but he had only come there to beseech CC founder Yvonne Jentzsch to take his name off the mailing list and quit claiming he was a Scientologist. Rawls had taken the opening Communications Course at Celebrity Centre Las Vegas, not been interested in anything further, but per its policy Scientology would not let up on him, and using the great vocalist’s name as a proponent of Scientology was a great public relations coup, they thought. Fortunately for Rawls, he got his wish.
This was pre-Travolta and there weren’t any superstars for Scientology to brag about. Peggy “Mod Squad” Lipton was into Scientology and her brother Ken was a CC staff member. She was married to Quincy Jones, but we never saw either of them. Once CC moved to Hollywood, I met genius bass player Stanley Clarke, who was a long-term Scientologist, and when it shifted to its present location in the early 1980s, amazing singer Al Jarreau was in and out of Scientology for a few years. Broadway performer and choreographer Edward Love was also into Scientology, and that was about it for African-Americans. There just weren’t very many black Scientologists during the years when I was involved, at any organization I was around, and I could understand how they could be put off. The more you learned about Hubbard, the more obvious was his racism.
On a taped lecture about the most egregious of all the Scientology “confessional” interrogatories developed by Hubbard, the Johannesburg Security Check (aka “Joburg”), he stated a “Bantu” (a South African black) would consider it an “overt” (sin or transgression) not to steal when given a chance. Listen to “A Talk on South Africa” from the early 1960s if you want to hear for yourself how he felt. If you think that’s just an anomaly, listen to what he said in 1952 about a “cleared Chink” (Chinese). And of course there was Hubbard’s continuous use of the derogatory and offensive term “wog” for non-Scientologists, which was first used by the British in India. Every Scientologist I knew through the ’70s and ’80s would only speak of non-members as “wogs.”
Hubbard was a lifelong hater; it just takes a little bit of research to determine that. And the color of the faces in Scientology haven’t really changed very much. A glance at the Web page about Scientology’s Personality Test—the Oxford Capacity Analysis—shows all white faces offering testimonials (although they’ll certainly change that after reading this article).
So how to get blacks into Scientology in the 21st century? Well, simply the same way they influenced people before, via celebrities. Most recently, well-known blacks have signed up, most notable being Will Smith and Louis Farrakhan. In 2007, the Village Voice had noted the purchase of three buildings in Harlem, but I didn’t think much of that until recent times, when I learned how deeply Louis Farrakhan had gotten the Black Muslim community involved. I knew Farrakhan had spent some months living at the Celebrity Centre in the Hollywood Hills, but I figured that might have to do with his friend Isaac Hayes, who had stated he himself lived there because of all the women who were available. Even though he was told about Hubbard’s racism, Farrakhan ignored that and decided Dianetics and Scientology was the solution to African-American problems, and he got Nation of Islam people training to be auditors (Scientology counselors). He said, “L. Ron Hubbard was a man we were destined to meet at the proper time,” and even called Hubbard his brother.
This provoked an outraged rebuttal by fellow Muslim Ali Muhammad, who pointed out that Hubbard was anti-Islamic. Brother Ali was not the only one to notice the attempted takeover by Scientology. A Facebook group called Scientology Invasion of the Black Community was set up to spread the alarm.
With Farrakhan fighting his internal battle (but getting a lot of his adherents trained as auditors), and given that he isn’t exactly the greatest icon of the African-American community, the Scientologists found another ace in actor Will Smith, whose wife Jada supposedly got him involved. Although Smith played Muhammad Ali in the story of his life, he has publicly said he is not a Muslim, Christian, or Scientologist. The truth is something different. Former Scientology staff member Kevin Tighe said this in commenting on an article on Tony Ortega’s blog: “In 2006 Celebrity Center International sent two of its staff to the DC Org to extract an African American auditor who was on staff there. He was to be the Smith’s full time personal traveling auditor. Apparently the Smith’s only wanted an African American auditor and this DC staff member was the only African American auditor who was also a Flag trained ‘Golden Age of Tech’ auditor. The CC staff were to recruit several replacement auditors. My wife was on the list of possible candidates so we were both briefed. My wife declined the offer.”
When I learned of the Smiths being involved in Scientology I wondered if a chapter in a book I wrote about Hollywood had anything to do with Scientology trying to recruit them. I pointed out, via statistics, that Will Smith, not Tom Cruise, was the #1 box office star in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, after he became involved in Scientology his star faded. Big budget sci-fi After Earth (2013) starring Smith and his son Jaden, bombed at the U.S. office, with some critics comparing themes in the movie to Scientology principles.
Even worse, all the money the Smiths have pumped into Scientology has turned out badly. Sixty thousand dollars to the World Literacy Crusade and $10,000 to ABLE International, both Scientology organizations, via the Will Smith Foundation, are a drop in the bucket to the money they wasted in funding a Scientology-based school, the New Village Leadership Academy. Supposedly, almost a million and a half were spent before outraged parents learned that Scientology was being taught, and the school was closed down. Tony Ortega soon snagged a very revealing interview with Jacqueline Olivier, a non-Scientologist hired to run the school in 2007. I found particularly pathetic what Ms. Olivier said about the Smith children, Jaden and Willow: “They only interacted with the Scientology teachers. They were in qual all the time.”
In Scientology terms, that meant the Qualifications Division, where study failures in learning “the tech” are corrected. Basically, she was saying that Jaden and Willow just couldn’t fully understand the Scientology they were trying to learn.
Hey, maybe Beyonce’s mom, Tina Knowles, is dating Scientologist actor Richard Lawson and getting interested in the “religion,” but don’t expect the singer and husband Jay-Z to go pumping millions into Scientology. It’s too easy to learn from the Smith’s experience.
Unfortunately, too many people have to learn the hard way about the soul-sucking darkness of Scientology. Will Smith was a good substitute for a celebrity prize Scientology desperately wanted in the 80s and 90s, Michael Jackson. Scientologist photographer Dick Zimmerman shot Jackson’s “Thriller” cover, Jermaine Jackson and his then wife Hazel Gordy Jackson took a film class from Scientologist movie director Eric Sherman (I was in the class with them), Jackson patriarch Joe Jackson reportedly received auditing at Flag in Clearwater, Florida, and of course Lisa Marie Presley married Michael, but he apparently never got involved.
For years, I heard about Oprah Winfrey regularly having pals Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Tom Cruise and other Scientologists to her estate in Santa Barbara, but I never heard anything about Oprah getting involved herself. Not that I’m certain she didn’t – after all, she had convicted Scientology felon Reed Slatkin’s son on her show once touting a new creative scheme. Maybe they didn’t get Oprah, either, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Will and Jada Smith now distanced themselves from the organization.
What all of the people mentioned no doubt have no idea about is Black Dianetics, which by now has, under the “direction” of Chairman of the Board David Miscavige, morphed into Black Scientology. Jesse Prince, an African-American former Scientologist who was once right at the top of the organization with Miscaviage and others, explains Black Dianetics this way: “Hubbard thought he was superior to his culture and sought to make a mockery of the way everyday people live. In late 1952 Hubbard thought he had discovered something so powerful with Dianetics that he had to protect us all from his own invention. He wrote a journal called ‘Black Dianetics.’ Here is how it starts: ‘Death, insanity, aberration, or merely a slavish obedience can be efficiently effected by the use of Black Dianetics. Further, adequate laws do not exist at this time to bar the use of these techniques. The law provides that only the individual so wronged can make complaint or swear out a warrant for offenders using these techniques’.”
The exact publication was the Journal of Scientology, Issue 3-G, Sept. 1952. Here’s a quote from that article: “Hypnotism is a rather old and untrustworthy method of influencing or enslaving others. However, hypnotism is very unreliable … The mechanisms of hypnotism … are circumscribed in Black Dianetics … Processing … can undo Black Dianetics unless, of course, the victim has been driven into suicide or past the point of no return – a feat which is not difficult, but a condition which is not desirable where the operator seeks real advantage … Several people are dead because of Black Dianetics … Thousands may die because of Black Dianetics …”
Hubbard also said: “Thus, the first basic principle of Black Dianetics: So long as a natural phenomenon remains the knowledge of a few and is denied to the many it can be utilized to control the many.”
As has been repeatedly documented, L. Ron Hubbard was a highly skilled hypnotist. His great joke on his unsuspecting followers was that he was hypnotizing them, starting with the Training Routines on the basic Communication Course. Although he said hypnotism was not used in processing (auditing), that’s precisely what was happening. In fact, I knew a celebrity hypnotist in Los Angeles who was repeatedly paid by Hubbard to develop hypnotic “processes” to be used in Scientology, but that’s the subject for another time.
Driven to suicide or the point of no return? That’s happened continuously in Scientology’s history. The names go on and on of the Scientology dead. With all the experience I had over the years with the so-called religion I can only now refer to as an evil cult, I can honestly say that it is all Black Scientology now. I’m not much of a fan of the Nation of Islam, but I wish more people would tell them that their lives will only get worse if they pursue Scientology.
The same goes for any person, regardless of skin color. Stay away from Scientology, my friends. Don’t fall for the empty facade and false promises. Stay far away – unless you want to walk down a dark evil road from which you may never return. The crazy smoke and mirror world of Scientology has a path going only one way — into total darkness.
Legends of Basketball Partners with Fairway Market by Distributing Thanksgiving Dinners to Needy Families in NYC
The New York chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the only Association comprised of NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters and WNBA alumni, will be joining Fairway Market to distribute Thanksgiving dinners to needy families in NYC from Friday, November 22 through Wednesday, November 27. Families will receive a complete Thanksgiving meal to make this a happy Thanksgiving.
Former NBA players including Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Albert King, Tom Hoover, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Fred Crawford, Carl Green (Harlem Globetrotters), Steve Burtt, Cal Ramsey, and Harthorne Wingo are among the former players expected to participate in the distribution. The food is being provided by leading American grocery chain, Fairway Market.
“We are dedicated to helping people who are suffering through hard times. We are always present in the community with fundraisers, clinics, and ‘stop the violence’ and mentoring programs,” said Tom Hoover, President of the NY chapter of the NBRPA. “And now, what better time to help the community than on Thanksgiving, a day that’s all about family and being thankful for what we have. Our members want to make sure that everyone has a happy holiday. I want to thank all of our partner organizations for their cooperation in this effort. I also want to thank Congressman Rangel, who along with the NBRPA, supports many local community-based organizations.”
The NY chapter of the NBRPA distributed over 2,000 turkeys, with all the trimmings, every year for the past three years, working with different community-based organizations and churches.
The schedule for the Thanksgiving giveaways are as followed:
– Friday, November 22 at 1:30 PM – Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) – 2010 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. BSCAH is the largest food pantry in Brooklyn, distributing food to Brooklyn residents all year long.
– Friday, November 22 at 5:00 PM – Madison Square Boys and Girls Club – 240 Nassau Street in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.
– Saturday, November 23 at 7:00 AM – Teddy Atlas Foundation – 543 Cary Avenue in Staten Island, NY.
– Saturday November 23 at 8:30 AM – P.S. 18 (John Peter Zenger School) – 502 Morris Avenue, Bronx, NY.
– Monday, November 25 at 12:00 PM – The Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club – 2155 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. in Harlem, NY (with Congressman Charles Rangel).
– Tuesday, November 26 or Wednesday, November 27 (TBD) at 4:00 PM – Our Children Foundation – 525 W. 125th Street, New York, NY.
Company launched careers of Samuel L. Jackson and Patti LaBelle. But cash is running short.
One of Harlem’s most important incubators for cultivating black talent is trying to make sure its 45th season isn’t its last.
The National Black Theatre, which catapulted local actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Michael K. Williams (“12 Years a Slave”) to Hollywood fame, is facing a real-life drama of its own, from financial struggles, dwindling grants, and constant costs from maintaining its aging building on Fifth Ave.
The current CEO, Sade Lythcott, the daughter of the theater’s late founder, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, told the Daily News that keeping productions rolling is “such a challenge on a daily basis.”
“It’s the biggest problem of our lives, because we’re underfunded,” said Lythcott, 34.
This season, Lythcott and her aide Jonathan McCroy, 27, have launched several new initiatives, including a playwright residency, reading series, and showcases that feature local painters, sculptors and other visual artists. The idea is to cast a wider net that appeals to a broader cross section of Harlemites.
They’ve also launched an optional season pass to all shows for $95 that also includes access to a series of short plays inspired slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin that will run next spring. A VIP season pass costs $145 and allows more in-depth access to workshops and reading series.
The pass, of course, covers the current production of Keith Josef Adkins’ “The Last Saint on Sugar Hill,” an apropos look at a long-time Harlem resident forced to choose between selling out or keeping family and cultural history alive.
The “original and unpredictable” play, as the New York Times called it, runs through Nov. 24. It stars Danny Johnson as a devilish Harlem landlord who is willing to sell his neighborhood’s history for a quick buck.
Despite critical praise, there are some harsh financial realities for the National Black Theatre.
The company’s most recent tax records show the theater brought in a little more than $404,500 in revenue in 2011 against $429,700 in expenses. Salaries were paid, but the cash reserve fund was nearly depleted.
Teer founded the theater in 1968 and purchased the property 16 years later, meaning the theater isn’t susceptible to the area’s wildly skyrocketing rents, what Lythcott calls her “saving grace.”
It’s also a big asset should Lythcott want to sell and move somewhere else.
For now, though, Lythcott and McCroy said they focused on the new initiatives and audience building.
“We see possibility,” Lythcott said. “We embrace anyone who is brave and bold enough to come in our doors.”
The National Black Theatre has been New York City’s longest-operating black theater company and the first revenue-generating black arts center in the city, drawing in some 90,000-audience members each year. Stars such as Alicia Keys, Nina Simone, Patti LaBelle, Donald Faison and Williams got their start there.
Jackson is arguably the most famous NBT alum. The Academy Award-nominated “Pulp Fiction” actor was bitten by the showbiz bug while building sets for the theater, the first step on his road to fame.
“This area was the birthplace of the Harlem Renaissance,” said Lythcott. “And we want to keep that legacy alive.”
“The Last Saint on Sugar Hill,” through Nov. 24 at the National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Ave. at 125th St. in Harlem, 212-722-3800.
By Beth Stebner / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS