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Black Life Texas

The Black Fund Awards Show in Austin

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Austin Community Foundation, in partnership with leaders of The Black Fund, recently announced tickets are on sale for The Black Fund Awards Show, presented by Netspend, on Feb. 27 from 6 pm to 9 pm at The Paramount Theatre at 713 Congress Ave. in Austin. Members of the community are invited to celebrate 21 Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits selected to receive $355,000 from The Black Fund, a signature partnership of Austin Community Foundation and Black Central Texans

The Black Fund Awards Show will feature appearances by Roland Martin, Taméca Jones, Alesia Lani, Ballet Afrique, Cha’ keeta Banita, and Tje Austin. General admission and VIP tickets are now on sale from $25 to $100 at austincf.org/BlackFundAwards

The Black Fund is a collective giving network launched in 2022 that aims to unleash the power of Black-led organizations and uplift solutions to benefit the Black community in Central Texas. Driven by data and community voice, The Black Fund strives for an equitable, just society that nurtures the growth, economic security, and wellness of Black people. The Black Fund is a key strategy in the Foundation’s effort to close the opportunity gap in Central Texas. Notable contributors and artists will walk the red carpet from 6-7 p.m. 

 The unrestricted, general operating grants will be distributed to the following nonprofits:

  • African American Leadership Institute (AALI)
  • Allure Alliance
  • Austin Black Physicians Association
  • Austin Urban Technology Movement
  • Black Makers Market
  • Black Mamas ATX
  • Black Mamas Village Austin
  • Black Trans Leadership of Austin
  • Capitol View Arts
  • Changing Expectations
  • Excellence and Advancement Foundation
  • Family Preservation Leadership Council
  • Grassroots Leadership
  • Maternal Health Equity Collaborative
  • Roslyn’s Novel
  • The Man in Me
  • Plus, five grassroots organizations to be announced on Feb. 27.
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Black Life Texas

Welcome to Earth: The Black Community’s Connection with Aliens

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What do Black folks say when they see an alien or UFO – Nope!
Like the movie with the same name, most Black people are like, “Not Today. This is not happening here.” But extraterrestrial phenomena has been in the Black community for centuries. Researchers have studied the Dogon tribe in West Africa because of their expert knowledge of the Sirius A and Sirius B star systems that they claim were taught to their ancestors by extraterrestrials. Interestingly enough, Sirius B could not have been visible with the technology the Dogon people had.

Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple, made headlines in the 1960s when their story of being abducted by aliens seemed plausible and it was one of the first documented cases.
Before the funky band Parliament dropped the “Mothership Connection” in 1975, the Nation of Islam had the “longest-lasting Muslim UFO movement,” according to Historian Jörg Matthias Determann in his book “Islam, Science Fiction and Extraterrestrial Life: The Culture of Astrobiology in the Muslim World.”
He said the Islamic religion has generally supported the idea of extraterrestrial life. For example, the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad taught his followers about a UFO called the Mother Wheel or Mother Plane, based in part on a biblical passage from the book of Ezekiel. And Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan later claimed he was taken aboard a UFO during a 1985 trip to Mexico, where he met Elijah Muhammad, who had been cured of his ailments by the aliens on board.

Even King T’Challa, aka “Black Panther,” battled aliens as one of Marvel’s Avengers. Sorry, we had to pay homage to Chadwick Bozeman since he brought Black superheroes to life. But wait, we can’t forget Actor Will Smith. Before he was slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, he was using his Ali-boxing skills to save humankind from aliens in the “Men in Black” series.
For real, though – the recent media headlines of UFO sightings and the bipartisan congressional hearings on UAPs (unidentified anomalous phenomena) can no longer be ignored as just sci-fi or a bunch of bologna.

NASA recently announced it has formed a team of experts to create a strategy to evaluate UAPs better. And lawmakers in Mexico also recently heard testimony suggesting aliens might exist. This past July, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer claimed the U.S. has probably been aware of “non-human” activity since the 1930s. This recent whistleblower makes the stories of Bob Lazar, another alien whistleblower with a questionable past, seem more interesting now.

Does the government want us to open our minds to UFOs? And if so, why? Understandably, many African Americans don’t believe or talk about the phenomenon. We are still trying to deal with the aftermath of slavery and institutional racism. And the Black community is rightfully distrustful of the government. The Tuskegee Experiment is still talked about in many circles in which the government intentionally gave Black men syphilis in the 1930s for a clinical study.

The Benefit of Fear
President Ronald Reagan said in 1987 at the United Nations podium, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”
At the Congressional hearings this past summer, the latest whistleblowers talked about secret projects conducted by private contractors and how the government has alien technology. Unlike whistleblower, Bob Lazar, these new witnesses came with a slew of government credentials that could be verified. They shared how UAPs or the Tic Tac-like flying objects can fly or out-maneuver any plane on this planet. The witnesses also alluded that these UAPs could threaten military bases and commercial airplanes.
However, this type of language influences fear against a common enemy, and war makes some countries rich. We saw this happen in Iraq, where we mistakenly attacked due to Weapons of Mass Destruction. This same scenario played out in the Vietnam War, which destroyed more lives than it saved. It doesn’t seem smart to face an enemy that can easily travel between planets when we can’t unite the world to fix our own planet.

Fear among the masses is also needed to keep our institutions intact – oil is king, and reducing our reliance on this commodity in exchange for clean energy would bankrupt many companies. Uncovering alien life also throws a big Parliament “Atomic Dog” attack on religion. The Vatican has Catholics on the lockdown in their beliefs, and it takes presidential-like privileges to investigate the Vatican’s underground archives. What secrets are lurking down there?

Other Perspectives
Author and Ancient Civilizations expert Billy Carson recently interviewed Dr. Steven Greer in the “Disclosure” series on the Gaia network. Greer is trying to move the narrative away from fear and to one of uplifting mass consciousness to peace. He leads a project called CE5 – or Closing Encounter of the Fifth Kind (not like the movie) – that encourages people to meditate to make contact with aliens. Of course, he has a lot of skeptics, but he believes the power of contact can lay in people’s own hands versus the web of secrecy from the government. The idea of meditating seems believable. Buddhists have been known to reach deep states of meditation and consciousness and a recent study found they live longer because of their spiritual practices.

Like Billy Carson, who is often on podcasts and YouTube videos about alien life, we have our Black brothers working in this cosmic industry on the front lines. Like Will Smith in “Independence Day,” we are pilots, engineers and scientists.

Reggie Brothers was recently appointed to the 16-member NASA-led UFO study, and he comes from a jaw-dropping background. He’s currently in the private industry, specializing in aerospace, defense, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. He was also the undersecretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research at the Department of Defense.

But wait…we have to throw in some Black Girl Magic. It was the all-Black female team in the 1950s as depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures,” that were the brains behind the U.S. getting to the moon first. NASA’s Katherine Johnson’s mathematical calculations helped Astronaut John Glenn make a monumental space mission. In 2015, at the age of 97, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Whichever narrative you think is more likely – fear or peace – the mountain of evidence points to the fact that we must recognize we are no longer alone. As Will Smith said in “Independence Day,” “Welcome to Earth.”

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Black Life Texas

Hispanic Heritage Month

Must include: Afro-Mexican, Afro Hispanic, Afro-Latinos, Afro-Hondurans, etc

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Hispanic Heritage Month has an African component. Some people are Afro-Apache, Afro-Mexican, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Arab, Afro-Latina, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Chileans, Afro-Indian, Afro-Roman, Afro-Costa Rican, Afro-Peruvian, Afro-Colombian, and many others that have been here as communities of color with African ancestry.

They have been marginalized and erased from the historical record and the conversations during Hispanic Heritage Month. What is greatly important is the fact that Mexico had a Black president, Vicente Guerrero, who abolished slavery during the Diez Y Seis (September 16, 1829 is Mexico’s Independence Day from colonial Spain) celebrations. This makes that day a celebration for Mexicans or Hispanics and for Black people everywhere. Before 1829, Mexico had a slave system. Hispanic Heritage is beginning to reveal the “Third Root’’ of their historical ancestry.

When Black leader Guerrero campaigned for president in 1828, he had to fight the lighter-skinned Mexican elite focused on maintaining a system of white supremacy in Mexico. Mexican conservatives launched campaigns against Guerrero, who labeled him “the black,” to prevent him from winning the election. Before Guerrero could abolish slavery, he faced a Spanish invasion at Tampico, Mexico. Santa Anna, the governor of Vera Cruz, at the time, a place with a large Black population, led a largely Black and mulatto army, along with Mexican soldiers, to force surrender on September 11, 1829. Hence, Santa Anna saved Guerrero’s presidency, which would eventually allow Guerrero to abolish slavery a few days later and during the Diez y Seis celebrations. Unknown to many, Diez y Seis is also a Black celebration long forgotten.

Many individuals born in Texas with Hispanic last names were erroneously labeled “white” on birth certificates to create a buffer group separating Blacks and whites while treating Latinos as second-class citizens. The label “white” was ruled not applicable to Mexican Americans in the Supreme Court case of Hernandez vs. Texas in 1954. Dark and light-skinned Hispanics were labeled “white” on birth certificates even though they were partly African, Spanish, and Native American. This was also done to divide and conquer people who had a common enemy in white supremacy. The Spanish kept birth records in Mexico, in the CASTA system, which revealed who had African ancestry. The Spanish had two different birth certificate books, one identifying who was supposedly “white” and one identifying those mixed with Native and African ancestry. The Spanish could erase African heritage by using policies encouraging people to marry lighter-skinned people. After centuries of this, they hoped to erase the physical features of Africans from the genetic pool.

Black people in Mexico were treated differently, but several big differences did exist because the ultimate aim of Spanish slavery was to make Black people disappear historically and physically. Black people in Mexico could attain freedom in court actions, and the children of slaves were often freed. In America, Black people would always be Black and never completely be accepted into American life. However, Mexican authorities created names based on the lightness or darkness of skin color. On birth certificates were names of Black children that described a certain skin color or physical appearance based on stereotypes. The racist term mulatto was used in a very ugly way since mulatto means mule, and Black people were said to have full lips like these animals.

Many with Hispanic surnames were labeled “white” to erase Native American and Black ancestry. Before 1829, Arabic ancestry was also erased in Spain. When the Moors, Black and Brown Islamic North African people, conquered Spain in 700 AD, they brought Arabic customs, language, and religious beliefs. The Moors were essentially Black, Berber, and Arab, and after they were defeated in 1492, their Mosques and literature were burned. Last names like Medina, Alvarez, Gonzalez, and others are Arabic in origin and not Spanish, as are many words in Spanish. The word for rice in Spanish, “arroz,” is actually Arabic-Moorish and not Spanish. Whenever a name or word ends with “ez” or starts with “Al,” as in Algebra, the root is Arabic. Algebra was invented by Arabs, and the “Al” refers to Allah (God). Spanish heritage also includes Moorish architecture. The domed roofs of Spanish missions and modern-day Catholic churches result from Moorish North African design. After the Moors are defeated, there is a concerted effort to deny Black Moorish ancestry. Islamic books and mosques are burned. Spanish surnames that would indicate a Black or Moorish ancestry were Hispanicized.

The names of Moreno, Mora, Morales, Prieto, Negrete, and hundreds of others indicate an Arab or Black origin because of the Spanish slave trade and the hatred against the dark-skinned people.

Despite this historical erasure, significant changes are taking place as some universities are incorporating Afro-Hispanic history into the curriculum of Mexican-American Studies programs. Mexico was the landing point for thousands of African slaves who inhabited coastal areas during Spanish exploration and before the arrival of the Canary Islanders in San Antonio. In fact, Mexico had the largest number of Africans that came to the Americas. According to historian Phillip Tucker (2017), “By 1830, Mexico possessed more than 600,000 mulattos, people of Spanish and African blood, among its population . . . Mexico contained the largest free Black population less than a quarter century before the Texas Revolution.”

According to Dr. Henry Louis Gates, in Life Upon These Shores (2013), during the Atlantic slave trade, some 550,000 Black slaves were transported to México. Additionally, according to primary source documents, 34 of the original Canary Islander settlers of San Antonio can be identified as Black or Moorish. Hispanic Heritage celebrations must address this new understanding of history.

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Black Life Texas

Hidden Sugars Served Up to Kids

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To reduce childhood obesity, the USDA recently held a comment request this past February for feedback on its proposal to revise long-term school nutrition standards, which includes less added sugars in school lunch and breakfast programs.

They proposed two alternatives: Beginning in the school year 2025-26, allow flavored milk (fat-free and low-fat) at school lunch and breakfast for high school children (grades 9-12) only. Elementary and middle school children (K-8) would be limited to fat-free and/or low-fat unflavored milk. The other alternative is to maintain the current standard, which allows all schools to offer fat-free and low-fat milk, flavored and unflavored, at school lunch and breakfast. 

With over 14 million kids considered obese in the U.S., every little bit helps. For example, most elementary and middle schools offer fat-free chocolate milk. The 8-ounce carton contains about 18 grams of sugar. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 2-18 should have a maximum of 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar daily.

A recent analysis of USDA’s School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study data found that flavored milk is the leading source of added sugars in the school lunch and breakfast programs, contributing almost half of the added sugars in lunches and about 30% of the added sugars in breakfasts.

The proposal states, “This approach would reduce exposure to added sugars and promote the more nutrient-dense choice of unflavored milk for young children when their tastes are being formed.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are so many foods often marketed as “healthy” for kids and families that are unfortunately not great for maintaining a healthy weight or overall health.

Top Foods with Hidden Sugars:

  • Sports drinks and energy drinks
  • 100% juice drinks 
  • Breads and cereals
  • Yogurts and flavored milks
  • Most breakfast foods (cereals, pancakes, waffles, croissants)
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