On the surface, there is absolutely no reason to update the classic Broadway show Annie, which was already adapted for the screen in 1982. But this multicultural cast redux adds a hip swag to the classic kid's story. This Annie is urban, emotional and fun. But far from perfect.
"I can't breathe" speaks from the grave and describes the circumstances faced by many who are being choked by a system that treats different races and classes of people unequally.
You've heard a lot of information about retirement planning basics: contribute regularly to tax-advantaged accounts like your 401(k) or IRA, choose the right mix of assets for your age and risk tolerance, and rebalance regularly. But you still can't help but wonder if you're missing something crucial.
As an employee of a bank offering a national student loan refinance and consolidation program, I often speak with recent graduates looking for guidance on questions regarding their student loans. So, for those of you who still don't fully understand how student loan refinancing works, let me help you out.
All were willing to step up to make a difference, to lead when it could be dangerous, and to let their lives be shining examples for others. We should remember them when we face stormy and cloudy weather in our national life and become bright rainbows of hope like them.
Although everyone could probably benefit from a smart-spending lesson or two, today, we're talking to you 20-somethings. While you haven't had all that much time as an adult to establish your shopping routines and habits, you've had enough time to start developing some.
I honor the enthusiasm, the tenacity, vigilance of all who have marched, took rubber bulletts, made financial sacrifices, and found strength to go on anyhow. But as you assess where you are, and you find that this work is in your purpose, grab hold to your lane and stay in it with consistency and persistency.
The news media--people in our society who could play a pivotal role in creating a "dialogue" about such injustices as police killings of young black men--have fallen short.
The only way to say the words and not fall to pieces under the crushing irony doled out by a double-talking justice system is to understand "Black lives matter" not as a slogan or a hashtag but as a meditation. A mantra. A prayer. Or...
We will not move forward as a society until we can bring ourselves to listen and respond to the cries of those whose spirits have been crushed by the chokehold of poverty and racism.
We need to take a hard look at what is causing this income disparity. Is it prejudice? Is it lack of economic or educational opportunities? Is the system corrupt, and if so, where? And what questions need to be asked to change that?
At the same time, events like the ones in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, and the responses to them dominate the news. All of these things remind us of the truth that anytime anyone is treated less than equal because of who they are, we are diminished as people.
I am not interested in using the unfortunate deaths of my black and brown sisters and brothers as a platform to advance myself or my "brand," rather I am much more interested in how I can lead from behind.
I believe the revolution has begun and we are ready for change and soon no one will be able to mislead us and we will take advantage fully of the voice we have on a regular basis. Not just in extreme times, so if you want to be a part of this revolution, look on your phone or computer.
Wondering what story to tell when you preach on race? Tell the story of how your congregation came to be predominantly white in the first place.
Be the one. At your family dinner table. In the bar at happy hour. At your job. In the cafeteria. In the classroom or at rehearsal. In the courtroom, in a chat room. In your church, in the choir, in your synagogue or in your mosque.
Most of the news stories I've see about Ferguson market and sell fear, and many of the community reactions to the events focus on blame and retribution. This deeply concerns me because blame doesn't heal and revenge doesn't satisfy.
By Angela Bronner, AOL Black Voices
Being the daughter of Frank Lucas had its privileges -- Francine Lucas Sinclair knows of $50,000 Fendi coats and a smorgasbord of expensive toys. She also remembers a daddy who used to make her breakfast and who would save his baby girl from getting her hair combed.
Francine Lucas Sinclair also knows of a childhood filled with shame and untruths.
The man she knew as daddy was to the rest of the world Frank Lucas, notorious drug kingpin who flooded the streets of Harlem with heroin, recently immortalized by Denzel Washington in the film, 'American Gangster.'
For his exploits in the drug game, Frank was incarcerated when Francine was 3 years old, and her mother, Julie Lucas, also was jailed, forcing the toddler to live with her mother's parents in Puerto Rico .
After years of silence, Francine Lucas Sinclair finally spoke about her parents this year; hers of course is not a typical story in the sense of $50,000 coats but quite typical in that one in every eight African American children has a parent in jail.
Francine Lucas Sinclair today lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and has founded a non-profit , Yellow Brick Roads for the 2.4 million American children who live with the shame, fear, financial and emotional turmoil that is born from a parent who is incarcerated.
What do you remember about your father, Frank Lucas, from your childhood?
I remember him being very good to me - he was like my protector. He would come home every day, bring me candy, play with me, throw me up in the air, cook me breakfast, and also when my mom and them would want to do my hair, I would scream and he would stop them from doing my hair. Absolutely daddy's little girl.
What about your mother? Did she go to jail because of your father's business?
My mother was sent away for six months initially and then she went away when I was about 9. The first time, yes, but the second time, it wasn't connected to my dad's business. It was something about a conspiracy and trying to connect people.
Did your grandparents try to hide the truth about your parents?
No, they didn't try to hide the truth from me. I knew my parents were in prison - I didn't know all the details about the scope of everything but I did know that there were drugs involved. I didn't really know what drugs were until I was 12 or 13 when I saw a movie called 'Less Than Zero' with Robert Downey Jr. But I really didn't know the extent of everything until I was 27 and saw the New York magazine article [the article on which the film was based].
How did you stay connected to your father?
When I was growing up I would talk to him every Sunday at 3. I didn't get to see him once he went to prison because once he went into the Federal prison system, they move them around and I was in Puerto Rico. I only got to see my mom once when she was away; she was gone for five years. I never did get to see my dad when he was in prison. The first time he came out was when I was nine and then he went back in for another seven years.
Did you ever think to ask as a nine-year-old about why your dad was away?
No, and that's very typical of that situation. You just get the "I'll be home soon" and you know that's not the truth but you're scared to ask. We know but we don't want to know. We really don't. Most kids will hide it; over their dead body are you going to find out the truth.
Why did you hold your secret for over 20 years -- was it shame?
Shame, absolutely, yes. Shame. There was shame and there was no reason to tell anybody. I would just make up stories about my parents, I would never go there.
So did you lie about your parents when you were younger?
Yeah, I would say they lived in the states. What did they do? I'd say they were in real estate. I would say whatever. If it was someone I knew I'd know for a long time, I'd say real estate but if it was someone in passing, I'd say anything like, he's in the military or something. I'd stick to those two lies -- either real estate or the military that way my story, I could always remember. You know when you lie, you always have to keep track of your lies.
The shame you mentioned, what was that about? Judgement?
Most children of incarcerated parents don't want people judging them or judging their parents because it hurts them like they're judging them. So yes, shame, sense of abandonment, loss. Just confusion and worry. Worry.
Why did you finally tell your story?
It took I don't know what for me to come out because I thought it would help some other people, but I would have gone with that to my grave if I could have. That's how most kids feel.
What do you think children of incarcerated parents need the most?
They need to be able to stay in touch with their parents. There are exceptions, but if the parents are in prison because of something that had nothing to do with the child...because the child doesn't see the crime. He only sees the parent that comes home every day and who's nice and loves them. The kid doesn't see the other side. A lot of these children end up with elderly grandparents. I think the most important thing for children of incarcerated parents is for the children to stay in touch with their parents, and possibly see them. And to see them, touch them. Because for some of these prisons, they can't even touch their parents. And for a kid that is crazy.
Talk about your Yellow Brick Roads program, for children of incarcerated parents.
I've been visualizing this since last year but the web site went up in June. I've been trying to make it a national program, something like the Boys and Girls club, but specifically for children of incarcerated parents. One chapter in every city. Basically, it's an afterschool program where kids can go and they can feel like they can speak freely, other kids are there from their same situation. They'll get help with their homework, extracurricular activities, financial literacy. Also have a program that can help transport the children to go see the parents because a lot of them have problems to go see their parents. Also give their caregivers support and also give their parents support.
How does this program differ from say, a Big Brother, Big Sister program?
A lot of programs out there like Big Brother, Big Sister, they have mentoring programs, but mentorship is part of the solution but it's not the solution. Mentorship should be in the context of something else. Because it's not the same thing if someone takes me out to a ballgame and gets ice cream and I'm worried to death about my mom. I'm here having a good time with this person I just met, but I really wish I could be sharing this time with my parent. And the child feels guilty about that, you know? My dad's over there rotting away in a cell and I'm over here having a blast. That's the way I felt because I did have a few people who tried to mentor me without knowing my situation. I didn't feel good about it. This is going to be for children of incarcerated parents by children of incarcerated parents. A lot of people on the board will be children of incarcerated parents.
Who was the first person you told about your father?
Glamour magazine in July 2007.
Wait, your husband didn't know?
Well, he knew about my father, but he didn't know about my mother. When the article in New York magazine came out in 2000, I felt like I had to tell him because we were kind of getting serious. But I still was able to hang onto that little piece of information [about my mother] because I think it was that critical.
Wow. So this is very new. How do you feel?
I feel good.
Have you gotten a lot of feedback from people?
Oh yes, you wouldn't imagine. The heart wrenching emails I get from people who are like thank you bringing this to light, for sharing your story because we don't feel so invisible anymore.
Resources for Children of the Incarcerated: