Women's History Month, like all the other months designated for special cultural observances, always provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the ideals that are most important to us.
In 2015 the United States Treasury announced that the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury Secretary, on the $10 bill would be replaced by the image of an American woman - starting in 2020. There were online votes in which interested parties were asked to select from among a list of top contenders. However, the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" renewed appreciation for Mr. Hamilton, and it was decided to let the $10 bill alone. The woman's portrait would instead go on the $20 bill.
We have learned that the woman will be Harriet Tubman.
We affectionately call Harriet Tubman "Black Moses" because her bravery in various capacities - surprising for a woman - rescued hundreds of enslaved people. Many supporters are pleased about this because Tubman's image will replace that of America's 7th President, Andrew Jackson, who got rich as a slave owner and was instrumental in robbing various Native American tribes of their land.
I want to make a point about brand integrity and the inherent difficulties of doing business - and why you have to be aggressive about managing your brand online. I will do it by way of this little story:
The guy who sold me this Kirby Heritage II vacuum cleaner in 1988 struck gold that day! Full price, back then - what was it? $1300 in monthly payments, so probably twice that amount in the end. I was too young to know how to bargain. I'll wager that my sale alone sent that young salesman and his family to Hawaii.
But here's the thing: it's 30 years later, and I'm not mad about it.
I did second-guess myself for quite awhile, I remember. Every time I looked at the massive Kirby vacuum, I threatened it, muttering under my breath: 'You'd better last the rest of my freakin' life, buddy!'
But behind the sale, which the salesman had no way of knowing, was the fact that my parents still had the Kirby vacuum cleaner that I grew up with. (In fact, they have it to this day, in 2018.)
An article I penned for The Douglas Review in May: Gabourey Sidibe’s Memoir Released Gabourey Sidibe was probably sent to earth to show the rest of us how to live a truly authentic life. Her physical appearance is, to most people, the thing most remarkable about her. It is antithetical to everything our culture has trained us to value. Obese and dark skinned, she has nevertheless carved out a stellar career in an industry that celebrates thinness and fairness – especially for women.
People sometimes pop into your life and, in no time, leave an indelible impression. That's what’s so with Ed Newman, who stayed at my house for a couple of days in March.
Ed Newman, Ennyman
On the surface Ed and I are as different as chalk and cheese, as the British say.
He’s a white guy from Minnesota. He sports a baseball cap. I’m a black woman, a Caribbean immigrant, dreadlocked. He lives in a region I've never considered even visiting, having my origins in the tropics and a strong aversion to ice and snow. I have chosen a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., as far into the American South as I can culturally bear to live, and where the winters aren’t all that bad.
Yet the commonalities are striking.
Ed is a writer, like me. He has been blogging for more than 2 decades—“Have been known online as Ennyman since the mid 1990s..." his blog bio says—and posts to his multiple blogs almost every day.
"Every day???" I ask, incredulous. "Where on earth do the ideas come from?"
"It's more like, ‘How do I find time to write down all the ideas that come to me!’ That's the question!" he says.
Ed, who still holds down a day job, begins every single day sitting at his computer. As he moves through life he gathers sights and sounds and impressions - and takes lots and lots of pictures. I imagine that by now, with such long practice, the blog is almost writing itself as he frames his shots, the words and pictures weaving themselves into stories that then, in one hour every morning, get formalized and posted.
This has led to a fantastic body of work.
Ed chronicles the art scene in the environs around the city of Duluth which, I now know, is a community bursting with artists and musicians. He is himself a painter, and one of his blogs is a showcase for his own work. Duluth is also the birthplace of legendary folk singer Bob Dylan, and home to a good-sized Dylan cult. Ed also writes frequently about music.
Bob Dylan ~ by Ed Newman