Life, death and memories reverberate through the things my parents purchased.

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Photo by Michael Walter on Unsplash

My mom died eight years ago and it hurts less than it used to but probably more than it should. I am frequently soothed because I live in the home I grew up in, and I am surrounded by memories and ghosts at every waking moment. They wink at me and I wink back. When I walk in my kitchen in the late fall and hear the crickets outside and see the fireflies flit around, I am instantly transported to a night spent playing with my Transformers on that kitchen floor while my parents watched Knight Rider in the next room. Kit’s whir-whir-whir-whir blending with the crickets and becoming something of a soundtrack for my childhood. Or I tuck my kids in to bed at night and remember the time I had food poisoning the day of my grandfather’s funeral, and how my mom rushed me to the hospital and stayed with me and fretted because I was violently, violently ill. …

First Look: Davis talks about Ma Rainey’s swagger and Chadwick Boseman’s last role

Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Viola Davis talks to ZORA about Ma Rainey for the Netflix adaptation of the August Wilson play, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Chadwick Boseman. Photos: David Lee/Netflix

ZORA’s exclusive First Look at the film adaptation of August Wilson’s 1984 play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which will be released on Netflix December 18, 2020.

When we first see the Mother of the Blues in Netflix’s new adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, she is swinging her thick hips, breasts spill out of her dress, her gold front teeth glisten and the prim and proper audience salivates as they sit on their makeshift box stools and sway to the sexy music. It’s hot. It’s dark. …

Thanksgiving is over, and the eclipses are coming

A moon with the text “Zorascope” and all the astrological signs around it.
A moon with the text “Zorascope” and all the astrological signs around it.
Illustration: Dani Pendergast

As Sagittarius season begins and the upcoming eclipse season looms on the horizon, ZORA’s resident astrologer Ashleigh D. Jay offers specific recommendations and ideas surrounding the astrology of November 27–29 — the weekend directly following Thanksgiving. Black Friday is not only a day of shining capitalism, but today’s skies highlight the issues of secret spending, so keep a lookout for what this could mean for you, yours, and the country. Meanwhile, Friday morning, Mercury (in Scorpio) collaborates with Pluto (in Capricorn), highlighting how you can transform.

Ashleigh goes on to say the following:

Later on that morning, Venus (in Scorpio) opposes Uranus (in Taurus) and gives us a brand new view of our bonds. This is breakup and shake-up energy. What is the other party doing with your love/efforts? This transit can help you see the other parties’ desire/value/resources in a new way based on how they’re (not) being used. This could also bring unexpected money into your world. …

Ashley Ford on self-determination and place

Black woman meditating.
Black woman meditating.
Photo: madison lavern/Unsplash

Writer (and official HBO Lovecraft Country podcaster) Ashley Ford has five things to say about what’s important to her right now. Of this most recent list, what resonated most with me was her story of the old crone always cackling in her ear. And also, Indiana.

Ford writes:

My accomplishments are difficult for me to remember to share and celebrate. …

Tressie McMillan Cottom critiques the ‘Hallmark Movie Universe’

Woman drinking a coffee in a Christmas design cup with Christmas lights in background.
Woman drinking a coffee in a Christmas design cup with Christmas lights in background.
Photo: freestocks/Unsplash

There’s something about the Christmas holidays that make me want to watch television and movies about snowmen, fairy god mothers, and love found by an accidental kiss under the mistletoe or at the coffeeshop. Enter Hallmark (and Lifetime) Christmas events. Like most films, when watching Hallmark projects, it’s important to suspend belief. That’s the only way to thoroughly enjoy, say, your 55th viewing of old school, highly contentious Christmas classic Die Hard and all of its franchise children. The same holds true for the traditional storylines found in Hallmark’s “Countdown To Christmas” films.

She stars in two Hallmark films as the ‘Countdown to Christmas’ begins

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Holly Robinson Peete. Photos: Kim Murphy

Dr. Zoey is running from the memories of being a war medic, and now, as a traveling physician, she barely stays anywhere long enough to grow roots, let alone fall in love. Holly Robinson Peete brings the good doctor to life in a new Hallmark Channel film, The Christmas Doctor, which showcases traditional holiday cheer and frontline workers but was created under the shroud of Covid-19.

Robinson Peete, who pitched, wrote, produced, and stars in the film, is proud of this moment.

People who regularly watch Hallmark’s “Miracles of Christmas” movies already know that Robinson Peete has starred in at least a dozen films between two separate franchises that spike in viewership at this time every year. …

11 years later, Grant’s family finally sees the possibility of justice

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A press conference on October 5, 2020 on the reopening of the case of Oscar Grant’s murder by BART police at the Fruitvale station on January 1, 2009. Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Fruitvale Station, 2009. Remember that? The murder of Oscar Grant by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California became a viral video, a headline, and a ground-breaking movie. And now? It’s an unassailable part of the history of policing in the United States.

Video of the shooting went viral and sparked protests, not unlike those of George Floyd today. Those protests never stopped, and as of early October, a California district attorney decided to reopen the 2009 case after Grant’s family once again asked for justice.

The Oakland-based, youth-focused news and arts nonprofit YR Media snagged an exclusive interview with Grant’s family — quite the feat in this dizzying media landscape. In it, YR Media’s senior producer/editor Denise Tejada and youth correspondent Nina Roehl spoke with Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Grant’s uncle. …

Retrograde is finally ending. Time to get back to work.

Today marks a “change in the empire” energetic mark. Can you feel it? ZORA’s resident astrologer, Ashleigh D. Jay, says this week is a game changer in terms of telling the truth and coming to grips with self and other. Mars also goes direct tomorrow, ending a season of shade that might still linger on a few extra days. Covid-19 takes center stage.

Here’s what else she said in this week’s ZORAscope:

Fittingly, on Thursday, Jupiter joins Pluto in Capricorn, signaling a major shift in power. This is a change-in-the-empire type of energy, along with an overwhelming push for ambition and ownership. Jupiter is seeking improvement while looking to build one’s integrity and respect. You can either start a brand-new world or ruin the one that you have. Whatever you do, don’t let it be fake and don’t let it flop. …

A six-year-old Bridges integrated a New Orleans school and changed America forever. Her new book, out today, details her life.

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U.S. Marshals escorted Ruby Bridges to and from school. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Bridges, whose six-year-old self was memorialized by a Norman Rockwell painting after she integrated a New Orleans public school, is very much alive and is telling her story. Her book, This Is Your Time, releases today. At the same time, Bridges is also being talked up due to a viral meme featuring her image juxtaposed against Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. That meme is both powerful and polarizing for supporters, students of history, and activists.

That the meme makes headlines during the week of the 60th anniversary of Bridges’ historic integration of William Frantz Elementary School is apropos. She stoically walked into school solo as mobs of angry White adults yelled and hollered and spit at her. …

Up to Speed is a biweekly newsletter brought to you by Momentum, a Medium blog dedicated to the fight against anti-Black racism. Every other week, we bring you a collection of stories to consider as we all learn, evolve, and fight for racial justice and true equality.

Hey Momentum readers,

My four-year-old’s pre-K class held an election last week. They selected their favorite movie song. And as the tally marks in pink and purple came in, it became clear that Trolls was the winner. My election judge son proclaimed (but didn’t claim 👀) the song, and the children all danced (via Zoom) as the winning ditty was streamed. No one cried that Dora didn’t win. …


Adrienne Samuels Gibbs

Features Editor @ZORA + Editor @Momentum

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