Nina Simone | New Tax Bill | Complicit

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December 7 – December 20, 2017

 
 
 
Mosaic Theater
 
 
On The Dock This Issue:
 
four women at arena stage
Nina Simone Remembered at Arena Stage
Sadly, I really could not fully enjoy “Nina Simone: Four Women,” now playing at Arena Stage, because I did not know Simone’s story.
 
Tale of Two Targets
I left that parking lot even angrier at our city for the foregone conclusion to this tale of two Targets - - a reality that has unfolded just as our “two Baltimores” identity suggests that it would.
 
The New Tax Bill – Does This Look Good To You?
The average middle income earner would reap an $850 tax break in 2019. That is about $33 per pay check, or a tank of gas for some people.
 
Six Things No One Ever Tells You About Retirement
While the post-work years can truly be golden for those who plan for them, many retirees are caught off guard by the facts of their new life.
 
Complicit – Word of the Year
There’s nothing positive or good about being complicit.
 
The Book Winners – More to Come
Port Of Harlem will have more free drawings for subscribers. Click here for a free subscription.
 
Activities
Interesting, diverse things to do
 
Readers' Trends
See what is most popular in Port Of Harlem's e-mailed issue, and on our web, Pinterest, and Facebook pages.
 
 
 
Entertainment

Nina Simone Remembered at Arena Stage


four women at arena stage



Sadly, I really could not fully enjoy “Nina Simone: Four Women,” now playing at Arena Stage, because I did not know Simone’s story. The song, “Four Women,” inspired Christina Ham to write the creatively written play. During the performance, Simone meets the first three women (she is the fourth) at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church after the infamous 1963 domestic terrorist bombing. In hindsight, I wish I knew the song existed and heard it before seeing the performance.

During the performance, I was banging my memory to recall Simone or any other famous singer being at the church. Now, I know why the bell never rang. Ham shared in the playbill, “I wrote the story using the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing as a starting point because my mom’s family went there.” OK, the bell in now ringing.

The bombing, however, did move Simone from singing gospel, blues, jazz, folk, and numbers with European classical styling to protest songs. Her famous "Mississippi Goddam," was her response to the September 15, 1963 attack at the church that killed the four young black girls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair) and partially blinded a fifth girl (Sarah Collins, Addie Mae’s sister) who survived and the murder of Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963. Simone remarked that the title and the song itself was, "like throwing 10 bullets back at them."

The four female characters in the performance was a reflection of her song “Four Women” and included African-American female archetypes:  Aunt Sarah, who represents African-American enslavement, Safronia, a woman of mixed race, Sweet Thing, a prostitute, and Peaches, the defiant one.


The song, “Four Women,” inspired Christina Ham to write the creatively written play.
Because the play so closely followed the song, so many members of the audience could feel the ending - - I couldn’t. Yes, I missed out, but it was nevertheless dramatic. Just as at the end of the song, at the end of the play, Simone’s character screams: "My name is Peaches!"
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Tale of Two Targets



target



Like many patrons, I felt devastated and blindsided by Target’s recent announcement that it would shutter its (inner city Baltimore) Mondawmin Mall location in February, apparently with little conversation or negotiation with their development partners or the city. While a closure anywhere would likely have a negative impact on a given community, removing access to goods and jobs in an economically depressed neighborhood feels even more egregious.

A few days later, I pulled into Canton Crossing, Target’s other Baltimore City location, to run an errand before work. Threading through the expansive parking complex, with its maze of chains and amenities, I spied the iconic Target bull’s eye in the distance. I left that parking lot even angrier at our city for the foregone conclusion to this tale of two Targets - - a reality that has unfolded just as our “two Baltimores” identity suggests that it would.

In that way, no one in Baltimore needs to offer my two White daughters - - ages 5 and 3 - - a formal lesson in White supremacy. They could easily learn it by pulling into the parking complexes of those two very different Targets.

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The New Tax Bill – Does This Look Good To You?

rep bishop sanford d-ga



Time Magazine reports that the Tax Policy Center found that the average middle income earner (someone taking home about $50,000 to $90,000 per year) would reap an $850 tax break in 2019, if the proposed tax bill passes. That is about $33 per pay check, or a tank of gas for some people.

The same analyzers reveal that the top 1 percent of earners, those taking home more than about $900,000 a year, are set to reap about 60 percent of the total tax cut, for an average of more than $32,000 annually apiece - - about the amount one would earn in a year, if they worked full time at $16 per hour.

The top 0.1 percent, those earning $5 million or more,are to get an extra $200,000, more than enough to buy a median priced home in Philadelphia, PA, where the median price home is $140,000.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) believes that the wealthy will use their tax breaks more wisely than others. He commented on the Senate’s proposed expansion of the estate tax’s individual exemption to $11 million per person and the House plan to expand the exemption by the same amount. (The House version will also entirely eliminate the tax in 2024.) He defended the thought process by telling the Des Moines Register, "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

The Hill reported that the tax bill would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade. “Without enacting subsequent legislation to either offset that deficit increase, waive the recordation of the bill’s impact on the scorecard, or otherwise mitigate or eliminate the requirements of the [pay-go] law, OMB would be required to issue a sequestration order within 15 days of the end of the session of Congress to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion,” the Congressional Budget Office says.

“Under current law, the legislation would require that next year, Congress cut more than $25 billion from the Medicare program, hurting our nation’s seniors and the disabled,” added Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA. Medicare can only be cut by a maximum of 4 percent through the pay-go rules, which amounts to $25 billion in cuts.

Politico reports that The House also wants to cut some $65 billion out of education-related tax breaks, which the Senate leaves mostly untouched. The Senate wants to double one break, for teachers’ expenses, that the House would kill altogether. “It seems awfully ridiculous for a school teacher not to be able to deduct the pens and the pencils and the papers that she purchases for her children, but a corporation can deduct all of the pens and supplies that they provide to their employees,” commented Congressional Black Caucus Member Sanford D Bishop, Jr. (D-GA).

At a Teen Vogue summit, Hillary Clinton added, "Now, it (the new tax proposal) takes care of you if you have a private yacht or a private plane, but heaven forbid if you buy some extra crayons, or books, or audiovisual or laptop help - - anything. If you do that and you're a teacher, you don't get to deduct it."

From the PBS NewsHour:  How the Senate Tax Bill Affects Rich and Poor, in Three Charts
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Six Things No One Ever Tells You About Retirement

fifty plus



Many of us look forward to retirement as the reward for a lifetime of hard work. While the post-work years can truly be golden for those who plan for them, many retirees are caught off guard by the facts of their new life. Here are six things you should know about before you leave the working world for good.

1. Required minimum distributions can seriously raise your costs

Once you reach age 70 1/2, you’re typically required to take money out of your traditional IRA and your traditional 401(k) plan each year. While those distributions start relatively small, they increase as a percentage of your account balance each year after that until you reach age 115.

Withdrawals from these account types are treated as taxable income, which means you’ll owe income tax on the amount distributed. This increase in your taxable income may expose your Social Security benefits to taxation as well. As if that weren’t enough, your Medicare Part B premium also rises along with your income. If your income is high enough, Part B can cost you as much as $428.60 per month.

Those are some tremendous costs to bear for accessing your own retirement savings.

2. Medicare premiums can eat up your Social Security increase

Most retirees are relieved to find out that their Social Security benefit can receive an inflation adjustment every year to help keep pace with rising costs. What few realize, however, is that rising Medicare Part B premiums may wind up chewing through most, if not all, of that entire increase. Thanks to the “hold harmless” provision, hikes in Medicare Part B premiums can eat up all — but not more than — the increase in a recipient’s Social Security check.

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Complicit – Word of the Year

complicit



After Saturday Night Live aired their satirical ad featuring Scarlett Johansson playing Ivanka Trump hawking a perfume called Complicit, Dictionary.Com says its first spike in searches for complicit was on March 12, with a 10,000 percent increase in daily average lookups.

An even larger increase (up over 11,000 percent) occurred on April 5, when CBS This Morning’s Gayle King asked the real Ivanka Trump about accusations that she and her husband Jared Kushner are complicit in the actions of her father. The Wharton School graduate responded: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”

Complicit means, says Dictionary.Com, “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing. Or, put simply, it means being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly.” There’s nothing positive or good about being complicit.

As Martin Luther King once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
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The Book Winners – More to Come

in his hands



Port Of Harlem subscriber LaKeeshia Fox of Washington, DC is getting a free copy In Your Hands,” (Simon & Schuster, $17.99). Author Carole Boston Weatherford magically use simple words and phrases to express any parent’s hope and dreams for their child as he or she grows up.  But, since the illustrated child in the book is a Black male, she deals with the reality of raising a Black male in America.

As the child gets older, Weatherford appropriately alters the prayer. Without getting too deep or adult-serious, she includes lines such as this:  “I will pray that the world sees you as a child of God; and, as you cast a longer shadow, that you will be viewed as a vessel to be steered rather than a figure to be feared.”

Michael Campbell, also of Washington, DC, won the free drawing for “The Complete Month Of Meals Collection” (The American Diabetes Association, $29.95). What is cool about this book is its three-part, split-page design. The design will allow Campbell to interact with the pages by flipping the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tabs so to mix them for a variety of daily meal plans - - and be able to see them in one view. The recipes are quick and offer such a variety that I got the feel that I am salivating over a different healthy (healthier) restaurant menu every day.

Port Of Harlem will have more free drawings for subscribers. Click here for a free subscription.
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Activities

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Washington
Mosaic Theater’s Draw the Circle
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street, NE
Now till Sun Dec 24, $

Curve Of Departure
Studio Theater
14 and P Streets, NW
Now till Sun, Jan 7, $

27th Annual BZB Holiday Gift & Art Show
Shiloh Baptist Church
9th and P Streets, NW
Sats, Dec 9, Dec 16
Fri, Dec 22-Sat Dec 23
10a-7p, free 

The Lovejoy Group Holiday Concert
Complementary wine and light munchies
Blue House Productions
Kensington Sound Stage
4213 C Howard Avenue
Kensington, MD
Sat, Dec 16, 7:30P-10p, $20

African Americans in the Old West
Capitol View Baptist Church
5201 Ames St NE
CR Gibbs
Mon, Dec 11, 7p, free

Baltimore
Holiday Sip And Paint With Kim’s Change Creations
Lexington Market
400 W Lexington St
Fri, Dec 8, 5p-8p, $45

Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria Food and Drinks Expo
National Stadium
Surulere Lagos, Lagos State
Sat, Dec 16, 9a-Sun, Dec 17, 7p

Los Angeles

Jeffrey Osborne
49th Annual Pioneer of African American Achievement Award Dinner
Beverly Hilton
9876 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA
Fri, Dec 8, 7p-10p, $500-$100,000

New York
Harlem Impressions -
Four Photographers View of Harlem
HI New York City Hostel
891 Amsterdam Avenue
Fri, Dec 8, 6:30p-9p

United States
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Open Season
Wed, Nov 1-Fri, Dec 15
Some States, have extended deadlines

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