Such a Fun Age

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“Such a Fun Age” explores the toll of emotional labor on a black babysitter. “I like the idea of all of these people freaking out,” she says.

Concepción de León

By Concepción de León  Dec. 28, 2019, 5:00 a.m. ET

For six years in her 20s, Kiley Reid spent most of her days with toddlers — wiping chins, cutting crusts off bread, remembering their favorite songs.

“The reward of being with the same family and watching a child grow for four or five years was really wonderful,” Reid, now 32, said of her time as a babysitter. But the experience also got her thinking about how race and class interact in transactional relationships, and what it means to sell emotional labor.

Reid explores these questions in her debut novel, “Such a Fun Age,” out Tuesday. Reid’s book, for which Lena Waithe has already bought the screen rights, revolves around the intersecting lives of Alix, a privileged white mom in Philadelphia; Emira, her 25-year-old black babysitter; and Kelley, a white man Emira ends up dating. An incident in the beginning of the book, when a stranger accuses Emira of kidnapping Alix’s toddler, sets off a series of events that force the characters to reckon with their biases.Read the entire article HERE.

Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly, Dressmaker and Confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln

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Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley ( February 1818 – May 1907) was a former slave who became a successful seamstress, civil rights activist, and author in Washington, DC. She was best known as the personal modiste and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady. Keckley had moved to Washington in 1860 after buying her freedom and that of her son in St. Louis. She created an independent business in the capital based on clients who were the wives of the government elite. Among them were Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis; and Mary Anna Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.   After the Civil War, Keckley wrote and published an autobiography, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House(1868). It was both a slave narrative and a portrait of the First Family, especially Mary Todd Lincoln, and is considered controversial for breaking privacy about them. It was also her claim as a businesswoman to be part of the new mixed-race, middle-class that was visible among the leadership of the black community. Read more HERE.

Gladys West

When You Are Lost, Thank Gladys West for Your GPS

In a Jan. 19, 2018 photo, Gladys West and her husband Ira West stand in their home in King George, Va. West was part of the team that developed the Global Positioning System in the 1950s and 1960s. (Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

byCathy Dyson, The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star /AP via militarytimes.com

Gladys West was putting together a short bio about herself for a sorority function that recognized senior members of the group.  She noted her 42-year career at the Navy base at Dahlgren and devoted one short-and-sweet line to the fact she was part of the team that developed the Global Positioning System in the 1950s and 1960s. Read more HERE.

Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

By Alexis Clark

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They were called “brown babies,” or “mischlingskinder,” a derogatory German term for mixed-race children. And sometimes they were just referred to as mutts.  Born during the occupation years in Germany after World War II, the offspring of German women and African-American soldiers, their fathers were usually transferred elsewhere and their mothers risked social repercussions by keeping them, so the babies were placed in orphanages. But when Mabel Grammer, an African-American journalist, became aware of the orphaned children, she stepped in.  Read more about this extraordinary woman HERE and HERE.  The documentary, Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story is available for use to libraries, schools and museums. For more information about the film, visit http://brownbabiesfilm.com/.

History – Bessie Blount Griffin

Meet Bessie Blount Griffin, a physical therapist, inventor, and forensic scientist who invented an electronic feeding device in 1951 to help amputees feed themselves. She also invented the cardboard disposable emesis basis.

A physical therapist working with wounded soldiers during World War II, Griffin realized that soldiers struggled with feeding themselves. She programmed a tube to deliver one bite of a meal at a time to a disabled patient. Whenever he or she was prepared for the next bite, the patient would bite down on the tube. She later simplified her invention so that it could be fit in a brace around a person’s neck, and accomplish the same function.  Skeptical, the American Veterans Administration did not accept Griffin’s invention. She sold the patent and rights to the French government, who supported the large-scale production of her invention so that it could reach those in need. Read the entire article here.