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How my 3-year-old son helped me graduate from Princeton



Source: Princeton SPIA/TMX

When I took my 3-year-old son, Julian, on stage on the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) graduation ceremony last week, the very last thing on my mind was viral.

NO. My mind was occupied with the thoughts that almost all moms with young children take into consideration once they are giving birth with their children in public places:

This is what motherhood looks like in a nutshell. Always think one step ahead so you aren’t getting caught unprepared. Thanks to this, your child at all times has enough.

But after all, there have been also deeper questions running through my mind, equivalent to:

Just a few years ago, during his baptism at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, my son fell asleep, as most kids do, but woke up the moment Pastor Mike Walrond applied the oil to his head. Instead of crying and thrashing on the sight of over a thousand worshipers smiling at him, this child checked out everyone… and waved.

They say pandemic children are different!

But that was then and that was now. If my son indicated for even a moment that he didn’t wish to go on stage, I sent him back together with his father within the audience to play on the iPad.

However, this moment was a chance that will never come again. To stand on the stage at Princeton University, the Ivy League campus that has been his playground and my academic refuge for the past yr. Campus whose very first presidents once owned enslaved black people.

A campus that is an element of a bigger academic universe grappling with problems with diversity, inclusion and equity, heading off attacks from organized groups that wish to eliminate programs that recruit and support young people of color on their educational journeys, in a rustic that when punished enslaved individuals with death for his or her courage reading.

Author Natasha S. Alford at her mother’s graduate school graduation within the early 2000s. (Photo courtesy of Natasha S. Alford)

By the time my son turns 18, higher education and the world basically may look very different. The very idea that girls can work outside the house, prioritizing education and profession, is: protest point for some even in 2024. There is a number of work ahead of us the variety of births is falling in a society that wishes people to be parents, however it’s challenging to keep up a village where parents must raise children.

So I believed that perhaps on graduation day, the sight of my son seeing his mother in a hood with a master’s degree might be a core memory that normalizes this young child’s pursuit of data.

I felt the identical way once I was 15, watching my mother get her master’s degree after working full-time as a teacher and taking classes within the evenings and weekends. She was the primary in her immediate family to graduate from college, and my father never had a school degree.


I never understood why she at all times seemed so stressed and apprehensive, but after all now I do know why.

Going to varsity and even working outside the house as a mother can mean splitting your heart in lots of places and stretching your head to the limit.

School is a privilege.

In 2012, I used to be accepted right into a political school – on the time I used to be childless, single, and had few responsibilities – but I turned it down out of fear of the identical student loans that ruined my own mother’s credit rating.

Thanks to Princeton University, last yr I managed to earn approx Master’s degree in public policy free of charge, which is a rare blessing in a world where investing in education can sometimes feel like a price you pay for the remaining of your life.

However, this yr has taught me that I’m probably sick of going back to high school. I had nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else. It’s time to place this recent knowledge to good use.

The creator and her family attend the hooding and graduate awards ceremony on the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) in Princeton, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of Natasha S. Alford)

So it gave the look of this could be the last probability for a bit boy from a family of first- and second-generation college graduates to physically share in his mother’s educational journey.

And possibly if it weren’t for all that, it might just be a cute photo of us together.

“” I whispered to my son as I held his little hand and straightened his light green polo shirt and khaki shorts before we marched down the aisle of the McCarter Theater.

He checked out me together with his vivid almond eyes topped with a brown afro, nodded yes, after which we headed to the stage with the remaining of my classmates and just a few of them who also brought their cute children on stage while dressing up in hoods.

Then, after all, got here that unexpected moment when Princeton SPIA Dean Amaney Jamal asked my son if he desired to hood me with my master’s sash, and he nodded yes; to which she then held it up for all to see.

I held back tears, each due to gesture she made and the way difficult the past yr had been: teaching classes, a book launch, a part-time job, lupus, a sick parent, and the sacred commitment of family.

What Dean Jamal did for me was pure motherly instinct.

She lifted the load. Let me know that motherhood and parenting should not a burden or a “situation” to be downplayed, but a present to be celebrated.

She checked out my child and his abilities, showing him by example the way to put a crown – even when it was a sash – on his mother’s head on his own.

And now, after all, I am unable to wait to remind him of the numerous crowns he’ll have the ability to wear throughout his life. Whatever he does, I might be in the group and cheering him on, just as you all have been cheering for our family with kind messages from all around the country.

I hope we are able to cheer on all our youngsters in this manner in order that they too know that excellence is their legacy to be inherited.

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Juneteenth Unity Fest returns to Brooklyn




party, event, planning, marketing, Juneteenth, Unify fest

The Robert Randolph Foundation is pleased to announce the fourth edition of the edition JUNE UNITY FESTIVAL, a national, multicultural experience uniting diverse voices and communities to commemorate and rejoice Juneteenth and Black culture. Streaming live from Brooklyn, New York, UNITYFEST 2024 will feature quite a lot of entertainment, education and community activation events, including the JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST concert happening at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! on the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park.

“June 11 is a day when we remember America’s past, recognize the resilience and strength of Black people, and celebrate the progress we have made,” commented Robert Randolph, founding father of the Robert Randolph Foundation.

UNITYFEST will rejoice the breadth and depth of black culture and Juneteenth as a uniquely American experience, while providing a platform to unite coalitions of grassroots charities.

The festivities will kick off with the JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST block party at Under the K Bridge Park, an old-school neighborhood party featuring DJ Spinna. Anchored by the official JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST concert at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! on the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park, led by the award-winning gospel singer and keyboardist Ty TribbettUNITYFEST may even include a late after party on the Brooklyn Bowl. Full details will probably be announced in the approaching weeks.

“Heal America is honored to partner with the Robert Randolph Foundation for the second annual JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST,” he said Branden Polkdirector of Strategic Partnerships of Heal America, a movement to fight racial injustice with love and redemption.

“Last year, we witnessed this festival bring together a diverse group of people celebrating black culture and educating audiences about black history. The time has come for us to unite and overcome long-standing racial divisions together. As a pastor and supporter of the Heal America movement, I am inspired to work to heal and honor Juneteenth.”

“We are very excited and honored to partner with Robert and UNITYFEST on this inaugural Juneteenth event,” he said Diana Eber, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! executive producer.

“This celebration of black artistry and resilience is central to what we do at Bandshell throughout the summer. Thank you Robert for making this amazing vision a reality!”

JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST is the brainchild of Grammy-nominated African-American artist Robert Randolph, whose goal is to create a multicultural experience that unites people from all walks of life while amplifying the multiple narratives of the Black experience in America. Randolph, the Robert Randolph Foundation and the JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST team also recognize the importance of raising awareness of Juneteenth as a vacation and helping people understand its importance in American history. When the country’s last enslaved inhabitants learned of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, it signaled a change within the situation. Today now we have the chance to change the tide once more with this national event that may function a reflective and celebratory catalyst to further fuel inclusive cultures that strengthen America’s social fabric.

“While Juneteenth marks the symbolic end of slavery in America, our goal is for JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST to represent the achievements of Black people in the United States,” adds Randolph.

“Through this observance, our mission is to make Juneteenth an opportunity to remember the past, recognize our progress, and take collective action to create a ‘more perfect union’ for all Americans.”

JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST is made possible by phenomenal sponsors and partners including Amazon, Levitt Foundation and OWN. The event also worked with incredible community partners, including Heal America, to ensure historical accuracy and authenticity. A full list of sponsors and partner organizations might be found view on their website.

For more information in regards to the Robert Randolph Foundation’s JUNETEENTH UNITYFEST, visit,

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A black candidate claims false advertising hurt his election possibilities. Here’s how AI could shape state and local races




Adrian Perkins was running for re-election as mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, when he was surprised by a pointy campaign hit.

A satirical television ad, paid for by a rival political motion committee, used artificial intelligence to portray Perkins as a highschool student summoned to the principal’s office. Instead of whipping him for cheating on a test or moving into a fight, the principal criticized Perkins for failing to maintain the community protected and create jobs.

The film superimposed Perkins’ face onto the body of the actor playing him. Although the ad was labeled as having been created using “deep learning computer technology,” Perkins said it was compelling and resonated with voters. He didn’t manage to pay for or campaign staff to counter this, and he believes it was one among many reasons he lost the 2022 race. A representative for the group behind the ad didn’t reply to a request for comment.

“This false advertising 100 percent impacted our campaign because we were a low-vote place with fewer resources,” said Perkins, a Democrat. “You had to choose where to direct your efforts.”

While such attacks are a staple of adverse political campaigns, the ad targeting Perkins was notable: It is believed to be one among the primary examples of an AI deepfake utilized in a US political race. It also foreshadowed the dilemma facing candidates in lots of state and local races this yr as generative artificial intelligence becomes more common and easier to make use of.

The technology — which may do all the things from streamline mundane campaign tasks to create fake images, video and audio — has already been deployed in some state races across the country and has spread far more widely in elections world wide. Despite being a misleading tool, efforts to control it have been piecemeal or delayed, and the loophole could have the largest impact in lesser-known races within the election.

Artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword for candidates running such campaigns. Affordable, user-friendly AI models may help them get monetary savings and time on some on a regular basis tasks. But they often do not have the staff or expertise to combat AI-generated lies, heightening fears that an eleven-hour deepfake could deceive enough voters to swing races decided by slim margins.

“AI-based threats impact close races and lower-profile competitions where small changes matter and there are often fewer resources to correct misleading stories,” said Josh Lawson, director of artificial intelligence and democracy on the Aspen Institute.

No national safeguards

Some local candidates have already faced criticism for deploying artificial intelligence in misleading ways, from a Republican state senate candidate in Tennessee who used a man-made intelligence headshot to look thinner and younger, to a Democratic sheriff in Philadelphia whose campaign re-election campaign promoted fake news generated by ChatGPT.

One challenge in separating fact from fiction is the decline of local news outlets, which in lots of places means much less coverage of candidates running for state and local offices, especially in reporting that digs into the candidates’ backgrounds and how their campaigns operate. Lack of familiarity with the candidates could make voters more prone to believing false information, said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.

The Democrat, who worked extensively on AI-related laws as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said AI-generated disinformation is simpler to detect and combat in high-profile races since it is under greater scrutiny. When an AI-generated robocall impersonated President Joe Biden so as to discourage voters from going to the polls within the New Hampshire primary this yr, it was quickly reported to the media and investigated, with serious consequences for the players behind it.

According to the nonprofit group Public Citizen, greater than a 3rd of states have passed laws regulating artificial intelligence in politics, and laws to combat election misinformation has received bipartisan support in every state where it has passed.

However, Congress has not yet acted, regardless that several bipartisan groups of lawmakers have proposed such laws.

“Congress is pathetic,” said Warner, who said he was pessimistic about Congress passing any laws this yr to guard elections from artificial intelligence interference.

Travis Brimm, executive director of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, called the specter of AI misinformation in down-ballot races an evolving problem for which humans are “still working to find the best solution.”

“This is a real challenge, and that’s why the Democratic secretaries addressed it right away and passed real legislation with real penalties for the abuse of artificial intelligence,” Brimm said.

A spokesman for the Republican Committee on Secretaries of State didn’t reply to AP’s request for comment.

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How do you regulate fairness?

While experts and lawmakers worry about how generative AI attacks could skew elections, some candidates for state or local office have said AI tools have proven invaluable of their campaigns. Powerful computer systems, software or processes can mimic features of human work and cognition.

Glenn Cook, a Republican running for a state legislative seat in southeastern Georgia, is less well-known and has significantly fewer campaign funds than the incumbent he’ll face in Tuesday’s runoff elections. So he invested in a digital consultant who creates most of his campaign content using low-cost, publicly available generative artificial intelligence models.

On its website, AI-generated articles are peppered with AI-generated images of smiling and talking community members, none of whom actually exist. The AI-generated podcast episodes used a cloned version of his voice to present his political positions.

Cook said he vets all the things before it goes public. The savings – each in time and money – allowed him to knock on more doors within the district and attend more campaign events.

“My wife and I have done 4,500 doors here,” he said. “You can do a lot with this.”

Cook’s opponent, state Rep. Steven Sainz, said he thought Cook was “hiding behind what appears to be a robot rather than authentically conveying his opinions to voters.”

“I do not rely on artificially generated promises, but on real results,” Sainz said, adding that he doesn’t use artificial intelligence in his own campaign.

Republican voters within the district weren’t sure what to make of the usage of artificial intelligence within the race, but said they cared most concerning the candidates’ values ​​and campaign reach. Patricia Rowell, a retired Cook voter, said she liked that he was in her community three or 4 times through the campaign, while Mike Perry, a self-employed Sainz voter, said he felt a more personal reference to Sainz.

He said greater use of artificial intelligence in politics was inevitable, but wondered how voters would have the opportunity to tell apart between what’s true and what isn’t.

“You know, it’s free speech and I don’t want to discourage free speech, but it comes down to the honesty of the people who promote it,” he said. – And I do not know how you regulate honesty. It’s quite difficult.”

Local campaigns are vulnerable to attacks

Digital firms that sell AI models for political campaigns told the AP that almost all use of AI in local campaigns has to date been minimal and geared toward increasing efficiency for tedious tasks reminiscent of analyzing polling data or creating media copy. social media containing a certain word limit.

According to a brand new report by a team led by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, political consultants are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence tools to see what works. More than 20 political activists across the ideological spectrum told researchers they were experimenting with generative AI models on this yr’s campaigns, regardless that additionally they nervous that less scrupulous actors might do the identical.

“Local elections will be much more difficult because people will attack,” said Zelly Martin, lead writer of the report and senior research fellow on the university’s Center for Media Engagement. “And what resources do they have to defend themselves, unlike Biden and Trump, who have many more resources to fight back?”

There are huge differences in staff, money and expertise between no-ballot campaigns – for state legislator, mayor, school board or other local office – and races for federal office. Where a local campaign may involve only a handful of staffers, competitive U.S. House and Senate campaigns may involve dozens, and by the top of the campaign the variety of presidential operations may swell into the hundreds.

Biden and former President Donald Trump’s campaigns are experimenting with artificial intelligence to enhance fundraising and voter outreach. Mia Ehrenberg, a spokeswoman for the Biden campaign, said additionally they have a plan to debunk AI-generated disinformation. A Trump campaign spokesman didn’t reply to AP questions on plans to take care of AI-generated disinformation.

Perkins, a former mayor of Shreveport, had a small team that selected to disregard the attack and proceed the campaign when it hit local television. He said that on the time, he viewed the deepfake ad against him as a typical dirty trick, however the rise of artificial intelligence in only two years of his campaign made him realize the technology’s power as a tool to mislead voters.

“In politics, people will always push the envelope a little to be effective,” he said. “We had no idea how significant this event would be.”

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Last minute alcohol brands that want to help dad on Father’s Day




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A well-liked joke is that on appropriate days, moms receive more love than fathers. Contrary to popular belief, people donate money on Father’s Day. This is predicted to be $22.4 billion issued for dad– reports the National Retail Federation. Although this is sort of $11 billion lower than Mother’s Day expenses, it’s still a hug. Another joke is that Father’s Day gifts normally fall into the last minute gift category. This could also be questionable, but BLACK ENTERPRISES identified five brands of alcohol that you possibly can buy on your dad when you do not buy him something first.

My closest uncle

If whiskey is your father’s favorite, take a look at the Uncle Nearest rye line. 1856 is a premium whisky, 1886 is a small batch and Rye is a straight rye whisky. The brand has cocktail sets that include mixers and bitters.


If dad likes rum, he’ll love the DonQ range of rums. Reserve 7, Put on Q Crystal i Put on Q Pina. Any of those Puerto Rican rums they’ve a characteristic taste which dad might be delighted with. If you care about your waistline, Don Q Piña is a transparent rum that suits people on a weight reduction weight loss program.

The Brough Brothers

If an enormous poppa is classy, ​​bring him a bottle of Brough Brothers Bourbon. This Black-owned Kentucky Bourbon brand will just do that they create a floral and fruity note to the taste buds. If you are in Kentucky, take a tour of the Brough Brothers Distillery.

Armand De Brignac Ace of spades

If Dad Dukes likes to drink champagne, Ace of Spades is one of the best alternative. The brand was there bought by Jay-Z in 2014. Retailing for $300 each, this sparkling brut is top-notch in style and flavor. Your father will remember this toast perpetually.

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