Black History Fun Fact Friday – Eugenics and The Caged Man

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Welcome back to another episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday. It’s been a long time and we have a lot to cover today.

If you’re new to this blog or this segment be sure to visit the BHFFF page HERE for more EPs.


The Caged Man

Mbuti or Bambuti are one of the several indigenous pygmy groups in the Congo region of Africa. One famous Congolese Mbuti, who was made famous in a horrific way, committed suicide 100 years ago. On May 20, 1916, Ota Benga put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger. Depression and sadness are modest terms we use to understand the spirits that troubled him. But who was he and why is knowing his story important in our time?

In the early 1900s, a “businessman” (more appropriately speaking a slave trader) named Samuel Verner, tasked with the responsibility of acquiring pygmies for a cultural evolution display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, encountered Benga in 1904. Paid by the St. Louis Exposition Company a year earlier to hunt men instead of monkeys, he was to bring African Pygmies to America for the St. Louis World Fair.

Ota’s family were killed by a Belgium militia group who set out to control the natives of that land for the large supply of rubber in the Congo. Ota had a wife and two children who were killed in such raids on villages and survived because he was on a hunting mission. To make a long story short, Ota was kidnapped and taken to America by Samuel along with other pygmies who were kidnapped as well and brought to America.

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Clockwise from top left: Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo holding a chimpanzee. An article from the New York Times announcing the new exhibit at the zoo. Another photo from the zoo of Ota Benga and the chimpanzee. The Reverend James Gordon who protested Ota being exhibited in the monkey house and who took custody of him after he was released.

Benga’s physical appearance, as is most Mbuti, astonished onlookers who immediately compared him to an animal, specifically for his short stature and razor-sharp teeth. Displays of humans were very common in the early 20th century to prove the theory of the evolution of man. Most specifically, men and women of color from the Eastern part of the world were used as examples of the lower class of humans and often put on display. They were usually those with abnormal features and deformities. It’s no surprise then that Ota and his fellow men became an instant attraction. Ota’s personality was also said to have been lively and the men attracted spectators wherever they went until Ota was eventually caged at a Bronx Zoo in 1906. He eventually became fond, allegedly, of a monkey and so began The Caged Man in the Monkey House.

Identity

Ota’s story is worth telling because Africa is a continent with over fifty countries and comprise many different people and cultures. There are just as many cultures and nationalities of people as there are languages and just as many languages as there are colors. But when you group a people together and call them “Blacks” you deny them their right to heritage and nationhood, because Black does not properly define a people. While I use these terms (Black, African American) for understanding sake, the Bible says nothing about race, nor is the word or concept of different “races” found in the Bible at all (See Gen Ch 10) despite the fact that the term has been used to cause divisions among man. More appropriately, some of the Black “races” of the world are Israelites, some of them Egyptians, Ethiopians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, Congolese, Libyans and so forth. Thus, this story is important to the understanding of identity as well as the medical field and how it fits in with the racial oppression of Blacks in America going back for centuries.

Eugenics

Contrary to popular belief, Eugenics did not start with Margaret Sanger and The American Birth Control League but the concept started much earlier.

Coined by the cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Eugenics comes from the Greek word eugenes, meaning “well-born.” It is a racist scientific process that set out to prove, through alleged psychological and medical evidence, the inferiority of Blacks. From 1924 – 1936, thirteen states in the U.S. utilized Eugenics programs that ranged from isolating those deemed “feeble-minded” from the general population to forced sterilization.

“When the infamous German eugenic sterilization initiative began in January 1934, seventeen U.S. states were already performing sterilizations routinely, and that year between two thousand and four thousand Americans were sterilized. Indiana passed legislation requiring the sterilization of the mentally unfit in 1907. By 1911, six states had passed laws providing compulsory sterilization of the mentally unfit. In 1935, twenty-seven states had such laws for the feeble-minded, those on welfare, or those with genetic defects. Forced sterilization was made legal in the infamous 1927 Buck vs Bell.” (Medical Apartheid, Harriet Washington, The Black Stork, pp 202)

Galton, in short, took Darwin’s philosophies and ideas on Evolution and put them into practice in what became known as Eugenics. He proposed that the poor, the sick, the weak and the untalented should be prevented from multiplying. Leonard Darwin, Darwin’s son, was also one of the supporters and proponents of eugenics in Britain. Galton maintained that the principle of the “survival of the fittest” had to be complied with and that only the strongest should be allowed to participate in the world.

“… modern eugenics thought arose in the nineteenth century. The emergence of interest in eugenics during that century had multiple roots. The most important was the theory of evolution, for Francis Galton’s ideas on eugenics – and it was he who created the term “eugenics” – were a direct logical outgrowth of the scientific doctrine elaborated by his cousin, Charles Darwin.” – Ludmerer, Eugenics, In: Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Edited by Mark Lappe, New York: The Free Press, 1978, p. 457

A reviewer of the time said:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

John C. Burnham, Science, Vol. 175, February 4, 1972, p. 506.

Nineteenth Century scientists were convinced that the white race (something that doesn’t actually exist) were superior to other races and that this superiority can be found in Darwinian Theory. One key person in the perpetuation of this was Thomas Huxley who said: “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man.”

And while Darwin claimed to be opposed to slavery and the horrors of the brutality, his own words are questionable. He presumed that man evolved from ape-like creatures and surmised that some races developed more than others:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.” – Charles Darwin: Life and Letters, I, letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316; cited in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (London, Chatto and Windus, 1959), p. 343.

 And of course, the most debated statement of all:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes… will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. – Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., New York: A.L. Burt Co., 1874, p. 178

In short, it is a fact that White Supremacists supported Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and used it to further racism. For them, the white race had, in short, moved up the evolutionary ladder and was destined to eliminate the other races in the struggle to survive.

Certain African Americans are not to be excluded. Many prominent Blacks also supported Eugenics. Fisk University’s first Black President and critical contributor to The Harlem Renaissance Charles S. Johnson, said that “Eugenic discrimination was necessary for blacks” and that “the high maternal and infant mortality rates, along with diseases like tuberculosis, typhoid, malaria and venereal infection, made it difficult for large families to adequately sustain themselves.” – Charles S. Johnson, A Question of Negro Health, The Birth Control Review, June 1932, 167-169

He later became an integral part of Margaret Sanger’s Negro Project, but he’s not the only one, many blacks agreed. According to Margaret Sanger’s most infamous quote:

“The most successful approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal….we do not want word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the one who can straighten out that idea if it occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Sanger said this in a 1939 letter where she outlined her plan to reach out to black leaders — specifically ministers — to help dispel community suspicions about the family planning clinics she was opening in the South. It must be noted that Sanger was not the progenitor of this idea but reaching out to ministers and black leaders in the community was the idea of another very prominent man.

“The mass of ignorant Negros still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.”

– National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Founder, W.E.B. Dubois, The Birth Control Review, 1932, Black Folk and Birth Control, pp 166

Dubois went on to say that the Black community were open to “intelligent propaganda of any sort”, and “the American Birth Control League and other agencies ought to get their speakers before church congregations and their arguments in the Negro newspapers.” It worked. Black pastors invited Sanger to speak to their congregations. Black publications, like The Afro-American and The Chicago Defender, featured her writings and the lines between Eugenics and Birth Control became blurred.

Sanger merged the Southern Clinics, the Clinical Research Bureau and The American Birth Control League, to form the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA) and recruited black leadership as Dubois and others advised. Soon, BCFA clinics started popping up in poor black neighborhoods. The first clinic was The Bethlehem Center in urban Nashville, Tennessee (where blacks constituted only 25 percent of the population and no one made more  than $15 a week), opened on February 13, 1940, and the second opened in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina. This site was chosen because South Carolina had been the second state to make limitations on the number of children part of its state public health program after a survey revealed 25 percent of infant deaths occurred in mothers deemed unfit for pregnancy. (These terms: Unfit, Feeble-minded, Poor, Poverty Stricken, Urban, Welfare, Disease Stricken, and the like have been used as code words to refer to the so-called African American since the end of Chattel Slavery.)

“The BCFA members voted unanimously at a special January 29, 1942, meeting to change the organization’s name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. By then, BCFA had 34 state league affiliates. The state leagues followed suit in changing their name and bylaws. Particularly, the New York State Federation for Planned Parenthood’s old bylaws stipulated that the object was: To develop and organize on sound eugenic, social and medical principles, interest in and knowledge of birth control throughout the State of New York as permitted by law [emphasis added]. The new bylaws replaced birth control with planned parenthood. Eugenics was dropped in 1943 because of its unpopular association with the German government’s race-improving eugenics theories.”

Robert G. Marshall and Charles A. Donovan, Blessed are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 24-25.

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Joice Heth, enslaved African woman whose birthplace was reported to be on the isle of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. She was boldly advertised as “the 161 year old nursemaid to George Washington when he was an infant, The Father of Our Country to be.” – Bethel Historical Society

This brings us back to Ota Benga and others like him. Physicians and Scientists were dependent on slavery not just for economic reasons but also for clinical material. Even after chattel slavery had ended, persons like Saartjie Baartman, the first video vixen if you will, Henry Moss, whose leprosy prompted him to exhibit himself, Joice Heth, who racists claimed was the 161-year-old “Mammy” of George Washington and many others were put on display, to argue the “inferiority” and “animalistic” behavior of Blacks.

Finally, Ota’s story is important also to the understanding of the Institution of Chattel Slavery beyond the cotton fields, for in knowledge of what the business of slaveholding was like is a deeper understanding of the magnitude of its influence on American Society. The Slave Market and the “business” of owning slaves was about more than Plantation Life but was a very well thought out and strategic system that bled into every fabric of American life.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

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Facebook Reviews

I am trying out different things so I don’t know how much it helps, but I’ll appreciate those who can assist.

If you’ve read any of my books or enjoy my blog, would you mind leaving a review on my Facebook page?

Here’s how:

Go to My Facebook Page at

https://www.facebook.com/literarykornerpublishing

Like the Page

(if you want)

Scroll down to where you see reviews. Rate and review.

  • You can write a review based on books of mine you’ve read (so if you read and enjoyed Renaissance or Stella).

 

  • You can write based on this blog (maybe you have a favorite segment, poetry, Black History Fun Facts, Throwback Jams, etc)

 

  • You can review based on my Book Reviews.

Whatever it is about my writing / blog you like in general you can review based on that.

CAUTION.

You can comment on my pinned photo but that does not count as a review. Please leave your review under the review section for it to count.

Thanks so much for those of you who can help. I really appreciate it.

 

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Goodnight to you.

Chat soon,

Peace

-EC

Setting up with MailChimp

Setting up an email list isn’t part of every author’s platform but for those who are looking to set up, you have a number of them to choose from:

  • Convertkit
  • Mailerlite
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber

….and so on…

Today, I’d like to talk a bit about MailChimp and show you how easy it is to get started. (It is free for your first 2,000 subscribers)

First, go to www.mailchimp.com and set up an account.

When creating a password, be sure you have a password using at least one capital letter, a number, and a special character:

Example_1 is an example of what would be accepted. If you don’t have at least one number, capital letter and special character it won’t let you go on.

After you set everything up, check your email and activate your account.

Here is where you enter your name and the name of your business.

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Next, you are going to have to add a physical address. This is because of anti-spam laws. Learn more about that HERE. But you can always come back to this page to change it later.

I would recommend your first and last name and the city, state, and zip in place of Do Not Contact. It looks more professional.

Your Name

Your City, State, Zip

Remember, a street address is optional so you don’t really need that and also remember that you can change this later.

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This is your dashboard. When you start sending emails you will see your campaign here, your data and so forth.

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Now for the fun part. It’s time to get started. First, you need to create a List. Click on the List tab.

Go ahead and create list.

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List Name > The Name of Your Newsletter

Default from email > Your Business Email

Default Name > I highly recommend using a name people are familiar with already, such as your name. I started with Literary Korner Publishing but then switched to Yecheilyah and my open rates have increased tremendously since then. For your default name, I recommend using your name.

Remind people why they signed up > Wherever people could have accessed your form, put that here “You are receiving this email because…”

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Scroll down and check the address for this list. If you want to change it from when you first set up, do that now.

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Scroll down. Now that Mailchimp has changed to offer Single Opt-In, you can decide if you want to continue with a double opt in or not. Double Opt-In means once people sign up to your list they will have to confirm again before they are added, like always. Single Opt-In means they are automatically signed up when they first fill out your form. No checking emails and confirmations. They will be automatically added.

If you want Single Opt-In, leave this as is. If you want double opt-in, click on it.

Now, move on to notifications and check all that apply. It’s just asking how often you’d like to be emailed on activity with this list.

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Next, you’ll see this page. Until someone is subscribed to your list, you’re done.

Or, you can manually add subscribers you have been given permission to add.

You can also import contacts from your email, assuming you’ve been given permission from those people to be added.

In any event, you won’t be able to send a Campaign or email until you have subscribers to the list.

To manually add subscribers, click add contacts and go from there. In the meantime, let’s move on to how to send emails.

(Reaching out to people to ask if they would like to join your list and if you can add them manually is another great way to increase your number of subscribers. Everyone doesn’t have to sign up, sometimes you can get creative and just ask around (Text messages, Facebook Messages, DM Twitter and IG Messages) All that matters is that you have their permission to sign them up.)

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I added myself so that I can show you how to create a Campaign. Click on the campaign tab to get started. This page will come up with the floating arrow to show you where to click.

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Click on Create Email

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Name your campaign. Whatever your email is about.

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The next page is self-explanatory. Just complete the fields based on your list. The To field will ask what list you are wanting this email sent to. Choose the list (you’ll just have one list if you just started), save and proceed to the other fields.

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When you get to Design Email, you’ll see a page come up that looks like this. Choose the template of your choice. I am going to go with the follow-up.

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This is where you design your email. It’s super easy. Just drag, drop and enter text wherever you want. I am not going to bore you with a step-by-step with this. At least not yet, maybe in another post. However, I would like to caution about one thing….

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When I first started my email list I had colors and pictures and it was just going all the way on. While I can only offer suggestions (not guaranteed solutions), I would advise against this. As much as we want to showcase our personality, it helps if our email design is plain and simple. I know, that sounds boring but it’s easier on your audience.

Your email list is really not about you, it’s about the people who read them. Everything, from your subject line to your content and even your design is about making it easier on your subscribers. Therefore, I would say to stay away from too many colors, lots of widgets and pictures, and super long emails.

Personally, I love using my Cartoon Bitmoji as well as my Banner. Aside from these basics, I have taken everything else away. Here’s a snapshot of my real email list to give you an example:

Top

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At the top I have my banner (which can be your logo) and a display of my social media buttons. I WOULDN’T PUT MY SOCIAL BUTTONS ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM. I would put them at the top and at the bottom.

Body

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The body of my emails have gotten a makeover since I first started. Black letters or gray against a white background. That’s it. Plain, simple, and easy to read.

Bottom

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My bitmoji cartoon takes us on out with a reminder to add me to your address book (so my emails don’t go to your spam), check your Spam and Junk Folders (in case my emails go to spam), and a reminder that Gmail emails from Mailchimp tend to go into the promotions folder.

Very Bottom / Signature

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Under the reminders is another look at my social widgets and my links.

OK, we’ve had enough Mailchimp for today. Just make sure your emails are clean, easy on the eyes (colors that are not too light or dark), easy to navigate and to the point.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Subscribe to Yecheilyah’s Email List HERE.

 

 

 

I Believe in Progress

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I believe in progress. In recognizing and acknowledging your growth. In appreciating not just everything that you have but also everything you’ve endured to get to where you are. In process. In stopping to consider where you are, not just where you are trying to go. In gratitude and contentment. In looking back only to be reminded of where you’ve come from. To see the lessons and to teach them and to inspire. To never forget where you came from. Your roots. Your experiences. Everything that made you who you are today. Everything that built you. You are not just the positive. You are the negative too. The struggle. The hustle. The grime. The beautiful and the broken. The good and the bad. You are balance. I regret nothing. There’s no reason to. I am not just made up of the good things. I’ve stolen. I’ve lied. I’ve been drunk. I’ve been hungry. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hopeless. But I’ve also been happily married for seven years to a man I’ve been with ten years. I’ve also produced documentaries and taught women and children all over the world, hosted radio shows, performed poetry, taught grown women how to read, fed the homeless, helped felons to find jobs, and authored nine books and counting. I am not perfect, trust I have my days. Some are harder than others and I wonder how I’ll make it through but then, I believe in progress.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Enjoy the Process

KYF (1)I’ve been focusing a lot on adding value to my personal, spiritual, mental and professional life. This process has caused me to reflect on a lot of things, pay attention to my actions, my words, and my interactions with others. I’ve had to dig deep and to make decisions that were not easy to make but that were necessary for my well-being and for my mental health.

I want to encourage you to enjoy the process of writing your books and taking it through the necessary steps to get it published. I know how easy it is to stress out during this time as you anxiously anticipate the birth of your book. We are in the winter months now which can be the darkest time of the year. With the pressure of the Holidays, depression, violence, and suicide rates skyrocket. We don’t need to add to this the worry of writing.

Worrying about every aspect of the progression takes the fun out of publishing. Makes it tedious and all-consuming. We focus so much on the end goal, “the release,” that the process itself, the going from A to B, the journey, becomes a blur. A hair pulling, tear-jerking, depression-inducing blur with the only satisfaction being the hope of seeing the book in print. That’s not the kind of professional life I want for myself and that’s not the kind of professional life I want for you.

I am starting over, it seems, in many ways and I’ve realized this is not a bad thing. This is growth and it’s exciting. I feel like a newbie writer again setting out on uncharted territory. I want to take my time and I want to do this right. My goal is always to do better, to move forward and to progress a little more each day.

It is always my hope that you do well in your endeavors and whatever you set your mind to do. It is my hope that you can do what you love every day of your life and that you do so without compromising your integrity, your happiness or your love.

While I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo (too much for me), I am rooting for you, but I also hope you are not being too hard on yourself. Just enjoy the process.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including her work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

I Was Not There

I do not entirely agree

with the actions of my ancestors

cannot say with a straight face that I would have stood there

In the crossfire of oppression, falling

while being bit by dogs

smiling

while being spit on

not with a straight face will I say

that I would have been there

to ask my oppressors their permission

to walk down the street

but I was not there

and me not being there leads me to do nothing

but honor their legacy in humility

I do not know the taste of their humiliation

as closely as they experienced it

my young palate is a prejudiced mixture

of what I’ve seen in footage and read in books

I did not feel the lash

or salt in-between their wounds

know nothing of the seasoning

of stripped identity

of throats closing in on tongues

I know only of gentle waters

the kind that bathes, and cooks and quenches the thirst

I know nothing of the kind that pierces

the skin on contact

I do not know because I was not there

but I can write

like Baldwin did

as a witness

I can write the stories

and un-fairy tale the tragedy

of being colored

to make alive again

a history left virtually unknown

because I was not there

not when Moses died or Malcolm slain

but I can write

articulating the suffering

of the now silent

 

Copyright©2017 by Yecheilyah Ysrayl. All rights reserved.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including her soon-to-be released short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Your Blog

A platform. A podium. A stage. A virtual loudspeaker in every corner of the world. A map. A tour guide. A historical document. An ear. A hug. A friend. A translator of every language. A light. A dictionary. A notebook and pen. A portrait on the wall. A wall. A spreadsheet of feeling. A prayer. A song. An instrument. A melody for the broken. A doctor. A midwife. A counselor. A teacher. A healer. Your blog is so much more than a blog. Your blog is a voice.