Photo courtesy of Photo provided by Mija Jung

“My paintings empower me to declare my independence. As an Asian immigrant woman living in America, I feel perceived as an outsider, exotic and diminished. In my work I depict non-binary people in places of many colors and explore how gender roles are defined, in comparison to social norms.” artist Mija Jung

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Hi, friends,

On Monday morning, the news that Gen. Colin Powell lost his battle with cancer and COVID almost immediately filled me with a heaviness coupled with ambivalence; Powell was a controversial figure at the best of times.

"I really do believe that each person is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done," said author and social activist Bryan Stevenson recently during an interview with our partner WURD Radio. Stevenson’s words deeply resonate with me as I reflect on the leadership and legacy of Gen. Colin Powell.

As the outpouring of tributes and accolades flooded in, I began to dig into Powell’s life of leadership and service. My memories of his time as a statesman are a bit blurry, but I realized quickly that while he was a giant in so many respects, unfortunately, his legacy will be marred by his questionable involvement in making the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Years later, Powell expressed regret for the deception surrounding the justification used to invade Iraq in the early aughts. 

My research also led me to the eye-opening conclusion that his position on countries, like Haiti, where democracy has always been a challenge, sometimes lacked strength and boldness. In 2018, The Haitian Times noted that Gen. Powell's involvement in Haitian politics was ephemeral and often contradictory of what the Haitian people wanted and needed. 

At the same time, Colin Powell the man was so much more than his sometimes questionable political leanings; he was a layered and complicated figure who undoubtedly drew inspiration, ideas and was informed by his Jamaican and South Bronx roots at a time when there were few prominent Black men in leadership at the White House.

In the spirit of looking forward, I’ll leave you with the sage observation of General Andrew Harewood, US Army Reserves, who talked to WURD Radio this week about Powell’s indelible mark on the world. “You have to look at a person's body of work and I think to judge a person by one action is not only insensitive and insidious but quite frankly downright silly,” he says emphatically. 

Listen to the entire interview and read on for more reasons to uplift, respect and love our communities.

With love,
Williesha Morris
URL Media Newsletter Curator

Postscript: S. Mitra Kalita here, URL co-founder. As we were about to send the newsletter out, I caught a tremendous Colin Powell remembrance from my friend and journalist Bobbi Bowman on Facebook. (Incidentally, our partner, palabra, has profiled Bowman's own back story, worth reading here.)

This week, Bowman shared the story of attending church with Powell. She sat two pews behind him every Sunday, and they were usually the only two Black people in the service. A few years ago, Bowman recalls, a minister invoked the name of Emmett Till in her sermon—but she left out crucial details, prompting Bowman to stand up and correct the record about the brutality of the teenager's killing in Mississippi.

"As I started back to my pew, Gen. Powell immediately stood up. He said everything I related was correct but he wanted to add a few things. He explained that all the historic markers erected to remember the Till murder had been stolen, riddled with bullets or thrown in the river. I was so proud that Gen. Colin Powell had supported me and we had both interrupted the service, something that is unheard of.

"After service, I thanked him profusely for his support. I told him it meant the world to me. He smiled. Hugged me and said, 'Good job.' He is my forever hero. We have lost an irreplaceable American hero." 

The Road Home 

Q&A with Ricardo Sandoval, Contributing Editor, palabra

This week, we continue our series "The Road Home" where we shine the spotlight on our media partners as they reflect on the notion of home and how it informs their reporting. palabra's Ricardo Sandoval shares...

URL Media: What are immigrants giving up when they leave their homeland? How can we as journalists really capture the immigration journey? How does the concept of home change for people who leave their home -either by choice or because of circumstance?

Ricardo Sandoval: Immigrants give up almost everything when they decide to uproot themselves and their families in order to survive and in search of opportunities to thrive. I have not yet met the immigrant who wanted to pull up roots, go into deep debt and risk violence, starvation and the elements just for a change of address.

One of the great failures in my adult life was not being able to fulfill my mother's long-held wish to be buried near the family's village in central Mexico. She always wanted to go home. Even I was reluctant to become a U.S. citizen out of respect for that common immigrant dream of one day going home.

The so-called mainstream of U.S. society, and its satraps in legacy media, need to truly understand our divided hearts, and also the truth that despite our internal conflicts over home, we are nonetheless robust threads in the great American quilt, and humans worth knowing. (And by American I mean north, central and south Americans. It's long frustrated me to see how "American" is synonymous with the United States. I've sarcastically suggested we can correct this mislabeling by igniting a campaign to rename ourselves the United States of Vespucio, as that was actually the last name of Americo, the 16th Century map-maker. Maybe then we'd drop our jingoistic and monopolistic self-definition.)  

URL Media: What else do you want to share about this notion of home? 

Ricardo Sandoval: I am happy that you are addressing "home," as it is, really, at the core of what palabra is all about. Our mission was to establish a platform -- and outlet for too-often overlooked freelance journalists who can help reintroduce U.S. society to its diverse self, through stories that highlight the people and communities that the monochrome legacy media traditionally afforded inadequate time and space. 

A series examining our dynamic relationship with the concept of home. Stay tuned for more insight from our partners about their journalistic coverage.

Photo by Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, New York.

Tale of Two Farming Communities

The farming industry is vital to our everyday lives and is filled with complexities. Here are two very different stories regarding the farming industry. First, some great news out of Long Island. A group of farmworkers formed the first ever farmworkers union in New York State. Documented shares their journey

In "Unheard, overlooked and exposed," palabra follows the story of migrant farm workers in California and the activists standing in the gap for their livelihood. 


Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle for Sahan Journal

How Identity Informs Art

One of the most beautiful aspects of diversity is how it can be incorporated into works of art. Epicenter's featured artist is Mija Jung, who creates figurative abstract oil paintings spotlighting gender identity. 

And our partner, The Sahan Journal, shares the story of Jocelyn Yang, a Hmong-American fashion designer who uses her creativity to honor her family's culture.


Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle for Sahan Journal

Power to All People

Stories about pain and struggle seem to garner many views and clicks. In the media, we've grown accustomed to stories of strife among immigrant communities. Every day, our URL Media partners deliberately choose to recognize the strength and resilience of people in spite of hardship. 

For nine days Sanchez Villalobos and her younger sister were two "kids in cages," enduring unbelievable pain and abuse at the hands of Customs and Border Protection at the Texas border. Now they're fighting back in a lawsuit against the government. The Sahan Journal shares their story. 

Epicenter's newsletter highlights the rise of immigrant organizers taking power and control over their lives in recent history. 

What we're loving this week from our partners

+ Jeffrey Ruben of WSFS Bank contribution to the WURD Radio blog talking about home refinancing. 
+ Scalawag profiles a conservation project to preserve the longleaf pine, which is vital to Southern biodiversity. 

+ Scrollstack is the home of the Polis Project, which will focus on journalism and research that often gets overlooked by traditional media. Find out more about the project on the blog

Join URL Media Events

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author, professor, anti-racist activist and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America, spoke with Evening WURD's Nick Taliaferro to help us close out our Go to Know campaign and share the importance of pre-screening and early detection.

Did You Know? African Americans are 20% more likely to get colon cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.

You can reduce your risk of colorectal (colon and/or rectal) cancer significantly by taking an easy, free at-home screening test.

Get your FIT Kit today: visit or call 1-877-422-2030.

The Laura Flanders Show

Once a month, you can catch URL Media on The Laura Flanders Show on select PBS stations for a conversation that centers the stories, issues and concerns that our BIPOC media partners are following. 

Click here to check your local TV listing.

Here’s how you can watch our latest.

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