Fairfield store stands proud with LGBTQ Pride, Black Lives Matter message

FAIRFIELD — A few years ago, Paul Praither saw a headline that wrenched his heart: a teenager that worked for him at Everybody’s Whole Foods, who was undergoing a transition from one gender to another, had chosen to end his life. “He was a really nice kid. I wish he would have said something. I wish I would have said something,” Praither said. The tragedy inspired Praither to lead an LGBTQ renaissance at Everybody’s — a visual explosion of acceptance, equality and diversity that has blossomed this summer into a…

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Cedar Rapids models success of the ‘peaceful protest’

The protests in 1,700-plus American communities since George Floyd’s May 25 murder have ranged from violent, to peaceful, to showy, to subdued. That includes the protests in Iowa. In Des Moines, clashes between police and demonstrators have been tense. In Iowa City, a mostly youthful protest group opted for more “in your face” tactics like shutting down interstates and marching to council members’ homes. The Quad Cities is dealing with deaths related to random violence that occurred after and near peaceful protest sites. Tiny towns like Fairfield, Washington, and West…

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Juneteenth celebrations blossom online and throughout Iowa, Illinois

A three-day virtual festival, comedy nights, protests, family-friendly gatherings, concerts, and online events of all kinds are honoring Juneteenth like never before this year. The annual June 19 celebration, which honors the date that slavery was abolished, is receiving long overdue nationwide focus in light of the recent rash of police killings of black men. The entire state of Illinois will lower its flags to half-staff in honor of the holiday. More than 70 Chicago restaurants have joined to offer Juneteenth specials, writes Chicago Eater. Many cities, including Chicago, have…

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Tarotscope: A Time of Unlearning (June 6-17)

As a heteronormative, cisgender, white woman of European and English descent, who has lived a life of privilege, I feel inappropriate when I say, “I am tired.” But I am. Many of us are. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Being tired is good. It means we are doing the Work. It means we are pulling our heads out of the sand. If you’re white, it hopefully means you are swallowing the pride that comes with the color of your skin. You’re starting the long and arduous process of dismantling, brick…

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Des Moines’ history of systemic racism said to be built around housing restrictions

The city of Des Moines intentionally undertook policies in the 1930s and 1960s to limit housing options for Black residents, writes a University of Iowa student. In addition, writes Ross Clowser, the city’s failure to clean up areas deemed by the EPA to be contaminated with toxins have hit Des Moines’ Black residents harder than the general population. As a result, living in Des Moines can be as hard for a Black person as living in some of the nation’s most segregated communities, Clowser writes in a 2018 paper he…

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“The Negro Artist,” award-winning poet, opens up at 8 pm virtual reading tonight

While many of his fellow young Black men joined protests after the killing of George Floyd, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey had different reactions: he felt paralyzed, catatonic, isolated, foolish and arrogant. Paralyzed and catatonic, because he felt stuck in 2011, when Eric Garner’s death by police choking was captured on video and first propelled Rainey to devote himself to improving Black lives. Isolated, because Floyd’s death made him feel as though society didn’t value his life or those of other Black men. And foolish and arrogant, because Rainey had…

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Iowa Freedom Riders: Beyond the spray paint and marching

Four nights of spray-painting and road-blocking throughout Iowa City, by a group now known as the Iowa Freedom Riders, has inspired the gamut of reactions: anger, support, frustration, sadness, and confusion. But protest leaders are now entering a new phase, which includes a detailed explanation of their demands for steps they believe local institutions should take to help end systemic racism. Read this column from Mandi Nichols, director of the Corridor Community Action Network, authorized by protest leaders to help educate the public on how the Freedom Riders’ requests are…

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Iowa City protesters issue 15 demands

The protesters who have been standing off with the Iowa City Police Department and Iowa State Patrol last week have presented a list of 15 demands that extend beyond those two agencies to at least four other government entities. Now known as the Iowa Freedom Riders, the group that repeatedly converged on Interstate 80 last week is asking through its Instagram account for legal and policy changes that go beyond ending police brutality. The demands extend into how the School Board is elected, how students air grievances, city budgeting decisions,…

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UIHC staff nurse: We can say ‘protest better,’ or we can be better

Not what I expected when I came into work at the hospital tonight. We are starting our night shift, when we learn that the movement many of us have thrown our complete (well, almost complete) support behind is outside vandalizing our building. We gathered for George Floyd, put out statements of solidarity, shared support on social media– I know nurses who even served as medics during Iowa City protests. We were confused, some of us angry. Many still are. Healthcare workers who otherwise are allies to the movement asking: “What…

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