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When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin


Here’s Why You Need To Know About The 1917 Silent Parade

By Taryn Finley,

Via Google

The anti-lynching protest became known as the first mass demonstration by African Americans….

Google commemorated the 100th anniversary of the anti-lynching Silent Parade with a doodle on its homepage Friday….

Women and children marched in the front, wearing white to represent innocence in the midst of the country’s racism, according to the Miami Herald. The men marched in the back, dressed in dark suits as a symbol of mourning and their willpower to fight for their rights.

Protesters demanded President Woodrow Wilson take action to protect the rights and livelihood of African Americans. They carried signs reading “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Your Hands Are Full of Blood” and “Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?”…

Just a few weeks prior to the march, racial tensions grew thick among the black and white workers in East St. Louis, Illinois. For 24 hours, white mobs burned homes and killed any black person they could find, regardless of age, gender or ability.

The mob killed about 200 people while the remaining 6,000 black residents fled their homes to escape the violence, according to Yale’s Beinecke Library.

The Silent Parade became known as the first mass demonstration by African Americans. The New York Times described it as “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed,” per the Herald. The silence was only broken when the march ended. Even without chants or songs, the Silent Parade set the tone for how black people protest today.

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America Has Finally Found Its ‘Perfect Victim’ Of A Police Shooting

By Julia Craven,

Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, U.S., on July 17, 2017. Courtesy Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout via REUTERS

How did police end up fatally shooting a blonde, 40-year-old yoga teacher from Australia, as she stood in her pajamas outside her home in an affluent, predominantly white Minneapolis neighborhood?

That question has been focal point since Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor killed Justine Damond on July 15, after she called to report a possible sexual assault near her home. It’s not clear what happened between the time Damond called 911 and when the officers arrived. Officer Matthew Harrity, Noor’s partner, says he heard a loud noise before Noor fired a single shot into Damond’s stomach from the passenger seat of the police cruiser….

Many of the questions surrounding Damond’s death look familiar, because they’ve been asked before in the wake of numerous high-profile shootings, often involving black civilians. But the near-universal demand for answers, driven by a shared sense of outrage and shock across the political divide over Damond’s death, is not. Something is different about Damond.

Robert Bennett, the Minneapolis lawyer hired to represent Damond’s family, unintentionally touched on the well-known concept of a “perfect” victim in an interview earlier this month, when he referred to Damond in an off-the-cuff remark as “the most innocent victim” of any police shooting he’s heard of….

“I don’t remember any reporter, any headlines, any news stories announcing or identifying Philando Castile in terms of his marital status the way that they immediately have been identifying Justine Damond by her marital status,” Brentin Mock, a writer for CityLab, told WBEZ, a Chicago NPR affiliate.

“It’s almost to suggest that, yes, there should be some extra sympathy — some extra empathy — for the killing of this white woman because she was about to get married,” he continued. “But there was no such sympathy extended to Mr. Castile, an African-American, despite that he was about to get married.”…

Oftentimes after a police shooting, law enforcement, the media and suspicious public opinion work together to shift the liability for police shootings onto the victim ― at least whenever the victim is black. Shooting victim, Tamir Rice’s “size made him look much older,” evn though he was only 12 years old. Freddie Gray was “intentionally trying to injure himself,” even though he was even though he was handcuffed and not seat-belted in the back of a moving police van. Rekia Boyd, 22, made the officer who shot her “feel threatened,” even as he was walking away….

It seems many of Damond’s family, friends and neighbors have come together with the realization that America needs to make drastic changes to its policing system. But the response from those who have traditionally stood behind the violence of police officers and eagerly demonized their victims suggests this outrage and empathy may continue to be selective to only the “most innocent” or “perfect” victims.

In a perfect world, however, this tragedy, and the countless others before it, would lead people of all races to rally around the issue of police reform.

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Powerful New Video Tackles Racial Bias To Remind Kids Their ‘Black Is Beautiful’

By Lilly Workneh,

“You’re not pretty for a black girl. You’re beautiful period.”

A new video released Monday titled “The Talk” compellingly tackles the impact of racial bias through the lens of black parents in America.

The video ― which was released by My Black Is Beautiful, a beauty brand owned by Procter & Gamble ― is a powerful two-minute clip that explores racial bias by depicting some of the burdens placed on parents of black children, who are challenged with having necessary but difficult discussions with their children about their survival and self-esteem….

“Our goal with ‘The Talk’ is to help raise awareness about the impact of bias,” Damon Jones, director of global company communications at Procter & Gamble, told HuffPost. “We are also hopeful that we can make progress toward a less biased future by recognizing the power of people of all backgrounds and races showing up for one another.”

With recent studies reporting that black girls are seen as less innocent than white girls as young as the age of 5 and with black boys frequently seen as a threat in the eyes of law enforcement, parents of black children often live in worry and discomfort. Jones said he hopes videos like this help to raise social consciousness around the affect bias can have in all of our lives and remind people of the many ways bias can take form across genders, races, ages, weight, sexual orientations and more.

“It’s time for everyone to #TalkAboutBias,” reads one of the last messages in the video, encouraging people to continue the conversation online by using the hashtag. “Let’s all talk about the talk so we can end the need to have it.”

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New Study: Young Black Men Are Serving the Longest of Increasingly Longer Prison Sentences

By: Angela Helm

Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

Although criminal-justice reform has gotten a lot of airtime in the last few years—with some victories in dribs and drabs…

Not surprisingly, black men were serving the longest sentences.

The Urban Institute released its report Wednesday and used inmate data from 44 states. In 35 of the 44 states included in the study, black men accounted for the majority of the prison population serving the longest sentences.

“The key interesting finding—maybe not necessarily surprising to folks—is that time served and length of stay is growing and continues to grow, and importantly the people who are serving particularly long sentences, those prison terms are getting longer and longer,” said Ryan King, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and one of the study’s authors, to Newsweek….


The saddest part was that 40 percent of those serving the longest prison terms were incarcerated before age 25….

Though youth ages 18 to 24 are considered adults in the eyes of the law, a growing body of scientific research suggests that a person’s brain is still developing well into his or her twenties.

This means that 18- to 24-year-olds are particularly amenable to change and likely to age out of criminal behavior but do not receive the same protections as youth under 18.

These young people are still given extremely long sentences, including life without parole. And even those given a chance at parole are often blocked by parole boards that, decades later, continue to judge them solely by their original offense….

One in five people in prison for at least 10 years was a black man incarcerated before the age of 25. So to me, that is an even deeper dive to the really concentrated way in which mass incarceration and long prison terms have affected people of color and in particular young black men.



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Read more at the Urban Institute and Newsweek.


Kamala Harris Is Dedicating Her First Major Legislative Effort To Bail Reform

By Taryn Finley, HuffPost Black Voices

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) is seeking some major criminal justice reform, starting with bail.

Along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Harris has introduced a bipartisan bill which calls for states to “reform or replace the practice of money bail, the requirement that individuals awaiting trial remain in jail unless they pay for their release.”

David McNew via Getty Images

Titled the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, the bill would authorize a $10 million grant over three years to encourage states to reform or replace the ineffective money bail system that requires people who haven’t been convicted of a crime to be detained pretrial unless they can afford to bail themselves out.

Harris and Paul’s bill also asks states to give individualized, pretrial assessments with risk-based decision-making in order to do away with the inaccurate risk-assessments currently given that lead to unwarranted disparities.

“This is such an important conversation and it does not ever receive the kind of attention it deserves, based just on the prevalence of it in terms of the number of people that are impacted,” Harris, who visited Central California Women’s Facility prior to her speech, said.

“And also, and I say this with a strong sense of optimism, that there is just so much that we can actually do to fix what is broken. And it’s not going to require us to be that creative,” she continued. “The solutions, some of them, are pretty obvious, and the more attention we give to the issue, I think, the more obvious they will be to a larger number of people.”

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Racist emails show Chicago official joked about “safari tour” to see violence in black neighborhoods

By: Ray Long and Todd Lighty – Contact Reporters


Overtly racist, sexist and homophobic emails were distributed for years among a group of top-level Chicago water department supervisors. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Paul Hansen was a supervisor in the water department who allegedly used his city email to negotiate firearms deals. (July 18, 2017)

In a city scarred by a deep and troubling history with guns, a supervisor in the scandal-plagued water department used his city email account to negotiate firearms deals and make light of deadly Fourth of July violence in black neighborhoods by offering “Chicago Safari” tours, a new watchdog report revealed Monday.

The latest development in the ongoing investigation, which the Tribune first disclosed in May, emerged as Inspector General Joseph Ferguson detailed how ousted district water superintendent Paul Hansen emailed with individuals over personal purchases or sales of at least four firearms and five cars.

Those emails about firearms started the investigation over his use of a government account for personal business, which is against city rules. And it quickly spread to other emails sent by Hansen, who is white and the son of a former alderman, to other water department bosses, according to City Hall sources.

Newly released racist, sexist emails show scope of scandal t Chicago’s water department

In his quarterly report, Ferguson revealed a fresh string of anti-black emails sent to multiple high-ranking water department workers that touted a fake “Chicago Safari” package. It cited the number of shootings during a July Fourth weekend and guaranteed tourists would observe “at least one kill and five crime scenes” and also see “lots of animals in their natural habitat.”

Hansen’s racially charged emails included messages to fellow workers purported to be in “Ebonics,” sometimes called American black English, and a picture describing a swimming pool for a small African-American child who sits in a bucket filled with water while holding a slice of watermelon, the report found.

Ferguson also cited Hansen’s “Watermelon Protection” email that featured a picture depicting a Ku Klux Klan scarecrow guarding a field of watermelons, part of a cache of racist, sexist and homophobic emails the Tribune first disclosed online Friday.

Barrett Murphy, First Deputy Commissioner at the Chicago Department of Water Management- Chandler West~Sun-Times

A second figure noted in the report for anti-Muslim and anti-black emails was Thomas J. Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers who resigned recently after being placed on administrative leave while under investigation….

Still, Ferguson’s report raised questions about whether he found all the troubling emails. Ferguson said the mayor’s Law Department imposes restrictions that do not allow “unfettered access to city emails,” which has hampered the investigation. He said the Law Department requires that his office submit requests for emails using limited search terms and date ranges….

“The protocol allows up to 20,000 emails to be produced at a time, however, we greatly exceeded that count in this investigation and have accommodated similar requests every other time the Inspector General has requested a larger search,” McCaffrey said.

Hansen’s misuse of a city computer was so prevalent that, in one four-month period alone, he called up sexually explicit, age-restricted YouTube videos and visited other internet sites unrelated to city business on “thousands of occasions,” the report found. Durkin also was cited for sending and receiving sexually explicit photos and videos on his city email account….

At the time, the mayor’s office said Emanuel acted “quickly and decisively” by asking Murphy and top deputy William Bresnahan to step down after learning of what was then an 8-month-old Ferguson investigation….

Plaintiff Derrick Edmond, left, and attorney Victor P. Henderson walk outside the Sawyer Water Purification Plant at S.79th St. and the lakefront on June 29, 2017. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune)

And Emanuel’s newly installed water department Commissioner Randy Conner, an African-American, said his agency “has a zero tolerance policy on racism and sexism” and “will continue to take all appropriate measures to fully enforce this policy up to and including termination, or separation” from the department….

In late June, Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers, and John “Jack” Lee Jr., a district superintendent, were placed on administrative leave pending disciplinary decisions and now have resigned….

Ferguson said both Hansen and Durkin were designated as having resigned in lieu of discharge, and they will be placed on the ineligible-for-rehire list.

In another water department case, Ferguson recommended that a chemist who allegedly harassed a current water worker and a former employee be fired. Ferguson alleged the chemist made multiple derogatory text messages and phone calls, citing him for “aggressive and threatening behavior,” according to the report.

The department fired the chemist, who is fighting the termination.


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Is Black Male Privilege A Real Issue in Our Community?

By Gus T. Renegade,
Eric Garner being choked to death by New York City Police in July 2014.

Days after New York City police officers choked an unarmed Black man to death in the summer of 2014, founder and editor Kimberly Foster declared she would “not march for Eric Garner.” Foster described “watching Black men show up for Garner after seeing so many derail conversations about Black women’s well-being leaves me with little more than a sinking feeling of despair.”

The perception that sympathy and political mobilization are unequally reserved for Black males has been gaining traction for well over a decade in intellectual circles. Sociologist L’Heureux Lewis and others describe this as “Black male privilege.” Lewis and others don’t suggest Black males are on the brink or world domination, but they do posit that in relation to Black females, Black males often enjoy greater access to resources and/or attention to their accomplishments and grievances. Speaking with journalist Michel Martin, Lewis, a Black man, explained, “There are actually spaces where Black men are advantaged and often sometimes dominate a dialogue,” often to the detriment of Black women.

In a 2016 report, Lewis corroborates the disparities that pained Foster, adding that when we seriously access the problems facing Black people, we “are most commonly raised and framed in terms of the crisis of Black males.” Using our framework of mass incarceration to demonstrate, Lewis observes Black males are the default representation of the prison’s consumption of Black bodies. This helps conceal the rising number Black female incarceration….Curry submits that the gawking and attention to Black males, framed by some as “Black male privilege,” are often little more than dehumanizing stares at Black corpses. After the dying moments of Eric Garner and Philando Castile accumulate millions of views, Curry writes, “Black men are rarely thought of beyond their dead bodies.” Recognizing the humanity of Black males and seeing that no more Castiles or Garners meet the same fate has proven impossible.

The title of sociologist Becky Pettit’s 2012 book “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress” challenges multiple facets of the view that Black males hog the attention related to racism. Because the prison system is disproportionately Black and male, Pettit believes large numbers of Black males are unseen. If these ignored inmates were included in our overall assessment of African-American advances, Pettit senses celebrations of Black progress would be greatly muted. With more than two million U.S. inmates at the time of Obama’s 2008 election, Pettit writes turning a blind eye to this large population of Black males distorts “the establishment of social facts” and “conceals inequality.”…

Curry asks: “If the effect of racism is such that the alleged advantages of men disappear in most of the things that we value, like work or life expectancy or home ownership, why make the leap” to insist Black males benefit from or exercise privilege?

Legions of Black males and a growing number of Black women are incarcerated because of white power, not Black privilege. Searching for “privileged” Black people can sidetrack Black males and females from producing the Black power needed to establish justice.

Read the full story here.
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When Cops Kill Black People: America’s Two Realities and Why Jurors Can’t Believe Their Lying Eyes

By: Dr. Wilmer Leon

Charles Dickens’ 1859 A Tale of Two Cities were spot-on in 1859 as they are today: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Americans, especially African-Americans, stand shocked but not surprised in the wake of the acquittal on all charges of officer Jeronimo Yanez in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota.

Castile, armed but licensed to carry, is dead after informing Yanez when he was stopped in his car that he was indeed armed and licensed….

In Tulsa, OK., a jury found Officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty in the death of Terence Crutcher. Shelby fired a single bullet into the chest of an unarmed Terrence Crutcher as he stood next to his car on a tree-lined street….

A jury deadlocked in the murder trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing. Tensing shot and killed an unarmed Samuel DuBose during a routine traffic stop in July 2015. The traffic stop took place off campus….

How is it that in these recent cases and countless others families are left looking for indictments or guilty verdicts while juries see justified shootings? In spite of body cameras and independent video, juries view what the public sees but are unable to indict or convict the officers. They can’t believe their lying eyes.

They believe the police accounts of “I feared for my life” even when it is proven that the officer’s account of the event wasn’t true or the unarmed victim was trying to comply with the directives given by the officer. In America, it’s the tale of two realities.

For the sake of making my point I am going to make some generalizations here. I know that not all people fall into these categories and I am painting with a broad brush, but I believe the premise is valid. It starts with how the police are viewed by different segments of society. Many people in the dominant culture, White people, see the police as a force that is there to serve them, and protect their property against threats and attacks by people of color.

Many people in communities of color, especially African-Americans and Latinos have a different experience and historical perspective. They see the police as an occupying and oppressive force. A police officer telling a jury, “I was in fear for my life”; or “he made a furtive move”, resonates with some white jurors’ fears and perceptions. This enables them to ignore the reality projected in the video and nullifies the common-sense conclusion drawn by those with a different reality. Jurors basically take the position: yes, I saw the video but I could not bring myself to convict that officer of man-slaughter or murder.

This reality is not as simple as Black and White….


I believe the most dominant factor in these cases can be attributed to racism (white supremacy) and the misperceptions and emotions conjured up by issues involving the artificial construct of race. Dr. Francis Cress Welsing defines racism (white supremacy) as the local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as White, whether consciously or subconsciously determined.

This system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of activity (such as economics, education, law, and so forth). Even though some of the officers or jurors involved are African-American, the analysis still applies. African-Americans can and have fallen victim to the same conditioning as White people.

These white supremacist perceptions and actions not only play themselves out on the streets of America but are articulated on the world stage as well. They are clearly expressed by representatives of the local and global power system such as American members of Congress and President Donald Trump….

If one truly understands the pervasive impact of racism (white supremacy) and White Nationalism it is easy to understand how juries can rationalize and dismiss the murderous behavior of police officers. It is important to understand that the members of these juries may not be consciously racist. They have been raised, taught and indoctrinated in and by a system that creates, supports and perpetuates this mindset. These precepts play themselves out on the streets of America and its courtrooms. They are articulated by American presidents and members of Congress on the world stage even today.

If you are a beneficiary of the American Dream, it is best of times. If you are oppressed by the American nightmare, it is the worst of times. Are we living in an age of wisdom or an age of foolishness where “fake news” and “alternative facts” rule the day?

It’s America and tale of two realities.


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Read more Breaking News here.

Read more about Dr. Francis Cress Welsing here.



These Glorious Pictures From CurlFest Show Off The Beauty Of Natural Hair

By Lilly Workneh,

Mark Clennon/Curlfest
Curly Girl Collective cofounders with Ebonee Davis

CurlFest is the ultimate celebration of natural hair and this year’s event in Brooklyn on Saturday was magical in every way.

Thousands of men and women of color showed up and showed off their locks at the annual day-long festival. The event, which was created by the Curly Girl Collective and first kicked off in 2014, has only grown bigger and more impactful over time. This year it attracted people from everywhere ― even as far as France, Ghana and Brazil ― who came together to display the versatility of and diversity among black hairstyles….

“CurlFest is important because we celebrate ourselves but we also feel empowered by looking around and seeing like-minded people and our love for each other,” Charisse Higgins, one of the founders of the Curly Girl Collective, told HuffPost. “History is being made and we’re changing history, and it needs to continue to happen.”…

Mark Clennon/Curlfest

And while hair is just one extension of beauty, Higgins said it plays a crucial role in how women of color can feel about themselves holistically.

“Feeling beautiful may start with your hair, but once you embrace the way you feel most natural, it can translate into so many other facets of life,” she said. “Natural hair should be celebrated because it is beautiful, contrary to how we’ve been made to feel for years.”…

“For generations, we altered our appearance to be different from how we looked because we were told it was more beautiful,” she said. However, Higgins noted, women of color are starting to see themselves represented more in mainstream pop culture with stars like Viola Davis and Solange frequently rocking their hair in its natural state. Higgins said that these women and their natural hair are important to see and celebrate, and that she hopes CurlFest will continue to promote its mission for years to come….

″[Representation] is important because society needs it, and it’s something we can relay back to our children,” Higgins said. “Being a woman of color, we need to understand that we’re dope, we’re awesome, we’re creative, we’re expressive and we are naturally who we are and we should embrace that.”

Read the full article here.

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The Messy Story Behind The Black Lives Matter Sign In My White Family’s Window

By: Shannon Cofrin Gaggero



A few months ago, I placed this yellow, intersectional Black Lives Matter sign created by Matice M. Moore. A Black artist and activist located in Arizona, in a front window of our house in Atlanta, Georgia….

I’m a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman with class privilege. My husband is also white, cisgender and heterosexual and our children are white.

After the Charleston massacre, I was propelled into action and for the past two years I’ve been laser focused on how I can show up as a parent and a person for racial and social justice….

While I’m certainly trying more than ever before, I do not pretend to be a perfect, anti-racist white person by any stretch of the imagination….

We live on a high-traffic street in Atlanta, Georgia, in a predominately white, affluent community. Despite Atlanta’s reputation as the liberal oasis of the South, we witness racism often, primarily via our neighborhood listserves. Black men, in particular, but also black women and children are racially profiled, “see something, say something” is pushed as a way of life, and gentrification is celebrated. Our neighborhood is obsessed with crime; many of my neighbors believe we are under attack and unsafe. The data does not support this mindset….

I knew my husband’s hesitation to display the Black Lives Matter sign was the same as my own. We were scared. We were scared of a negative reaction from neighbors or random people walking by. We didn’t want to risk physical harm to ourselves, our children, or our home. Even though we supported Black Lives Matter in many ways in our lives, our whiteness afforded us the option to keep that support hidden and stay protected when we wanted to be. It was a privilege we weren’t quick to give up….

I’m ashamed to admit that I needed a Trump presidency to push me beyond this fear and to be fully out about where I stand….

I decided to again bring up the Black Lives Matter yard sign with my husband after wearing the pin for a couple of weeks. At first, my husband doubled down and stated he still felt uncomfortable displaying a sign….

Since our original conversation about the sign, a post I had written had gone pseudo-viral and I received a lot of online harassment and threats of violence….

My husband remained scared…

I primarily felt sad because our argument was a clear example of how whiteness works.

Being white affords us very real, physical and emotional protections in the communities we spend time in.

We were mitigating our risk at outwardly stating Black Lives Matter. We were admitting we expected backlash from our white neighbors. We were debating remaining hidden as people who strongly believe Black Lives Matter because we were scared. We were not used to taking risks as individuals or as a family. We were not used to being on the receiving end of negative, hateful interactions. This was whiteness….

If we remained silent, we had to consider ourselves active participants to injustice. Putting up a sign was a small action, to be sure, but it mattered….

We had the privilege of a breather.

After the New Year, my husband came around and supported putting up the sign, but asked we display it in our front window due to the fact we live on a busy street and to avoid the sign vandalization our friend had experienced. It was a compromise and that’s where the sign currently lives….

For better or for worse, this is our truth…. Moreover, we’ve come to fully understand that silence is ultimately as harmful as violence….

The first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency have done nothing but solidify the reality that we all need to dig deep and take new, bold and continuous actions, big and small, in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge? What actions will you take?



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