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This week:

Why some Hurricane Maria survivors could soon be without places to live, remembering Aretha Franklin, and The Lily’s editor in chief and creative director recommends some “non-boring shoes.”

How two women got to the hospital ahead of giving birth

On Sunday morning, Julie Genter, New Zealand’s minister for women, rode her bike to the hospital at 42 weeks pregnant. Genter, who is a member of the Green Party, was on her way to get induced so she could give birth to her first child. In an Instagram post, she noted that she cycled to the Auckland City Hospital with her partner because “there wasn’t enough room in the car for the support crew.” Genter is also the associate minister for transportation and health.

Earlier last week in the United States, Maria del Carmen Venegas was on her way to a planned Caesarean section in San Bernardino, Calif., with her husband — Joel Arrona-Lara — when two Immigration and Customs Enforcement SUVs stopped their vehicle. Arrona-Lara had left his ID at home, and the agents searched the car before leading him away in handcuffs. After her husband was detained, Venegas drove herself to the hospital and delivered her baby, she told local media.

Arrona-Lara was wanted in Mexico under a warrant issued for homicide charges, ICE said on Saturday. But Arrona-Lara’s legal representative, Emilio Amaya García, said he believed his client was not suspected of crimes within the United States and denies criminal charges in Mexico. García told The Washington Post that Venegas, who suffered from preeclampsia, is still in the hospital.

Asia Argento reportedly paid a man who accused her of sexual assault

Asia Argento, one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement, reportedly paid her own accuser $380,0000, according to documents obtained by the New York Times. The person named in the documents claimed Argento sexually assaulted him in a hotel room when he was 17 and she was 37.

Some in the fashion industry are imposing age minimums for models

(iStock)
(iStock)

The rampant use of teenagers as women’s fashion models — some as young as 13 — has been on the rise since the 1990s, but only recently has the fashion industry begun reckoning with the practice of marketing young girls as adults. In the wake of #MeToo and allegations that models have been sexually assaulted while working, Condé Nast, the magazine publisher behind Vogue, introduced a new global vendor code of conduct. In an article published last week, Vogue announced that the initiative was put in place earlier this year. Along with aiming to ensure that all editorial shoots are harassment-free zones, the company stipulated that all models have to be at least 18 years old.

Former doctor convicted of sexual assault, sentenced to 10 years of probation

Last week in Texas, a jury of five women and seven men convicted Shafeeq Sheikh, a former doctor, of second-degree sexual assault. On Friday, the jury sentenced him to 10 years of probation. The prosecution had fought for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The incident occurred in 2013, when Sheikh was an internal medicine resident at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston. A patient told authorities that a male doctor came to her room three times that night, raping her during the third visit. The woman, who was attached to machines and was sedated, was unable to fight and tried to call for help, but the nurses’ call button had been unplugged, court records say. She reported the incident the following morning and agreed to a rape-kit test. DNA tests led investigators to Sheikh two years later.

Sheikh, a doctor at Baylor College of Medicine at the time of the incident, testified that the woman came on to him twice when he came to the room to check on her.

“He made a mistake, but he didn’t sexually assault her,” his attorney, Lisa Andrews, told jurors during her closing argument, the Houston Chronicle reported. “Here we have this Latina woman with her fake boobs that came onto that little nerdy middle-aged guy and he lost his mind.”

FDA approves app meant to prevent pregnancy

(iStock/Lily illustration)
(iStock/Lily illustration)

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved an app meant to prevent pregnancy. Using the fertility awareness-based method, Natural Cycles calculates which days of the month a woman is likely to be fertile based on information she enters about her menstrual cycle and her basal body temperature, which she must take every day. The app, including the basal body thermometer, costs $79.99 annually. It was cleared in Europe in 2017 and approved by the FDA this month.

Not everyone is convinced that the app is the future of contraception, though; some gynecologists and women who have used it caution that it requires a high level of diligence.

Trump calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘a dog’

Omarosa Manigault Newman. (AP/iStock/Lily illustration)
Omarosa Manigault Newman. (AP/iStock/Lily illustration)

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she couldn’t guarantee that the American people will never hear President Trump uttering the n-word on an audio recording. The president’s use of the word is one of the many claims made by former White House senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman as of late.

On Tuesday, “CBS This Morning” obtained a recording from Manigault Newman featuring a purported discussion in October 2016 among Trump campaign aides. They can be heard talking about how to handle a tape on which Trump is said to have used the n-word.

Manigault Newman, who is promoting her new book, has released several audio recordings within the past two weeks, prompting Trump to call her “a dog,” a move that some deem vulgar and racist.

In primaries, Democrats vote for potentially historic female candidates

Ilhan Omar. (Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune/AP; iStock)
Ilhan Omar. (Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune/AP; iStock)

Last Tuesday’s primaries ushered in another slew of potentially historic candidacies in Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont. In Minnesota, first-time state legislator Ilhan Omar won the Democratic nomination for the state’s 5th Congressional District, which is considered a safe Democratic seat. In November, she could become one of the first Muslim women in Congress, along with Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, who won her primary on Aug. 7.

Christine Hallquist. (Hillary Swift/Gettyl; iStock)
Christine Hallquist. (Hillary Swift/Gettyl; iStock)

In Vermont, Christine Hallquist became the first openly transgender candidate nominated for governor by a major party in the United States. If she wins in November, she’ll be the nation’s first transgender governor. She’s one of a record number of transgender women running for office this year.

Hallquist, a first-time candidate and the former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, will face Gov. Phil Scott in the general election. Scott, a Republican, is popular in the state, even among Democrats.

Jahana Hayes. (John Woike/Hartford Courant/AP; iStock)
Jahana Hayes. (John Woike/Hartford Courant/AP; iStock)

First-time candidate and teacher Jahana Hayes won the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D) in Connecticut. If Hayes beats Republican Manny Santos in the general, she will become the first black woman to represent part of New England in Congress.

Pioneering African American journalist to be honored with statue

Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first black woman to obtain press credentials to cover the White House, is getting her own statue. The tribute to the pioneering journalist, who died in 1983, will be on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., before being moved to her hometown of Russellville, Ky.

Federal assistance running out for survivors of Hurricane Maria

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP)

Analee Dalmau, 24, left Puerto Rico about 10 months ago, after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island she calls home. She landed in West Springfield, Mass., where she now lives with her sister and three nephews. With federal funds running out, Dalmau’s situation mirrors that of hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families who may soon be without shelter: Unable to find a job, Dalmau is having a hard time finding a place for her family to live.

LatinoJustice, a civil rights organization, has filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to end its Transitional Sheltering Assistance program without having a long-term plan for the U.S. citizens who effectively will be rendered homeless when federal aid runs out. The case is playing out in Massachusetts District Court, where Judge Timothy S. Hillman is expected to take action at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 31.

LatinoJustice argues FEMA is treating Puerto Ricans differently from other U.S. disaster survivors. Meanwhile, FEMA says it can no longer absorb 100 percent of the costs for the transitional housing program. The government of Puerto Rico is supposed to take over payment for at least 10 percent of the program, but the territory is in the midst of a form of bankruptcy.

As of the end of June, 90 percent of disaster survivors who fled Puerto Rico after the hurricane reported that they could not return to the island. FEMA expects those who are displaced to depend on social service agencies and nonprofits in the states where they have relocated. But these resources, if available, aren’t always effective. A local charity gave Dalmau a restriction-heavy housing voucher, which pays for one year of rent. But landlords are apprehensive of renting to her. She has visited more than two dozen places since April but still has nowhere to live.

Aretha Franklin once rallied to ‘free Angela Davis’

Aretha Franklin. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post; Lily illustration)
Aretha Franklin. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post; Lily illustration)

A single page of the Dec. 3, 1970, issue of Jet Magazine circulated on social media last week after icon and musician Aretha Franklin died Thursday in Detroit at 76. “Aretha Says She’ll Go Angela’s Bond if Permitted,” the clipping’s headline reads.

At the time, Angela Davis was a 26-year-old black activist and communist who was being held in jail on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges. Davis had been an active member of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committee, which sought to exonerate three unrelated African American men who were accused of murdering a white prison guard while incarcerated in California. (Prison officials claimed it was a retaliatory attack: Days before, three black inmates had been killed by a guard.) In an attempt to negotiate the Soledad brothers’ freedom, 17-year-old Jonathan Jackson disrupted court proceedings in San Rafael, Calif. Jackson armed three defendants in a Marin County courtroom, and they attempted to kidnap the judge – Harold Haley – an assistant district attorney and three female jurors. Haley, Jackson and two of the defendants died in a shootout. The guns smuggled into the courthouse were registered under Davis’s name.

Angela Davis. (AP; Lily illustration)
Angela Davis. (AP; Lily illustration)

The activist denied plotting the shooting and kidnapping, but a warrant for her arrest was issued. Her name and face appeared on the FBI’s most-wanted list before she was arrested in a New York City motel on Oct. 13, 1970. Before Davis was extradited to California, Franklin was quoted as saying, “Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free.” If Davis were offered bail, Franklin said she would pay it, no matter the price. “I have the money; I got it from black people – they’ve made me financially able to have it – and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”

As the the campaign to “free Angela Davis” garnered thousands of supporters, she was denied bail until February 1972. After spending 16 months in prison, she was released. Franklin was reportedly out of the country when Davis had her bail hearing. Instead, a white farmer from Fresno helped pay the $102,500 bail. Still, the “Queen of Soul” remained active in her mission to help Davis: In March 1972, she headlined a benefit with Sammy Davis Jr., raising $38,000 for the activist’s trial defense fund, according to an Associated Press report. Later that year, Davis was found not guilty and acquitted on all charges.

(Kristine Heykants; iStock)
(Kristine Heykants; iStock)

In her writing, author Shannon Gibney faces the difficult questions of our time head on. She uses fiction to engage with topics of race, identity and historical trauma, and for personal essays, Gibney draws from her own life in ways that are revealing and raw. Her latest novel, “Dream Country,” about five generations of Liberian and Liberian American teens, will be released Sept. 11.

Your first novel, “See No Color,” spoke of the mixed black transracial adoptee experience, a topic that doesn’t get a whole lot of visibility. What kind of responses have you received from people that have lived those identities?

The feedback I get from adoptees about the book is by far the most meaningful to me – especially feedback from young adoptees. I have had young women tell me that this is the first time they really felt actually seen and understood in their lives, while reading about how Alex, the book’s protagonist, handles the deep shame she feels around black people when she can’t speak black English, or gets called out about her hair from her black peers, for example. I have watched adult adoptees’ eyes feel with tears as they choke back a “thanks,” when I hand them the book, because it is the first one they have received about them, for them, by one of us. It’s quite a profound experience.

Your new book, “Dream Country,” tells the story of five generations of one diasporic family. Were there authors that you looked to for inspiration?

I kicked around the ideas for [“Dream County”] — honestly not knowing how I would write it or even if I could write it — for 10 years. After I finally relented and decided ... to write it, it took me another 10 years to actually get it done. There was plenty of time in there for texts to inspire and instruct me.

Early on, Rosario Ferre’s “The House on the Lagoon” basically busted my brain open, in terms of showing what you could do in fiction with multiple voices and metafictional elements. Later, Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” would do the same, while showing me how a country’s history can be movingly intertwined with characters’ personal histories in fiction.

Saidiya Hartman’s “Lose Your Mother” was probably the book that influenced me more than any other in terms of themes and questions at the center of “Dream Country.” She does a masterful job of charting geographies of loss throughout the African diaspora, and of naming and really digging into the chasms that divide us.

And then of course, Yaa Gyasi’s brilliant novel “Homegoing" was such a boon to me, because she showed that it really could be done. That I wasn’t out of my mind to be attempting to tell a multigenerational saga of Africans and African Americans on two continents and over 200 years.

In “See No Color” and “Dream Country,” it seems you are drawing on certain elements of your own experience, even though both books are work of fiction. How do you navigate that balance, both emotionally within yourself, and with your loved ones?

As you start to produce a body of work [and] look back on it objectively, [you] start to see patterns. Certainly, what I see in both my novels, as well as the new one I’m working on now, is a preoccupation with not-belonging. With the spaces in-between fixed identities. With cultural loss, and the shame this produces in people. With intergenerational trauma borne of this not-belonging, and racism, and the social violence that can become normalized (through something like removing children from their parents and home communities, for example).

My loved ones haven’t really had any significant qualms about the ways in which their experiences and truths have showed up on the page so far. It’s definitely risky to be friends or family with writers because we are essentially thieves for material, but I really try to focus in on those deeper emotional truths rather than stick to any “true” facts from my or anyone else’s story.

Sheila Regan, Lily contributor

(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)
(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

In a report examining how police departments across the country handle investigations into the murders of transgender men and women, ProPublica found that law enforcement agencies mostly misidentify victims by using “names or genders they had abandoned in their daily lives.”

After reading the ProPublica report, which focused on the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida, actress Laverne Cox posted to social media,sharing that she once contemplated suicide. To avoid being “deadnamed and misgendered in my death,” Cox had planned to leave notes with her name and preferred gender pronoun in her pocket and scattered around her home.

Misgendering means referring to or using language to describe a transgender person that doesn’t align with their affirmed gender. A transgender person is “deadnamed” when they are called by their “birth name” when they no longer use it.

The ProPublica report outlined how deadnaming and misgendering victims can hinder murder investigations. If law enforcement officials use the person’s given name, the public may not be able to identify him or her. In addition, it can alienate members of the transgender community and the victim’s family and friends, who are often crucial components to the investigation.

Intentionally Blank Shoes

One of my good friends turned me on to the brand Intentionally Blank. They have a great selection of unique, non-boring shoes. I was traveling in San Francisco recently and had a chance to visit the store, where I had a delightful experience. People always comment when I wear their shoes (nice things). Plus, their shoes are comfortable and the brand makes fun Instagram Stories.

—Amy King, editor in chief and creative director, The Lily

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