‘Law & Order’ Star Steven Hill Dies

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Steven Hill, who starred for years as District Attorney Adam Schiff on “Law & Order” and decades earlier played the leader of the Impossible Missions Force before Peter Graves on TV’s “Mission: Impossible,” died Tuesday in Monsey, N.Y., his daughter Sarah Gobioff told The New York Times.

He was also a top character actor in films of the 1980s and early ‘90s including “Rich and Famous,” “Yentl,” “Garbo Talks” and Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Raw Deal”; “Legal Eagles,” in which he would, as in “Law & Order” a few years later, play the New York district attorney; “Heartburn”; “Brighton Beach Memoirs”; “Running on Empty”; “White Palace”; “Billy Bathgate”; and “The Firm.”

Steven Hill was a top character actor, appearing in movies, television and on stage. But modern audiences are likely to remember his portrayal of D.A. Adam Schiff on the long-running hit show “Law & Order.”

Hill played Schiff from the show’s first season in 1990 until 2000, when Hill resigned; within the show Schiff was said to have accepted a position coordinating commemorations of the Holocaust Project and goes on to work with Simon Wiesenthal. Replacing Schiff as D.A. was Dianne Wiest’s Nora Lewin.

The Schiff character was reportedly based in part on the former real-life, long-serving New York D.A., Robert Morgenthau. Schiff was formerly quite liberal in his youth, mostly replaced now with a political pragmatism that sees him fear angering one political constituency or another and thus frequently suggesting a plea bargain to appease all sides.

While Hill was often said to be the last remaining member of the original cast of “Law & Order” to leave the show, this was not quite true by a technicality, as another actor, Roy Thinnes, had played the D.A. in the very first episode of the series; Hill’s Schiff came on in episode two.

Hill was twice nominated for Emmys for playing Adam Schiff on “Law & Order,” in 1998 and 1999.

In a 1996 profile of the actor, the New York Times said: “Legal vagaries aside, Mr. Hill is a law-and-order man. ‘There’s a certain positive statement in this show,’ he says (of ‘Law & Order’). ‘So much is negative today. The positive must be stated to rescue us form pandemonium. To me it lies in that principle: law and order.’ Personally, Mr. Hill says, he is no plea bargainer. ‘But our stories are about real life, and that’s how life is today,’ he says. ‘We plea bargain all over the place.’”

On the first season of “Mission: Impossible” in 1966, Hill played Dan Briggs, who initially led the IMF force; while most viewers remember fondly the tape that plays at the onset of each episode and begins by saying “Good Morning Mr. Phelps” the character later played by Peter Graves and details the assignment that must be accomplished, the device was used from the beginning of the series, only the recording said, “Good morning, Mr. Briggs.”

Steven Hill was an Orthodox Jew whose faith required that he depart the set on Friday by 4 p.m. in order to ensure that he make it home by sundown and the onset of the Sabbath; he was unavailable until the end of the Sabbath at sundown on Saturdays. The producers of “Mission: Impossible” were fully aware of these requirements, which were explicitly spelled out in the actor’s contract, but the pause in the production schedule each week proved unworkable in practice, generating increasing resentment on both sides. Thus, as the first season progressed, the producers simply utilized Hill less and less.

This conflict over religious observance was not the only source of tension. After the actor climbed through dirt tunnels and climbed rope ladders for the episode “Snowball in Hell,” Hill balked at performing similar duties in the next episode, and the producers shot around him. Briggs’ presence in the five remaining episodes of the season was kept to a minimum. Line producer Joseph Gantman later told Patrick J. White, author of the 1991 book “The Complete ‘Mission: Impossible’ Dossier,” that he simply had not understood what had been agreed to with regard to Hill’s religious requirements: “If someone understands your problems and says he understands them, you feel better about it. But if he doesn’t care about your problems, then you begin to really resent him. Steven Hill may have felt exactly the same way.”

Without any explanation within the storyline of the series, Hill’s Dan Briggs was replaced by Peter Graves’ Jim Phelps at the beginning of the second season.

 Since Adam Schiff had only a couple of scenes in most episodes of “Law & Order,” hewing to Hill’s religious requirements did not pose much of a logistical problem in that series.

Nevertheless in the wake of the conflict that arose over his role on “Mission: Impossible,” Hill left acting from 1967 until 1978. He moved to a Jewish community in Rockland County, New York, writing and working in real estate.

In 1986, at a time when his career was revitalized, Hill told the New York Times: “I don’t think an actor should act every single day. I don’t think it’s good for the so-called creative process. You must have periods when you leave the land fallow, let it revitalize itself.” A decade later, in a profile in the Times, he painted a far less cheerful picture of his past: “’What we have here is a story of profound instability and impermanence,’ he says of his own career.”

In 1978 he ended the 11-year drought with a role in NBC’s Martin Luther King Jr. miniseries “King,” in which Hill played Stanley Levison, a close friend of King’s who was a leader of the Communist Party.

He returned to features with supporting roles in Claudia Weill’s “It’s My Turn” (1980), starring Jill Clayburgh and Michael Douglas; Peter Yates’ “Eyewitness” (1981), starring William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer and James Woods; George Cukor’s “Rich and Famous” (1981), starring Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen; Barbra Streisand’s “Yentl” (1983), in which he played the rabbi; Arthur Hiller’s “Teachers” (1984); “Garbo Talks,” in which he played the estranged husband of Anne Bancroft’s character; 1986 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Raw Deal,” in which he played a Mafia boss for laughs; Ivan Reitman’s 1986 “Legal Eagles,” starring Robert Redford; Mike Nichols’ “Heartburn” (1986), in which he played the father-in-law of Meryl Streep’s character; and “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (also 1986).

In 1986 family drama “On Valentine’s Day,” written by Hill’s friend Horton Foote, the actor played “an anguished, deranged man living in a small town in Texas in the early years of the century,” in the words of the New York Times.

In Sidney Lumet’s “Running on Empty” (1988), Hill got lucky: playing the father of a longtime fugitive portrayed by Christine Lahti, he was in the film’s key scene. Roger Ebert said: “Questioning the very foundations on which they have built their lives… leads to the movie’s emotional high point, when the Lahti character calls up her father (Steven Hill) and arranges to meet him for lunch. Long ago, she broke his heart. She disappeared from his life for years. Now she wants her parents to take Danny, so that he can go to music school. She will lose her son, just as her father lost her. It’s ironic, and it’s very sad, and by the end of the scene we have been through a wringer.”

In its review of 1990’s “White Palace,” starring Susan Sarandon and James Spader as unlikely lovers, the New York Times said: “Steven Hill, once again pressed into service to play an all-purpose patriarch, this time presides over a large Thanksgiving dinner in a prosperous household and makes a speech about the needs of the working class, which presents (Sarandon’s) Nora with her only opportunity for a memorable line. ‘Mister,’ she says, ‘I am the working class.’ “

In Robert Benton’s 1991 E.L. Doctorow adaptation “Billy Bathgate,” Hill memorably played a loyal henchman to Dustin Hoffman’s mobster Dutch Schultz, while in Sydney Pollack’s adaptation of John Grisham’s “The Firm,” he played FBI Director F. Denton Voyles.

Presumably supporting roles allowed both Hill and his respective directors the logistical freedom to work around his Sabbath schedule.

After a 1995 TV movie, Hill did not earn a screen credit for five years, until “Law & Order” came along.

Solomon Krakovsky was born in Seattle, Washington, to Russian Jewish immigrants, but was interested in theater even while young. He served in the Navy Reserve from 1940-44.

He was a founding member of Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, joining Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Julie Harris among the 50 successful applicants (out of some 700 interviewed) to be accepted, and made his Broadway debut in 1946 in the Ben Hecht play “A Flag Is Born,” which counted Marlon Brando among its stars and advocated for the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people in the ancient land of Israel; a few years later he was in the original cast of the enormously successful “Mister Roberts,” starring Henry Fonda, with Hill playing Stefanowski. Also in 1948 he appeared in “Sundown,” staged by Elia Kazan; in 1950 he appeared in Ibsen’s “The Lady From the Sea.” Hill was also in the original cast of Clifford Odets’ “The Country Girl.”

Hill started on television early in the history of the medium, appearing in several segments of the “Actors Studio” episodic anthology series in 1949. He soon appeared on other anthology series, such as “The Magnavox Theatre,” “Schlitz Playhouse,” “Lux Video Theatre,” “Goodyear Playhouse,” “Studio One in Hollywood” and “Playhouse 90.”

Hill received the Sylvania Television Award for dramatic actor of the year in 1954.

A bit later he appeared on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Untouchables” and “Dr. Kildare.”

The actor made his movie debut in the 1950 film noir “A Lady Without Passport,” starring Hedy Lamarr and John Hodiak, and appeared in film noir “Storm Fear,” directed by Cornel Wilde and written by Horton Foote; John Cromwell’s “The Actress” (1958), starring Kim Stanley; and “Kiss Her Goodbye” (1959) with Elaine Stritch.

In 1960 he starred in the CBS TV movie “Dillinger” as Melvin Purvis.

Everything changed with Hill’s 1961 starring role on Broadway as the older Sigmund Freud in the Henry Denker play “A Far Country.”

Appearing in the play in which a patient screams at Freud, “You are a Jew!” profoundly affected Hill. “In the pause that followed I would think, ‘What about this?’ I slowly became aware that there was something more profound going on in the world than just plays and movies and TV shows. I was provoked to explore my religion,” he told John Sobiski for the online essay “Steven Hill: Hollywood’s Most Talented Curmudgeon.”

A rabbi inspired him to adhere to strict Orthodox Judaism, which included observing the Sabbath without fail. This stricture effectively ended the actor’s stage career, as he would be unavailable for Friday night or Saturday matinee performances, and also made most potential film roles unlikely or impossible, most notably “The Sand Pebbles,” according to Sobiski.

There were some film roles in the years after Hill became observant, including John Cassavetes’ 1963 “A Child Is Waiting,” in which he starred with Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland and Gena Rowlands, and 1965’s Sydney Pollack-directed “The Slender Thread,” starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft.

Hill was twice married, the first time to Selma Stern, to whom he was married from 1951 until their divorce in 1964.

He is survived by his second wife, Rachel, whom he married in 1967; five children by her; and four by Stern.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steven-hill-dies-dead-obituary_us_57bd369ae4b00d9c3a1ae0fa?section=&

Woman Is Facing Jail Time For Giving Water To Dying Pigs In The Back Of A Truck

A woman in Toronto, Canada, is battling the courts for a charge of “mischief” after she discovered a truck full of exhausted, overheated, and dehydrated pigs on their way to slaughter and kindly provided them with some water.

Anita Krajnc’s compassion, however, was not well received by the man driving the vehicle. The animal rights activist was joined by other members of their group, Toronto Pig Save, who filmed the entire altercation betweenKrajnc and the irate man.

The unfortunate pigs were being sent toFearman’s Pork Inc. in Burlington, just south of Toronto. You wouldn’t think such a simple act of compassion would receive such an aggressive response, but the driver hurls insults and physical threats atKrajnc, all of which was caught on film.

The next day,pork farmer Eric Van Boekel contacted the police to press charges against Krajnc, citing her as pouring an “unknown liquid” into the compartment.

Members of Toronto Pig Save are often found standing at their local traffic islands to “bear witness” to the animals being sent off to slaughterhouses.She and her lawyer will be fighting the charges with testimony from experts inagriculture, nutrition, andveterinary medicine, among several others.

I think we can all agree that regardless of how we look at the meals we eat, there’s no need for animals to be forced into such harsh conditions. Krajnc andothers like her across the globe will continue to fight forevery animal’sright to live cruelty-free.

Take a look to see the jarring confrontation.

Video credit: Toronto Pig Save & Toronto Pig Save / Toronto Pig Save

And be sure to SHARE this brave woman’s actions with your friends!


Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/woman-gives-pigs-water/

For These Louisiana Flood Victims, The Struggle Has Just Begun

Thousands of Louisiana residents lost everything in the floods, and their suffering will go on long after the camera crews and rescue boats have departed.

More than 100,000 people or households in the state have applied for housing help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reports. Rising waters washed away their homes, their cars, their medicines, their family heirlooms and keepsakes most of the tangible pieces of their lives. The floods left behind memories of fear and profound uncertainty about the future.

Here are the stories of some of those people.

Jay Reynolds

Courtesy of Jay Reynolds
Jay Reynolds points to the water line in his garage.

For Jay Reynolds, 56, floods make for a special kind of misery.

“A flood is cruel,” the lifelong Holden, Louisiana, resident said. “If your home burns down to the ground, you have nothing left. You walk up there and it’s a pile of burnt rubble. There’s no pictures to look at and nothing to dig through. … With a flood, it’s so much more cruel. Everything you had is ruined and you can see every picture of your family and children smeared and ruined. Everything you had is still there, but it’s useless every bit of it. It’s cruel. I think I would have rather been wiped out by a fire.”

Jay, a shift worker at methanol distributor Methanex, and his wife Tammy, a beautician and beauty shop owner, built their home in 1985. It’s one of more than 60,000 houses destroyed by the August floods.

“I’m trying hard not to cry right now,” he said.

Among the most painful losses are the many pieces of wood furniture that Reynolds handcrafted and hoped to pass down for generations.

“The bed my daughter slept on – I built it when she was 8 years old,” he said. “I spent weeks building that bed. I handcrafted it and she planned to give it to her child.”

As he grapples with the emotional turmoil, Reynolds has been overcome by the generosity of his community. Methanex sent 13 of its employees to help gut his house  a painful but necessary exercise  and he hasn’t had to cook since losing his home thanks to meal providers like Operation BBQ Relief.

“It’s been really tough, but we’ll get through this,” he said. “We will claw our way back. We will not be devastated by this the rest of our lives.”

Herbert ‘Shorty’ Howard McMorris

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Herbert HowardMcMorris and his wife Cynthia wereseparated forfive days.

“They call me Shorty,” said Herbert Howard McMorris. At only 4 feet tall, the retired Livingston Parish resident had less time than most to reach safety when he noticed that the 7-foot sunflower in his backyard was suddenly only 3 feet tall. Seconds later, the flower was completely submerged.

“The water was bubbling right next to my mouth,” the 76-year-old said of his attempt to flee on foot with his wife Cynthia, 70, and their dog. “That’s how deep it was and how close to death I was. … I was starting to drown and I thought maybe the Lord was coming to get me.”

In that moment, a man “like an angel” saw them and got them into a boat, McMorris said. Eventually, Morris was transported to a hospital without his wife of 53 years. He wouldn’t see her or the dog again for five days, when he also learned that they’d lost everything.

They don’t know what’s next.

“We don’t have a home no more and we don’t have any kids,” he said. “Most people got kids and family that can help them. We got nothing. If we don’t get help, we won’t make it. We don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Della Mcarter

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Della Mcarter swam through floodwaters to get back toher kids.

The odyssey on which Della Mcarter, 42, embarked to reach her three younger children was marked by the kindness of strangers.

“This has actually made me love Louisiana even more – the way people have come together to help people they don’t even know,” said the mother of six, three of whom are grown.

Mcarter has lived in Walker, Louisiana, for 12 years. She was staying at a hotel recently while preparing for a move to Denham Springs  although that plan now seems doubtful since an estimated 90 percent of structures in the city were affected by the floods.

When the water started rising, Mcarter went to retrieve her dog from a friend while her daughters, ages 14 and 8, and son, age 4, waited at the hotel. She didn’t realize that by the time she tried to return, the road to the hotel would be submerged underwater and all communication with her kids would be cut off.

“I was terrified,” Mcarter said. “The phone lines were down and I couldn’t call them.”

First, some people offered her a rowboat, but the current was too strong. Then, a man with a motorboat attempted to take her up the road, but the motor broke. Another man, who was using his boat to rescue dogs, took her as far as he could. Finally, she got out and swam the rest of the way to the hotel.

“We were on the second floor of the hotel and when I got there, the water was halfway up the first floor and my truck was underwater,” Mcarter said. “When I got upstairs, I found out two guys had helped my kids. They made sure they had food and water and watched over them. I felt so blessed.”

She and her kids are at a shelter now, waiting to meet with FEMA.

“They promised all our needs would be taken care of, so I feel like they’re going to help me,” she said.

Gerald and Cris Burkins

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Gerald and Cris Burkins held onto their grandchildren as they signaled for help.

High school sweethearts Cris Burkins, 45, and husband Gerald, 46, will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary this week from a Denham Springs shelter. It’s their home until further notice.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen now,” she said. “This is our life right now. We’ve lost everything. It’s all gone. We have nothing.”

The mother of eight children, ranging in age from 19 to 28, said that after the flood took their home in Walker, the family sought refuge under the roof over a gas pump and in a church. The Red Cross placed them in their current shelter.

She wonders when her grandkids will be able to go back to school, how much money FEMA will give them, how they’ll find a new house when everyone else is looking for one too, and whether they should look for a new home in Louisiana at all.

“I’m afraid we’ll get back on our feet again and rebuild and then another flood will come,” she said. “I’m scared to live here. We’ve talked about moving to Mississippi or Alabama. We’re afraid Louisiana is going down – it’s sinking.”

The stress of escaping the flood themselves and wondering whether loved ones were alive is a horror that Gerald Burkins won’t soon forget.

“I’ve never seen so many traumatizing things in such a short period of time,” he said. “We had our grandbabies there. Pretty much the whole first day I held our 1-year-old grandchild up when helicopters flew over, so they knew we needed help. Not one came.”

They spent that day without food or water and agonizing over a text from his father who would be rescued the following morning that said, “911 help, please help.”

Police and official rescue personnel weren’t able to help his family, he said, but community members stepped up.

“The citizens are the true heroes here,” Burkins said. “They really are. It didn’t matter what color you were or whether you spoke English or not. Everybody took care of everybody. Yesterday, a snowball truck came to the shelter. All the adults broke down crying just to see somebody cared and the kids was so happy.”

Johnnie Bell Allen

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Johnnie Bell Allen looks at all her family has lost and wonders if they shouldleave Louisiana.

Johnnie Bell Allen, 51, is trying to focus on what she didn’t lose: her life and her family.

“I know we lost a lot, but we still have our lives,” the Denham Springs waitress said. “We came into this world with nothing and we’ll leave it with nothing. I can only thank God we’re all alive.”

She and her husband Jeff, 50, have seven kids between them and were looking after their six grandchildren, ages 1 to 9, when the water started coming up. They waited awhile for police and then tried to escape by car. When the car began filling with water, they had no choice but to walk to safety with all six grandkids.

“We prayed while we were going through the waters,” Allen said. “We had a real chance of losing our lives. We had got some rope and tied the kids to us so the current wouldn’t take them away.”

With all their possessions gone, Allen thinks it might be time to start over somewhere new.

“My husband, Jeff, wants to stay in Louisiana, but I don’t want to,” she said. “I want to move to Florida or Oklahoma.”

Thomas Anthony

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Thomas Anthony says, “We just gotta keep going.”

Thomas Anthony, 52, his wife and family had just moved back into their house three weeks ago after completing a total remodel. Both his house and his repair shop in Holden were flooded with 4 feet of water.

“Can’t nobody explain the feeling when you wake up in the morning and have nothing left,” the father of four children said.

“We got to start all over again. It’s rough,” said Anthony. “I want to go help other people, but I got so much to do myself. We don’t even have a place to sleep. It’s hard. It ain’t like we can just walk away from it. We got to clean it all up and take it day by day. It’s hard, but like I told my wife, what else we going to do? We just gotta keep going.”

Brent Kinchen

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Watching his mom sufferis the hardest part for Brent Kinchen.

Brent Kinchen, 37, was supposed to start a new job last week after being unemployed since June. Losing everything has put that on hold.

The Denham Springs pipe fabricator was with his mother and 11-year-old daughter when some 6 to 7 feet of water poured into his house.

“I can’t do nothing now but just sit back, take it in and endure until we can get the assistance we need to get back to a regular life,” he said.

Kinchen is especially worried about his mom, who is ill and lost all her medications in the flood.

“Seeing her struggling and dealing with all this stress is the hardest part,” he said. “But life still goes on. We’re gonna rebuild and regain the things we lost. I just gotta stay focused on getting back on my feet.”

Debra Cobb

David Lohr/The Huffington Post
Debra Cobb sees in the flood a reminderfrom God about helping others.

Debra Cobb, a lifelong Louisianan, believes the floods were “a message from God” to bring the community together.

“That’s the way I feel,” said the Denham Springs resident. “Look at how people coming together and things like that. Love one another. Help one another.”

Cobb, the 51-year-old mother of three grown sons, is disabled and lives with one of her granddaughters. When her house was inundated, she tried to escape by car but was soon chest-deep in water. Eventually she boarded a rescue boat.

“It is a disaster, losing your home and transportation,” she said. “It’s hard, but what can we do? We just got to be patient and hang in there.”

Cobb hopes the people of Louisiana will stick together after the waters recede.

“I see that the community has come closer together,” she said. “I just hope it don’t stop. I hope it continues. That’s what we all must do. Don’t just do it because of the flood.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/louisiana-flood-victims-stories_us_57bb5e61e4b0b51733a51c1d?section=&

Pearl Jam Stops Show To Have Obnoxious Fan Tossed Out

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder called the band to a halt in the middle of a song at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Monday night to have an unruly fan ejected.

“Hey! Hey mister! Hey, hey, get your finger out of that woman’s face motherf-” he said, cutting off the start of a R-rated word. “Hey mister  all the the fingers are pointing at you.”

It’s not clear what the person was doing, but fans cheered as Vedder ordered the fan to “clear out” and waved as security took him away.

“Ma’am, you’re OK? Yeah? You’re good?” Vedder asked the woman. “That’s a good man, taking care of your woman, and then she was taking care of herself too pretty good.”

The band then resumed the song “Lukin.”

Here’s a look at it from another angle:

It wasn’t the show’s only unusual moment.

Former Chicago Bulls star and Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman a noted Pearl Jam fan  carried Vedder during the band’s performance of the song “Black, Red, Yellow.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pearl-jam-kicks-fan-out-wrigley_us_57bcfa90e4b03d51368b9c19?section=&

White Privilege And Inclusion In The Wedding Industry

So something pretty interesting happened last week. A well-known conference for wedding industry creatives, Creative at Heart, posted its speaker line-up on Instagram, encouraging folks to sign up for early bird registration. The photo shows a grid of 26 smiling faces, all of them white. The post inspired 95 comments and counting. After a handful of yay!s, woo!s, and heart-emojis, Stacy Reeves wrote, “Extremely disappointing to see a sea of caucasian faces with no diversity. You are not creating an inclusive and welcoming place for women of color here.” Mic drop.

Many others started chiming in, questioning whether people of color were welcome at such a conference, referring the conference organizers to talented people of color, and critiquing the use of “cuties” by the organizers to describe the speakers. Some stated they would not attend such a conference, and others said they had given up on industry conferences altogether.

The conference organizers scrambled to respond, at first thanking individuals for “sharing your heart,” ensuring they valued the feedback, and encouraging public commenters to take their concerns to the private medium of email. Kinzie Ferguson, the Empowerment Photographer, challenged this saying, “There is not enough dialogue around these issues right now, which is contributing to our social and political climate where black people’s voices are being silenced and dismissed. This conversation should ABSOLUTELY be happening out loud and not taken to email.”

That’s when the conference organizers let down their guard and responded publicly: “We have never intentionally NOT invited women of color to participate on a higher level within C@H (as a panelist, speaker, etc.), however, we absolutely accept full responsibility and sincerely apologize for not being intentional about ensuring that our conference is as diverse as possible and that women of all colors, shapes and sizes are represented well.” They go on to encourage folks to apply to be speakers through their website.

Commenters went on to say that they weren’t asking for much, they simply wanted some basic inclusion. No major brainstorming sesh was required, just invite some POC speakers, and by the way here’s like five people that would be perfect.

The wedding industry is segregated. It’s not surprising to me that the C@H organizers said they never intentionally excluded, but it’s clear they never intentionally included. White privilege means never having to think about race, and usually no one will ever ask you to. If you want to ignore race relations in our country, you can, and there are no direct consequences. If you want to plan a conference featuring speakers directly from your primarily white network, you’ll still fill the seats.

Using the language of “hurt feelings” and “sharing your heart” minimizes a serious critique of systemic racism by individualizing it. While it’s true that being excluded and undervalued repeatedly throughout one’s entire life hurts no matter how many defenses an individual builds up, the conversation taking place was much bigger than one or two people’s personal feelings. And yet, the solution is quite simple. Commenters want to see some people of color in your line up.

It doesn’t seem so hard, but maybe what it’s asking for is a shift in power. Rather than sit back as organizers of a conference and allow the applications to roll in, you may actually have to get outside of your comfort zone, do some research, and actively reach out to potential speakers of color. And yeah, it might make you feel vulnerable.

Inclusion requires first valuing diversity (or feeling enough pressure from your audience to rehab your image), and second, action.

I know firsthand that that action piece can be tough. It can be time-consuming, and the results vary. You may fear tokenizing, targeting, self doubt, or tough conversations, all of which can be the result of a white person reaching out to people of color on behalf of the white person’s project.

And some might argue that inclusion isn’t enough. Is it enough to simply have a few POC speakers if the quality of the dialogue goes unchanged, privilege goes unchecked, and discussions of race are still hushed and private? Certainly color blindness isn’t the goal like some GAP ad that makes multiculturalism palatable for white people. Others feel that representation in and of itself IS political. When you see someone like you in a leadership position, your understanding of your own self worth and potential can transform.

As a white editor of a diversity-based publication, I am certainly wrestling with these questions. While Catalyst is meant to be a platform that elevates diverse voices and perspectives, I know full well that my own identity will attract folks who more than likely look like me, too. As one of my friends and trusted advisers reminded me, an authentically diverse project requires diverse leadership.

She’s absolutely right, but given that this editing staff is a staff of one, I can no more diversify myself than I can qualify for the women’s gymnastics team at the Olympics, so for now I’m leading with humility, actively reaching out to talented contributors outside my immediate network, and working to open the channels of communication and feedback on how it’s all going. And it’s not enough; I know I have a long way to go.

I’m not interested in diversity because it’s a hot topic. I’m interested because when varying voices, perspectives, talent, and images harmonize to tell a collective story about what it means to live and love in this moment in time, the result is something wholly unique and challenging and real. It’s a little less “perfect,” a lot less pink, and the scariest part is it has the power to shake you to your core. I hope more people in weddings learn to value diversity and inclusion not because it’s expected (which it is and should be) but because it really makes us a better industry and a better, more just world.

This blog originally appeared on CatalystWedCo.com.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-privilege-and-inclusion-in-the-wedding-industry_us_57bcea52e4b007f1819a3fe3?section=&

Dozens Dead After Strong Earthquake Levels Buildings In Central Italy

ACCUMOLI, Italy (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake devastated a string of mountainous towns in central Italy on Wednesday, trapping residents under piles of rubble, killing at least 38 people and leaving thousands homeless.

The quake struck in the early hours of the morning when most residents were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of communities some 140 km (85 miles) east of Rome.

A family of four, including two boys aged 8 months and 9 years, were buried when their house in Accumoli imploded.

As rescue workers carried away the body of the infant, carefully covered by a small blanket, the children’s grandmother blamed God: “He took them all at once,” she wailed.

The army was mobilized to help with special heavy equipment and the treasury released 235 million euros ($265 million) of emergency funds. At the Vatican, Pope Francis canceled part of his general audience to pray for the victims.


Aerial photographs showed whole areas of Amatrice, voted last year as one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns, flattened by the 6.2 magnitude quake.

“It’s all young people here, it’s holiday season, the town festival was to have been held the day after tomorrow so lots of people came for that,” said Amatrice resident Giancarlo, sitting in the road wearing just his underwear.

“It’s terrible, I’m 65-years-old and I have never experienced anything like this, small tremors, yes, but nothing this big. This is a catastrophe,” he said.

Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci said some 2,500 were left homeless in the local community, which is made up of 17 hamlets.

Residents responding to wails muffled by tonnes of bricks and mortar sifted through the rubble with their bare hands before emergency services arrived with earth-moving equipment and sniffer dogs. Wide cracks had appeared like open wounds on the buildings that were still standing.

Remo Casilli / Reuters
Rescuers remove a quake victim from the rubblein Amatrice, Italy.

The national Civil Protection Department said some survivors would be put up elsewhere in central Italy, while others would be housed in tents that were being dispatched to the area.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would visit the disaster area later in the day: “No one will be left alone, no family, no community, no neighborhood. We must get down to work .. to restore hope to this area which has been so badly hit,” he said in a brief televised address.

The quake hit during the summer when the area, usually sparsely populated, hosts large numbers of holidaymakers.

A spokeswoman for the civil protection department, Immacolata Postiglione, said the dead were in Amatrice, Accumoli and other villages including Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto. She put the initial death toll at 38, but said rescue teams had only just reached some stricken areas.

The earthquake caused damage in three regions Umbria, Lazio and Marche and was felt as far away as the southern Italian port city of Naples.

Remo Casilli / Reuters
A woman sits amongst rubble following a quake in Amatrice, Italy, on Wednesday.


The hospital in Amatrice was among the buildings that were badly damaged, and patients were moved into the streets.

“Three quarters of the town is not there anymore,” Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told state broadcaster RAI. “The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.”

RAI reported that two Afghan girls, believed to be asylum-seekers, were also missing in the town.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which measured the quake at 6.2 magnitude, said it struck near the Umbrian city of Norcia, while Italy’s earthquake institute INGV registered it at 6.0 and put the epicenter further south, closer to Accumoli and Amatrice.

The damage was made more severe because the epicenter was at a relatively shallow 4 km below the surface of the earth. Residents of Rome were woken by the tremors, which rattled furniture, swayed lights and set off car alarms in most of central Italy.

“It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,” Lina Mercantini of Ceselli, Umbria, about 75 km away from the hardest hit area, told Reuters. Olga Urbani, in the nearby town of Scheggino, said: “Dear God it was awful. The walls creaked and all the books fell off the shelves.”

INGV reported 60 aftershocks in the four hours following the initial quake, the strongest measuring 5.5.

Remo Casilli / Reuters

Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.

The last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.

The most deadly since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio Calabria and Sicily.

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