Monthly Archives: April 2015

Recognizing Franklin Dalembert with the Intercultural City Award

Tomorrow night at their YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City celebration, The Welcome Project will recognize local leader Franklin Dalembert with the Intercultural City Award. For over a decade Franklin was founding director of the Haitian Coalition of Somerville. As The Welcome Project celebrates its 25th anniversary, Franklin’s story highlights how the City has changed.

From The Welcome Project‘s website:

In 1991 there was one Haitian program in the city: Haiti Vision, a SCAT television show for which Franklin Dalembert served as a producer. Under his remarkable leadership, that show would eventually grow into the Haitian Coalition of Somerville, which incorporated as a non-profit in 1998 and remains a cornerstone of Somerville cultural organizations 17 years later.

“People would come on Haiti Vision and talk about the issues they were facing,” recalled Franklin, who served as founding director of the Haitian Coalition from 1998 until early in 2015. “Young people would come. Parents would come. As we heard all those issues, we started to invite the heads of organizations and city officials to respond and talk to those people.”

These on-air conversation between Haitian residents and city officials eventually led to the creation of the city’s first Haitian Taskforce, created under then Mayor Michael Capuano.

“The taskforce was formed to serve as a bridge between the city and the community,” Franklin explained. “We would meet regularly with Mayor Capuano and others to discuss the issues faced by the Haitian community. One day, Mayor Capuano suggested we should organize as a group – that we should create an advocacy organization and advocate on behalf of the Haitian community.”

That’s how the Haitian Coalition was born.

“Not only did we create that organization, we helped to create a lot of changes,” Franklin said. One of its first steps was calling for help from the Department of Justice.

“The Department of Justice investigated treatment of Haitians at the schools and how Haitians were treated by police. A set of agreements were signed between the Haitian Coalition, the City of Somerville and the Department of Justice.”

One of the recommendations from the DOJ, Franklin said, was to create a Human Rights Commission in Somerville. After the city passed an ordinance creating the commission, Yves-Rose SaintDic, a Haitian leader in the city, served as its first director.

The issues tackled by the Haitian Coalition have shifted over the years. In the early days, the organization primarily focused on building cultural sensitivity towards the Haitian community and making sure these residents access to resources.

“At that time people felt they were not welcome, that nobody understood them,” Franklin said. “There were no people who could speak their language or understood their culture. This created a tension and a lack of understanding. People felt that their voices hadn’t been heard.”
On top of that, immigrants face unique challenges as they acclimate to life in a new part of the world, and at the time there was no one to help them through the transition.

“When I moved to Somerville in 1990,” Franklin said, “I spent a weekend in November in an apartment without heat or electricity because I didn’t know I had to call the gas company. Sometimes people take it for granted that everyone knows that basic info, but we didn’t need heat in Haiti.”

Today, the Haitian Coalition organizes around issues of affordability and gentrification.
“Twenty-five years ago, the work was welcoming immigrants in Somerville. Now we have another challenge – to keep immigrants here,” Franklin said. “People are leaving, they can no longer afford housing costs in Somerville. We have to do something about that. If we lose the immigrant community, we are losing something very important. Immigrants play a vital role in Somerville.”

Throughout it’s history, the Haitian Coalition has partnered closely with The Welcome Project.

“The Welcome Project paved the way for the Haitian Coalition,” Franklin said. “We consider them a sister organization, because we share the same mission. The Welcome Project affects all the immigrant communities, provides a voice for the immigrant community.”

The Welcome Project is thrilled to recognize Franklin Dalembert with the Intercultural City Award at the 2015 YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City celebration.


Waiting for White America

There’s this great word that has surfaced in recent years: Columbusing.

As defined by Urban Dictionary, Columbusing is “when white people claim they have invented/discovered something that has been around for years, decades, even centuries.”

I’ve mostly heard the phrase applied to elements of cultural identity. White people have Columbused jazz, blues, Motown and rap.

White people have Columbused cornrows. twerking, The Harlem Shake, and even empanadas – I mean, hand pies. It seems there is no end to the list of items that have been Columbused.

And if cultural appropriation wasn’t enough, I’ve been reflecting on another element of Columbusing – outrage over injustice.

In reading Doug McAdam’s Freedom Summer, I’ve been struck by the extent to which the whole summer was orchestrated by SNCC not only as a wake up call to white America, but as a mechanism for giving white America a stake in the fight.

In more generous terms, one could argue that in any social movement a small group of people tries to bring their message to a large group of people. But let’s be real: in this case the “small group of people” was a large number of southern blacks who had been organizing for over a decade and the “large group of people” was an elite group of white northerners who considered themselves liberal.

When these elite, white students descended on Mississippi for the summer, they were shocked by the reality they found there. They were shocked by the physical abuse, the emotional harassment, and the downright disregard for the law. Their parents were shocked by the letters home. The media was shocked at the experience of these white kids.

After over a decade of black organizing, white Americans came to Mississippi and discovered our country had a race problem. They Columbused the hell out of that shit.

That was in 1964. The dawn of the civil rights movement.

Of course it dawned long before that, but for white America, 1964 was watershed.I find this particularly interesting now, given the social context we find ourselves in.

With black deaths nightly on the television, white America is again starting to realize there might be something to this discrimination issue.

I’ve seen so many articles about what white America should do, how to talk to white Americans about race, why white Americans shut down when issues are raised.

White Americans should be a part of the conversation, of course, just as all people should be part of the conversation. As someone who is white myself, it probably makes a lot of sense for me personally to talk to other white Americans, to help them join this conversation.

But – I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re a nation just waiting for the majority of white America to Columbus social justice. Because once white Americans Columbus social justice, then we can have a real conversation, then we can have real change.

And that’s kind of messed up.

White people need to lead the change because white people are the ones with the most power. But what we really need to do is to shift power structures – to change who has the right to voice a concern and who is listened to when they speak.

I don’t know how we do that. I don’t know how I do that – as a white girl who is almost certainly Columbusing this idea from somewhere. But let’s work on that.

Let’s bring everyone into the conversation, yes, let’s make everyone part of the change.

But let’s not wait for the majority of white Americans to discover we have a racial problem before we do anything about it.

The change should have come decades ago.


YUM and 25 Years of The Welcome Project

In just six days, The Welcome Project will host its annual YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City celebration. Tickets for this meaningful and delicious event are $35 in advance, $40 at the door, and easily available online.

This is a special year for The Welcome Project, as it is also celebrating 25 years of work in Somerville. I’ve only lived in Somerville for about half that time, but already the city has changed tremendously. The people have changed, the businesses have changed, the culture has shifted subtly but noticeably.

But a lot has stayed the same in Somerville as well. There are still people who’ve lived here for generations, and still people who have only recently immigrated to the United States. It’s a mishmash of people and cultures, but ultimately, entirely, a holistic community – though we all are different, we have a share sense of place and purpose.

For 25 years, The Welcome Project has enhanced this community. And it has done so in a very special way: its mission is to build the collective power of Somerville immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions.

That is to say, The Welcome Project isn’t just about welcoming immigrants to Somerville.  More deeply, it is about building a Somerville which intrinsically sees immigrants as whole and equal members of the community. A Somerville where systems of power and privilege provide equal voice and equal weight to all members of the community.

So I hope you’ll come out and support The Welcome Project, support the rich community we are fortunate to have here in Somerville. And I hope you’ll come out and eat some delicious food and meet some fantastic people.

Here is the full event description:

Sample the delicious tastes from participating immigrant-run Somerville restaurants at YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City. Meet friends new and old at a fun and satisfying benefit for The Welcome Project at Arts at the Armory on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:00 pm. This year we’re also celebrating 25 years of The Welcome Project as a Somerville non-profit!

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Get your tickets now at:

Enjoy tastes from Ethiopia, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Italy, Nepal, Portugal and more.

The 2015 YUM event features:
Aguacate Verde – Mexican, Porter Square
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant – Ethiopian, East Somerville
Gauchao – Brazilian, East Somerville
La Brasa – Fusion, East Somerville
Masala – Indian and Nepali, Teele Square
Maya Sol – Mexican, East Somerville
Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery – Portuguese, Union Square
Rincon Mexicano – Mexican, East Somerville
Royal Bengal Restaurant – North Indian/Bengali, Gilman Square
Sabur Restaurant – Mediterranean, Teele Square
Sally O’Brien’s – Irish, Union Square
Tu y Yo Restaurant – Mexican, Powderhouse Square
Vinny’s @ Night – Italian, East Somerville

Intercultural City Award: Franklin Dalembert
Founder’s Award: Lisa Brukilacchio
Live music by Son Del Sol
Opportunity to win Red Sox tickets and other great prizes!


The Dangers of Niche Media

Yesterday, I attended Tufts’ annual Edward R. Murrow Form on Issues in Journalism. This year’s forum featured George Stephanopoulos, ABC News’ chief anchor and previous communications director for Bill Clinton’s 1991 presidential campaign.

Stephanopoulos touched on a range of issues, but primarily spoke about polarization – “not just in politics, but in life.”

He spoke about how news used to be “by appointment.” In Murrow’s day, everyone tuned into the evening news at night.

But now, like so many thing, our media habits have become polarized as well.

“Everything is mass and everything is niche,” he said. “When you have niche media, no one needs to go anywhere else for news.”

He pointed to the debate over President Obama’s birth certificate as proof of the challenges inherent in a high choice media system. After Obama’s birth certificate had been produced, some 50% of people who had voted in the republican primary still thought the President had not been born in America.

“It’s harder to get people to agree on basic facts when no one has their beliefs challenged,” Stephanopoulos observed.

Of course, these observations on the effects of media choice are nothing new.

Markus Prior, among others, has looked in great detail at the increasing proliferation of news sources. In Post-Broadcast Democracy, Prior discusses the idea of “byproduct learning” – learning that occurs by being exposed to messages through the daily process of living.

For example, in Murrow’s day, not only did everyone watch the same newscast, when they went to the movies they were exposed to “newsreels,” short news films shown before the main feature.

As media becomes more efficient, offering greater choice and more niche markets, we decrease the existence of byproduct learning. This runs the risk of people only seeking out the news sources which reinforce their view.

There’s a great deal of debate on this topic, of course – since having more media choice has also led to more information and perspectives available than ever before.

But in the meantime, as Stephanopoulos says, “the Republican Primary will take place on FOX News.”


Walter Scott

I watched a man die this morning.

Over and over again, on repeat.

Over and over again, Walter Scott fled down the lush, green path. It looked like a fine place to go for a jog on a nice summer day. Over and over again, Scott was shot in the back by Charleston police officer Michael Slager. Eight times.

Over and over again, Scott fell to the ground.

They showed the video 8 times in 5 minutes on the morning news. Over and over.

I was surprised. I don’t like to watch men die.

Well, not real people, anyway. I’m not too squeamish about fictional death. I’m glad Game of Thrones finally stepped it’s game in Season 4. After reading the books, I was frankly a little disappointed by the initial lack of bloodshed.

But I don’t need to watch a real person die.

They showed the video twice as part of the opening credits. No warning that it might be disturbing or graphic.

Almost nonchalantly, they showed a man die.

I want to believe they repetitively aired the video hoping the shock of it would lead to positive change.

Maybe there are some people still clinging to the idea that we’re in a post-racial society. Who haven’t been convinced by the tragedies of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and too many brown bodies left bleeding in our streets.

Maybe the shock of this video – Walter Scott dying over and over and over again – maybe that will wake them up.

But I kept thinking – would the news act the same way if it was someone else being shot?

Would they show a white woman being shot in the back and over and over again? With no warning that it might be disturbing?

I’m not sure they would.

No, this video they were treating a little too much like entertainment. As if another black body isn’t much to get disturbed about.

As if we were watching a fictional man die.

Of course, the fact there there is video footage has been of remarkable importance to this case.

Slager initially reported that he had shot Scott in self-defense, fearing for his life because the man had taken his stun gun.

The video, taken by a bystander, seems to be the only reason the officer was eventually charged with murder.

People keep asking, what would the story have been if there hadn’t been video? What would the outcome have been if there hadn’t been video?

They ask, but of course, we all know.

In a battle between the word of a cop and the word of a dead man, the cop always wins.

Because dead men tell no tales and a dead witness is a silent witness and black men keep dying over and over and over.

On repeat.

As if we were watching fictional men die.


In Favor of Fatalism

You know, fatalism gets kind of a bum rap. As if a crushing sense of the deep futility of life is the worst thing that could happen in the world.

Yesterday, my colleague Peter Levine rightly expressed concern at the fatalism inspired by Paul Krugman, Cass Sunstein, and others when it comes to transforming our civil society. In a letter to the New York Review of Books, Levine joined Harry Boyte and Albert Dzur in writing:

Sunstein, like Habermas and many others, sees major institutions as largely fixed and unchangeable, not subject to democratizing change. This assumption generates fatalism, which has shrunk our imaginations about decision-making, politics, and democracy itself.

While I’d be inclined to agree that we shouldn’t consider institutions as fixed and unchangeable, I’m not convinced that an unmovable task should signal the end of the work. As I’ve written before, even if the cause is hopeless, sometimes it is still worth fighting for.

But perhaps more importantly, believing in the people’s ability to generate change doesn’t dissolve the possibility of fatalism.

Imagining institutions as malleable and subject to the will of the people, for example, doesn’t imply that change will always be good.

For his part, James C. Scott argues that “so many well-intended schemes to improve the human condition have gone so tragically awry.”

Scott warned of an authoritarian state that is “willing and able to use the full weight of its coercive power to bring these high-modernist designs into being.”

But this warning could be easily extended to the general will of the people. Perhaps the technocratic approach of a few experts imposing their vision is a project doomed to fail – but that doesn’t mean that the will of the people is destined to succeed.

For after all, what is the “will of the people”?

As Walter Lippmann has noted, there is no such thing. There is merely the illusion of society as a body, with a mind, a soul and a purpose, not as a collection of men, women and children whose minds, souls and purposes are variously related.”

And surely, people can be wrong.

Even if we were to overcome the challenges of factions, overcome the disparate opinions and experiences that shape us, even if we united diverse peoples in collaboration and dialogue, worked collectively to solve our problems – even then we would be prone to imperfection.

This, then, is the real fatalistic danger – What if people can change institutions, but the institutions they build will always be fundamentally flawed?

It’s like when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seemed like a good idea. At the time it seemed progressive, welcoming even. It was a positive change, yet still deeply flawed.

But again, this fatalism doesn’t have to lead to paralysis.

In many ways, the intrinsically imperfect institution is the backbone of Roberto Unger’s thesis. Far from running short on ideas for change, Unger takes ideas to extremes.

He has no patience for what he calls “reformist tinkering,” preferring instead radical change, “smashing contexts.”

In Unger’s view it is exactly that reformist tinkering which leads to fatalism. “Only proposals that are hardly worth fighting for – reformist tinkering – seem practicable,” he writes.

Unmoved by these modest, mediocre plans, people feel resigned to accept the status quo, rather than thinking more radically about what might change.

But Unger confronts this fatalism in a surprising way: seemingly accepting the inevitability of failed human ventures, Unger recommends creating a whole branch of the government tasked with reforming and radicalizing any institution which has become too static.

He envisions a world where institutions are constantly being torn down and rebuilt to repair the mistakes of the past and meet the needs of the day.

What could go wrong? You can almost hear Scott say in response.

In defending his originalist view of the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argues that interpreting the Constitution based off today’s morals “only works if you assume societies only get better. That they never rot.”

Justice Scalia may not be my model of justice, but he does have a point.

It would be almost foolish to assume we’ll never be imperfect. Unger goes too far.

But where does that leave us? In a world of broken institutions where change is a herculean task and where that change may not be the ideal solution we might hope for, it’s easy to how fatalism might be inspired.

But I still find myself thinking – fatalism isn’t so bad.

Regardless of the changes, regardless of the outcomes, as individual citizens we’re still left with three fundamental choices: Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.

Why choose to exercise voice?

Because really…what the hell else is there?

Perhaps it’s better that we go into it knowing that change is hard; accepting that human capacity to create perfect systems is limited.

We must constantly challenge ourselves and our works. Are we pushing for change hard enough? Are we expecting too much of our solutions?

After all It’s not a static world we’re fighting for, but one we can continually co-create together.


Privilege and Social Change

I’ve been reading Doug McAdam’s seminal book Freedom Summer. I’m a little less than halfway through it, but already it’s been a compelling read.

McAdam had initially set out to study the network of activists engaged in the major struggles of the 60s. He knew anecdotally that many of the white leaders known for organizing against the war or for women’s liberation had their roots in the civil rights movement, but the Standford sociologist wanted to understand this connection more systematically.

He had hoped to find a list of the white Northerners who had traveled to Mississippi in 1964 to register black voters for the Freedom Summer project. From this list, he would be able to identify which participants went on to lead other social movements and explore what had compelled this further action.

But he didn’t find a list of participants.

He found something better.

At the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, while sifting through miscellaneous materials on the Summer Project, McAdam stumbled across something remarkable: “there, nicely organized and cataloged, were the original five page applications filled out by the volunteers in advance of the summer.”

That trove included applications of those who were rejected, those who were accepted but who never-showed up, and applications of those who ultimately spent their summer in Mississippi.

He spent the next six years comparing at the characteristics of the volunteers and no-shows, exploring the experience of the summer, and examining the impact of that summer experience.

I haven’t gotten to the longitudinal part of his work yet, but I’ve been very struck by his description of the volunteers going into the summer.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the primary organizer of the summer made some intentional choices about recruitment. They reached out heavily to students at ivy-league and prestigious universities. They looked for volunteers who could pay their own way and support themselves for the summer.

The sensibilities of the time may have been shifting, but the attitudes of the volunteers were distinctive. As McAdam writes:

Academically, they numbered among “the best and the brightest” of their generation, both in the levels of education they had obtained and the prestige of the colleges and universities they were attending. Reflecting on their privileged class backgrounds as much as the prevailing mood of the era, the volunteers held to an enormously idealistic and optimistic view of the world. More importantly, perhaps, they shared a sense of efficacy about their own actions. The arrogance of youth and the privileges of class combined with the mood of the era to give the volunteers an inflated sense of their own specialness and generational potency.

I was struck by how much this description fits the often stereotypical view of Millennials. They are optimists who think change is possible. They are self-important and think they are special.

In the Freedom Summer volunteers, these elements combined for a remarkable effect: young people who thoroughly believed they were special enough to undo centuries of racism.

And perhaps the remarkable thing is that they were not wrong.

Well, not entirely wrong. There is plenty more work to do, plenty of racism still thriving in this country, but while we still have far to go – I think the Freedom Summer volunteers did accomplish something.

We could argue about just how much affect they had, but on the whole, I would say, they bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

Perhaps today’s young people could be just as remarkable.

But there’s something deeply unsettling and ironic about the impact of Freedom Summer.

The SNCC leaders knew it all along:

Nobody cared when they fished black bodies out of the river. But when America’s white sons and daughters were at risk, America paid attention.

The summer served to gain some ground in the civil rights movement, but it also served to reinforce the deep, systemic injustices of our country.

A summer of action from naïve whites affected more change than decades of black leadership.

The summer proved what SNCC leaders knew all too well: blacks in Mississippi really were powerless and these young, elite Northerners had good cause to be confident in their own efficacy.

Yes, it was black leaders who planned, designed and implemented Freedom Summer. It was black leaders who taught organizing and trained volunteers in effecting change. It was black leaders who put themselves most at risk.

But ultimately, it was the whiteness of the young volunteers that made the biggest impact.

I can’t imagine the dilemma the SNCC leaders were in. They knew what they were getting into going into the summer – they had some great debates about whether recruiting white northerners was the best strategy. But ultimately, they decided, attracting the privileged youth of white America was the best move they could make.

And those young people brought plenty of paternalism with them. As McAdam describes, “for their part, a good many of the volunteers brought a kind of “missionary” attitude to the project that only aggravated existing tensions. Hints of paternalism and insensitivity show up with great frequency in the volunteer’s letters and journals.”

Perhaps this could not be avoided. The volunteers were shaped by a racialized America as well.

In another comment that rings true of today McAdam says the volunteers “were not to much color-blind as supremely desirous of appearing color-blind.”

With the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer taking place last year, there’s been lots of talk – do we need another Freedom Summer?

Clearly, we need to do something. Black men and women are killed every day. Many live lives markedly different from their white peers. The racism and injustice that’s been rampant in this country is at the fore of our national consciousness, and for the first time in a long while it feels like something could change for the better.

And we should all fight for that change.

But invoking Freedom Summer we should be mindful.

Is the civil rights movement of today one where young, privileged, white people will continue to take their place as the face of a moment? Where those heirs to to power will deign to use their power for good – rather than disrupt those systems of power altogether?

It’s too early to say.

One of the most exciting things about Black Lives Matter has been the emergence of young, black leaders. It’s not their job to fight alone, but it is their place to lead.

For those of us in white America, the legacy of Freedom Summer should be an important reminder: change can happen, but for change to last – for systemic change to occur – it is not enough for us to use our privileged to shape our world. We must check our privilege and support the impressive black leaders among us.

They are the true face of change.


A Taste of Spring

Little shoots of green – crocuses or tulips, perhaps – push up through the thawing ground.

The birds go mad. Tweeting, chirping, singing, calling. They haven’t seen so much food in months.

The streets run clear with the water of melted snow banks.

There is trash everywhere.

The roads and walkways bleed dust and stone from the deep gashes winter left behind.

It might snow this weekend.

But today it is warm. Today that taste of change is in the air – the deep breath of spring before the lazy days of summer.

I saw someone grilling outside.

As if anything is possible.

The wet spot on my patio is the last vestige of a man-size snow pile. It is gone now, leaving only happy moss behind.

The world wakes up.  Finding new life and energy. As if anything is possible.

It is spring.


The Politics of Public Restrooms

There’s something deeply political about public restrooms.

First, as the name implies, these spaces are public. Private, perhaps, once inside, the public restroom is inherently part of the public sphere.

Truly, they are shared spaces.

At some point I will post a treatise praising co-created wall art in public restrooms – commonly referred to as graffiti – but today I’d actually like to take the conversation in a different direction.

As my mother recently informed me, the first public women’s restroom in Britain were opened in 1909 as part of the revolutionary Selfridges department store in London.

To get a sense of that in time, let’s back up to get a broader history of public restrooms in Western culture.

As it turns out, the bodily functions which inspire restrooms have been an element of human nature for quite some time. The Romans, who pioneered architectural innovations such as aqueducts and roads, are often credited with the public restroom as well – a feature that could be found in many Roman baths.

But the modern public toilet revolution really began in the early 19th century. Paris had public restrooms as early as 1820. London installed it’s first flushing public toilet in 1852.

That’s right – London had public toilets by 1852, but the first restroom allowing women wasn’t opened until 1909.

As my mother put it, “Before that, if a woman had to use the restroom – she would just go home.”

I’m not sure that’s entirely accurately – that is, I’m not sure how much women were wandering around town before then. Also, in 1852 I imagine it would be challenging for a woman to go to the bathroom by themselves – due to the layers and complexity of a Victorian woman’s clothing.

By 1909 women’s fashion was changing, public attitudes towards women were changing, and a young entrepreneur named Harry Gordon Selfridge introduced a new department store concept. One that included “entertainment, restaurants and services. Customers were invited to spend the day inside at their leisure and buy at their pleasure.”

And those shopping women clearly needed somewhere to pee.

Fast forward another 100 years and we finally have gender parity in restroom availability.

But not really.

We have men’s rooms and we have women’s rooms.

And anyone who doesn’t identify with one of those categories – or who identifies with a category other than what strangers judge them to be – has a serious problem.

For example, a proposed bill in Florida would prevent transgender Floridians from using the restroom of their choice.

And the brilliant hashtag #IJustNeedToPee details the struggles people in the trans community face every day as they are shunned from public restrooms.

Like the women of 1850, if the need to use the restroom – they just have to go home, I suppose.

So public restrooms say a lot about us as a culture – how we define gender, how we expect identified genders to act. Not to mention how we feel about race and cross-cultural interaction.

It seems like such a small thing, so simple, so innocuous – but nothing says you’re not welcome to stay like the lack of a restroom you are welcomed to use.

So lets make public restrooms truly accessible to all members of the public – of all genders, gender identities, and physical abilities.

Let’s have the public in public restroom truly mean its for everyone – not just some segment of the population deemed worthy for such a throne.