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Bayard Rustin, Barack Obama, and Homophobia in the Black Community

Bayard Rustin, Barack Obama, and Homophobia in the Black Community

After President Obama’s announcement yesterday I’ve been thinking about the LGBT community, the black community and how they intersect in doing so I’m reminded of Bayard Rustin. As someone who started the Freedom Rides, was an early practitioner and Martin Luther King Jr.‘s teacher of non-violent resistance Bayard Rustin holds an enormous place in the history of black folk here in the United States. Rustin like many black folks was also gay. This didn’t stop him from helping to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference although it did lead to him being forced from it’s leadership in 1960. Repeatedly Rustin was ostracized for his sexuality among those of his race even while joining them in fighting for the equal rights and respect as a man that they’d deny him. It seems the advocates of inequality have chosen to replicate this choice on a national level among religious African Americans and LGBT people. In far too many cases religion has won out over ethics and have led us to choose to impose our beliefs on fellow citizens in violation of the rights that should be shared equally among every person. This is one of the reasons that I don’t subscribe to the belief that black people in America are in some way more noble, enlightened or fair than the rest of Americans we are people with biases and motives just the same as the rest. While our place in society and history are unique our hearts and minds operate according to the same principles that have reigned since time immemorial. Yesterday President Obama became the first American President to support same-sex marriage. While I highly doubt this will cost him any votes among African Americans as it has been suggested I’m hopeful it will push forward the conversation about Black LGBT folk and homophobia in our community.

cross-posted @ TheYBC

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How Far Is Too Far? LDRs and How To Make Them Work

I have reached that point in my life where a lot of friends are getting married. I have to be honest – this has been as difficult for me to get through as it has been exciting. No, it is not because I’m lonely and jealous and become a spiteful being every time I hear great news. In fact, it is the opposite. It is because I have been with an amazing man for two years, but we are in a long distance relationship (an LDR as I have affectionately labeled it). We met each other at a conference in San Diego when we were both in graduate school. Of course, we were in two different states for school, but that did not stop us from seeing what could be. What could be turned into what we have, and that is a great relationship. He has since transferred schools and I began law school, and we are closer now than we were before, but several states and four hours separate us on a daily basis. The past two years have been a lesson in patience, and I have come to realize that blessings are given to us in forms that we can handle.

What does this mean? So many people are terrified of long distance relationships, and I am an extremely vocal advocate of them. I am going to share some lessons from the past two years about what I believe has made my relationship successful. I do so in hopes of sparking a conversation about the fears of LDRs and hearing stories from others about what has made their LDRs work or fail.

1. Get some more minutes

Communication is key to every successful relationship in my opinion, but I think it is especially true in LDRs. When my relationship first started I can’t even tell you how flabbergasted I was at the hundreds of dollars on my phone bill! Luckily for me, my boyfriend had an extra line he wasn’t using so he got a phone for it (a free one of course), mailed it to me, and then we were able to talk for free for all the minutes we wanted. I realize this is not a normal course of events, so if you’re going to try out an LDR I strongly suggest upping your cell phone minutes for at least the first 6 months. Where most new daters would go out for dinner, people trying to establish a good foundation for an LDR talk to each other. Yes, I realize that this is the digital age and there are other ways to communicate (skype, Face Time, Google Talk, you name it) but I will comment on this later, and why I think that these are more useful tools down the road.

2. Set expectations early

I do NOT mean expectations about where you want the relationship to go. Like most relationships, LDR or otherwise, these conversations right off the bat can be scary for both parties involved. What I mean is set your communication expectations early. We talked about how often we wanted to actually speak to one another (which was everyday for us, but may not be for you) and we discussed what qualified as speaking to each other. We said that we wanted to hear each others voices at least once a day even if that was to say, “I’m too tired to talk to you right now, I’m going to sleep, and I’ll call you tomorrow.” That has worked for us. Admittedly, some people are not phone people. If this is the case, find a compromise that works for you on how often you want to actually call each other, text each other, or just generally keep in touch.
3. Be at a similar place in life

I don’t care how attracted you are to the person, if one of you is working and one of you is going to school, or if one of you is still in party mode and the other is in “I would like to have friends over for wine and cheese” mode, problems are likely to arise. As I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend and I are both in school. I’m in law school, he’s a PhD student. Our busy schedules help out on the days when we can’t speak to each other much. What’s great about both being students is that one of us is not tied up until 6:30 pm and expecting to come home to a phone conversation with the other. Being a student is a 24 hour endeavor. We have work to do all the time, and because both of us are in this position it makes us better able to understand why we can’t talk to each other at a certain time or for very long.

4. Visitation

I purposely said “visitation” as if it were a prison. Why? Because it takes a lot of time and energy to see each other in person on a consistent basis. So much so that when the time comes to visit your partner you may find yourself annoyed, frustrated, or even upset that circumstances in your life have changed and leaving where you are at is not the best idea. But, I promise you, it is a good idea. It is a good idea not only for the other person but you as well. What is the point of being in an LDR if dread taking time out to see the person you’re with? Seeing them will rejuvenate you and keep you striving towards completion of whatever is going on at home. Keep in mind, though, that LDRs require different face-to-face interaction than non-LDRs. In a non-LDR, face time is common. That means you can spend a bunch of time being next to each other while doing other things. He has work to do at home, she has an event to plan, he has to clean the house, she has to scrapbook, whatever the case might be. In an LDR, face time is fairly uncommon. You spend more time apart than you do together, which makes the time together all the more important. My boyfriend and I do our best to complete everything we possibly can before seeing each other so that our time together is just that, time together. (But see #3 above, we are both students and sometimes this doesn’t work). We have been pretty successful at this and it shows both of us that we respect each others’ time and effort that we put into seeing each other.

Tip: Though it seems obvious, use the cheapest transportation possible within reason. We use the Bolt Bus to see each other since we live on the east coast. It’s much cheaper than the train and doesn’t take much more time, if any, to get there; and it’s also better than renting a car and driving. It also allows us to see each other more often because we’re saving money each time we take a trip, and we get a free one-way trip after the purchase of 8 one-way tickets. I strongly encourage looking for ways other than airlines to see each other if you live close enough.

5. When visitation isn’t possible

We have now reached the portion where I talk about other methods of communication.  That’s right! You have to communicate more.  Sometimes visiting just isn’t possible.  One way to get through this is by using Facetime, Skype, video chat through Google, or any other program that allows you to see the other person’s face.  But, we all know this already.  It makes perfect sense.  When you miss someone, you want to see them, but when you can’t it’s best to use a proxy.  Okay, fine.  What I really wanted to stress with this point is why I think this is better later in the relationship.  I didn’t have the luxury of a camera on my computer when I started dating (I use that word lightly, as LDRs don’t lend themselves well to the typical “courting” that dating provides – See #6 below) my boyfriend.  I had a Dell Inspiron (remember those?) that I had since I was a freshman in college and those bad boys didn’t come with cameras! It forced us to talk and not get wrapped up in the appearance of the other person.  It forced us to become attracted to the other person’s brain, goals, ambitions, and history.  This does not mean that we weren’t physically attracted to each other , it just means that by the time we got to see each other again, we had already set a strong foundation for the things we loved about the other person and none of those things were related to physicality. While Facetime, Skype, and others are great tools, they can also distract and detract from establishing the basics.

6. Be open

Last but not least you have to be open to making it work.  Yes, this is obvious.  But do not force yourself into something when you are not willing to put in the work. LDRs are A LOT of work, and they are a different type of work than a non-LDR relationship.  People often start out without being in an LDR, someone gets a job offer and moves away, and the relationship ends.  In some circumstances, someone makes a sacrifice and the two end up back together. But we all know these are special cases.  That said, most of us cannot maintain an LDR forever.  This means both people must remain optimistic about the future and be open to where the two of you may end up in the name of being together.  It may not be where you want to be at first, but the love for each other should override the negatives.

Now that you’ve heard what I have to say, share your thoughts and skepticism below.  I’d love to hear your take on why LDRs do and don’t work.

-TP4

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Love, Relationships

 

Sports in Real Life: Sleeping with the Enemy: A Manual to Surviving Dating a Fan of Another Team (with help from MichaelYoungHistory)

Recently, the Thread tackled the important intersection of religion and relationships via ThreadRadio, which got me thinking about other issues in dating someone who doesn’t adhere to your beliefs/loves/interests. And then, walking into my bathroom, I saw this:

The Worst Part of Waking Up- the Anti-Folgers

The Worst Part of Waking Up- the Anti-Folgers

Yet another reminder of the sports inadequacies of my boyfriend. Sharing only one of my teams, there are few sports conversations we share that don’t involve hating each other’s teams, bringing up painful memories (our combined teams have quite a few of them) and laughing every time an athlete from the other’s team tweets something ignorant.

I figured there may be other couples out there that can relate to this, so I thought I would share some of the strategies that have kept my boyfriend and I sane. Then, I realized that our situation is not only more complicated than most, but also a bit more ridiculous, so I thought a laugh at our expense wouldn’t hurt, either. I enlisted the help of my significant other, more often referenced around these parts as MichaelYoungHistory. Please reference his posts for all Rockets/Yankees/Bills/Giants/Duke slander.

1. Always “favorite” or screen grab their predictions for their team. Guaranteed fails every time.

I think this one pretty much explains itself. I know we all have high hopes for our teams every year (unless you’re a Browns or Bobcats fan right now) making the championship. We hoist the trophy in our heads at the start of the season, but putting it in print is pure ammo to your significant other. It’ll bring you closer!

2. Be supportive. Even when you have jokes and slander for days.

MYH: “I gotta be nice because my losses are coming.”

Not as much fun as #1, but trust, this one’s important. It’s all fun and games until the next game or week where your team gets clobbered and you have to taste all the hatred you were spewing before. When MichaelYoungHistory’s Ginas Giants won the Super Bowl, I was all about the high-five and big hug, because I knew if my team couldn’t win, I’d rather the Patriots lose his team win. When the Mavs lost on that clutch KD shot at the end of the game Saturday (still hurts), my boo didn’t laugh at my pain (externally). He understood losing close games because he’s been there before with his teams. MYH: “You have deal with the fact that the person that you love is down about it.” These are all lessons in love taught through sports. Slander with love.

3. Keep things interesting. Make a friendly wager when your teams play each other.

MYH:”The bets are crucial. As if we needed more on the line.”

Watching the NFL schedule released this month, the only cool part of sitting next to a Bills/Giants fan (besides the obvious Eli Face and Bills “always the bridesmaid” jokes) is figuring out if there are any games where our teams play each other, which of course, could either trigger the end of our relationship, or bring us closer. Depending on how well the winner handles the victory and stays out of the loser’s way. One of the ways to attempt to “lighten the mood” is to make a small wager- a home-cooked meal, a foot massage, a day of awful rom-coms or something equally painful,etc.- that both parties agree to if their team loses.

I unfortunately found myself in the loser’s corner this past NFL season, as the Giants beat America’s Team and broke my heart (and pride) not once, but TWICE. Both times, I had to prepare myself for the trash talking, seeing him wear that awful NYG t-shirt he claims is lucky and wishing nothing but pick 6’s on Eli Manning. We bet a favorite home-cooked meal prepared by the loser, which only made me more anxious each game. First loss, I played it cool. Handshake, head nod, whole nine. We also watched that game together (not always a good choice).

The second matchup, I decided it would be prudent for us to watch the game in different locations. Taking that “L” was the worst, but I will say this: having someone who cares about you enough to drive to you, not to rub their win in your face, but to listen to your monologue on everything that’s wrong with Jerry Jones, is love personified. I will never forget that. Ever.

4. Embrace the fact that you have a shared interest: an unhealthy obsession with sports (and the fact you hate some of the same teams).

MYH: “You care, and I care. And neither one of us are going to stop caring.”

We all have limits and deal breakers in relationships. In the sports department, there are some fans that I refuse to date, mainly because I know that I couldn’t possibly marry someone and have my kids root for those teams or go to their school. MYH: “I never thought I could date someone who was a serious Cowboys fan.” Fortunately, MichaelYoungHistory isn’t an Aggie, Sooner, Heat, Patriots, Redskins or Eagles fan. But he’s pretty much the next worse thing. I struggle every day with the Yankees and Giants fandom, but I know at the end of the day, we’re both Longhorns and can at least root for them together. We can also hate the Lakers together and it’s all good. 

Being a sports fan connects you to all of the other passionate people around the world that care about players they may never meet and teams that shouldn’t matter as much as they do. We know we’re a little crazy, and being with someone who “gets” that makes life a whole lot easier. When it came time for the important “toothbrush at my place” moment, yeah, he tainted it a little with that disgusting Yankees toothbrush. On the flip side, when he gave me a key to his apartment, an already big step was made bigger by the fact that he had the key made with the Texas Rangers logo and colors. It’s a pretty cool exchange, and I’m sure there will be moments where we struggle to find a balance between being a good partner and a passionate sports fan, but I look forward to the challenge. Especially when he says stuff like this, smack dab in the middle of a serious conversation about committment:

 MYH: “Oh, by the way, babe, we can’t get married during football season. We’d miss a whole weekend of good sports. You think we’re really more important to our friends than college and NFL football? I don’t wanna be that presumptuous…”

One thing we can both agree on.

 
 

Gravity Night on Thread Radio: Think Like a Man

Hey thREADERS,

Here is our “Think Like a Man” episode. If you listened live, you will find the show (including the After Show) in its entirety. Once again, thank you all for your continued support. Join us for another show like only The Thread can do next Monday at 10PM Central. I hear 3 new Threaders will take the plunge into this “radio thing.” Much love! -23

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Thirteen Thursday Thoughts

“Beware the Ides of March…”

SXSW (South by Southwest) has taken the city of Austin by storm. Jay-Z (1) kicked off the musical festivities with a live-streamed set featuring an audience of American Express cardholders. Not exactly his target audience. After watching the performance again, I couldn’t help but notice just how bad the audience really was. It just lacked…something…everything. I’ve been to two Jay-Z concerts, and the energy is usually unreal. This crowd just seemed to be a bunch of wayfaring strangers who haven’t familiarized themselves with Mr. S. Carter. Something was just…off…with the whole thing. Yahoo! even alleges that the Jigga man forgot some of the lyrics to his own songs. You be the judge.

That same night, Oprah (2) brought Bobbi Kristina (3) out of hiding mourning and Magic Johnson (4) narrated his own documentary on ESPN (“The Announcement”). Yeah, I was inundated with stimuli demanding my attention. Fortunately, I managed to provide and divide my undivided attention to multiple places. Could anyone other than Oprah have done this much anticipated interview with the daughter of the late Whitney Houston? I doubt it. Oprah is one powerful woman. She had me flipping all through my guide to find where the hell OWN was. Once I found it, I sat back intently to see what has become of Bobbi Kristina since we last saw her at her mother’s funeral. I can’t imagine how hard it is to lose a parent and have to open your soul to the curious world. She held up well, though. One thing Oprah didn’t mention is this supposed name change. Apparently, Bobbi Kristina wants to be Kristina Houston. She doesn’t want her father’s name any more it seems. Oh. I guess she’ll settle for her father’s gap.

After watching the Oprah special, I watched ESPN’s “The Announcement”, which detailed Magic Johnson’s battle with HIV/AIDS. I thought it was really well done. Having Magic narrate it himself was kind of awkward, but it worked. The documentary did a great job of capturing the sadness, fear, ignorance, love, and hope that Magic encountered. Karl Malone didn’t do himself any favors. The only problem I had with the documentary is the fact that it largely ignored just how expensive it is to fight/treat HIV/AIDS. I have the utmost respect for Magic Johnson, and I’m happy that he has essentially been a medical miracle. However, it’s God’s grace and Magic’s magic money that has kept him alive in my opinion. That’s not a knock on him at all. He has certainly been fighting a good fight. I just worry for the overwhelming majority of AIDS patients who can’t afford that kind of treatment.

This week also gave me a chance to immerse myself in Bracketology (5). I have 3 brackets this year, and to be honest, I don’t like any of them. Kentucky is my de facto champion in two of them because I just don’t trust any of the other teams. I can poke holes in almost every team. I have already prepared myself for the almost inevitable destruction of all of my brackets. I suppose that’s the twisted beauty that is March Madness, though. Check out our Bracketology podcast here.

I need Dwight Howard (6) to get it together and make up his mind. He’s staying, he’s going; he’s going, he’s staying. He has played his hand all wrong. That is all.

I went to the movies again this week, which is becoming a bad weekly habit of mine. I finally got to see “Safe House” and hypothetically might have snuck into “Good Deeds” (7). “Safe House” was solid. Denzel was his usual good-acting self. The movie was entertaining, but didn’t blow me away. C+/B-. “Good Deeds”, though… *sigh* Tyler effing Perry. I have alluded to the fact that I’m not a big Tyler Perry fan, but I’m not here to bash him. He has found a niche. He stars in this one (as a man), which only means one thing: He’s the quintessential black male. See: “Why Did I Get Married?”, “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, “Madea’s Family Reunion”, etc. As a writer, his characters are just so damn simple. Within the first five minutes of the movie, you already know what you’re in for. There is no moral ambiguity in any of the characters. You know who’s good; you know who’s bad; you see who his love interest is; you see who his love interest will be; and you see the Good Samaritan plot within the first 10 minutes. It was just…blah. D.

In other black male news, The New York Times (8) featured an interesting debate this week. Here’s an excerpt:

The news for young black men is not good: they are disproportionately singled out for discipline in school, they are more likely to be stopped and frisked by New York City police officers, and according to Michelle Alexander in her book, “The New Jim Crow,” nearly one-third of black men are likely to spend time in prison at some point in their lives.

Would pulling back on draconian drug laws or legalizing marijuana be enough to fix this imbalance? What else needs to be done?

First thought: What else is new? Second thought: Hmm…

Hopefully, most of you have heard about this disturbing Trayvon Martin (9) story brewing in Florida. If you haven’t, here’s the situation and reasons behind the uproar. Like I have said in prior posts, I used to live in Orlando (very close to Sanford) so this hits close to home. It is truly a tragic situation that seems to keep happening all too often in this “post-racial” America. Now, I don’t have all the facts nor am I calling for some kind of race riot. What I do hope for is a thorough investigation because this whole thing smells of something foul. There is certainly a problem in Sanford and racial tensions are high. That’s never a good thing.

Don't look in his eyes.

I usually dedicate at least one of my Thursday Thoughts to something I read on Twitter. This week is no different. Touré (10), the novelist, journalist, and TV personality, tweeted, “Prince is the most important gospel artist ever… Look at the totality of Prince’s career: he talks about God & Christ far more often & passionately than he does about sex.” Not Mahalia Jackson? Not James Cleveland? Not Tramaine Hawkins? Oh. I’m a HUGE Prince (11) fan, but I wouldn’t call him a gospel singer. I’ll give Touré credit because Prince does have a host of spiritually infused songs. Look no further than tracks like “I Would Die 4 U”, “7”, or maybe even “Let’s Go Crazy” to name a few. Touré makes a compelling argument for Prince as a gospel singer by saying that he draws people in with sexual themes and such only to cryptically lace many of his songs with Christ/God as the subject. Evidently, even “Darling Nikki” has a reference to God at the end. He has a point. I still can’t call Prince a gospel singer, though. The fact that so many are unaware of the many Christian allusions Prince makes in his music leads me to believe the vast majority of his listeners didn’t hear the gospel. This is compelling nonetheless, though. *turns on “Purple Rain“*

I caved and purchased “The Hunger Games” (12) trilogy. The movie looks like an updated, futuristic “Gladiator”, but it seems very fascinating. I don’t like being out of the loop, and I missed the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” trains. I’m getting on this one.

Finally, “Love Jones” (13) turned 15 yesterday. Does that make anyone else feel really old? I remember when…nevermind. There’s no need of me inadequately using words to express what this movie means to me, so I won’t. You can always revisit my post with PrimeMeridian, though. Much love, “Love Jones“.

-23

 

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First Thread Wedding: The Process

I have been meaning to write this blog for some time now, but being a newlywed and jumping back into school has been hectic. This is mainly because I chose to still compete in moot court this year. Yeah…wouldn’t recommend doing that right after a wedding. I debated about how to approach this. Should I write about what I have learned in my first month of marriage or discuss the planning process? I decided to go with the planning process because that’s what most people said they wanted to hear about.

I would first like to thank my #ThreadFam for coming to the wedding in such depthness (made it up, rock with it). I was so happy to see all of you and ya’ll definitely helped to keep the party going!! LOVE.

Alright, so here is the backstory. My husband and I spent about 2 months confirming the date because we really wanted to do it at a good time. We soon found that there was no good time, so we went with our hearts. We also wanted to do the entire wedding with no debt, even though we are both law students and knew we would be shouldering most of the financial burden. Around the time we were really ramping up the planning (i.e. starting to pay for stuff), my boss told me that he didn’t need a law clerk anymore. So, yeah. That’s where the hard part came in because we also didn’t want to miss out on people because of the cost. Although, our original guest list was 500, so we had to do some cutting anyway. Also, we had to choose cheaper food, so that we could invite who we wanted. Hence, serving BBQ at a January wedding (took me at least 4 months to say yes to this).  Meager funds + Large Guest List + Family and Friends Support + God=Miracle!

So here are the TOP 10 THINGS I LEARNED:

10. I know that a lot of people do pre-marital counseling, but we actually chose pre-engagement instead. It’s the exact same material as pre-marital, but it helped us to know if we should even be continuing a relationship at all. Our counselors told us that they had decided to have this because they found that people would do pre-marital after they were already engaged, had paid for stuff and their family was involved. People might find huge red flags, but continue anyway. Then, they would be seeking counseling through a divorce a few years later. Pre-engagement gives you the opportunity to just break up. We also joined a marriage group at our church after we were engaged, which helped tremendously!! There were couples ranging from 1 month of marriage to 20+ years in that group. We learned and grew so much and we still go every other Friday. This is probably already obvious, but we took marriage very very seriously and although people say “you’re never really ready”, we wanted to be as ready as possible.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Love, Relationships

 

Confessions of a Cold-Hearted Convert: Cupid’s Chokehold

February 14. The 45th day of the year. One of the most divisive and polarizing days on the calendar. It’s Valentine’s Day. Single Awareness Day. For the veteran thREADERS, you are familiar with my sentiments pertaining to this capitalistic Hallmark holiday. If you’re not or don’t remember, acquaint or reacquaint yourself.

Cliffs’ Notes
5 reasons Valentine’s Day sucks:
1. It is a convoluted and sexist holiday built on the back of capitalism
2. Too much pressure (generally on the man)
3. Too much emphasis placed on one day
4. It’s a polarizing day
5. “The by-product of Reason 1 is glorified prostitution.”

There you have it, folks. My bold, brazen, and brash views on Valentine’s Day……………..in 2011. It’s 2012 now, and the world may very well be coming to an end because I honestly don’t feel that way anymore. I looked back at that post a few weeks ago and cringed. Reading between the lines of the very thing I wrote revealed a bitter person in 2011. I’d like to think I’ve grown up a bit since then.

Now, to my single people, don’t think I’ve just gone off and abandoned you. No, I still think Valentine’s Day is extremely superficial, polarizing, and we all might be better off without it. I’m simply saying that I’ve been rehabilitated. My utter disdain and loathing of February 14 just isn’t there anymore. I went out of my way to proclaim how much I hated it. I offended people…on purpose. I came up with theories worthy of a dissertation specifically outlining why Valentine’s Day was God-awful. Hell, I wore straight black on V-Day last year (black suit, black shirt, black tie, black shoes, black watch)…to prove an eventual moot point.

At the end of the day, all the reactive convictions I had toward V-Day did nothing but make me feel worse and expose me. Now I didn’t go into Hallmark this year and try to make up for lost time by buying up any and everything red, white, or pink. I didn’t go to every neighborhood florist and buy up their supply of efflorescence. I didn’t go to the grocery store and tithe to Russel Stover. I’m still in remission over here. I’ll just say that I’ve come a very long way in a year.

-23

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Love, Relationships

 
 
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