Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck graduated from Wisconsi’s Cardinal Stritch University last week with a doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service.
Courtesy of Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck
Courtesy of Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck
Marijuana Pepsi’s mother told her that her birth name would take her places.
She wasn’t wrong.
After a life spent being mocked for having an unusual name, the 46-year-old seized on her experience to earn a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. Her dissertation focused on unusual names, naturally.
As of last week, Marijuana Pepsi is now Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck.
For her dissertation, titled Black Names in White Classrooms: Teacher Behaviors and Student Perceptions, Vandyck interviewed students and concluded that participants “with distinctly black names” were subject to disrespect, stereotypes and low academic and behavioral expectations. This resulted in strained relationships, changes in future career choices, and self-esteem issues, spelling fewer educational and economic opportunities for students of color.
In school, Vandyck says her name elicited the strongest reactions from white teachers.
“A lot of other people were thinking [my mom] was smoking marijuana and drinking Pepsi,” she tells NPR. “In the black community we’re used to having names that are more cultural.”
She’s asked her mom, who also gave birth to daughters Robin and Kimberly, many times about how she got her name. “She just shared that she felt a kinship with me and she felt like this name would take me around the world,” Vandyck says.
Until about about 9 years old, she says, “Marijuana was just a beautiful name. I received accolades.” But when she moved to a new city, she was made “very aware” that her name was different.
Vandyck thinks her white teachers simply found her name unusual. Even though she preferred her full name, some teachers would call her “Mary.”
“I think they wanted to make me feel more comfortable,” she says. “They could see what the other children were doing and they were trying to smooth the way and make things easier for me.”
But she says one of her research participants at Milwaukee’s Cardinal Stritch University had another theory: “White people like things standardized and that includes names.”
The inspiration for her research came during her early years of teaching, after witnessing a particularly strong reaction to what another educator perceived as non-white names.
“I had a teacher at a new student orientation who threw her class list on the floor and started talking about how her test scores were going to be in the toilet,” Vandyck recalls.
Looking at her own list, Vandyck was confused as to how she would draw that conclusion. “All it had were the students’ first names a last names and their gender. I thought I was missing paperwork,” she says.
“But the other teachers told me that it was the names that she was concerned about.”
Still, Vandyck doesn’t take the snide remarks personally.
“I don’t believe that anything that anyone has said to me is really intentional and that they’re deliberately trying to hurt me,” she says. “We all hear things that make us look twice.”
Instead, Vandyck has advice for the educators who encounter names they’re not used to: acceptance.
“If you’re curious about it, feel free to ask,” she says. “Perhaps not in front of the other 25 students. Don’t ask who named them in a condescending manner.”
Vandyck says her name is a source of pride — not just an obstacle to overcome.
“But it’s what you do after you recognize that you have this feeling about it. And it’s what you act on from that point on. That’s the most important part.”
She wouldn’t think to change her name.
“We can’t always go through life-changing things to make other people happy … and I had to learn that early on.”
NPR’s Gustavo Contreras and Alexander Asifo produced this story for broadcast. Emma Bowman adapted it for Web.
Customers line up to enter the Bergdorf Goodman store in New York city in this Sept, 10, 2010, file photo. Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at the Manhattan department store.
The advice columnist who says President Trump sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room says she is “very glad” she published her accusation, even as the president denied her story on Saturday and claimed he had “no idea who she is.”
E. Jean Carroll spoke to NPR‘s Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Weekend Edition. She reiterated that Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s.
“It hurt. And it was against my will,” she said.
Trump on Saturday doubled down on his denial, and claimed that women have been paid to accuse him of wrongdoing.
“Women were actually paid money to say bad things about me,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “But here’s a case, it’s an absolute disgrace that she’s allowed to do that.”
Carroll first detailed the incident in a book excerpt published on Friday in New York magazine.
Carroll said the incident happened when the two met by chance at the upscale department store Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. She says he told her, “Hey, you’re that advice lady,” and she replied, “Hey, you’re that real estate mogul,” and then he asked for her help in choosing a present for “a girl.”
At first, Carroll told NPR, “I thought it was just charming, you know, he wants my advice on buying a present.”
Carroll said the encounter took a turn when she asked how old the girl was, and Trump asked Carroll how old she was.
“And of course I told him my actual age, which is 52. And he said ‘Oh, you’re so old,'” she recalled to NPR.
Then, Carroll claims, Trump asked her to try on a see-through bodysuit in the lingerie department. She said she joked that he should try it on instead.
“And that’s where I got into trouble because we went into the dressing room and he closed the door and that was it,” she said.
She said “it was a very short incident” and that “to me it’s just disrespectful to say, to use the word rape, although it hurt and it was against my will.”
Carroll related that she called a friend after the incident, but did not tell the police.
“I had adrenaline pouring through my body,” she said. “The idea that anyone, including me, could make a decision at that point about going to the police … that was almost a second assault on my brain.”
When Carroll published the excerpt from her book in New York magazine, the president responded, writing “I’ve never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”
New York undercut the president’s claim about never meeting Carroll with a photograph depicting him talking to her at a party in New York.
Reporters asked Trump about the picture Saturday. He replied, “standing with my coat on in a line, give me a break.”
Trump compared himself to Brett Kavanaugh, who withstood assault allegations during his confirmation hearings to become a Supreme Court Justice.
“When you look at what happened to Justice Kavanaugh and you look at what’s happening to others, you can’t do that for the sake of publicity,” Trump said Saturday.
More than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual wrongdoing before he took office. Carroll said she did not come forward with her story before the 2016 elections because “there were so many women coming forward … I didn’t think it was my duty.”
Carroll’s book, due out in July, details attacks by people on what she calls the “Most Hideous Men of My Life List.” The list includes the former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves. He was ousted last year amid similar allegations. Moonves denied Carroll’s claims to New York.
Carroll told NPR she decided to publish these accusations in a book because she is a writer.
“My natural mode is to take pen to paper and write about whatever it is I want to write about, and my natural mode is to put it in a book,” she said.
She said she changed her mind about coming forward because over the last two years, many readers sent in letters about their own experience with sexual assault.
“I just felt like I was not being a real, you know, I was holding something back,” she said. “And I just decided because I love my readers, I thought well, OK, I’m going to tell them, this is what happened to me.”
President Donald Trump waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday. Trump called off planned nationwide immigration raids Saturday for two weeks, calling on Democrats to close asylum law “loopholes.”
President Trump is delaying immigration raids that were set to begin this weekend, saying he will give Congress two weeks to make changes to asylum law before dispatching Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents around the country to deport undocumented immigrants.
Immigration rights advocates had been preparing for the planned sweep of recently arrived migrants, which according to sources familiar with the planned raids, were set to begin as soon as Sunday in 10 cities around the country.
A source familiar with the president’s decision told NPR that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Trump on Friday night and urged him to back off the raids. Pelosi had been sharply critical of the planned raids. She called them heartless, and said the president needed “to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”
On Saturday, the president announced on Twitter that ICE would hold off on the roundup for two weeks “at the request of Democrats,” writing that if lawmakers in Washington cannot approve changes to asylum law in that time, he will again direct ICE agents to resume the raids.
Sources close to the White House say Democrats are unlikely to accept Trump’s pitch that asylum rules should be tightened.
At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
Both parties are working to pass a border aid package to help deal with the influx of migrants arriving illegally at the border, and a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill noted that the raids could have endangered the deal had they not been put on pause.
The $4.5 billion border and humanitarian supplemental assistance package has been moving along with bipartisan support. Much of the money supports humanitarian assistance and immigration enforcement.
But by asking Congress to address asylum and “loophole problems,” Trump is upping the ante. There is no funding for changes to asylum laws, so Trump’s request faces significant hurdles.
Pelosi on Saturday welcomed the president’s announcement delaying the planned raids. She called for a comprehensive immigration package that includes a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million people who are in the country illegally.
Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together. https://t.co/R9PDrfaKWj
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 22, 2019
ICE sent letters in February to more than 2,000 migrants whose cases the Justice Department fast-tracked as a way of sending a deterrent message to families considering crossing the U.S. border illegally.
In an interview with NPR, Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said many of those immigrant families are ignoring requests to turn themselves in.
“So what are our options?” Morgan said. “They’ve had due process, they’ve had access to attorneys, they’ve had access to interpreters. Majority of them don’t even show up. And then when they didn’t show up, they received ordered removal in absentia,” he said. “We have no choice.”
Immigration activists have condemned the raids and implored the Trump administration to call them off.
NPR’s Tim Mak contributed to this report.
Gur Kimchi, vice president of Prime Air, talks about Amazon’s drone delivery service this month. Federal officials recently approved a patent for the company to explore allowing its drones to provide customers “home surveillance.”
Going on vacation and want some extra security around your home? Someday in the future, you may be able to call Amazon’s surveillance drones.
The Seattle tech giant is moving closer to making that scenario a real possibility after winning approval from federal officials this month for a patent for “home surveillance” drones.
Company officials stress that the plan is still in its infancy, but the patent papers describe a future in which Amazon customers order drones to hover around a home and scan for things like a garage door left open, a broken window, graffiti or a fire.
As Amazon envisions, a customer can have a package delivered by drone and then instruct the unmanned aerial vehicle to conduct a “surveillance action,” the authors of the patent wrote.
When the drone detects something awry, a text message or telephone call can be sent to the homeowner or to local authorities.
“An alert may be provided to multiple recipients, such as a service provider (such as a security provider), an operator, a user, or a municipal entity such [as] a police or fire department,” the patent materials say.
Amazon has been testing drone delivery technology for years, and the company now says that swarms of the retail giant’s “Prime Air” delivery drones will be taking off from fulfillment centers and able to fly up to 15 miles carrying packages under five pounds “in a matter of months.”
In April, the Federal Aviation Administration approved plans by Google’s parent company to start delivering packages by drone. UPS and DHL Express are also experimenting with drone-delivery technology.
To address some of the privacy concerns that arise from the proposed service, Amazon says it will use geofencing, or placing a digital perimeter around a specific location, to ensure that the homes of people who do not want their properties videotaped will not be recorded. As Amazon puts it: “the surveillance data is modified in order to exclude, blur, obscure, excise, mask, or hide data referring to the excluded location.”
Amazon spokesman John Tagle said in a statement that patents take years to reflect a “current product roadmap.”
The company, he said, takes consumer privacy seriously.
“Some reports have suggested that this technology would spy or gather data on homes without authorization,” Tagle said. “To be clear, that’s not what the patent says. The patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home.”
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Saturday before boarding Marine One for the trip to Camp David in Maryland.
President Trump says he is imposing new sanctions on Iran.
“We’re moving forward with additional sanctions on Iran,” the president said, speaking to reporters Saturday outside the White House. “Some of them are in place. As you know, we have about as strong a sanction grouping as you could possibly have on any country, but we’re putting additional sanctions on.”
He did not offer specifics on those sanctions, but suggested sanctions could be lifted in the future.
“We’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said. “And when they agree to that, they are going to have a wealthy country, they’re going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend.”
Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from a deal brokered by President Obama that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Since then, Trump has attempted to use an economic tactic called “maximum pressure,” in other words, reimposing sanctions. On Thursday, Iran hit a U.S. surveillance drone, days after the U.S. accused Iran of hitting two foreign-owned oil tankers traveling in the Strait of Hormuz.
In his comments, the president also defended his decision Thursday to cancel a strike on Iran after he says he learned the strike would kill 150 people. The strike was intended to retaliate for Iran shooting down the American drone, The New York Times first reported.
“I didn’t like the idea of them knowingly shooting down an unmanned drone and then we kill 150 people,” Trump elaborated Saturday.
“I don’t want to kill 150 Iranians,” he continued.
Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Iran is suffering under soaring inflation, high unemployment, and the departure of educated citizens and capital.
“The Iranian economy is really deteriorating as a result of these sanctions and I don’t see how they’re going to be able to reverse it absent some type of an eventual accommodation or negotiation with the United States,” Sadjadpour told NPR’s Scott Simon on Weekend Edition.
Sadjadpour estimated that, “We will continue to see this escalatory cycle. It may be that Iran tries to wait out the Trump presidency, hoping that by November of 2020 a more moderate Democrat will be elected.”
Congressional leaders have pushed for more input into U.S. strategy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that leading lawmakers had met with the president after they learned about his decision to initiate, then cancel, a strike on Iran.
“Democratic Leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We have no illusions about the dangerous conduct of the Iranian regime. This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic approach.”
We are in an extremely dangerous & sensitive situation with Iran. We must calibrate a response that de-escalates & advances American interests—and be clear what those interests are.
Hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress. https://t.co/8cRcWA8SLH
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 21, 2019
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote that he appreciated the president’s “desire to be measured and thoughtful when it comes to Iranian provocations.” He said he hoped that if Iran follows through on its threat to restart nuclear enrichment, the U.S. “will make this a Red Line.”
I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump‘s desire to be measured and thoughtful when it comes to Iranian provocations.
What will the world’s response be if Iran follows through on their threat to restart nuclear enrichment?
I hope the United States will make this a Red Line.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 21, 2019
Trump told reporters Saturday that American oil and gas production is so large that the U.S. no longer depends on the Strait of Hormuz for oil transport. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. will keep the shipping routes open in the Gulf of Oman, and Trump said that is mainly to the benefit of China, Japan, Indonesia, and other countries.
“We’re doing them a very big service by keeping the Straits open, but this is not about the Straits, this is about, Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said.
Reporters asked the president whether he had confidence in his National Security Advisor, John Bolton. “Yeah, I do.” Trump said. “Because I have John Bolton, who I would definitely say is a hawk, and I have other people that are on the other side of the equation, and ultimately I make the decisions, so it doesn’t matter.”
The question came after Fox host Tucker Carlson accused Bolton of “demented” logic in advocating invading Iraq.
“John Bolton is a kind of bureaucratic tapeworm. Try as you might, you can’t expel him,” Carlson said. “His life really is Washington in a nutshell, blunder into obvious catastrophes again and again, refuse to admit blame, and then demand more of the same.”
Trump, however, said, “John Bolton is doing a good job.”
Trump also expanded on plans of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest and deport thousands of migrant families across the country.
He called ICE “a group of very, very good law enforcement people going by the law, going by the rules, going by our court system, and taking people out of our country who came into our country illegally.”
The president praised Mexico for its role in stemming illegal immigration.
“I want to thank Mexico. So far, Mexico has been really good. They made an agreement, probably, not probably, because of tariffs, but they made an agreement and so far, they’ve really honored the agreement,” he said.
Earlier in June, Trump had threatened to impose tariffs unless Mexico agreed to tighten its border and reduce the flow of migrants crossing illegally into the U.S. NPR’s Carrie Kahn reported that the mission will be difficult.
“Mexico has very limited resources,” Kahn said. “And this new government has cut its budgets for the immigration and refugee programs under the president’s new austerity program. So it’s going to be tough to take even more asylum seekers.”
In response, Mexico agreed to deploy its National Guard and to keep more Central American migrants.
On another topic, the president on Saturday again rebuffed a claim by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid ’90s.
“It’s a totally false accusation,” Trump said. “I have absolutely no idea who she is.”
The late rapper Tupac Shakur in 1994 photo. Shakur’s estate is among the parties suing Universal Music over a 2008 fire in the label’s vaults.
Steve Eichner/Getty Images
Steve Eichner/Getty Images
Several prominent bands, musicians and artist estates sued the world’s largest record company, Universal Music Group [UMG], on Friday after an investigation published by the New York Times earlier this month alleged that hundreds of thousands of master recordings, protection copies, unreleased music and other materials had burned in a massive fire at a UMG vault in 2008.
The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $100 million, was filed by the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur, the bands Hole and Soundgarden, and singer-songwriter Steve Earle; it is seeking class action status, so that any other “similarly situated,” UMG-affiliated musicians and estates may enter the suit as well. According to the Times report, the blaze allegedly destroyed the work of scores of top musicians over many decades, ranging from Louis Armstrong to The Roots.
The plaintiffs contend that UMG breached its contract with artists by failing to archive the materials properly, instead allegedly stowing masters and other materials “in an inadequate, substandard storage warehouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios [Hollywood] that was a known firetrap.” Moreover, they say that after the fire, “UMG concealed the loss with false public statements such as that ‘we only lost a small number of tapes and other material by obscure artists from the 1940s and 50s.’ “
The suit also claims that even as UMG allegedly hid devastating losses from their artists and the public, the company “successfully pursued litigation and insurance claims which it reportedly valued at $150 million,” and that the musicians are entitled to share in those claims.
The suit was filed in U.S. Central District Court in Los Angeles and is the first legal action taken since the Times published its investigation. The plaintiffs are being represented by three firms: King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano; McPherson LLP; and Susman Godfrey LLP.
Universal Music Group declined to comment to NPR on the class action lawsuit. In a previous statement on June 11, UMG said that the Times investigation contained “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings.” Arnaud de Puyfontaine, the chairman of UMG’s parent company, Vivendi, told Variety on Thursday that the Times investigation was “just noise.”
Courtney Love Cobain — the former frontwoman of Hole (and the widow of Kurt Cobain, whose band Nirvana was another UMG group) — tweeted an anguished response to the Times investigation, writing: “Read [Times journalist] Jody Rosen’s devastating, frightening exposé on the UMG fire disaster. Our history has been ripped apart, what a terrible, sad tale this is.”