Nefertari Williams: Trolls Have Tells

Troll from Norwegian Mythology drawn by Dal-E
Troll by A.I.

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2024

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Trolls Have Tells

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It’s election season again and the buzz seems to be that foreign interference is on the rise. 
 
I see it daily in social media. A post may start out as an innocent comment and then boom, someone jumps in to make a racist comment and that changes the direction of the chain. 
 
I have even found myself feeling my blood boil just a little bit – wait (me talking to myself) look again. Trolls! Some just spend their days trying to tear this country apart- but if you pay close attention sometimes you can tell who they are. 
 
I was reading a post  about a new women’s basketball team player who grew a lot of attention when she was on her college team. She happens to be white and her stats weren’t amazing for her first professional game.
 
It happens! I then noticed the vitriol and cruelty in the comments. They were coming from about three different profiles but one thing stood out. The misspelling of the same words, the same grammatical errors and the way they referenced the team. We as Americans talk about sporting teams a certain way and all three accounts kept making this error. This informed that this was:
 
1. All the same person
2. Deliberately trying to stir up a racist debate. 
3. Deliberately poking at our racial vulnerabilities 
 
I called them out but they ignored my accusation and kept digging in with their racist rants. At one point – they were only chatting with themselves just to keep the feed going and “bumped” to the top of the thread. 
 
WHAT CAN WE DO? 
 
I believe as a country our first instinct should be to stay away from  comments that don’t feel good. You gain nothing by feeding into the lies and deception. 
 
While the Troll was probably sitting back laughing as hundreds of Americans made harsh, harmful comments to each other due to the chaos that they’ve started, they are successfully unraveling years of unity that this country has prided itself on building. 
 
Another suggestion would be to remember basic concepts that may sound silly but we were taught in pre-school and Sunday school. Phrases like “if you don’t have anything nice to say – say nothing at all” are powerful. Following this basic “rule” can eliminate so much turmoil and anger. I won’t dare say “Love thy neighbor” I know that’s a stretch.
 
Bottom line is we must try to make it through this non traditional election season – this time – without losing friends, family and neighbors. In the end we all must accept the results and try to remember the reason this country’s founders tried someone new. 
 
Plato wrote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
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Create-a-painting-of-a-troll-inspired-by-Nordic-folklore-style.-The-troll-should-be-large-with-rough-rocky-skin-and-a-bulky-physique.-
Troll by A.I.

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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonyward.com/nefertari-williams-students-protest-and-the-truth/

Bob Shell: Trump and Me

Trump illustration with Red face and Guilty! sign on his head.
Trump Guilty! Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2024.

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2024

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Trump and Me

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I’m writing this late at night after watching the coverage of Donald Trump’s criminal trial for weeks on NewsNation. Today Donald Trump joined me as a convicted felon. Like me, Trump was tried by a corrupt prosecutor, judge, and jury. With such flimsy cases, neither of us should ever have been charged, much less brought to trial. 

Anyone who reads my posts here knows that I do not like Donald Trump. I think he is a crook and a danger to democracy. But he is right that this case was political persecution, pure and simple. Alvin Bragg, the NY prosecutor, ran for office on the promise that he would ‘get’ Donald Trump. He did, to his political advantage. He wants to run for governor of NY State, and he will surely use this ridiculous conviction to his political advantage. 

One important way in which Trump and I differ is that the day I was convicted I was not allowed to go home and remain there until sentencing. Trump went home to Trump Towers, I went to jail. I was convicted of six felonies; Trump was convicted of thirty-four! Equal treatment? Sure! My request for an appeal bond was summarily denied by a judge who obviously hated me; Trump just walked out of the courtroom and went home. While my six convictions would normally have resulted in concurrent sentences, this hateful judge ran my sentences consecutively! Rather than seven years, I got thirty-two and a half years! The judge emphasized that this meant “one after the other.” That was clearly punitive and not justified by the charges. 

Trump’s defense called the prosecution’s main witness, Michael Cohen, the GLOAT, The Greatest Liar of All Time. I would call the medical examiner who testified at my trial the GLOAT! Everything he said on the stand was a lie. Without his false, perjured testimony I could not have been charged, much less convicted. 

Anyone interested in full details of the prosecution witnesses who lied under oath can find the sordid details at http://bobshelltruth.com

If I sound angry, I am. I am on my 17th year in prison for something that simply never happened. In that sense Trump and I are different. The events he was convicted for did happen, but were misdemeanors at best. We were both convicted by a ‘justice system’ that has been politicized. It is long since time for judicial reform. The system is broken, badly broken. When a corrupt prosecutor can convict someone simply because he does not like him or his lifestyle, our whole system is under threat. Never believe it can’t happen to you; it can.

There is a very important reason why, even if elected, Donald Trump cannot serve as president of the USA. 

I have not heard this mentioned by any of the political pundits on TV. Just like me, Trump is now a convicted felon. A convicted felon cannot get a security clearance. That is the law. 

It is essential for a president to function that he have a high level security clearance. Without it, he cannot receive regular security briefings that every president must receive and cannot attend cabinet meetings where classified material is viewed and discussed. He could not have received any of those classified documents that were in all those boxes at his estate in Florida. 

Simply put, he could not function as President. I would like the Republican Party to exp!ain how Trump can deal with foreign or domestic policy in the dark, as he would be. His vice president, yet to be named, or any government official could not even discuss classified matters with him. 

This is not a petty, nitpicking matter, like so many others that the Democrats have raised, it is a central point of the presidency. This, like so much with Donald Trump, has never come up before in the history of the United States.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 17th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell link here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-aap-what-are-they/

 

Nefertari Williams: Students Protest and The Truth

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2024

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Student Protests and The Truth

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Truth seems to be beyond reach as of late. Even definitions of words can be left to interpretation. The questions that young people longed to have answered as they eagerly leave high school during this graduation season and enter the colleges of their choices seem to have turned back the hands of time to over fifty years ago. Is history repeating itself as college students lock arms to protest issues that our parents thought were resolved issues back in the 1960’s? 
 
Regardless of  how I feel about the current geopolitical conversations that the news stations are discussing daily, I would never be as bold and brave as the college students that are protesting today. Some of these students stand firm in their beliefs and risk being expelled for what some argue are their constitutional rights – the freedom to peacefully assemble.
 
It is very scary how the narrative of what some of the students are saying have been twisted by some of the news agencies. A student will make a very clear statement and the news personality will clearly spin their words to whichever narrative fits the political angle that particular news outlet generally covers. This isn’t the way those of us raised in the 80’s experienced “news”. When a reporter told a story, for the most part, we were told and unbiased version of the facts and allowed to form our own opinions as to right or wrong. 
 
These days watching our young impressionable students peacefully protesting with locked arms chanting how they feel about a situation that is happening in our world; Their words can be clear, their signs can have words that are easy to read yet somehow their message is being sent out into the world differently than how they are intended. We the television watchers are being told that what we are seeing is not what is actually happening. Trust is no longer truth. 
 
As a mentor to our youth I must admit I feel helpless in these situations. Some topics are not to be discussed in this country. The tragic topic that they’ve bravely chosen to tackle at such a young age could cause some of “adults” to loose employment, contracts, professional relationships and more should we chose to speak on the subject. 
 
As sad as it may be the best some of us older people can do is to tell our college students to remain silent. I feel cowardly not speaking out but until black is black and white is white, most of us can’t risk losing everything, being ridiculed like we were during the BLM protests. Although most humans would agree that leaning on a man’s neck until he can’t breath is wrong, a large portion in this country found a way to turn it around to imply that some lives have more value than others and the rest of us have been paying for our decisions to speak on every since. 
 
We don’t want our children to be branded, labeled and mistreated just because they have an opinion about humanity that some may disagree with.
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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonyward.com/nefertari-williams-facts-are-facts/

Tracey Olkus: The Latest Vixen

 

Text by Tracey Olkus, Copyright 2024

Photography and Set Design: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Styling and Creative Direction: KVaughn

Lighting Assistant: Anthony Colagreco

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THE LATEST VIXEN

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I have had the honor of working with Tony Ward only a few times over the last couple decades-most recently with Ellen Tiberino for The Vixen Series. So when Tony asked if I would be a part of this project, I thought he meant behind the scenes doing hair and makeup.  I was shocked when I realized that he wanted to photograph ME.  I’m never in front of the camera. I don’t even take selfies.
 
I love creating Vixens and encouraging Vixens,  but I had never thought of myself as a Vixen. I think of a Vixen as a woman who breaks from tradition, supersedes expectations and takes control of her destiny. She exudes confidence and sexuality.  She IS fire!  Well, part of that is definitely me.  I have been an entrepreneur most of my life. I have never had the patience to wait around for things to happen.  I have been told that I’m outspoken. And I only know how to do things in my own weird ways. I’m a sexual being through and through but I have never considered myself to be sexy.  When I told Tony this, he assured me that I was in good hands. And THAT I believed. I stepped out of my comfort zone and let him take the lead.  And it was a wild ride!
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Portrait of hair stylist Tracey Olkus wearing black sheer dress on night out in Paris
Tracey Olkus. The Vixens Series. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

For almost two decades, Tracey Olkus  has been transforming faces and elevating styles from her private studio in Philadelphia. Specializing in everything from everyday glam to commercial shoots to TV and film. 

 
Tracey’s artistic interests extend beyond the chair. With a passion for costuming, she crafts bespoke headdress designs available through commissioned works.  
 
As the curator of The Performance Salon, Tracey provides a platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their talents in an intimate setting. From musicians, to thespians, writers to chefs, The Performance Salon has become a hub for artistic expression with performances that leave audiences mesmerized.
 
But Tracey’s interests go beyond her professional pursuits . A dedicated patron of the arts and the finer things in life, she enjoys hosting extravagant dinner parties and whimsical camping trips…often simultaneously.
 
When it is time to escape, Tracey can be found exploring the world, talking to strangers, and collecting stories from every corner of the globe. And along the way, she is most happy to have has amassed an eclectic collection of friends that share her passion for the extraordinary.

Nefertari Williams: Facts Are Facts

DALL·E-2024-04-01-11.50.05-Imagine-a-painting-capturing-the-essence-of-a-FACT-from-a-realist-painters-perspective.-This-artwork-shows-an-ancient-weathered-stone-tablet
Artwork Generated by DALL.E 2024

Unlike with my National Geographic magazines that I loved as a kid or my set of weird smelling encyclopedias that I enjoyed leafing through from beginning to end, If you don’t search a certain flow of topics you won’t get particular groups of information. 

 
Most people don’t have access to an abundance of information. This access is becoming even more limited as some books are being banned. This access excited me as a kid as I learned useless facts (well not so useless I was my high school jeopardy champ).  I craved information so I would ask questions. I became disgruntled when an older person would say to me “now you are asking the right questions” instead of just answering me. I always thought they had the answers but they wanted me to do the work to get the answers myself. I later realized that perspective isn’t always black and white and for a child at that age I asked particularly unique questions and they really may not have known the answers. 
 
With the invention of the internet I became enamored by search engines. I am also thankful that my teachers and mentors taught me the valuable gift of asking the right questions. I believe this will be what divides or unites us as people ( as opposed to skin color). With so much information available at a simple touch it will be hard to narrow down a topic without the art of knowing what questions to ask. 
 
Information and facts are also not as black and white as they were in simpler days like before the internet. Facts were confirmed through third party perspective and most of us would accept that as truth. Easy right?!
 
Today, you can be challenged for saying something as simple as the dog barks. Someone might ask something like – does it or is that what they want you to think? What?? These are facts that we know. A dog makes a sound and we have called that sound a bark. So a dog barks. That is now a fact. Right? Well what if I want to call the sound that a dog makes, a meow. And what if I can get half of the country to say that the sound a dog makes is a meow. Now your fact is no longer a fact because you no longer have third party perspective. 
 
Or another example may be the statement black is a color and white is a color. Someone may say – no black is my race I am black. Then someone else may argue – but your skin is not the color black so how do you identify that way? The response may be I don’t know my country says if I have one drop of black blood I am black. How do you have black blood? Well my mom says my dad is African American and white. So he’s white- no but people from South Africa and Northeastern Africa are considered white. I know my skin is white but I am black. Ok ok I’m confused. We are All confused. 
 
Did I confuse you … good. That was my point.
 
But why would anyone want a nation to be confused?  
 
Is that how it works in life? Search engines are just awesome. I sometimes wish they would list popular or relevant searches for every moment of each day  but nope if it’s not already on your radar it will not appear in your news feed, your social media nor your search engines. You have to already know to know what to ask and we are so busy living life most of us don’t have time to sit and day dream or become critical thinkers of theories or disputed facts. Facts are facts period.
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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonyward.com/nefertari-williams-two-steps-smarter/