Powerful photo series explores Black Americans' complex relationship with the flag
Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

The American flag has been a symbol of the United States for centuries, but what the U.S.—and thus the flag it represents—has meant to different Americans throughout that time has varied greatly.

Imagine looking at the flag of a country that enslaved you ancestors, generation after generation after generation. Imagine looking at the flag of a country that pushed you and your family off your land and broke every promise it made to your people. Imagine looking at the flag of a country where people who look like you have never truly been free in the way other Americans are.

When your country has repeatedly disappointed, failed, or actively harmed people who look like you, how do you find pride and hope in its symbol?


That's a question explored by two female artists—one Black and one white—in a new photo series, "A New America," which "explores the complicated relationship of African Americans and the American flag." Actress and activist Jameelah Nuriddin served as a model while artist Erin Hammond took photos of her in front of a giant American flag that's more than 100 years old.

Nuriddin explains what inspired the project:

"As a black woman, I've always had a strained relationship with the American flag. If I saw a white person with a huge American flag, I would immediately look around for the Confederate flag or wonder how they would treat me. It's as though extreme patriotism was synonymous with racism.
It changed for me when I listened to the podcast 1619 by the NY Times; in the first episode, Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks about how her father used to always fly the flag in their yard. She reveals how black people are the great perfecters of the Constitution—I've also heard it described that Black people are the conscious of America. My relationship with the flag changed. Instead of seeing oppression and hypocrisy when I look at it, I see my ancestors who built this country. Literally. My lineage comes from Georgia and Alabama. It occurs to me that I am not a stranger in a strange land, but that this is MY country just as much as the racist hick—in some ways even more so. I can fight for it, and reclaim it—in the full glory of what it was meant to be."

In the 8-photo series, Nuriddin combines pledge of allegiance and Black power poses—"The two aren't at odds, but are one," says Nuriddin. And the photos are accompanied by a manifesto, written by Nuriddin, that mirrors the Preamble to the Constitution.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We, the people, are creating a world where every woman, man, and non-binary human being is met with dignity and respect. We have learned from the mistakes of our forefathers and are building a new America rooted in the complete and total liberation, support and growth of all people ...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

... We cease to subjugate black and brown people, whose ancestors built this country and instead uplift, honor and make amends for injustice ...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We need to give Lady Justice back her eyes.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

...Envision a world where all humans are free and equal—where we prize each other over material things—we stand against tyranny and oppression, hatred and fear.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We honor the past and learn from those that have come before. We respect the future and leave this world better than we found it. All spiritual and religious doctrines center on one fact—treat each other as we are one. See your siblings on this earth as interconnected.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We, the people, envision a world of true liberation. Where the value of a person's life is not placed on how much they own, but how deeply they love...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We believe respect and dignity are the birthright of every human being.

In this new America, there is nothing more Un-American than racism. We are divesting hatred, fear, and discrimination from the American Flag—holding it up in a new light that fully realizes and expresses the goals and beliefs written in the Constitution—that all people are created equal.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

This is our America. We unite, let the hypocrisy fade into the past, and transcend together to finally fully actualize the words of freedom in the Constitution, in totality.

Nuriddin says, "If Black people can reclaim the n-word, we can reclaim the American flag. It doesn't have to be a symbol of hypocrisy and oppression...this is our America too, we can guide this country to fully realize its dream of equality and freedom for all."

"Our need to rise up and support Black lives in all facets is embarrassingly long overdue," adds Hammond, "and I strongly believe we can change this country. It will take perseverance and standing together and getting really uncomfortable at times, but every second of every day we can make movement towards real change and create a New America. Teaming up to bring Jameelah's vision to life was deeply fulfilling. This type of allyship is beautiful and is part of the world that Jameelah and I are fighting for."

The photo series can be viewed on Instagram at @jameelahcreates and @erinhammondart.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via US Secretary of Defense / Flickr and The Today Show

As the nation braces itself for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden has embraced the family of George Floyd at what has to be an incredibly stressful time.

Following closing arguments in the Chauvin trial on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill has sent jurors to deliberate. The verdict is expected to come in the next few days.

"He was just calling," George's brother, Philonise Floyd, said about the president. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."

Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in 1972 and his son Beau to cancer in 2015.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.