Archive for Perceptions and Perspective

Being Biracial Made Me History

Grow Gratitude welcomes our very first Biracial Awareness Guest Blog Post! Yet another perspective, read on to capture a glimpse of how “her story” made “history”!

I was born a biracial baby in a predominantly White, back-mountain town. As a matter of fact, I was the first biracial baby from the first biracial family in the town’s first founded hospital. Newsworthy perhaps, especially given the place and times. I do believe my birth was the beginning of my education in humor. Let me explain…

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First, I want the atmosphere of my birth to be completely understood, if that’s possible. My mother is a White woman from England married to a Black man serving in the U.S. Air Force at the time of miscegenation (no interracial mixing). Although it was customary for the town’s newspaper to print the bouncing baby birth announcements, my mothers’ name, (and mine for that matter…the bouncing biracial baby), were not printed along with all the other proud mothers who gave birth in that small maternity ward. Somehow a brown baby was ok just as long as White plus Black don’t make brown.  Well hell they cheated me out of my big arrival!!! Worse yet, the grace it must have taken for minds to use such strength to control the smallness of their thoughts and actions in such a big world. Wow! Ignorance must be bliss! (LOL!)  

Now folks let’s be real!  You know how exhausting my birthday was?  My mother was perplexed by the endless stream of visitors through that maternity ward who stopped by to catch a glimpse of me. Yes, that’s right. They came to see me! Maybe seeing is believing. But if seeing really is believing, they still couldn’t believe it. Maybe it’s because they got a good taste of the full flavor of my evidently jaw-dropping exquisite existence.

First of all, I arrived with an impeccable British accent. I laid in my crib, sipping tea and used my proper princess wave as I continuously said “Ello!  Are you alright, mates?!?” And when the line of admirers moved along, I cooed, “Cheerio!!!”  

I can’t remember how long the biracial baby tour lasted that day but I’m sure I must have greeted lots of “newsy” (my bad), curious people, most who probably missed the point that there’s much more to me than what they saw (or were willing to see).

Now looking back at the anticipation and antics of my arrival I smile. What was initially a conscious act of overlooking my existence by the newspaper could not stop me (or my mother) from making history in the books. I am grateful that despite what they did (or didn’t do), I still exist. Because I am… Wendy!

Grow Gratitude thanks Wendy for sharing her biracial experience of the day she entered the world! And what an experience it was…entertaining for everybody! 

 See You Next Time!  Pink Heart

OXOXOXO  

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Grow Gratitude Returns for Biracial Awareness Month!

Yes, it’s true. Grow Gratitude returns to celebrate Biracial Awareness Month (BAM)! Couldn’t let you carry on without me. We’re a little late getting started with BAM, possibly due to the inherent effects of the bth_2260507778_c5f00b7084CPT culprit. That is, according to the darker-hued half of me.

Who amongst us is not familiar with CPT? If you don’t know what CPT is then this probably isn’t going to make much sense, which defeats the purpose. Somewhere along the slippery stereotyping slope, Black people slid into group notoriety for perceived frequency of lateness to just about everything… including our own funerals!

I’m fairly sure most African Americans (and others) of my generation know what CPT stands for. Before we were “African American”, “Black is Beautiful”, and “Negro”, we were “Colored People”. Combine colored people together with time and you got CPT, “Colored People’s Time”.  Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed some pretty good giggles about CPT and I’ve witnessed some pretty angry “CPR” (Colored People’s Responses) to CPT.

My understanding of CPT originated from other Black people and in the context of some hilarious storytelling or commentary that made light of the CPT stereotype. This stereotype about Black people did not originate with Black people. I imagine some “non-colored people” imagined “colored people” as genetically predisposed to taking our own sweet time Snoop Dogg Style… “Laid back, sipping on Gin and juice…with our minds on our money and our money on our minds”. CPT is a myth, and evidently the myth lives on. Or does it?

To get a sense of CPT transference, I texted my intergenerational guru of all things biracial (aka, my daughter) and inquired as to whether she knew what CPT stands for. She did – she heard it from me…a number of times… in the context of time. What? Given my daughter happened to be with one of her African American friends at the time, I texted back, “Ask your friend if he’s ever heard of CPT”. To which his response was “No”.

Generalizations about a people, while sometimes humorous, have the potential to enlighten through levity, but seemingly have a greater propensity to promote and perpetuate racial stereotypes, which often leads to prejudice, which often leads to discrimination. But enough about CPT…

I’ll take “Biracial Slurs I’ve Been Called Before” for $500 Alex. What is Half-breed, High Yellow, Zebra, Oreo, Half-Caste, White Wanna-Be, and Nigger? The biracial jeopardy game gets played simply because people have a time figuring out who we are (racially) and accepting what we represent. The result: an inaccurate perception of mixed up, racially mixed misfits who become so pervasive that they render the number of “pure race” Americans minorities and destroy the perceived “wholesomeness” of America due to an overwhelming belief that, if this keeps up, one day we’ll all look alike. Maybe it’s frightening. The neat and tidy census categories of days gone by with an “other” catch all for the trouble makers who insisted upon making what “American” was traditionally perceived to look like, look like what America really looks like, are no more. I didn’t fit easily and neatly into a mutually exclusive box and I’m certainly not an “other” who you can’t figure out where to put because I refuse to be swept under the RIG (Racial Identity Rug).

One thing I know for sure: I was born biracial and I’m going to die biracial. I am African American and White. My mother is British and my family was substantially influenced by that culture as well. I identify more with my African American side because that is my American experience and I very proudly proclaim my White, British side. I know that pisses some people off, but I’ve grown to not be too concerned about other people’s perceptions and opinions. I’m proud and grateful that you can’t box me in. I don’t fit in and I wouldn’t want it any other way! We be diversity naturally, and that’s something all Americans should celebrate.

Please join us this month as we once again explore the unique experience and perspectives of being biracial in America. We’re diving deep and shedding light and we couldn’t be more on time!

Next week Grow Gratitude welcomes our first guest blog! Stop back for yet another perspective on being biracial in America. Hot-diggity BAM!

See You Next Time!   Pink Heart     OXOXO

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Brace Yourself for “Branding-Bravery”… Cheerios Brings “Scary” Sequel to the Superbowl!

Yes, that’s right. Cheerios is at it again…and so is the CRAZY controversy!  Whether you plan to watch the Rita ProfileSuperbowl this Sunday for the game, for the commercials, or for the array of party endeavors  that are sure to be plentiful, do plan to catch THIS commercial. Or perhaps you already have. It’s “out there” and so are the haters. Still, clearly, win or lose, Cheerios ain’t backing down. And while it’s evident that they have much support, let me go on record for saying that I, too, have their back! (in case you were wondering)

So in celebration of CHEERIOS (and in light of the Superbowl), I am re-posting the initial Cheerios commercial clips. If you didn’t catch it last time, take just a minute and check it out. The first video clip is the initial Cheerios controversial television ad. The second “commercial” is the parody of that ad after an astounding number of people expressed their hatred while simultaneously revealing their hearts. Isn’t it amazing what the internet and  anonymity can do for those who espouse ignorance and hatred yet lack the courage to stand by what they so seemingly and adamantly are compelled to “openly” convey “world-wide”?

WORD OF CAUTION!!  The last video clip IS the upcoming Cheerios Superbowl commercial. If you, like me, await watching the game with high anticipation of the Superbowl commercials, DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK!  I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. On the other hand, given the controversy is running rampant  again, take a peek perhaps and when the ad airs during the game, take note of who surrounds you. If you don’t know, their reactions (or lack thereof), may prove to be more telling than you ever imagined.

Cheerios BoxCome on America, get it together and let it go…and better yet, embrace it. Clearly, that’s really the only choice we have. You might as well embrace it , and ideally with open arms. It’s not going anywhere, but it is coming everywhere. We Be Diversity…that’s just who we be. Like it or not, it’s reality. We be diversity, the “we” is essential, you see,  ’cause we wouldn’t be We without You AND Me. But I digress.

Enjoy the Game and/or the commercials! Oh, and by the way, “Go EAGLES”…oops, my bad. Never mind…bring on the commercials and/or half-time!

The link below is growgratitude’s original blog about the Cheerios Controversy, FYI.

https://growgratitude.com/2013/06/19/how-heart-healthy-cheerios-harvested-hate-filled-hearts/

See You Next Time!  Pink Heart             OXOXO

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Happy You Year! Getting Back to the Present…

The end of a year and the dawn of a new year routinely MP900412054[1]allows for the opportunity to consciously reflect and take stock of our life.

Not that we couldn’t or don’t take stock at other times during the course of a year, it’s just more collectively prevalent and pervasive as one year draws to a close and a new year is ushered in. It’s a healthy sort of annual ritual that requires reflection, conscious consideration, contemplation, and an assessment of the accomplishment status of one’s dream for life. That is, of course, assuming one has a dream. Behind every ending lurks the prospect of a new beginning. Out with the old and in with the new. Welcome 2014!

So, let me ask you a question: Are you living life or is life living you? Lately, I’ve been considering that question and delineating the difference. Actually, the difference is pretty basic. You’re either actively engaged in life (living life) or you’re

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routinely responding to it (life living you). Either way, you’re making choices that help create how you experience what you experience.  And so it is wise that we periodically take a moment to pause and consider what it is we want from life (or, perhaps, what it is life wants from us) as well as how well what we have been doing has been working for us. Whether or not we are actively engaged or routinely responding to life does not negate the fact that we cannot, in either case, necessarily control what happens; we can, however, consciously choose how we respond.

Ever notice that the older we get, the faster time goes by? When we are children, it feels like forever before a much anticipated day or event will arrive. We hold anticipation for the future while remaining primarily in the present. So as children, we are more inclined to be aligned with  present-time than when we are grown. We can’t wait to grow up as if we don’t believe it will ever happen and yet once we do, we can’t believe how quickly we did. The passage of time somehow accelerates with time and we begin to really recognize the impermanency of all things.

Once we’ve reached that marker on the seemingly never-ending-trek to being “all growed-up” we yearn for ways to slow it down. We become more anxious as opposed to excited about time and we can more readily get lost in time. The longer we live, the more we have to reflect upon. We can choose to feel some type of way about the past and we can expend our energy trying to hold on to it, or worse, living in it. We can fret about what’s to come recognizing that the longer we live, the less time we have and the less time we have, the faster time goes. Or so it seems. We can get caught up and carried away so much so that we make rare appearances in the present and are more apt to be found in the past regretting or in the future fretting. Meanwhile, tick-tock goes the clock!

Mind the time. There’s no time like the present and there’s no time but the present. Time is our most precious commodity and how we spend it contributes to our happiness and overall well-being. We can accept the past for what is done and recognize the future is yet to come, but if we are to be happy, we can only be happy in this moment, at this time; knowing that happiness is not only a state of mind, but a choice we actively make.

So, as the song says,” don’t worry, be happy”…or perhaps more apropos, “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”      

Best wishes for a very Happy You Year!

 See You Next Time!    Pink Heart    OXOXOXO

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How Heart-Healthy Cheerios Harvested Hate-Filled Hearts

They say Cheerios can help lower cholesterol and thus is considered a heart-healthy cereal. Of course, it stands to reason that overall health, lifestyle factors, and behaviors including regular exercise also play hefty roles in the bth_Family(1)health of your heart. And who doesn’t want a healthy heart? So how is it that Cheerios manages to help lower cholesterol, but recently raised the collective blood pressure of so many Americans? Because, intentionally or not, Cheerios stepped “out there” and put it in our face in a big, or shall we say, non-big-oted way. We couldn’t side-step it if we tried. It was, after all, the “elephant in the room”. What, exactly, was Cheerios thinking? Certainly they knew that a backlash was brewing, but they pressed on regardless. Perhaps they recognized the potential purchasing power of the market they reflected. And I’m fairly sure they were conscious of the practically predictable controversy that would ensue. Perhaps they didn’t care. But did they realize the ridicules reach that backlash would have and the potential repercussions and ramifications  not only for Cheerios cereal sales, but for General Mills products in general? Did they expect the intensity of the nature of the backlash that was unleashed?  Did you?

Cheerios BoxIf you’re still wondering what exactly I’m talking about and even if you’re not, check out the Cheerios commercial below. Keep in mind that this 30 second clip raised the ire of so many Americans that any shock value the commercial may have wrought, is overshadowed by the shock of the sheer number of Americans who felt compelled enough to take time out to express their dismay (putting it mildly). So many, in fact, that YouTube had to disable the comments section for the video clip due to the nature and number of hate-filled “comments” being spewed. And if you don’t believe that America has a ways to go before the issue of race rests, when tolerance and acceptance pervade, and we reach our true potential greatness, the clip below should help clarify that. And even more so, the response to the clip cannot and must not allow us to continue to pretend otherwise. Welcome to 2013 America.

But true to form, America is a nation of diversity and there are plenty of Americans who were equally dismayed (still putting it mildly) that in the year 2013, we can still be completely aghast by the backlash of the core issue. And also true to form is that when ridiculousness reaches reality, somebody’s going to run with it and/or make light of it. I love that! Those of us who get it don’t get why those who don’t get it just don’t get over it. Despite the fact that there is an ever-growing market yet truly untapped as a powerful motive, could it be that Cheerios wants their product to reflect that market as well as all of the “markets” that collectively makes Americans, America? And why not?

The complexion of America is and has been undergoing a magnificent make-over. And along the way, if we are open to it, we get to appreciate a glimpse of the “before” and “after” pictures. We may or may not like one or the other picture, but we cannot go backwards. Where there’s a market, there’s money to be made. If that market happens to reflect the current and unfolding complexion of America, kudos to the company(s) wise enough to not only realize that, but to step up awareness and the issues of acceptance and tolerance by putting themselves “out there”. In response to the Hater’s response to the Cheerios commercial, below is a parody of the commercial that nicely sets the stage for yet another fast growing American family market harboring a wealth of potential purchasing power. If you must, brace yourself. It’s just a matter of time. Cheers to Cheerios!

 

See You Next Wednesday!     Pink Heart      OXOXOXO

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Sorry Shakespeare, But a Rose by Any Other Name is Horse Mackerel!

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”     Rita Profile

William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”

I must admit, Shakespeare challenged me in school. At one point, I would have stood a better shot if he had challenged me to a duel! It wasn’t that his body of work wasn’t interesting or engaging, but more so the difficulty I encountered just trying to understand what the heck he was saying. But once I got it, I got it…and I really liked it, at times downright enjoying it. Shakespeare was all right! Except for when he was wrong. Imagine my frustration when I finally got it only to later discover Shakespeare didn’t get it. So, I actually didn’t get what I got when I got what I thought I got. Fortunately, it wasn’t long after “getting it”, that I learned the truth and came to understand Shakespeare’s famously quoted, well-known line from Romeo and Juliet from a completely different perspective!

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Let’s begin with the original understanding that I thought “I got”. The “What’s in a name” part was pretty self-explanatory. Interpreting “ that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” simply meant (yeah, right) that no matter what you call the rose – be it a person, place, or thing, the rose is a rose is a rose and therefore would still smell sweet. Yay! That was easy!

bth_horsemackerelliveAnd so it was, until it wasn’t. Bring on the Horse Mackerel. Ever heard of it? I had never heard of it before, but once I did, I knew that what I thought I knew, I didn’t really know. Turns out, in the event that you didn’t already know, horse mackerel is also known as Tuna fish. You may have heard it tastily referred to as “Chicken of the Sea” or “Starkist”. Yum! Horse Mackerel? Not so much! I mean, really. How about a horse mackerel sandwich or salad…or horse mackerel casserole…or simply grilled horse mackerel? Not very appetizing. Evidently, tuna became a much more delectable dish (and fish) when “Horse Mackerel” was removed from the label. I guess horse mackerel conjures up somewhat different images and as a result, sales, shall we say, slumped. But an opportunity to taste test “chicken of the sea” – well now, that’s a horse of a different color (so to speak)!

So, what is in a name?  Clearly, more than what Juliet conveyed to Romeo. How about your name?

Do you know the story of your name?471px-Désirée_Clary1807-Robert_Lefèvre

My name reflects the country that I was born in. Désirée is French and means desire or desired one. I was named after Désirée Clary, a one-time fiancée to Napoleon Bonaparte.  Désirée was presented to Napoleon (Wiki’s wording, not mine), to whom she became engaged but the engagement was broken off when Napoleon (a.k.a. philanderer) became involved with and later married Josephine de Beauharnais . Désirée Clary would later become Queen of Sweden and Norway. (Désirée was clearly destined for royalty). When her husband died, Désirée desired to return to France but her fear of sea travel prevailed. It’s said that after she became a widow, she became more and more eccentric and would sleep during the day and wander the halls of the castle with a lit candle at night.

Other stories tell of people being awakened by the carriage Désirée  drove through the streets at night. Sometimes the carriage stopped for a period of time and Desiree would sleep and then continue on her way. She drove the carriage in circles (a feel all too familiar) around the royal palace, also known as “Kring Kring”, meaning round and round – one of the few Swedish words Désirée learned (and the only one I now know). On the last day of her life, she entered her box at the Royal Swedish Opera. She died in Stockholm on December 17, 1860.1    

When I was growing up, everyone called me Desi. In fact, some people had no idea that there was anything more to my name. Anyone who saw my full name in print hacked it to pieces trying to pronounce it. Even I envisioned being “Desi” for the rest of my life. That was until I was about 14 years old and a woman at the summer work program I was involved in asked me (phrased as a statement as opposed to a question) if I intended to be called “Desi” once I got older. Well, yeah, that’s my name. But when I left home a young woman, I felt I needed a more “mature” name as conveyed by the woman in the summer work program. I then became Désirée .  When I started working, I became “Des” by default.

There’s something to be said for “Desi”. Although years have passed since anyone other than my family has routinely referred to me as Desi, I am amazed whenever someone other than the people I grew up with call me that. When I hear “Desi”, for a brief moment I am transported back in time to years gone by and am again among my childhood friends. “Desi” says you know me from way back and when I hear it, I can’t help but smile.

So, what is in a name? If you don’t already know and you have the means to find out, discover how you came to be named. There’s a story waiting and that story could be more telling than you ever imagined!

See You Next Wednesday!  Pink Heart   OXOXOXO

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Being Biracial: Up North, Down South, and Across the Pond

Rita Profile

Well, this is it – my last post for “Being Biracial Awareness Month”.  Wow, did it go fast! I almost feel a sense of sadness if that makes any sense at all. Writing can truly be a profoundly personal experience and this month’s blog posts most definitely have a home in my heart. I hope you’ve found the journey to be enjoyable, insightful, and engaging.

I don’t think that it’s news that generally, when it comes to racial discrimination in America, you’re more likely to know “where you stand” from a southern vantage point than from a northern one. The racial compass is clearer and more easily read in the South. In other words, racism has always been more overt in the South and covert in the North. The advisement to keep one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer sometimes requires a bit more digging to do so in order to uncover the depth of racist dirt dug from northern soil as compared to southern soil.

Despite the pervasiveness of racism across the nation, acknowledged or unrecognized, hidden or otherwise, it must not be overlooked or understated that there are millions of good-hearted, non-racist people across America and around the globe.

Take Me Out of the Ball Game                           

softballgirl  th_Girl_Cartoon1

Most of my childhood was spent growing up in a mid-Atlantic, east coast state during the 1970’s. Naturally, given my appearance, the times, and the nature of the place, I was destined to be targeted. And targeted I was. But still, despite how many times I was chosen to be picked on or discriminated against, there were also times that I recall people going out of their way to have my back, bravely distinguishing themselves from the masses. People like these you tend not to forget…ever!

I remember a girl from my childhood who lived around the corner from me. The two of us played together on an intramural summer softball team. She had always seemed nice to me as had the majority of my teammates. Being the only person of color from the only family of color in the community was something, by that time, I had come to experience as par for the course. The problem was that no matter where I went, I always ran the risk of someone feeling compelled to communicate their racist perspective to me, at me, and those who were with me. And so it was inevitable that I would encounter such an experience on the ball field.

I was about 12 years old and the softball team that we were scheduled to play was an away game with a team in an even more rural community than what I lived in. When we arrived, a fair amount of spectators were in the stands as we took our positions on the field. I was playing outfield when the incident occurred and I will never forget it. Silence can be a killer in a number of ways. Long story short, a male in the stands began yelling the “N” word. Of course, everyone looked at me knowing I was the only one he could be referring to. The male carried on with his racial slurs until finally, and thankfully, we were all back in the dug-out gearing up for our turn at bat. By that time, I had lost focus in playing the game and felt humiliated. But just when you think you can’t feel any worse, something or someone comes along and restores your faith in humanity. She said for me not to worry or feel bad about the person in the stands as they were just stupid. That was it. Pretty simple, huh? At a time when I felt helpless to defend myself, my neighbor and teammate was the one person willing to acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary was occurring. I don’t fault any others for not feeling compelled to support or defend me, but I will never forget the one person who found it unacceptable not to.

Crossing the Mason-Dixon Lineconfederate flag

As an interracial family, the idea of crossing the Mason-Dixon Line during the 1970’s warranted a bit more consideration and concern than the mainstream minority had crossing that border. At that time, a number of southern states considered interracial marriage to be illegal. That coupled with the expense of traveling limited us. As a result, it was a trip that we rarely made despite having family living in the South.

A couple of times a special occasion came up that resulted in a trip south. During these rare times, the issue of whether my white mother could accompany us would rear its ugly head. As a teenager, I felt passionate and adamant about my mother being able to join us, especially for a family affair. My father, being older and much wiser, considered the risk we would be taking by having my mother travelling through the south with us. Still, in my mind, it was unacceptable to go and leave my mother at home and I was prepared to die in order to be. So, of the two occasions that had us travelling down south, I got my way for one. I would return home a wiser child.

You know how you can completely forget about something until someone else brings it up and jogs your memory? You could go through your entire life not recalling the event as a distinct memory but when it comes back, you can’t believe you didn’t remember it in the first place! That’s how it was for the one trip south that my mother joined us for. I asked my siblings about their recall of that trip and each of us remembered something different and distinct about our adventure. All of us recall an element and sense of danger as the common denominator. My recollection involved getting lost somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, just as my father feared. It was my father, mother, grandmother, me and two siblings. I recall a sense of extreme tension in the car and my grandmother’s worried expression spoke volumes as my father tried to find our way out of the woods we had traveled deep into. It wasn’t like we could call our family from a cell phone and getting out of the car to use a pay phone, if you could find one, required considering whether or not you wanted to potentially risk your life and the welfare of your family. My sister recalls stopping at a rest stop and parking between two MACK trucks in order to keep our car and its occupants out of sight and my brother remembers traffic being diverted due to the activities of a Klan rally (gulp). We would journey one more time to that particular southern state, but without my mother in tow. I have not returned since.

Meet My Other Half      bth_british_flag

I was 21 years old when I first met the British side of my family. I had always known about them, who they were by name, seen pictures and remember the rare exciting telephone call not necessarily knowing which relative was on the phone but knowing it had to be a relative from across the pond based on their accent. I love a British accent! The rush was then on to get my mother to the phone because of the rarity of the calls from her “home” due to the expense attached at the time to make an international telephone call. Technological advancements have since made cost a far less concern then when I was younger while also expanding our horizons through the creation of a variety of means for increased communication and contact around the world.

My mother always says that when she goes back “home”, she feels more like a person and not the British woman who was married to the black man, which was how she was known when she came to America. I’ve always known what she meant but I never experienced it except for the rare family reunion on my father’s side of the family. Having now met my “other half” a number of times, I totally get what she’s saying. What I know of England is what my family has shown me and what they have shown me could not make me any prouder to be half British and all family!

See You Next Wednesday!   Pink Heart OXOXOXO

 

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