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Just got a package from China with five lovely cables that together cost less than ONE cable here. And that’s after the extra fee they added to stop people ordering straight from China.

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It is Black History month and I must talk to you about one of the most important women in the history of modern science. Her name is Henrietta Lacks and her cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture. Known as "HeLa" cells.

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and have aided in cancer research. HeLa cells are still used to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses on the growth of cancer cells. They have been used to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work, and played a crucial role in the development of the polio vaccine.

The real story behind HeLa cells?

Henrietta Lacks did not consent to her cells being taken and used in this manner, and despite her amazing contribution to science, her family was never compensated.

The HeLa cell line continues to be a source of invaluable medical data to the present day. No consent was obtained to culture her cells, nor were she or her family compensated for their extraction or use. The Lacks family was not made aware of the line's existence until 1975 and its use for medical research and for commercial purposes continues to raise concerns about privacy and patients' rights. In the 1980s, family medical records were published without family consent.

"Ron Lacks, 59, said in an interview: “My father just wants to have some control over what has happened in the past. Even on our family story, we have been shortchanged. . . . The family story, we don’t even own that.”

“It’s not all about the money. My family has had no control of the family story, no control of Henrietta’s body, no control of Henrietta’s cells, which are still living and will make some more tomorrow.”

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“Each of us reflects, in our attitudes toward our body and the bodies of other planetary creatures and plants, our inner attitude toward the planet. And, as we believe, so we act. A society that believes that the body is somehow diseased, painful, sinful, or wrong, a people that spends its time trying to deny the body’s needs, aims, goals, and processes–whether these be called health or disease–is going to misunderstand the nature of its existence and of the planet’s and is going to create social institutions out of those body-denying attitudes that wreak destruction not only on human, plant, and other creaturely bodies but on the body of the Earth herself.”

— Paula Gunn Allen, “The Woman I Love Is a Planet; The Planet I Love Is a Tree” in Off the Reservation

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Conversations From Calais

"Conversations From Calais aims to re-humanise the refugee crisis by using public space to share conversations volunteers have had with migrants met in Calais. It is a way of bearing witness and of documenting the stories of those who are so often considered as voiceless. How can we capture the diversity of these experiences and avoid creating new stereotypes of refugees as heroic figures or hopeless victims?"

conversationsfromcalais.com/

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Their Instagram account is here too, and very worth a follow:
instagram.com/conversationsfro

These texts are heartbreaking.

So I might have accidentally read 1000 pages more this month than I did per month on average last year. I thought I was comfortably behind because I only read 5 books.... but they were all Harry Potter books, which are BRICKS. So... :squareup:

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Posted with profound sadness. Sisters, if you are feeling overwhelmed: We Are Here For You. Find your Older sisters, or contact a bestie you can lean on. Many lesbians your own age are also willing to help you, or help you get the assistance you need. Don't hesitate, reach out.

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"As a Black woman, my politics & political affiliation are bound up with & flow from participation in my people's struggle for liberation, & with the fight of oppressed people against American imperialism."

Today marks the 76th bday of political activist Angela Davis.

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