DeKalb BOE And This “Surfacing” Of Race

Racial tensions often dominate wide swaths of southern politics.  They also can sell newspapers.

The AJC has a headline story today of “Specter of race surfaces in DeKalb school board woes“.  Note that the headline is passive voice.  The voice that buries responsibility for identifying a responsible party.  So let’s move on to the first two paragraphs and see who is making a race issue out of 99,000 school children working toward diplomas that are about to be worthless:

A meeting between Gov. Nathan Deal and leaders of several civil rights organizations took a fiery turn on Monday during discussions on whether Deal should be specifically seeking black candidates to replace DeKalb County’s ousted school board members.

The specter of race, long an undercurrent in debate over the majority-black board’s future, burst into the forefront as the head of the state NAACP chapter and other groups complained that Deal told them to “find some good black people to run” during the closed-door meeting. They said Deal was implying that finding qualified black candidates would be difficult.

Ah, I get it.  The old white man governor called in the NAACP and told them to find some good black folks.  How dare he call some folks in and tell them to help with optics to solve this politically dicey situation.  The nerve!

Now let’s keep reading….oh wait, look here, in paragraphs 12/13:

Participants in Monday’s meeting, which included the governor and his aides and several members of the NAACP and other civil rights groups, said the discussion started amicably but took a turn when the governor was pushed to select black candidates for the six seats. That’s when he urged them to find “good black people” to run, participants said.

“That’s a very insensitive, inflammatory and down-right negative thing to say,” said Marcus Coleman of the National Action Network’s Atlanta chapter.

So the Governor provoked this “insensitive and inflammatory” situation by…pushing back.  Pushing back to what?

Paragraph one or two should be that the DeKalb NAACP had a meeting with the governor to demand that the replacements for a failed school board be selected with the first priority being race.  Not about the ability to lead.  Not about the 99,000 DeKalb students.  Not about the content of the applicant’s character but about the color of their skin.

Instead, the Governor told them to go recruit good candidates.  And in doing so, he is the one being “insensitive and inflammatory?”

The NAACP showed up with an agenda.  That’s to be expected.  Having the AJC arrange a story so as to imply that the Governor picked this battle and complictly go along with the framing as intended by the NAACP is beneath the seriousness of the situation, and places the AJC on co-equal footing of trying to drive sensationalism into a crisis of governance which requires serious, not sensational, solutions.


  1. bgsmallz says:

    Great article, Charlie.

    Two key points:

    First, the AJC framing a story to suit their need to sell web advertisements…errr….I mean, “newspapers”… is nothing new, unfortunately. It’s worth pointing out that board governance issues such as following their own policies and Code of Ethics was the major undoing of the former school board. That would include things such as anonymously sharing the confidential with candidate for superintendent regarding her salary with a newspaper because you are against a white candidate for the position. Now THAT’S a story. However, the AJC had to bury the real story because they sold out the students of DeKalb in order to protect a confidential source on the school board who was willing to put their own agenda..with the help of the AJC…over the needs of 99,000 students.

    Second, “The specter of race, long an undercurrent in debate over the majority-black board’s future”<—-This. So the media, some of the losers getting thrown out of office, outspoken activists, and some politicians who think they are playing to their base all refuse to stop playing the race card makes it an 'undercurrent' in the debate? I'm pretty sure in order for someone to be part of the debate, they need to be engaged with the actual shareholders in the debate. That's why these jerks go to the governors office or the capitol…they get on TV but don't have to face angry parents, black and white, who want them to shut up. Seriously, show me where they have had one meeting with parents in their area? Why didn't they show up at this meeting in South DeKalb?

    They are like stray cats without a home on this issue…but as long as the AJC and the local media keep feeding them airtime, they'll keep coming back for more.

    • noparty says:


      “They are like stray cats without a home on this issue…but as long as the AJC and the local media keep feeding them airtime, they’ll keep coming back for more.”

      Well, I don’t know if the problem is the media giving them airtime. The real issue is that if their views are being accurately depicted by the media, then virtually any school board that gets elected in that area – or in the entire metro area for that matter – will be cut from this same cloth if this is the pool that school board candidates (and city council candidates and mayors) get elected from. I say that we should give these people more airtime so that it can become crystal clear what they actually believe. I honestly don’t think that the voters of DeKalb County know that the NAACP, the NAN etc. believe that having 6-7 blacks on the school board is more important than accreditation for 99,000 kids, the vast majority of wohm are black. I believe that if they were to find that out, next time they will vote for candidates that are unaffiliated with the local urban political scene, like the voters in Clayton County did after they lost accreditation: they stopped voting for the John Trotter MACE candidates.

      But if we find out that the voters DO agree that having 6-7 black politically connected school board members is more important than their school system, the local and regional (and possibly state) economy, and their own futures, then it is time to totally reconstitute that county’s political structure in order to limit the damage that they can cause. Make it so they can only hurt themselves with their bad decisions, not the region or the state.

      Now while that “Atlanta is the next Detroit” World Net Daily article was a pack of lies that even Erick Erickson took time to renounce, we really can’t ignore that voters and politicians in places like Washington D.C. and Detroit (and you can go ahead and add Clayton County to that even if there were other factors like the problems at Delta) did to themselves. If measures have to be taken to keep DeKalb County, which is host to so many employers and institutions that are vital to this region and state, from going the same way, then so be it.

  2. noparty says:

    Charlie, you dropped the ball on this one, big time. That was nowhere near the worst thing that the National Action Network (Al Sharpton’s group) and the NAACP said.

    “Robinson, the governor’s spokesman, said the group made its own demand, arguing that voters should pick whomever they want and “should live with the consequences if they choose ‘bad apples.’”
    “The governor said if he did nothing, the victims would be innocent children. They basically told him they were fine with that,” said Robinson. “That view doesn’t match that of the county’s parents and students — and that’s who the governor is fighting for.”
    But Edward DuBose, who heads the state NAACP chapter, said the conversation was more nuanced. He said he reminded Deal of the plight of civil rights icon Medgar Evers and others who sacrificed their lives to give disenfranchised blacks the right to vote.
    “We believe the right of the people to choose their own leaders should not be tampered with. The issue here is whether the governor should act like a dictator,” said DuBose.”

    You have no excuses Charlie. The reason is because the real story here was RIGHT BELOW the “That’s a very insensitive, inflammatory and down-right negative thing to say” bit. The reason is that this statement should have huge implications on how we view the black leadership moving forward. It was a tacit public admission that black representation – having a small number of blacks in power – is more important than producing good results for the community at large. That admission should have huge reverberations. That is, if people acknowledge that it was actually said. And here is the deal. Even if you BELIEVE something like this, you should never SAY it. So if they are willing to SAY stuff like this, then it means that they BELIEVE things that are much worse.

    Instead of treating this issue all gingerly, you GOPers should be screaming from the rooftops that the NAACP and Al Sharpton have a fundamentally different view of leadership, representation etc. than the rest of the civilized world. And I guess that they believe that the rest of the civilized world should be willing to pay for the results of ineffective leadership. Truthfully, they don’t even believe in leadership, because actual leadership requires accountability.

    The GOP really shouldn’t whiff on this one. This DeKalb County mess has given them a huge opportunity to reframe the race debate, and you guys shouldn’t blow it by treading so gingerly, especially when the civil rights leaders themselves volunteered the most damaging information possible themselves. It isn’t as if you have to put words in their mouth. This is what they actually said!

  3. Ghost of William F Buckley says:

    I participated in an AJC sponsored telephone survey last week, it was very long, detailed, and asked many questions.

    One question asked, “How would reduced bias increase your readership of AJC.”

    Left me break down the AJC, un-gingerly, as I see it:

    White = BAD
    Black = GOOD

    • noparty says:

      You are not the Ghost of William F. Buckley. Buckley, agree or disagree with him, stuck to the facts. Put it this way: you can ask Bill Campbell and any number of other corrupt area leaders if the AJC defended them because they were black. Campbell and the rest would disagree. Now if what you want is for the AJC to take up your own position on these matters, well you have Fox News, talk radio, American Renaissance, the League of the South, SBPDL etc. to suit those purposes just fine.

      • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

        Kindly, noparty: Bull-Scheissen.

        The nuances pointed out in this thread are one example of hundreds where the AJC shades, jades, nuances, and otherwise blatantly colors news with race. That you choose not to acknowledge same is your issue.

        Invoking that AJC openly reported on Bill Campbell’s transgressions overlooks the many decisions the Campbell administration made that eventually led to their relocation in Dunwoody.

  4. Nonchalant says:

    “Dear St. Peter,

    We would like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss the Lord’s policy of selecting folks into heaven based upon character. Thank you very much.

    Georgia NAACP”

    • Nonchalant says:

      And as a follow-on, because I understand Charlie likes those– {Petty as it is, this is not a fight you’re going to win. Consider this your last warning. – Charlie}

  5. bsjy says:

    The AJC has a headline story today of “Specter of race surfaces in DeKalb school board woes“. Note that the headline is passive voice.

    I know this is a blog, but surely the writer who calls out another writer for using the passive voice would cite a sentence that actually uses the passive voice. “Surface” is the active voice. In fact, I am not sure one could use that verb in a passive voice. “The submarine was surfaced by the depth charge” just sounds wrong.

  6. SourGwinnett says:

    We can’t stop racism when you bring it to the table yourself.

    You aren’t the victim when you bring the fight.

    • Nonchalant says:

      When the NAACP demands black school board members be somehow involved in this, solely because of race, I am reminded of the 1995 Scott O’Grady incident, the F-16 pilot who was shot down over Bosnia.

      The pilot had been found, and a rescue attempt was being organized. It was to be a Marine force off of a Navy ship, with Navy air cover. The Air Force came in and tried to stop the planning, saying “we want our assets to be part of this”. Bill Clinton, having had enough, said something to the effect of “You are involved. It’s your guy they are rescuing.”

      The mission went on as planned, and was a success.

  7. gchidi says:

    I’m beside myself, which is terribly difficult to do outside of a Douglas Adams novel.

    I saw the reporting on the NAACP meeting as well. I feel like Keegan-Michael Key when he’s playing Barack Obama’s anger translator Luther in a Key and Peele sketch. Dave Chappelle, come out of your bunker, sir. We need you.

    I went through the Google News archive, the Wayback Machine and other sources, looking for some evidence that the NAACP had said one miserable word in public about the unfolding managerial disaster at the DeKalb school board before things melted all the way down last year. I find nothing. I could be wrong.

    I can hear the counter coming, before I even issue the charge. “It’s not our job to police the behavior of black politicians. We’re here to uplift the black community. They don’t need to hear public criticism from us.”

    The charge of hypocrisy is pretty clear, though. I’ll say this, and get s–t for it: Suppose the school board were mostly white, for whatever reason. And say that this board was screwing up as badly as the current board had. Hypotheticals are awful things, but I suspect we would have borne witness to a series of protests and public outcry from NAACP leaders about how mis-served the black community had been.

    DeKalb doesn’t have a black leadership problem. It has a poverty problem. In more affluent communities, there’s a large contingent of comfortable, educated, retired old bitties or the equivalent of soccer moms and helicopter parents ready to scrutinize every line item of a municipal budget, show up to PTA meetings and NIMBY-ed out zoning board hearings, generally causing headaches for any elected official who isn’t a technocrat. There’s enough economic slack to allow civic culture to emerge.

    In much of DeKalb — despite all the maker/taker language of the last election — everyone is too busy trying to make ends meet to watch the till. We have a dearth of old bitties who have both time on their hands and the civic skills to administer appropriate ass-kickings to public officials. It’s not that people don’t care. It’s that they can’t afford the time to do anything about it. It’s also one reason you see underachievement in some schools there — not enough time for parental involvement.

    Under circumstances like this, one might hope a community group or citizens organization would step up to fill the civic void. One, perhaps, with a storied history and a tradition of serving communities of color under conditions of economic disadvantage. One that stands outside of the traditional power structure. Like, say … THE GODDA–ED NAACP.

    (dial it back, Luther.)

    The terrible thing about the way the NAACP has decided to step into this fight now is that they are willing to risk the chilling effect of their actions on black people speaking out about mismanagement by black elected officials. Here I am, a black progressive Democrat screaming bloody murder about corruption, and in the back of my mind I’m wondering if I’m going to be viewed as somehow “disloyal” to the black community because the NAACP has staked out such a strident position on the other side of the argument.

    This is the pernicious irony of racism. An unbiased examination of the issues would look at Walker, Cunningham and others as individuals and not as somehow symptomatic of black political leadership. The NAACP is making that harder to do. It might be unfair to even say that the NAACP is doing it — it’s the individuals at the top of the organization standing in front of the cameras shifting this discussion. The rank-and-file members, the voters — black and white — and the kids have a significantly different view of things, and we would all like to not be painted with such a broad brush.

    • Self_Made says:

      “In much of DeKalb — despite all the maker/taker language of the last election — everyone is too busy trying to make ends meet to watch the till. We have a dearth of old bitties who have both time on their hands and the civic skills to administer appropriate ass-kickings to public officials. It’s not that people don’t care. It’s that they can’t afford the time to do anything about it. It’s also one reason you see underachievement in some schools there — not enough time for parental involvement.”

      Agreed. In many cases, its not even poverty…its transportation. The dearth of adequate employment options in the south Metro and the movement of decent jobs from the Peachtree corridor to the nether-regions of N. Fulton/S. Forsyth puts many well-meaning, smart, and caring parents in traffic for 3-4 hours per day. But try to request that PTA meetings be held on Saturdays and the teachers and administrators will swear you’re trying to eat their children. Effective school board representation should champion parents and neighborhoods struggling with unconventional challenges such as this. Instead, I have the NAACP defending these stooges and Michael Thurmond pointing his finger at parents and the media for “making things worse”. As for those transportation issues…same group opposed TSPLOST, which, despite its flaws, held some relief to south DeKalb residents on transit and traffic. They are woefully out of touch with what we really need for our community to prosper. I wish they’d just STFD and STFU.

  8. James says:

    Interesting thoughts, gchidi.

    I always wonder why the NAACP cannot see the endgame of this entire debate. They mug in front of cameras, decry elected officials being removed by a “dictator” but, as gchidi correctly notes, appear rather uninterested in the actual educational process.

    So what happens? Simple. Rather than fighting to improve the school system, people (let’s be honest–white people) opt out. Dunwoody begins laying the foundation for its own school system. Brookhaven will follow closely. Other majority-white areas of DeKalb County will push for cityhood and start their own school systems. Meanwhile, the gentrification of Decatur is completed, as whites buy up and raze all the black-owned houses south of the tracks so they can get their kids into Decatur City Schools (after all, a $700,000 house is affordable when you don’t have to pay for private school).

    Endgame? A completely segregated, supermajority black school system serving the poorest portions of DeKalb County. And the worst part? No one cares. White parents don’t care because their snowflakes are in white schools. The NAACP doesn’t care because DeKalb’s school system is under complete black control. And the people unfortunate enough to actually attend those schools? To use gchidi’s correct words “they can’t afford the time to do anything about it.”

    So I ask the question – can’t the NAACP see this coming? Or do they not even care?

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      James, March 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm-

      With all of the quality-of-life-endangering mischief that has been going on in county government, can anyone REALLY blame areas like Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Lakeside, Druid Hills and Tucker for wanting to escape from it by starting their own cities and school districts?

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      James, March 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm-

      At this point, the creation of smaller municipal school districts out of the larger dysfunctional countywide school system would be a great improvement to education as those smaller high-performing districts would likely help keep the much of the county viable as an economic entity.

  9. Self_Made says:

    “On the other hand, it’s not at all shocking that the NAACP would demand someone be hired based solely on the color of their skin… affirmative action is sort of what they do, no?” – Conservative Brawler

    Well stated. Absolutely true. This is evidenced by the fact that the NAACP was silent when former superintendent Crawford Lewis was unhorsed due to abuse of power and funds at SW DeKalb High School. They were silent when almost every high school in the county failed AYP. They were silent when an $80 million hole appeared in the budget due to failed governance and cronyism. They were silent when SACS/AdvancED placed the district on probation. They were silent when the black members of the DeKalb House caucus debated against SB 79, that gave these “controversial” powers to the governor (the senators representing south DeKalb remained silent as well). They only found their voice when the white Republican governor placed black elected officials on probation. Somehow, nothing preceding THAT event was ever a threat to the well being of the black populace of DeKalb county or their children. Somehow, backing other candidates in the primaries against these public self-servants for the good of the students (and parents and educators who have complained FOR YEARS about the growing dysfunction of the district, ESPECIALLY in south DeKalb) was beyond their scope. If they were truly concerned about the democratic process, they would have gone to the governor and the state board asking for time to organize a recall prior to the hearings and suspensions.

    I see John Evans often. We are cordial and polite to each other…after all, we’re neighbors. However, neither he nor the DeKalb NAACP represent me or thousands of other black parents who believe that “any means necessary” are appropriate to address this board’s utter failure to the county’s children in general and black children in south DeKalb in particular. I happen to agree that this process is very likely unconstitutional and I strongly opposed SB 79. However, if backing the governor on this is tantamount to making a deal with the devil, then pass me my asbestos glove so I can shake his hand.

  10. OleDirtyBarrister says:

    I would disagree with the aforementioned statement of what the NAACP does. Race pimping, race baiting, and extortion is what the NAACP does, not affirmative action. The purpose for being there was foreseeable and transparent.

    I don’t know why Deal even wasted his time meeting with them. I would have told them to pound sand and done what I wanted.

    • gchidi says:

      There are good reasons for Deal to meet with them, reasons that are both moral and nakedly political.

      Whatever else is going on, we’re still talking about the replacement of elected officials in a mostly-black constituency. This state is subject to the Voting Rights Act, and, frankly, I think it’s entirely possible that Deal’s appointments could be reversed on appeal. As much as I want this resolved, I can respect the legal opinions on either side of this argument.

      I’m arguing morality. It’s immoral to hold 99,000 students hostage to political bulls–t. This answer hurts less than the alternatives.

      But if Deal wants to act with a moral imperative, he has to acknowledge the voting rights issue, and meeting with the NAACP would be part of that. I think a special election should be called as quickly as reasonable, regardless.

      In terms of naked politics — well, that’s fairly obvious. The Republicans are a couple of election cycles from coughing up this state because of the population growth of nonwhite voters. The only way to slow that down or change demographic destiny is to make political inroads into communities of color. To date, that’s been nearly impossible for Republicans … because at best they have manifestly refused to give a s–t about the issues of communities of color and at worst are perceived as actively antagonistic to them. If Deal was as heavy-handed as you’re suggesting, how do you think that would reflect on Republicans in a close election in a few years? If Deal can manage this issue deftly, he has a chance at stemming the bleeding his party is going to face.

    • gchidi says:

      Also, I let this slide and I shouldn’t have: you do your views no favor by using language like “race pimping” and “extortion” to describe people with whom you disagree. As pissed off as I am at these guys right now, I recognize the need for an organization to deal with institutional racism in America. I do business research for a living, and every day I’m trawling through the webpages of corporate executives.

      I live in a metro area where roughly 10 percent of the adult population is a person of color with a bachelor’s degree. I could pick a hundred corporate board rooms at random in this town and I might find a dozen black executives, total. This is one reason why society needs these guys.

      My argument with them is simple: by allowing their credibility to erode with bad moves like this, they’re damaging their ability to deal with issues of substantial institutional racism affecting the broader public. This stuff makes it that much harder to march into a board room to inquire why so few of their executives look like the community in which they’re operating.

      • Nonchalant says:

        You are quite right to mention the future of Georgia, and here is how I see it–votes in the future will in fact be based on race for a decade or more, with only the color of the candidate mattering for quite some time to come, and I see a very decent chance of the state being ran right into the ground shortly thereafter–because your new voters will have made their choice based upon the only thing that matters to them, and that leaves a lot of room for a lot of stupidity to get into office.

        You can say what you want about the good ole boys of yore and present who have ran the state, but the fact that most were in business in some way, shape, or form (even if just a law practice) meant that at a certain level they knew trains had to run on time, and knew how to make it happen (enough to allow for prosperity, and Georgia has basically been prosperous).

        I have fears this new Georgian majority doesn’t get that yet, and won’t get the idea until disaster hits them in the face enough times–in fact may never get it. The trains have got to run on time, regardless of how much doctoral-level education you have or how much you seem to care about the community in all the trendy ways or how much the personal narrative seems like it should be rewarded. The trains have got to run on time. Period.

        Let the state NAACP exhibit its apparent main concern all it wants. What it tells me is that eventually, in this state, the good-times will eventually be over, because just as with the Germanic tribes being unable to maintain the Roman way of civilization in the areas they conquered, so it might be with this state, and thus I continually question whether this state is a good long-term bet for investment.

        Because reality doesn’t care that you demand to be graded on a curve due to your race. And I’m personally not interested in being an “Afrikaner” forced to tolerate inadequate performance because of things already two generations past, things I never did myself, and the rules of political correctness, ruling above all else, say I nonetheless must.

        Atlanta, and Georgia, simply have a choice. We can either become sclerotic, which is what I think is going to happen, or we can go from being the “City/state too busy to hate” to the “city/state where no one thinks about it”. And it is going to have to be the black community that makes that happen, because no one else can. Caring first and foremost about the skin of office seekers tells me it ain’t going to happen.

        I wouldn’t locate a business now in the morass of Dekalb County to save my life, not because it is that much of a disaster, but because life is too short, and I don’t want to deal with whatever psychological baggage the African-American community has, and there are other places I could go. And that is exactly what a lot of it is–baggage, extra baggage, pure and simple. Certainly nothing that is paying the freight. Everything in life has an opportunity cost. Don’t complain when you have to forgo the other thing, because you decided something else was more important.

        “Life’s tough. It’s tougher when you’re stupid.” –Sgt. Stryker, “Sands of Iwo Jima”

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Your trains analogy may be a little misplaced seeing as how GDOT has been severely-mismanaged over the past decade or so.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          I also wouldn’t be too doom-and-gloom on the potential of diverse Democrat leadership taking over Georgia’s statewide political scene as, for the most part, the black Democratic mayors of Atlanta have had really close relationships with the corporate community.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          DeKalb County will also be okay in the long run as more areas form their own municipal governments and municipal school districts moving forward leaving the dysfunctional existing county government in charge of fewer functions.

          • bgsmallz says:

            This was mentioned on the PP Daily today…there is a meeting on the city of Lakeside.

            What wasn’t mentioned was that the folks behind the city effort have redrawn the map.

            Version #2- 2/28/13

            Interesting that the commercial areas on the other side of 85 were dropped, but that the map still leaves peninsulas and cuts communities of interest in half in order to take commercial strips.

            The best part of the whole thing? Comm. Boyer and the group are holding the cityhood meeting at Tucker Middle…which just happens to be a few hundred yards outside of where the new city limits would cut unincorporated Tucker in half. It’ll be fun to see all the folks from SmokeRise that show up to “inquire” about who in their right mind feels like Lakeside should cut the community of Tucker in half.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              Yeah, I don’t know how well the boundaries of Lakeside as proposed on that map will go over with Tucker also talking about possibly forming its own municipal government. These proposed maps of Lakeside just might work to move up Tucker’s incorporation timetable.

              • bgsmallz says:

                Tucker Civic Association already did an informal study through GA Tech….7 years ago. (Of course, if DeKalb still had the same millage rate today as it did 7 years ago, this probably wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation)


                And it sounds as if the Lakeside group might have some interesting questions based on this release by the TCA yesterday.


                I’m all for a city of Lakeside, I really am. But I think they are making an enemy where they should have a friend. Three step process to fix the problem…(1)reach out to Tucker folks interested in cityhood; (2) rebrand as the Lakeside-Tucker feasability committee; and (3) study the whole area from Lakeside to Tucker including Smokerise and everything north of 78 to Gwinnett…

                You would probably be able to draw two feasible cities out of two communities of interest with the results of the CVI helping draw the boundaries. Done and Done.

                I’m still baffled by the whole thing…Tucker is organized and connected. The fallout from not including that area will be swift and probably fatal.

      • OleDirtyBarrister says:

        Baloney. Race pimping and extortion is exactly what they do and they get a free pass. They should be called on it on every opportunity.

  11. drjay says:

    wasn’t one of the removed board members white? based on this logic shouldn’t one of the replacements be also to maintain the proper homogenicity of the board…

  12. Will Durant says:

    The AJC has since changed the headline on the online version of this story as they were called to task by several for “5 Blacks and 1 White named by Deal to DeKalb School Board”. No pot stirring there, none at all.

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