On Black Women As Birth Of A Nation’s Scapegoats, And Why Roland Martin Needs To Delete His Twitter » VSB

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On Black Women As Birth Of A Nation’s Scapegoats, And Why Roland Martin Needs To Delete His Twitter

Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM


At the time of writing, BOAN (an acronym for Birth of a Nation) is trending. Not because of the film itself. Or even directly because of the controversy surrounding Nate Parker — its star, director, executive producer, and head writer.

But because it performed below most expectations, which is being blamed on Black women collectively — Black feminists, particularly — whose criticism of Parker both dampened enthusiasm for supporting the movie and may have even influenced how it was critically received.

Which is both true and bullshit. Bullshit marinated in a “y’all got to be the dumbest motherfucka who ever lived” rub and dipped in a “shut the fuck up” pate. And both the truth behind and the abject bullshit attached to this claim can by synopsized by a back and forth between TVOne’s Roland Martin and The Root’s Yesha Callahan Monday about a piece Callahan wrote about BOAN’s opening weekend.

From “Birth of a Flop: Nat Turner Biopic Fails to Live Up To Its Hype

The historically inaccurate biopic about Nat Turner failed to bring in the big numbers that Fox Searchlight was expecting after the company paid $17,000,000 to distribute the film. The movie, which opened over the weekend, only took in an estimated $7.1 million and came in 6th place. Could it be that the low numbers were due to the controversy surrounding Parker’s rape allegations from 1999? Possibly so. It seems as though Parker became a liability for his own movie. No matter how many interviews he did, not only did he come off arrogant and rude, but also lacked remorse when discussing that night in 1999. Even his own co-stars couldn’t save the movie. Gabrielle Union, a rape survivor, penned a poignant post about her own sexual assault, but urged others to see the movie.

When the reviews came rolling in about the film, it was hard to find a positive one. From the historical inaccuracies, to the role black women played in the movie, it was true to some that it was a flawed endeavor.

Now, it is very clear from this write up that Yesha wasn’t particularly unhappy that BOAN underwhelmed. But there’s nothing she said here that’s even remotely untrue.

It was panned for being historically inaccurate — and with historical inaccuracies that were unnecessary and egregious. Considering the money Fox Searchlight put up for BOAN and put into promoting it, they surely did expect a better weekend. Not Avatar or Jurassic Park numbers, of course, but better than $7.1 million. The spotlight on and discussion about Parker’s 17-year-old rape allegations definitely didn’t help matters. And, when people — including Gabrielle Union and Oprah (Oprah!!!!!) — tried to help him out, his series of increasingly tone deaf interviews weren’t just train wrecks. They were train wrecks that grew sentient and searched for new trains and fresh tracks to crash again. It was train wreck bukkake. And most of the reviews from professional critics at national platforms (The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, RogerEbert.com, etc) found it to be fair to middling. Not a terrible movie. But definitely not something worthy of any type of award recognition.

Again, no lies told here. But that didn’t stop Roland Martin from chiming in.

First he claimed that the piece was filled with a “litany of inaccuracies.”

Then he cited Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office Mojo as proof that the movie was received well.

Is it technically true that you’ll find more positive reviews of BOAN on Rotten Tomatoes than negative ones? Yes. But this is where nuance matters. If you filter for the top critics and actually read those reviews, even most of the ones who gave it a positive rating gave it with caveats. For a movie that was initially spoken of and promoted as a tour de force, a definite Oscar contender, a B-minus review is not a good one.

Of course, he didn’t stop there. He called Yesha out by name, and then tweeted at her boss, The Root managing editor Danielle Belton.

Now, did Yesha take a couple personal and unprofessional shots at Martin? Yes, she did. But he came at her first — basically calling her a liar and a shitty writer on his platform of 416,000 followers — for the crime of writing the exact same thing that 47433474 different outlets published Monday.

Don’t believe me? The very first page of results of googling “birth of a nation box office” shows the following:

From The New York TimesThe Birth of a Nation’ Struggles at the Box Office

From JezebelThe Birth of a Nation Kinda Bombed at the Box Office

From The Wall Street JournalBirth of a Nation’ Flops Badly, Opening in Sixth Place at Box Office

From Vanity FairThe Birth of a Nation Flops Hard at Box Office

From ForbesBox Office: Why ‘Birth Of A Nation’ Was Doomed

From VultureThe Birth of a Nation Couldn’t Overcome Nate Parker at the Box Office

But instead of going at these other mainstream (read: White) outlets, Ascot Jesus decided to go at Yesha and then included Yesha’s boss in an attempt to get her reprimanded. Perhaps even demoted or fired. And if that happened to me, I’d get personal and unprofessional too.

A larger form of this type of scapegoating is happening on the Internet this week. Which should be no surprise, because it happens every time something produced, created by, or featuring a Black male doesn’t get the support it was anticipating. Its the Black woman’s fault. Even if 60% of Birth of a Nation’s audience last weekend were Black women, it’s Black women angry at Parker for being accused of raping a woman (and having a White wife) who’s to blame for it torpedoing. Not the underwhelming reviews from the critics people actually pay attention to. Or Parker’s aggressive unlikeability. Or people (and by “people” I mean “Black men”) refusing to have higher standards of acceptable and laudable behavior for Black men. Or the fact that maybe the movie just wasn’t that good.

Nope. It’s Black women’s fault for BOAN tanking. Which now means no one will ever know Nat Turner’s story. And also that no Black movies will ever get made again. Drats.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Phil GoBeGreat

    When I think about the stereotypical annoying Kappas that always get (unnecessarily) shot at in (Damon’s) VSBs articles… I think of people like Roland. (even though he’s an Alpha)

  • You missed his claim that Black women are protesting the film because Nate has a white wife. I said my 3 cents on Twitter, but it’s worth repeating….

    1. So, if Black women are the reason why BOAN “flopped” (and it didn’t), where all the Black men that hold down a brother and carry him over?

    2. Give it another weekend, people. Selma did $600k its 1st weekend, 11M the 2nd. 12 years a slave made $900k 1st w/e and took a month to get to $8M.

    3. This! Entire thread https://twitter.com/tnwhiskeywoman/status/786194426452246528

    • charisma_supreme

      I didnt even know he was married until recently (ie, after the media discussion about the case). I didnt know his wife was white until this article. Where are ppl getting these assumptions from?

    • NomadaNare

      Thats so rude the way you did their silly argument

      Black women arent supposed to do that like that

    • HoneyRose

      Word to #2. Some people ain’t even get their paychecks yet, and the folks that did spent it on Halloween costumes for their kids and such.

  • catgee12

    Ascot Jesus — I am weak!!!

    • NonyaB?

      I’m lowkey mad that ascots are getting a bad rap due to neckless Rolo’s association with them.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    I’m just over it…

    Over this movie
    Over Nate Parker
    Over the conversation (about the movie not about consent/rape culture because we have so far to go)
    Over black women constantly being scapegoats for the hotep/blackty black elite
    Just over it…..

    In the words of Solange I’m trying to drink it away,but since I can’t….. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/661004f860dc2c341977509407fa600d667e00624813ca825d6acd4f84a692dc.gif

    • miss t-lee

      this has been my new favorite gif the last couple of days.

      • Because it has so, so, SO many applications. I may or may not have it saved to my computer and phone.

        • HouseOfBonnets

          Same lol

        • miss t-lee

          So, so many.

      • Jennifer
        • Mary Burrell

          I love that gif of Viola

        • Question

          But that side eye after she reaches for her purse… How I would love to look at 99% of my clients.

          • Mochasister

            I wish I could look at my students like that!

          • Conrad Bess

            If I ever met her (like if she came to Toronto for TIFF), I wouldn’t even ask for an autograph. I’d just say please side eye me and walk off.

        • miss t-lee

          Hellz yes!

        • CozyVon

          I LIIIIVVVVEEEE for Viola picking up her purse and exiting! She gives LEGENDARY “Girl, BYE!” LMAO

      • Janelle Doe

        i liked the one of that slap she landed on dude like a 2016 Sydney P

        • miss t-lee

          Also good.

        • justtwo post


      • Courtney Wheeler

        best wig she’s worn on this show in my opinion.

        • Jennifer

          lol! I agree!

        • miss t-lee

          They definitely stepped up the wig budget this season.

    • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com


    • charisma_supreme

      The silent scream i just let out at this desk over this gif!!!!!!

    • Mochasister

      Her eyeshadow is pretty.

  • Ari

    Is there a way to find out the actual box office demographics of viewership on BOAN (or any movies for that matter) opening weekend? I see 60 percent of viewers were black women down thread but I’d be curious to see the numbers.

  • Stanley

    Saw the movie, it was Ok, just that. All of these dudes getting mad at Black Women over the weekend results of this movie are ridiculous. More than likely, they didn’t see it. I don’t understand this irrational instinct to attack black women. People need to fall all the way back

  • MsCee

    Here is the real reason why BOAN flopped…All the “good”Black men have married white women and left us sista’s sad, alone, and miserable…we don’t have anyone to take us to the movies and of course we can’t afford to take ourselves because we all have at least 4 kids from 4 different daddies and none of them pay child support. We are so tired of being single, and unable to possibly enjoy life without a man that we decide to forsake our own good sense and eventually settle for a nice unemployed hotep brother who takes what little money we have, drives our car to hotep conventions and doesn’t replace the gas…that’s why BOAN flopped…cause Black women and ish

    • Buster Cannon

      lol @ ‘hotep conventions’

      • Courtney Wheeler

        Imagine…an actual hotep convention….the egos in that room…

        • Question

          Can you imagine? Like, really think about what that would look, sound and smell like. I betcha more White women in attendance than BW.

        • goveb

          Sadly, there are hotep conventions. They’re hosted by Tariq Nasheed and headlined by Umar Johnson.

          • Courtney Wheeler
          • MsKeisha23


          • Coco

            Tariq is just the worst! And every time he tweets his BS, it’s crazy to see how many grown a$$ BM think exactly like him and support his mess. They’re like a mini beyhive, the moment you disagree with him, they’ll be in your mentions the whole day.

            I feel bad for the women in their real life, because their expectations are crazy.

            • Ice Jones

              it’s crazier to see how many black women cosign that mess as well

              • Coco

                I forgot about them, one of them diagnosed me with Stockholm syndrome because I didn’t agree with Tariq calling Simone biles a n*gro bed wench.

                • Ms.

                  How is Simone Biles a Negro Bed Wench? And Nasheed has biracial children doesn’t he? To me Tariq looks like an ape in the face. Just a talking ape with a deep voice & clothes on. I wonder what Black Authority looks like? Probably the same.

              • LifeDelishUs
                • Mary Burrell

                  That writer called Feathers she is a female Hotep of the highest order.

                  • lkeke35

                    Thanks for the heads up. I have an account with Medium. I hadn’t encountered her though. She stay out my recc’s.

                    • Mary Burrell

                      That piece she wrote was so ridiculous

                • mysstea

                  I’m confused…she says she is not defending him as a (n alleged) rapist and proven homophobe, but used him as an example anyway to prove that black feminists, and black women IN GENERAL, are petty, insecure rage monsters because his example has “enough angles”? Isn’t he a bad example? Or am I missing something.

                  • I read that..some of the shytc was repulsive BUT THERE ARE A BATCH OF BLACK WOMEN who are bitter as fawk… I’m talking about if you fix your husband a sandwich, they will call you a “mammy”.

                    Maaaaaaaaan. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/09ea14607d60bcbbeb713a0a4efbb0073dd5a0340673d87c38aab2808f982057.jpg

                    • mysstea

                      Lol, I don’t know them

                    • Wise Old Owl

                      Yes, Misandrynoir is active in the Black Community and I realize that just as there are sick and disgusting black males, who hate and despise All Black Women for whatever reason, there are numerous black females, who entire existence is to bash and blame Black Men for all the ills in the World. As a Black Man I freely admit that as an individual and as a collective, Black Men need and must do better to heal the growing schism between Sisters and Brothers. However, the Sisters who practice Misandrynoir will rarely admit that Black Women need to do better or assist in healing the gender war wounds in the community.

                    • This is the thing for me.. I love those who love me back …it makes life so much easier… I have no issues telling men or women to kiss my ayus.. I’m am equal opportunity sister.

                    • Mochasister

                      What’s wrong with fixing your husband a sammich? As long as you are both being considerate to one another, I don’t see what’s the problem.

                    • Me either but hey.. lol

                    • SororSalsa

                      Girl, do you know how hard it is to be bitter when you’re putting cheese, lettuce and tomatoes on that sammich for the man you love??? Real bitter chicks can’t stand that, so they gotta hate.

                    • Sis, I swear if yall could see the shyt that black women have said to me and other black women cosign… but when I CLAP BACK with some shyt about their lives… I’m problematic… I’m like…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a55f30c659b0cb8329c50ccb6449b3ddc95cc499644e33ff394154ecbb501083.gif

                    • Delvin Edwards

                      That’s because they can’t cook right ????

                    • Ms.

                      That’s weird. I hate to use the word “Bitter” because let’s face it-black men have run that word into the ground. Just like the word “byttch”. You know?

                    • It is what it is… not saying you but ppl wanna eliminate words that fit… I’m all for calling spades a spade… Men included. I don’t discriminate.

                  • Big Tim

                    He was acquitted smh. Wow I bet you guys are not saying anything about Jerry Sandusky trying to get his conviction thrown out.

                • Question

                  Umm…but did you peep the leading comment, from a YT woman:

                  With all due respect, the numbers indicate entirely the opposite of what you’re arguing here. As I reported today in Pacific Standard, 61 percent of the film’s opening-night and 55 percent of its opening-weekend audience were female. And as The Hollywood Reporter noted over the weekend, 51 percent of the movie’s opening-weekend audience was African American.

                  It’s not hard to do the math: A major audience for ‘The Birth of a Nation’?—?perhaps the major audience?—?was Black women. This indicates that “petty,” “insecure,” and “destructive”?—?as you described them?—?Black women did not sabotage the movie as a result of Black feminist social-media posts, but in fact championed the film where other demographics did not. The same phenomenon was noted with regard to ‘Straight Outta Compton’ last year, even as Dr. Dre was facing similar outcry on social media and in the press due to resurfaced allegations of past acts of violence against women.

                  I’d suggest you check out the story, as it also contains information on how social-media “boycotts,” while buzzy in the Internet sphere, do not actually undermine box-office totals.

                • MsCee

                  Oh, lordt…I really tried to read that whole thing…I couldn’t make it…my ancestors wouldn’t let me. I know it says an actual Black female wrote that but I’m pretty sure Donald Trump actually penned that blasphemy.

              • lkeke35

                Yeah, I got some female coworker constantly trying to get me to see that hotep movie “Hidden Colors”. She keep talking about how it’s gon’ open my eyes. All I keep telling her is I ain’t asleep. I can clearly see hoteppin’ when I encounter it.

            • PadThai2

              It’s easy to have support when you tweet under multiple accounts and pretend to be different people. You see that kinda BS all the time on Twitter from the variants of the he-man women hater’s club.

            • Mary Burrell

              The Hoteps woman better not have a monthly cycle because only European women have a those. (rolling eyes)

              • Yahmo Bethere

                Rub some cannabis oil on it!

                • Mary Burrell

                  Listen, I am shaking my head they are so ridiculous

              • Yada’s old tyrannosaurus Rex ayus arms!!! Lmao

                • Mary Burrell


            • Furious Styles

              Our trauma has made us so vulnerable to demagoguery.

          • ladyfresh

            Oh y’all aint heard about the Straight Black Pride movement either
            ugh i truly hate to be the bearer of these truly awful news the hotep convention is officially a thing

          • RagesAgainstMachines
            • Courtney Wheeler

              Nope…I look at this like I look like people trying to sell me pre-paid legal.

            • Helga G.Pataki

              “all proceeds go to the cost of this event”….

              • lkeke35

                “…personal financial freedom…”
                Yeah, thats called starting a business. Some of us just do it. Not attend endless conventions and meetings to talk about it so as to keep from doing it.

            • Question

              Wait…David Banner has gone full hotep on us??

            • Big Tim

              What the heck is a Hotep?

              • troubleman

                Hoteps are people who are ultra black radicals that espouse conspiracy theories and unfounded nonsense.

          • Ms.

            “Hosted by Taruq Nasheed & ” Dr.” Umar Johnson”

            Don’t forget TheBlackAuthority!

        • MsCee

          They would call it Hotepcon…and instead of dressing up like like a superhero the madatory attire would be Dashiki’s (Kenti cloth cause hotep brother don’t work)

          • Courtney Wheeler

            That’s a great question…what do Hotep dudes do for employment? I’m going with mall security.

            • Buks AL

              Sounds about right. Posted outside the Sephora and MAC quick to tell you to stop putting all that crap on your face, while simultaneously trying to get you to read their self-published self-help book.

            • MsCee

              Who has time to work when your’re busy building your kingdom, raising your “sons” and daughters…you know posting all those memes on FB about us “common negras” is back breaking labor but somebody has to do it.

              • Courtney Wheeler

                yeah….being a misogynistic, hypocrticial tool is a full time job

              • Courtney Wheeler

                I think the VSB community should create a Hotep resume template. Gotta support the culture!!!

            • Question

              Barber. Not at a shop but like they drive around with clippers in their glove box.

            • Yahmo Bethere

              Selling “oils”. One just told me to smile.

              • Courtney Wheeler

                That’s my number one pet peeve. If you tell me to smile…I will stab you.

            • lkeke35

              While making endless plans to have financial freedom and chastising you about not having any.

          • Illumina

            I had to upvote for Hotepcon.

            I laughed out loud at my desk.

        • SororSalsa

          Half of them would drop dead, because the other half would suck all the air out of the room. Not a bad idea really.

      • Furious Styles

        Also known as retreats.

        • lkeke35

          Retreatin’ from what?

          • Furious Styles

            “Coons,”” bedwenches”, non-vegan food and critical thinking, of course.

            • MsCee

              Lmfao…kllt me dead

    • Janelle Doe

      hahah don’t let Ruby Who Eho see this. She went all in on that post that one time (not that BW disagreed with her)

    • MsSula

      *cackles loud*

    • Quirlygirly

      We are so miserable that we decided to take the power we have, not to fix out situations..oh no..we decided to tank a movie..I am so tired of black women be scapegoats for others shortcomings and inadequacies.

      • MsCee

        I mean geeesshhh if they wanted us there that bad all they had to do was offer every Black woman a free bottle of Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner with the purchase of each BOAN ticket…or a free Bundle for all my European wannabe sistas (in my hotep king voice)

        • Judyjhutton4

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !ap213f:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash493TopEventGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!ap213f:….,……

        • HoneyRose

          Girl, ’round my parts it might’ve been cheaper to just buy the shampoo and conditioner at my local Target than buy the ticket.

    • Jeneé Grannum

      ???I have never in my life made a comment on here. But I had to come out of the woodwork to give you a round of applause ?? for how beautifully you articulated “our plight”. ?

      • MsSula

        Welcome Miss Jenee. Hope you stay a while.

      • MsCee

        Yayyyy!!!! I win!!! Lol, welcome to the light of day girlfriend.

    • LisaLisa NoCultJam


    • Even good Black men with white women will enjoy seeing white people beat to death.

      • Mary Burrell

        Cackling ????

    • Mary Burrell


    • this was the best comment to ever did comment.

    • mysstea

      HOTEP CONVENTIONS?! Why did I just holler at my desk, ma’am?

    • brothaskeeper

      I KNEW it!

    • Janelle Doe
    • La Bandita

      If you hate Black women why do you want their support?

      Why do they have to see THAT movie are they slaves and don’t have choices?

      Are you saying Black women upholds all of Black culture – then shouldnt Black men be nicer… Ask nicely?

      Should Black women really be supporting men who rape or beat or pee on people? Don’t you then tell her it’s her fault if anything goes wrong?

      Aren’t you stereotyping Black women the way White men stereotype Black men? Aren’t both cases wrong thing to do.

  • Val

    Things Black women are responsible for according to Roland Martin

    – nuclear proliferation
    – global warming
    – Starbucks being on every corner
    – price of milk going up
    – traffic jams in China
    – genetically modified apples
    – Eastern Airlines going out of business
    – Every election a Democrat loses
    – Puffy rapping
    – The NY Knicks
    – Ryan Lochte lying
    – extinction of the gastric brooding frog
    – Katz’s deli going out of business
    – funding cuts at NASA
    – Asian carp in Lake Michigan
    – Doogie Howser, MD being cancelled

    • MsCee

      Dead, done, died. Came back, died again.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Not Doogie Howser tho lol

    • Ari

      Genetically modified apples though? This list sent me!

    • [Insert Creative Name Here]

      -Samsung Galaxy Note 7 igniting

      • Val


      • Quirlygirly

        BOL!! We black women are a mighty powerful bunch..

        • [Insert Creative Name Here]


    • [Insert Creative Name Here]

      – Spilled milk

    • Janelle Doe


    • – Popeye’s taking away the $5 box
      – Spirit Air’s customer service
      – Autotune
      – The Miami Heat losing D. Wade
      – Tails going out of style (soon followed by Nike checks and FILA logos)
      -Coogi’s resurgence and then disappearance

      • Val

        Okay, blaming Spirit’s lousy customer service on us is going too far! Lol

        • You know only sistas work at the counter and in the aisles.

      • NomadaNare

        I cant believe yall visited Spirit Air on us

        How could you

    • Switch to almond milk

    • MsSula

      Asian Carp in Lake Michigan? Wha? How did they get there? LMAO.

      • Janelle S

        They’ve been there. It’s pretty awful.

        • MsSula

          That is so weird though. Like how Sway?

    • NomadaNare

      -Erectile Dysfunction

      • Val

        Nah. Lol

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        not the ones I’ve met.

        *sly Kanye smile*

    • Illumina

      If they could find proof of us being there, we’d be blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire.

      • Kas

        It’s been discussed. We are currently reviewing a white paper that may be published in the near future.

    • orchid921

      Katz’s Deli did WHAT?!!! Off to Google …

      • Janelle S

        Yeah. In a couple of weeks.

      • justtwo post

        I was shocked seeing that my damn self.

      • Val

        It’s going out of business in a few months.

    • Furious Styles

      WHAM! breaking up…

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry…but what is wrong with what Roland Martin tweeted? It is 100% accurate. Actual film critics–not historians pretending to be film critics or staff writers pretending to be film critics, but individuals who critique film by trade–enjoyed this movie.

    Also, I agree that black feminists did not put a damper on this film’s potential. WHITE feminists did. They just happened to have a handful of visible black tokens on hand to regurgitate their not quite fully formed talking points.

  • Amen

    Was I originally excited about seing BOAN? Yes.
    Was that excitement tempered by the rape allegations? Yes.
    Was that excitement further tempered by the interviews from Parker? Yes.
    Was that excitement torpedoed by reading reviews of the movie on many sites, including this one, that basically said the film was not that great? Yes.
    Do I now have any immediate plans to see this movie? No.

    Is that what happens to every movie nowadays? Yes.
    Is this being overblown because it’s a movie about slavery? Yes.

    • lkeke35

      I made the decision not to see it, not cuz I’m a trifling feminist, trying to tank a black man’s career. I didn’t see it cuz I don’t spend my limited amount of money to go see black women get raped in a movie. When I go to the movies I go to have fun. If I want black pain and historical accuracy, I’ll read a book.

      • HoneyRose

        Thiiiiiiis. If I’m going to a movie I want to see explosions and superheroes or some funny-azz sh it. I do not want to see black women getting raped and black people in chains. That’s what books are for, so I can put them down when they get to be too much.

      • “M”

        If I want black pain and historical accuracy, I’ll go around the corner.

        Or to the SPLC “hatewatch” section of their website.

        More Hidden Figures. More like that, please.

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