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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    Fashion Industry Furious at FLOTUS, AGAIN

    Oh dear, Nanette Lepore was recently upset with First Lady Michelle Obama. Because of her political views? Nope. Because Mrs. Obama launched a new, unproven initiative? Not so much. Because Ms. Lepore didn't get an invite to a State Dinner, the annual Easter Egg Roll, or the spring harvest of the White House garden? No. No. No.

    Nanette Lepore, a clothing designer and Huffington Post blogger, was upset because Michelle Obama stated that women should wear whatever they want to wear.

    Following Michelle Obama's decision to wear British designer Alexander McQueen to the recent state dinner honoring China's president, Mrs. Obama drew the ire of Oscar de la Renta and Diane Von Furstenberg, who both want Michelle Obama to feel guilty for not promoting American designers every time she makes a public appearance.

    Mrs. Obama responded to their public criticism in a recent appearance on Good Morning America saying:

    Look, women, wear what you love. That's all I can say. (Source)

    Oh no. The shock! The horror! "Wear what you love" as opposed to being dictated to by the whims of a bunch of strangers who lord over an industry whose record of employing people of color is well past poor? Makes perfect sense to me.

    Yet, the First Lady's Fashion Declaration of Independence was met with toddler-like simpering by Nanette Lepore, who just couldn't let it go:

    Five years of raising awareness for New York's Garment Center have been rendered irrelevant by one statement. What Michelle Obama chooses to wear can save and create American jobs. Her influence on the American fashion industry does not detract from her agenda in the East Wing. The First Lady can support her causes and simultaneously support a valuable American industry and the thousands of people it employs. I wish she would rethink her statement. (Nanette Lepore on The Huffington Post)


    Nanette, surely you jest. Your accomplishments could not have been that substantial if a single statement could turn all of that hard work into rubble. The folks over at Jezebel gave a platform Ms. Lepore's melodramatic caterwauling while pondering whether Michelle Obama has "abandoned fashion," after getting a public beating from its leaders. Well I certainly hope so.

    Almost three years ago when a certain Maria Pinto purple sleeveless sheath suddenly thrust her into the fashion industry's spotlight, I openly lamented our attempt to turn this Harvard and Princeton-educated lawyer in to our Mannequin-in-Chief:

    Just because the nation is obsessed with what Obama wears doesn't mean she has to join us in our obsession by playing the role of national dress-up doll. The fashion industry shouldn't be looking to Obama to be their saviour or patron saint. It's not her responsibility. If they want to be saved, they can save themselves. (The Guardian)


    Apparently Ms. Lepore didn't take my advice.

    Michelle Obama owes the U.S. fashion industry absolutely nothing. I didn't see any of these people having coniption fits about the clothing selections made by former First Lady Laura Bush. Where was the handwringing from the fashionistas about what former First Lady Hillary Clinton wore? Why does the fate of the American clothiers rest on the first black first lady's back?

    The sad pathetic truth is that three years into her husband's first term, we're still objectifying Michele Obama.

    We don't want to hear her thoughts about policy, or geopolitical conflict. We've reduced her to discussing fruits and veggies, but to add insult to injury, we want to try to dictate what she wears? The sense of entitlement being placed on Michelle Obama by the American titans of fashion is particularly galling in light of the fashion industry's horrific record on hiring, promoting and mentoring black designers, photographers, models, fashion directors, stylists, editors... need I go on? I mean, the woman single-handedly generated $3 billion for you U.S. fashion people since taking her FLOTUS role by wearing whatever she wants. Can you give her a break?

    So in review, Michelle Obama can wear the designer of her choice, or no designer at all. She isn't a mannequin. She's not a doll. She's not a model, but she's already done more than her fair share on behalf of an ungrateful fashion industry. Michelle Obama single handedly introduced the world to Jason Wu. She's worn Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and countless other American designers no other first lady, past present, or future would. She has expressed her patriotism through fashion. Don't forget she also has the right to express herself.

    The leaders of the American fashion industry should learn to respect the real leadership abilities of First Lady Michelle Obama and stop trying to reduce her to being their pawn. She has made it clear that she doesn't care what they think, as she empowers all women to embrace the same freedom.

     

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    Dallas Commissioner John Wiley Price Loses His Cool

    Just to be clear about the racial tempest testing Texas, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was wrong, wrong, wrong to bring race into the discussion when speakers at a public meeting railed against him for removing a popular local official from office.

    But as Chris Rock might say, though I disagree with his actions "I understand."

    It was clear that Price was being worn down by the virtually all-white crowd gathered at the meeting. By the time the last speaker, Dallas lawyer Jeff Turner took to the podium and called Price, who is black, the county's "chief mullah" and used the word "tribal" to describe Price's actions, the commissioner blew his stack.

    Turner knew full well that calling Price "chief mullah" has racial overtones as did using the word tribal. Price then went nuclear by asking aloud, "Why are all the speakers white?"


    BOOM!!!!!!!

    I guess you could argue that since Turner was the first to lob a racial reference into the mix, Price was justified to respond as he did. Maybe, but I see Price, an elected official, being held to a higher standard than any yahoo who approaches the microphone to make a public comment.

    Price made the situation worse by saying, "All of you are white. Go to hell."


    Price has already bungled his first chance at calming the waters. When asked about the outburst at the meeting, Price said he he would do the same thing again because Turner's use of the word mullah was "racist as hell."

    Of course, Price is right. And I sympathize with him. Watching the video of him at the meeting brought me back to my worst days working at a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. where issues of race were ducked and where I was often made to feel I was speaking a different language by white managers.

    None of this is meant to excuse Price. He needs to apologize for blowing his cool and put the mess behind him.

    But as far as the outburst is concerned, I understand.


     

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    City of Detroit Will PAY YOU to Take Homes

    From The Business Insider:

    Mayor Dave Bing is trying to save Detroit by offering incentives to lure residents back to abandoned neighborhoods.

    One program offers $150,000 in housing renovation money and requiring only $1,000 down to police officers who are willing to relocate to the city. Another offers college graduates $2,500 to rent and $20,000 forgivable loans to buy properties.

    Potential home buyers can choose from plenty of cheap or free homes, especially in the blighted neighborhoods of Woodward Ave. and Brush Park.

    See 100 photos of Detroit homes that are up for grabs on Business Insider.

    BV Talk Back Questions:

    -Do these offers make the idea of moving to Detroit attractive to you?
    -What would it take, in addition to these generous incentives, to get you to move to this struggling city?
    -Do you live in Detroit? If so, what is your take on these offers?

    -Is it fair that college grads are being preferred for these offers?

    Leave your comments below!

     

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    Coming out this weekend is the return of Martin Lawrence in one of his signature roles, Big Momma.

    Along with rising star Brandon T. Jackson, the two play father and son in 'Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.'

    In this third entry into the 'Big Momma's House' series, FBI agent Malcolm Turner's cross-dressing alter-ego, Big Momma, heads to an all-girls school with his aspiring rapper stepson, Trent, in order to hunt down the reason of his partner's murder.

    It's truly two for the show when Trent takes on his own cross-dressing alter ego in an effort to convince his father in letting him sign a recording contract.

    Released in 2000, 'Big Momma's House,' which also starred Nia Long , brought in a worldwide gross of $174 million. Its 2006 sequel, 'Big Momma's House 2,' tallied $138.3 million internationally.

    Directed by John Whitesell, the comedy also features Max Casella, Jessica Lucas, Ana Ortiz, Mari Morrow, Faizon Love, Marc John Jeffries, and comedian and actress Sherri Shepherd .

    Check out our exclusive peek at the latest 'Big Momma' movie.



     

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    Despite Censure, Rangel Plans Re-Election Run


    Is anyone really surprised that the King of Harlem, Rep. Charles Rangel is planning another run for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?

    Rangel has already been censured by his peers for messy ethics violations including not paying all of his taxes and improper use of his office. Rangel fought tooth and nail to avoid the censure, calling in universally respected friends like Rep. John Lewis of Georgia to speak on his behalf.

    It did no good. And that was a good thing because no matter how long one has served, how much power they have amassed or how many friends they have accumulated over the years, when a congressman's hand gets caught in the cookie jar, it needs to get smacked -- hard.


    But now, what else does Rangel have to fear? Congress has imposed its punishment. Rangel took it. So why not put his name on the ballot again for another term?

    Some might argue that Rangel is beginning to look like that party guest that doesn't know when to leave the shindig. That might be true. But isn't up to some Harlem politician to mount a viable challenge to topple Rangel from his perch?

    Is there no candidate in all of Harlem ready to raise the issues, tackle the problems, answer the voters and debate the incumbent?

    Here is another factor that favors Rangel running again.

    The voters of Harlem knew all about Rangel's misdeeds prior to the last election. And virtually the entire Democratic establishment, including President Obama, leaned on Rangel to get out of the race.

    Not only did Rangel fight on. With the ethics charges over his head, he won reelection.

    So its clear that Charlie Rangel sees the Harlem congressional district as his very own. And it's up to a worthy candidate there to prove him wrong.


     

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    I watched with extreme curiosity as the great Iyanla Vanzant emerged again on the Oprah Winfrey show after being gone for a full 11 years. I wasn't entirely connected to the feud between Winfrey and Vanzant, primarily because we don't think much about people that we haven't seen in over a decade. Of course Oprah is on everyone's mind, and even those who don't follow her seem to know everything she has been up to.

    As the guest came to the stage, even a man from Mars could tell that there was latent mega-beef between Oprah and Iyanla. Both women seemed to overcompensate when it came to doing all they could to prove that the past was the past and that everything was OK. But the tension was so thick that it seemed to suck the oxygen out of the room.

    It was also very clear who the dominant party was in this reunion. Oprah's body language during the conversation (leaning away from Vanzant and pretending that nothing was wrong), clearly implied that she a) was the leader of this interaction and b) wasn't going to apologize for anything. She also made it clear that if she hadn't forgiven Iyanla, she wouldn't be "sitting in that chair." Both Winfrey and Iyanla seemed to agree that it was only Winfrey's grace that allowed Iyanla to have temporary access to her platform.

    As these two women began one of the most awkward conversations I've ever seen on television, Oprah and Iyanla detailed their own sides of the story regarding a contract negotation that went bad 11 years prior. Iyanla had the supreme blessing of being the only African American that Oprah had selected to track toward having her own show (Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Mehmet Oz were the other two). Dr. Phil is now more popular than Hamburger Helper, and Oprah's other protege, Dr. Oz is kicking butt in his own way. Oprah Winfrey has identified herself as a King/Queen-maker (she has even given us our president), and Iyanla Vanzant was next in line.

    Apparently, Vanzant called a meeting with Winfrey after she'd been fasting for several days. During the meeting, Vanzant told Winfrey that God had told her that this was the "anointed time, not the appointed time," indicating that she was ready to move forward with her own show. The kicker of it all (perhaps prompting the message from God) was that Barbara Walters had just reached out to Vanzant about doing a show with her, and Vanzant was letting Oprah know that there was competition for her services.

    That's when Oprah, shall we say....got gangsta on Iyanla. Winfrey promptly left the meeting and had her attorney send Vanzant a letter telling her that the relationship between Iyanla Vanzant and Harpo Productions was being terminated. She then spent the next 11 years ignoring all of the letters she received from Vanzant attempting to explain her side of the story.

    Iyanla Vanzant did go on to make a show with Barbara Walters. The reason you probably don't know much about the show is because it lasted for just one season. So, here we are, years later, with two powerful women shedding tears and pretending that they didn't know they were in battle.

    My interpretation of the interaction between Vanzant and Winfrey comes from all those boring graduate school classes I took on Game Theory. Both Oprah and Iyanla knew what they were doing when they sat down at that table to negotiate. Iyanla, in my opinion, was effectively telling Oprah that she'd received a better offer, and that Oprah had better step up to the plate and make something happen. It's no different from a woman telling a man to "put a ring on it" before she starts dating his best friend who isn't afraid to commit. Iyanla, being an expert at maintaining relationships, has a hard time convincing me that she was unaware of the gamble she was taking by hijacking her relationship with Oprah and holding it for ransom. I also suspect that the bulk of those "explanatory letters" came after her show with Walters had fallen on its face.

    The problem is that some people don't take ultimatums very well. Oprah didn't become one of the most powerful human beings on earth by being passive. After receiving what she likely perceived to be an ultimatum from Vanzant, Winfrey then went forward to dump Iyanla because she had no desire to become the dumpee. Oprah's been abused enough in her life, and I suspect that her desire to maintain dominance over others comes from her deep-seated need to always be in control. Once someone makes themselves into a threat to the functionality of your business, it's either time to step up or step off. Oprah isn't one to be bullied.

    The conversation between Vanzant and Winfrey reminds me of a story that was told in the movie, "The Usual Suspects." In the film, a gangster comes home to find that his enemies have tied up his wife and children. They tell him that unless he gives them what they want, they will kill his wife and kids. To his enemies' surprise, the man immediately pulls out his gun and shoots his own wife and children, effectively taking away his opponents' greatest bargaining chip. Some people are just hardcore like that, and willing to burn the house down before they give it over to someone else.

    Since the day that Oprah and Iyanla fell out, both women have done quite well for themselves. They surely would have been better off sticking together than parting ways. Oprah was incredibly gracious to invite Vanzant back onto her show after all these years, and one can only hope that the wounds in their relationship are healed. Even if you win a fight, you can still end up hurting, and I'm sure that's the case with Oprah.



    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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    He has one of the most recognizable voices in music.

    And over the course of 50 years, R&B/Soul maestro William "Smokey" Robinson Jr. rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most praised singer-songwriters in history.

    Born in Detroit, Michigan, Robinson grew up in a "house full of music," where on any given day, you would hear the sounds of such heavyweights as Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, and Duke Ellington. Early on, Robinson displayed a knack for songwriting, penning his first song at age six for a school play. Half a century later, the man dubbed the "King of Motown" (Robinson has produced over 30 Top 40 hits for the record label), has authored more than 1,000 songs for such artists as Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and Motown's first vocal group The Miracles, of which he was a founding member.


    The 'Quiet Storm' singer recently spoke with BlackVoices.com about his latest projects 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun' and 'Now and Then' (which includes old and new songs), his Motown Years, coping with the loss of famous friends, and why the Apollo Theater is near and dear to his heart.

    Congrats on your NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Album for one of your latest releases, 'Now and Then.'

    Smokey Robinson: I'm very excited about that. I have two new CDs out. One is called 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun' and the other one is called 'Now and Then.' 'Now and Then' is made up of six songs from 'Time Flies' and six of my vintage songs that I recorded at some of my live concerts last year -- like 'Ooh Baby Baby,' 'Tears of a Clown' and 'Tracks of My Tears.'

    You've written more than 1,000 songs. Are there any songs that you've written that are extremely special to you?

    SR: They're like my children. I give them all the same effort. Some of them are just more accepted than others (laughs). When I enter the studio, the first thing I want to start with is the song. When I sit down to write a song, I'm trying to write a song that, if I had written it 50 years before, it would've meant something. And today it's going to mean something -- and 50 years from now it's going to mean something. I can't tell you what my favorite song is. I can tell you what my favorite album is.

    My favorite album of all time is 'What's Going On' by Marvin Gaye. Marvin Gaye was my brother. I miss Marvin so much. I would go to his house when he was writing 'What's Going On,' and he would tell me, "Smoke, God is writing this album, man." He said, "I'm just sitting here at the piano. I'm just a catalyst for God, because God is writing this." And when you listen to the album, it's prophecy. It's more poignant today then when it first came out.

    The Motown years were a special time. I can't think of any other record label in history that has produced or served as a platform not only for some of the greatest songs in music, but also the greatest artists. From start to finish, Motown had the formula for producing hits. Do you think the music industry will ever see anything close to it again?

    SR: Motown, as far as I'm concerned, is a once-in-a-lifetime musical event. There had been nothing like Motown prior to Motown. I doubt seriously that there will ever be another Motown. Berry Gordy is my best friend, and we talk all the time. We [recently] talked about the fact that on the very first day of Motown, there were five people there, and he sat us down and said, "We are not going to make just black music. We are going to make music for the world. Music that the world can enjoy and everybody can relate to." And that's what we set out to do. Motown grew into something beyond any of our wildest imaginations.

    What has it been like working with consummate artists such as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Rick James?

    SR: It's like if you made gumbo and every ingredient that you put in there you loved. Well, see that's the way it was for me. Those guys are my brothers, and they're still my brothers, even those who are gone. In my heart, they're my brothers.

    Motown was unique. We did family stuff together. We did everything together. The original Hitsville building where we recorded, it was not only a place that you worked. Everybody hung there. There is a Motown family that still exists. Those of us who are alive are still in that family. And we still have that same relationship. Some of us don't see each other for months or years at a time, but when we see each other, it's like we just saw each other yesterday.

    Berry has this saying, "Motown people cannot NOT love each other." Because we do. Under any circumstance we love each other. We're always there for each other. It's just an amazing thing. It's indescribable to be with those guys. It's like being with my brothers.

    Your tribute to Michael at his memorial in 2009 was touching.

    SR: I've had three deaths in my life and now a fourth one with Teena Marie. Those deaths were sudden impacts -- Marvin Gaye; Ron White, who I grew up with and who was in the Miracles with me; Michael Jackson; and now Teena. Those sudden-impact deaths are a tough bullet to bite.

    Michael was my little brother. I regret the fact that I didn't get the chance to spend time with him in his later years like I used to. Fame has different levels. Michael got to the absolute optimum of fame. He never really had a normal life. When Michael was a little boy, he was the man. And when he was the man, he was a kid because he missed his childhood. He got to the point where he couldn't do anything without being mobbed. I really felt bad that I didn't get a chance to spend some type of time with him to normalize his life and let him know, "Hey, man, you're a person. First and foremost, you're a human being and you have people who love you just because you're you, and not because you're Michael Jackson." I think he needed that.


    When the film 'Dreamgirls' came out in 2006, there was a great deal of speculation that the story was based on Motown.

    SR: The original play was about three girls from Chicago. It had nothing to do with a record company. Jennifer Holliday, who is a wonderful friend of mine, was the lead in that. She was absolutely awesome, and it was a great play. Then, the guys who did the movie turned it around and tried to make it a pseudo Motown and tried to make my best friend, Berry, seem like he was a gangster. So, I highly protested that. The guys who wrote 'Dreamgirls' probably knew nothing about Motown. I just don't appreciate anybody trying to paint that image of Motown. But they apologized, and I accepted their apology. And there it is.

    The Museum of the City of New York recently opened the exhibit 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment.' What are some of your fondest Apollo memories?

    SR: I love the Apollo; the Apollo is tradition. The Apollo is one of my favorite places in life. I grew up at the Apollo Theater. It's near and dear to my heart.



     

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    When Oscar winner Halle Berry pulled out of Garry Marshall's upcoming film, 'New Year's Eve,' it was because she was facing a long custody battle with her ex, Gabriel Aubry, over their daughter and wouldn't have the time to travel and commit to a new film.

    In just a short of period of time, things have changed as a judge in Los Angeles has ruled in her favor, making it possible for her to travel with her daughter to New York, where Garry Marshall will be shooting the romantic comedy, stated the Holywood Reporter.

    Instead of taking back the role that actress Katherine Heigl replaced her for, Berry will have a small part in the film.

    'New Year's Eve' is about couples and singles whose lives intertwine one New Year's Eve in New York.

    The film is filled with an all-star cast that includes Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Ice Cube, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, and Sofia Vergara.

    Berry will play a nurse. It hasn't been determined who she will be paired with.

     

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    Football superstar Michael Vick initially made plans to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But it's just been announced that Vick is not going to appear on the show, citing personal and professional conflicts that have made the appearance impossible.

    "Mike postponed the taping because of the timing of the interview for personal and professional reasons," said Michael Vick's spokesman Chris Shigas. "He does not have a reschedule date at this time."

    Some speculate that Vick may have canceled because other groups have been sending emails and letters to the Oprah Winfrey Show, asking that the voices of Vick's critics be heard. One of Vick's strongest critics has been Richard Hunter, a stand-up comedian who also adopted one of Vick's dogs. Hunter claims that he and others who agree with him have been harassing Oprah's producers since it was announced that Michael Vick might appear on the show.

    "True to form, when Michael Vick feels the heat, he scrambles out of the pocket," said Hunter.

    Given that we're in the middle of Black History Month, it's interesting to reflect on the significance of the public's animosity toward three prominent black males: Michael Vick, Barack Obama and OJ Simpson. All three of these men, while walking different paths to some extent, have one thing in common: They've all been subjected to a public media lynching of their images by a country that continues to demonize the African American male.

    OJ Simpson was acquitted of his murder in 1995, but America treated him like he was guiltier than the guilty. They harassed him for the next 13 years and applauded when he went to prison for an unrelated crime. Barack Obama, a law-abiding citizen and first black president, has been made into a caricature by those who are fundamentally angry to see a black man have that much power. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly even joked about lynching President Obama's wife. Another commentator, Liz Trotta, compared him to Osama Bin Laden and said that she'd like to see him assassinated.

    Michael Vick is also part of the OJ Simpson, Barack Obama tradition, where well-intended Americans make the interesting distinction between "good blacks" and bad ones. By allegedly killing a white woman, OJ Simpson became a "bad black man," being subjected to an unprecedented amount of public persecution. Michael Vick, by hurting animals, was turned into some kind of monster, with Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson saying that Vick deserved the death penalty.

    What's the common theme here? Lynch mob overreaction. It's one thing to accuse Barack Obama of being a bad president, but something else to say that he's a socialist seeking to destroy the government who should be killed and impeached. It's one thing to be outraged about a man who allegedly killed his wife (Simpson) vs. ignoring the evidence and jury verdict to treat him like a guilty man. What Michael Vick did with those dogs is inexcusable, but to say that he's a monster that is beyond redemption or calling for him to die (as Tucker Carlson did on Fox News) lets us know that if Vick had committed his crime 60 years ago, he might be hanging from a tree.

    As we celebrate Black History Month, we must seek to understand the tragic memories that black history brings to the forefront of our consciousness. America's past and present have a dark side and there is evidence of this social disease all around us. Our nation was not built yesterday, and racial conditioning of the last 400 years plays a key role in how the black man is viewed right now.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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    He's already returned twice to the NBA after multiyear hiatuses, but could Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who turns 48 on Thursday, return once again?

    Jordan, who last played in 2003, joined the team's practice last week, fueling speculation that he might try another comeback, especially after his Hall of Fame induction speech in September 2009, when he said, "One day you may look up and see me playing a game at 50. Don't laugh. Never say never."

    If Jordan returned, he would become the oldest player in NBA history and more than 20 years older than the average player in the league (26.8 years). While a player of Jordan's age would seem susceptible to frequent injuries over the course of an 82-game season, the Bobcats have already played 56 games. And given that they're ninth in the Eastern Conference, adding the greatest basketball player of all time -- even if he's half the player he used to be and only plays in every other game -- would probably boost ticket sales and bolster the Bobcats' chances of making the playoffs.


    Source: Sports Illustrated


    Kevin Eason is a freelance editorial cartoonist and Illustrator from New Jersey. His brand of satire covers news events in politics, entertainment, sports and much more. Follow him on Facebook.

     

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    In the fast-paced world we live in today, there's no wonder why organization of our homes can get a little out hand. Whether you're just too busy or too messy to pick the shirt up off the bedroom floor or move the week-old cup from the kitchen table, clutter will only do only one thing: keep you and your home from shining!

    Here are some helpful tips on how to make your home - and, consequently, your mind - clutter-free!


    Believe it or not, the environment we live in has a lot to do with how we function. It makes sense - it's the place where you start and end your day. The clutter around you sends a message to run away, but your home should be the place you can't wait to retreat to so you can unwind, let go and be inspired!

    Let's look at some easy ways you can get started on polishing up each room in your house.

    LIVING ROOM: The living room is a great place to start because it's most commonly the first room you see when you enter the home. One way to de-clutter this room is to maximize the space by moving furniture and/or accessories to other parts of the house. By doing this, you are re-organizing one room while adding an unexpected design element to another.

    KITCHEN: I'm sure what's in your kitchen cabinets would surprise you: expired canned goods, opened bags of food, chipped dishes and the list can go on and on. You would be amazed at how much stuff needs to be thrown out. Organizing your cabinets can do wonders for your kitchen and diet! Try cabinet shelves like this one by Interdesign - you'll be able to see everything so items don't get lost!

    Lyra Expandable Cabinet Shelf in Bronze by Interdesign, $17.99, organize.com.

    BEDROOM: Well, here's the place where it can all come crashing down after a long day: the bedroom. Clothes everywhere, bed unmade, dust is piling up. What to do? Start by clearing off the bed and dressing it. Making the bed first somehow motivates me to keep cleaning. If storage for your clothes is an issue, go through your drawers and get rid of the things that you haven't worn in a while. If you don't want to give them away, check out these great storage solutions that can free up some space and look great on display.

    Bristol Storage Box, $59.00, containerstore.com.

    BATHROOM: Now we're in the bathroom. In terms of your beloved toiletries, if it's softened, hardened or changed color, throw it out! The bathroom is where odor gets trapped, so keeping it clean is an absolute must. If you have space under your vanity, use plastic containers to organize your hair and body products. Also, remove and store some of the items that you don't use everyday from inside the shower or on the edge of the bathtub. Bring those items out only when you need to use them. The bathroom is an important part of your home, so give it the attention it deserves!

    Check out this stylish storage solution.

    Silver 2-Drawer Mesh Organizer, $24.99, containerstore.com.

    Well, now that we've cleaned up, organized and got rid of some things, don't you feel better already?

    No matter how big your space, or your design style, living in a clutter-free home is the most beautiful look there is, so get started and let it shine!


    Always... "Experience Something Beautiful"

    -Kesha

    The Beautiful Experience
    Design-Events-Lifestyle
    www.thebeautifulexperience.com

     

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    Last week, millions of Egyptians erupted in joy when they found out their 30-year tormentor Hosni Mubarak would be stepping down, signifying that their social media-driven rebellion worked.

    It's hard to draw lots of comparisons between that cultural movement and our own of 55 years ago, when thousands of Montgomery, Ala., residents bought their own dictator down in the form of a private bus company that wouldn't let African Americans sit where they wanted to.

    With that said, it is possible that the latter influenced the former and resulted in a historic change that may well be spreading throughout the Middle East - and it may have been done by a comic book (pictured).


    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a comic book printed during the civil rights era about the Montgomery Bus Boycott was distributed in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Dalia Ziada, who works for the American Islamic Congress, got hold of the copies that had been translated into Arabic in 2008.

    The comic illustrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy on civil disobedience through non-violent means, and Ziada, a young activist in the Middle Eastern world, distributed copies of the booklet from Morocco to Yemen. She wrote in a recent AIC newsletter that placing the comic in Tahrir Square inspired the change that took place:

    "We also translated a forgotten 1958 comic book about Martin Luther King's Montgomery Bus Boycott into Arabic. When, at first, we went to print the comic book, a security officer blocked publication. So we called him and demanded a meeting. He agreed, and we read through the comic book over coffee to address his concerns. At the end, he granted permission to print and then asked: 'Could I have a few extra copies for my kids?'

    "The comic book has been credited with inspiring young activists in Egypt and the larger region (we have a Farsi version as well). Last week, I distributed copies in Tahrir Square. Seeing the scene in the square firsthand is amazing. Despite violent attacks and tanks in the street, young people from all walks of life are coming together, organizing food and medical care, and offering a living model of free civil society in action."

    Now, no Egyptian has specifically said that they read copies of the MLK comic and decided to overturn the government, but the news of America's Civil Rights Movement has certainly spread around the world and has influenced people like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Andrei Sakharov in the former Soviet Union.

    Martin Luther King III acknowledged the book may well have had a role in the Tahrir uprising, although he does not know to what extent:

    "I don't know if we can specifically measure the impact, but we certainly know it was significant," the King told the Journal-Constitution. "This is the first time we've seen a major nonviolent revolution within the Islamic nations, and it's quite amazing. Clearly the teachings of my dad and Gandhi were quite meaningful."

    Copies of the comic are kept in the King Center and have not yet been reprinted.

     

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    Jury Convicts 'Harlem Kervorkian' Kenneth Minor of Murdering Motivational Speaker

    The "Harlem Kervokian" trial jurors returned their verdict Thursday, after deliberating for half a day. They agreed that hired-knife Kenneth Minor (pictured) is guilty of murdering motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker (pictured below) and that he does not get a break under the state's "assisted suicide" exemption, even though the victim wanted to be killed.


    Locker was so drowning in credit-card debt and afraid for his family's future that he actually made the decision two years ago to cruise the streets of New York's famed Harlem to find someone who could help kill him.

    He tried to solicit a Kervorkian-type individual, someone who could assist with the staging of his own death so that his family could collect some $17 million from his insurance policies. In July 2009, Locker was found dead in car, stabbed in his chest with his hands tied behind his back.

    Minor, who has a record of mostly drug arrests, admitted to assisting Locker with his death and remains adamant about not taking the entire blame for the murder. The 36-year-old maintains that he braced the knife against Locker's steering wheel and the victim impaled himself in to the sharp weapon seven times.

    Before he died, Locker allegedly gave Minor his ATM card and pin number as payment for the staged and twisted plot.

    Since prosecutor Peter Casolaro was able to paint Minor as a "grim reaper" rather than "an angel of mercy," Minor now faces up to 25 years for his role in the murder.

    According to defense lawyer Daniel Gotlin, in New York State, "No one has ever, ever been convicted of murder in an assisted-suicide case," he told the New York Post after court, vowing to appeal.

    Minor now faces sentencing on April 4th.

    Watch it here:

     

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     Chapelfield Elementary School Sorry For Making Black Student 'Slave'

    This is one of those "child-asked-to-play-a-slave" stories that people seem to get outraged about every year around Black History Month. Frankly, though, after reading the facts of the case, I don't see what the big deal is.

    In fact, I am glad to know that white-majority school districts are tackling the very difficult topic of slavery in America, but the Mother of an Ohio fifth grader at Chapel Field Elementary School disagrees.

    According to the Columbus Dispatch, during a lesson on slavery, teachers divided a fifth-grade class into two groups: "masters" and "slaves." Nikko, an African-American student in the class, was put in the "slave" role, and the only other black student in the class wound up a "master."

    Nikko explains:

    "At first, I didn't care, but after people were bidding on people, it kind of made me a little mad and stuff."

    Nikko's mother, Aneka Burton, claimed the "masters" were told to look at the "slaves'" teeth, and that "whoever was the strongest, that's who they sold first." Burton says her son refused to take part in a simulated slave auction and was sent back to his desk.

    I'm STILL not seeing what is the problem.

    Aren't lessons on slavery supposed to make everyone uncomfortable? Doesn't acting out the inhumanity of the slave trade force young people to confront just how awful it was? Nikko's words are interesting:

    "At first I didn't care, but after people were bidding on me, it kind of made me a little mad and stuff."

    So at first Nikko could care less about being auctioned off like a piece of cattle, but when he realized how humiliating it was, he got angry and stuff.

    Isn't this what's SUPPOSED to happen? I thought that was the point of the exercise.

    In a generation so far removed from the slave trade and its legacies, where slavery is just a bunch of Kunta Kinte jokes, perhaps a little more has to be done so kids like Nikko can realize that the generations before them struggled and died and faced unthinkable atrocities, so their little black asses can wear those Jordan's while playing their X-box in a lilywhite suburb in Ohio.

    The principal of Chapelfield Elementary School, Scott Schmidt, placed a call to the home of Burton, saying he was sorry that her son, Nikko, was forced to play a slave. He added:

    "I will definitely make sure it doesn't happen again. It was never our intent to cause harm," reports the Columbus Dispatch.

    Nikko's mother said that while she appreciated the principal calling to apologize, she thinks school officials "should be educated about black history. That was inappropriate."

    It seems that what's really inappropriate is this notion that our children should never be forced to confront things that make them uncomfortable or awkward or "mad and stuff."

    History is full of painful lessons, important lessons that our children MUST learn if they are to ever appreciate the gains this country and this community has made. My parents made us sit down and look at Roots (pictured), and I remember crying and being scared to death when "Toby" was getting whipped. Though I was mortified, it was the first step in learning what my ancestors went through so I can enjoy the life I lead today.

    Hell, if I was the principal I wouldn't have apologized for anything.

    SO WHAT Nikko was "mad and stuff," the teacher (or his dumb mama) should have taken that opportunity to say, "Well, how do you think the slaves felt?"



     

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    From TheGrio.com:

    It seems hard to believe anyone would fall for this scam: Someone from a foreign country claims you've won millions, but first you must pay steep fees before you get your winnings.

    Unfortunately, the lure of big money is just too much for some to resist.

    A Pembroke Pines widow named Mary Kubalak wired nearly $400,000 to her scammer in Jamaica, home to a thriving telemarketing fraud industry that brings in hundreds of millions of illicit U.S. dollars every year.

    In an exclusive interview with NBC Miami, Jamaica's top organized crime investigator, Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, says unscrupulous employees of legitimate telemarketing centers - even some in Miami - sell lists of phone numbers to the scammers who target the elderly.

    American police often do almost nothing to pursue the bad guys.


    So NBC Miami went looking for Mary's money. Our search took us deep into the dark streets of Kingston, winding treacherous mountain roads, through chaotic Montego Bay far from tourist areas, to the Jamaica that never gets in the travel brochures.

    But our story began last summer in a Broward courthouse hallway, where Mary Kubalak was judged to be incapacitated for believing she'd won a $7 million Jamaica lottery.

    "I could not convince her," said her financial advisor David Treece. "Nobody could convince her. It's a sad, tough case."


    Treece took his own client to court to stop her from sending money to her Jamaican scammer.

    They had convinced her she must pay fees to get her millions. Over the months, she wired thousands of dollars time and time again, until she sent more than $370,000 to Chris Andre Dehaney, according to documents and sources.

    We used Mary's phone records to call the scammer last summer, who posed as a woman.

    "If I knew how to take Mary's $35,000, honest to God I would!" Dehaney declared in his female voice.

    So we went to Jamaica to confront Dehaney, not knowing what we'd face. Our source said Dehaney lived inside a gated community in Portmore, just outside Kingston, where inside he ran his broad scam.

    We told the security guard at the entrance to Caribbean Estates "This guy is suspected of stealing $370,000, maybe $400,000, from one old woman in Miami. We'd really like to catch this guy."

    Guards remember him. We even knew exactly which townhouse he's renting. But property managers blocked our entry and insisted he no longer lives there. The trail grew cold.

    Read page 2 of this article on: TheGrio.com

     

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    Dr. Jynona Norwood is on a lifelong mission. The mission is one that is written in the blood and spirit of her own relatives, many of whom died in the infamous Jonestown Massacre 32 years ago. I'll let Dr. Norwood tell the story in her own way, but the massacre went down in history as the largest group of African Americans to die in one incident since slavery. Whites died in the massacre also, but most of those who died were black. Dr. Norwood is seeking to erect a memorial to remember the scores of children who died alongside their parents in this horrific incident, but is encountering resistance. Among the most insulting requests that have been made is that the name of Jim Jones be put right alongside the victims. Personally, I find this to be simply unacceptable. The interview with Dr. Norwood is below:

    What is your name and what is your cause?

    My name is Dr. Jynona Norwood, Founder of the Jonestown Memorial Services/Guyana Tribute Foundation and Cherishing the Children Memorial Wall. My family was Jim Jones' first black family to join his church in San Francisco. Although a few relatives and I refused to join, our family lost 27 loved ones including my mother and the youngest child to perish- a 3-month-old cousin. My cause is to raise public awareness about the Cherishing the Children Memorial that has been put on hold because Evergreen Cemetery's owner, Mr. Buck Kamphausen has made a decision not to honor the letter of commitment that he gave to us- the families, survivors and victims of Jonestown. Mr. Kamphausen instructed a liaison from Mayor Frank Jordan's office and I to pay their vendor $30,000 as a first installment for the long awaited wall. Additionally, Evergreen Cemetery has decided to add Jim Jones' name and celebrate him as a victim alongside the 305 children that he murdered. There are 40 three and-a-half foot caskets that have been laid to rest in the mass gravesite at the top of the hill. It is important to note that most of the victims in the mass gravesite are children because they couldn't be identified, as there weren't many dental records available.

    Can you give a brief background on what happened at Jonestown?

    Thirty-two years ago, Jim Jones cemented himself in history by becoming the most prolific mass murderer in American history. He promised a Utopian society where there would be better schools, racial equality and no sexism. He lured hard-working, good families to Jonestown with a lie. When members of the Peoples Temple got to Guyana he put them in the fields to work and more and more they felt like they were slaves captured and isolated. In Guyana dissent was not tolerated. There were frequent beatings for transgressions; He punished the children by dropping them in black holes and had snakes dropped in- one of my 14-year-old cousins was killed in this manner. Additionally, Jim Jones' voice rang through loud speakers morning, noon, and night with his rage filled rants.

    When parents were not allowed to speak to or see their children who were taken there, Congressman Leo Ryan was contacted by one of his constituents to take a delegation of reporters and relatives to Guyana to investigate. He was told that many of his constituents' loved ones were being held against their will. The visit was tense at first, and then for a moment, it smoothed out. But when word got to Congressman Leo Ryan that some of the members wanted to defect, the mood changed. Congressman Leo Ryan and his group were ambushed on the way to the airport and he and several members of his group were killed or severely injured including my friend Beverly Oliver whose sons had been taken without her permission.

    Later that evening Jim Jones assembled his congregation together, with his armed guards by his side, and ordered them to drink Flavor-aid fruit punch laced with potassium cyanide, valium, phenergan, and chloral hydrate or be shot. He had gunmen surrounding them. Jim Jones committed an inexplicable act of evil when he ordered that everyone die and horrifically he ordered to, "Kill the babies first." Many people were shot trying to escape and others were injected with the poison against their will in their upper backs. However, 32 years later we still do not know the whole story on how these innocent, beautiful people died.

    What are some things about the massacre that most of the public does not know? Some people believe that it was a mass suicide...How do you respond to this misconception?

    All I am asking people to do is listen to the tapes and if you cannot find them go to my website where you will hear innocent children and families screaming and running. There are still certain members of Jones church that are on a mission to make sure that the truth does not come out because they want to make you believe Jim was a wonderful man. If you cannot locate the tapes go to my website: www.INNOCENTCHILDRENARENOTRESPONSIBLE.org. Some will try to make you think that all the victims willfully took the poison when they were forced. If you have a gun pointed at your head and someone orders you to drink cyanide laced punch or get shot, how can that be suicide?

    Jonestown was a devastating tragic event in our history that has never been healed and America needs healing, Guyana needs healing, and the world needs healing. The victims, loved ones, friends, our nation and world needs to be healed because Jonestown was the first major tragedy that people watched in their living rooms and this is why America needs healing. The process of that healing begins when people become aware of many of the facts that have never been brought out. And when facts come out it is a possibility that this could never happen again. Jonestown will be resolved when the truth comes out, not misinformation. Take the stigma and shame away. There has been a stigma surrounding this tragedy, wherein religion and belief have become mixed up with manipulation and politics. The church was blamed and the church did not kill my family, Jim Jones did. The victims and families of the victims were blamed and shamed and the truth is, Peoples Temple was made up of good, earnest people who desired equality and security for themselves and their families. Jim Jones promised them a utopian society, free from racial, sexual and political barriers. Who wouldn't choose that?"

    What are your challenges as it pertains to your memorial? Are you receiving any forms of resistance?

    Yes, Evergreen Cemetery has chosen to work with Jim Jones' former leaders and celebrate him by putting his name along side of the children he ordered to be murdered. It is said that Adolph Hitler caused the murders of over 1.5 million Jewish children and if you were to add his name to the Holocaust Memorial in memory of him, I, along with the world would be outraged. This is unacceptable and the Jewish community would not sit down and say, "It's Ok, he was a victim of his madness." Our brothers and sisters would come from the four corners of the world, join forces and pro-actively fight anyone who would desecrate the Memorial dedicated to the innocent children and loved ones who were gassed at the order of Hitler. Jonestown is the African American Holocaust and Jim Jones was our Hitler. I know that he has a family and I sympathize with them, but we will not honor, celebrate or remember the murderous name of Jim Jones.

    Additionally, Evergreen had us pay their vendor and is now stating that they did not know the design or weight of the Memorial. They have deserted their vendor and the families by refusing the Cherishing the Children's wall stating the above reasons. I have written legitimate proof that they knew exactly the size, weight and dimensions of the Cherishing the Children Memorial as early as two and a half years before any names were inscribed. I have legitimate written proof that Evergreen relied on their vendor to design the size and weight of the wall as far back as 1995. Evergreen has stated that it is too heavy and would cost too much to install. If that is true why did Evergreen have us pay $30,000 to their vendor and insist in 2008 and 2009 to pay the balance so that they could install the wall? However, as a result of the downturn in the economy we were not unable to raise the rest of the money nor was I able to secure a loan to get the remainder of the funds. I have my letter of commitment, a contract, and a canceled check and other legitimate documentation. If this issue is not resolved I may upon the advice of my counsel, seek legal action.

    Is there any other information around this issue that the AOL Black Voices audience should know about?

    The innocent 305 children did not choose to die. Please don't be misinformed or tricked into the thinking that these people were crazy and that they were following a crazy white man, thus they got what they deserved! Nothing could be further from the truth. Jim Jones elevated himself to political and social favor by developing programs that the members worked hard to fulfill such as, assisting Bay Area citizens who were hungry, homeless and drug-addicted. He invited people of all backgrounds into his church. He befriended people of stature in politics, religion and entertainment. But, this was a cover for the un-savory activities later discovered, including murder and extortion. Had I accepted Jim's offer to be his assistant youth pastor and had I listened to family, friends and powerful people who praised Jim Jones, my son and I would have perished in Jonestown.

    My family was raising my son because I was a traveling Evangelist; therefore, I came off the road and kidnapped/rescued him to save his life. The 918 people of Jonestown did not choose to die. They were victims of manipulation, victims of a shrewd, egomaniacal power driven man. Jim Jones was a notorious child of Satan; he manipulated, tricked and seduced thousands of innocent people into his church with promises of safety, security, and peace. These people were loving, caring, close knit families who wanted equality, healthcare, and education. These innocent children died in terror and our families died in fear because there was one way in and no escape out.

    Our loved ones regretted believing this liar who lured them in after taking everything that they owned and destroying their most valuable asset, their children. We can't forget them, because they not only represent what was, but sadly, what still is until we extend understanding and grace. We need your help in honoring these innocent children. The monument company said that they can cut the wall in half if necessary. Stand with us in this battle by going to our website and signing your name on the petition. Meet us at the Rally that will take place in Oakland, CA at 10:30 AM, 6450 Camden Street with Dr. Dick Gregory, Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office, Rev. Leonard Jackson former Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Los Angeles, NAACP, Rev. Eugene Lumpkin and many more. For more information visit: www.INNOCENTCHILDRENARENOTRESPONSIBLE.org

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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    This week, celebs are showing us that you don't have to wear a ball gown to look super fab. Check out our picks for Best Dressed of the Week.


    Tamera Mowry sparkles in a black mini dress and nude pumps at the NAACP Image Awards Pre-Show Gala reception.
    While performing at BET's Rip the Runway, singer Melanie Fiona shows that you don't have to go super skimpy or super glam to look really cute on stage.
    Say what you want about 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' star Miss Lawrence's style; that embellished velvet blazer is awesome.
    Foxy Brown wouldn't normally be on anyone's style list, but this week she wins the award for Most Improved. The rapper showed up to Rip the Runway in what is probably her most well-fitting outfit in a while - nothing's hanging out (unless you count the cleavage), nothing's riding up, and she seems to really be attempting to look sassy, yet classy. It's about time, Foxy!
    Selita Ebanks attended the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in an orange ruffled one-shouldered dress. Cute!
    Check out Mike Tyson at Animal Planet's "Taking On Tyson" premiere party. His suit is well-tailored, the horizontal stripes are subtle and slimming, and the tie really pops!

    Who's your favorite stylish celeb for this week? Tell us!

     

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    For some actors, stardom comes either on their very first film, which may have been in a blockbuster, or in a lead role. For others, fame comes gradually, after some growing pains and paying their dues in the business.

    After appearing in small roles on sitcoms and films, such as 'Jarhead,' 'Stomp The Yard,' and 'This Christmas,' actor Laz Alonso finally got his big break when Spike Lee cast him opposite Michael Ealy and Derek Luke in the war film, 'Miracle at St. Anna.'

    While the film didn't do big numbers at the box office, it was enough for Alonso to be seen in a bigger spotlight than his previous gigs.

    As opposed to actors who entered the field through comedy or sports, the 36 year-old came through the finance world, when he left his job as an investment banker to take on a new challenge.

    "Acting was always a part of my long-term plan, but my short-term plan was to become an investment banker, make a couple million bucks, and then finance my acting career that way," he told BlackVoices.com yesterday. "I won't have to sleep in my car and do all kinds of odd jobs. Once I was in the workforce and I was actually working on Wall Street I realized I wasn't going to be a millionaire in my first two years on Wall Street. That's just a ridiculous way of thinking, but at the time it sounded like a brilliant plan."

    "Once I realized that was not going to be the case, instead of going to grad school and getting my MBA, which is what most investment bankers have to do as part of their career path, I chose to pursue art," he continued.

    Within two years, former BET host turned movie star's fame would reach farther than he thought when director James Cameron cast him in the 2009 Oscar nominated film 'Avatar,' which ended up being the biggest grossing film of all-time.

    After briefly appearing with Queen Latifah in 2010's 'Just Wright,' Alonso's game has reached a new level with an upcoming lead role in 'Jumping the Broom,' co-starring Paula Patton and Angela Bassett.
    If that wasn't enough, hej ust completed another lead role on A&E Network's original scripted drama series, 'Breakout Kings,' which premieres March 13 and follows an unconventional partnership between the U.S. Marshals' office and a group of convicts as they work to catch fugitives on the run.

    Also cast in the show are Domenick Lombardozzi, Malcolm Goodwin, Jimmi Simpson, Serinda Swan, and Brooke Nevin.

    While his roles in films are getting bigger with wider exposure, the Washington D. C native didn't want to let a good opportunity pass by him.

    "First and foremost I love this character. When I met with Nick Santora, one of the creators of the show, he really wanted to write him as Clint Eastwood-ish. The one cop in a town full of bad people, but he can get the job done, and that attracted me a tremendous amount. The fact that in order to do good things this guy may have to break a few rules is appealing. This show explored that a little bit. It's not a picture-perfect world that we live in on this show, and we're not a picture-perfect team, we mess up. We don't necessarily like each other the majority of the time. I think it's a really true portrayal of real life, it's not cookie cutter, but we figured it out somehow."

    After playing a criminal in 'Fast and Furious,' the role of veteran U.S. Marshals Charlie Duchamp gives Alonso the chance to work on the "right side of the law."

    "I would describe my character as the moral core of the group. You've got these guys and girls that are criminals who now have the opportunity to do the right thing but we still encourage them to think like criminals, because it's that very thought process that helps us catch people that are even worse than they are. Then you've got my partner Ray, played by Domenick Lombardozzi, who has a pretty dark past of his own. Even though he's a member of the law, he isn't the most upstanding member of law enforcement. My job is to keep the wheels turning without things falling apart, and with each episode it becomes harder and harder for me to do."

    Along with the TV series, Alonso's quite aware of the the balance he has to maintain when it comes time to not only promote this show, but his upcoming film projects.

    "Balance is definitely the biggest challenge," he said. "You definitely wear a lot of hats. Now I'm wearing the promotion hat where I'm promoting everything I've been working on.

    "You got 'Breakout Kings' that premieres this Sunday on A&E at 10pm. Just a month-and-a-half later, Mother's Day Weekend, I have 'Jumping the Broom,' which is going to be in theaters everywhere. The work doesn't end. This is probably as long hours as being on set shooting, but I love it. I don't consider acting work 'cause I love it so much. There's a saying, 'If you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life again.' I really believe that. Even this part of the business is fun. I get to interact with fans, and I really get to feel that support that's so necessary for actors to get from their fanbase. I get to give back, interact, be acceptable, hear their opinions and respond. We do that a lot with this particular show on A&E ... People who love cop shows and crime shows are going to get more than what they usually get from procedural dramas."

     

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    Malcolm X's Daughter Extradited to New York


    Malikah Shabazz, youngest daughter of iconic human rights activist, El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X), has been extradited from North Carolina to New York City to face criminal charges stemming from the 2009 identity theft of a family friend.

    Shabazz, who holds a Ph.D in Educational Administration and Human Development, will stand trial in Queens, NY for possession of stolen property, grand larceny, forgery, and criminal possession of forged instruments.

    On February 22, one day after the 46th anniversary of her father's death, Shabazz was arrested for her crimes against the widow of her father's bodyguard, who was with Malcolm X when he was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, NY.

    "She used the fake identity to charge more than $55,000 in the victim's name between August 2006 and November 2007," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The alleged theft represents a shameful betrayal of the friendship that existed between the two families.

    Shabazz's crimes were revealed when investigators, responding to a misleading report of truancy in her Mars Hill, North Carolina home, discovered a warrant for her arrest. Shabazz's thirteen-year-old daughter was inside the home being properly home schooled, but the investigators were searching for a previous resident.
    The beginning of February found several of the Shabazz sisters continuing their protracted fight over portions of their parents' estate, with the proceedings escalating into accusations of theft, irresponsibility and "mental incapacity."

    Regardless of the arguments and legal battles, though, Shabazz's five sisters were ready to hop a flight to North Carolina until they were informed by Malikah's attorney that she would probably be returning to New York.

    "We're all sisters, despite the false and vicious reports put out in the media," twin sister Malaak Shabazz said Tuesday. "We love her and our niece dearly. We'll get through this."

    From Qubilah Shabazz's attempted assassination of Minister Louis Farrakhan for his alleged involvement in her father's murder, to the murder of Dr. Betty Shabazz by her grandson, Malcolm, this family has endured more pain than any one group of people ever should.

    In her autobiographical book, "Growing Up X," Ilyasah Shabazz offers a rare glimpse into the lives of one of Black America's most revered families. The searing revelation that all the girls, Attallah, Qubilah, Gamilah, and twins Malikah and Malaak, had to live in silence with their mother holding on to Malcolm's memory, often speaking of him in present tense, paints Malikah in an entirely different light.



    When I was 1 year old, my mother passed away suddenly at 29 years old, so I've lived in a family with unresolved grief issues. I empathize with her because I know how it feels to be the baby, and for everyone to try to protect you from yourself and painful memories. Even though the gaping hole left by the parent you never knew grows wider each time a stranger mentions their impact in everyone's life, all the "baby" can do is smile, because how dare we own grief we have no right to feel?

    Maybe it's time that Malikah is allowed to own her grief; I can't ever imagine her finding peace until she does so.

    In 2009, I had the distinct honor of having a conversation with Attallah Shabazz at a Young Black Contractors of America Dinner in Carson, California; and to listen to her speak about her father's legacy was one of the single most transforming moments in my life. I saw wisdom, intelligence, and kindness in her eyes, and I have complete confidence that with time, she can sew her family back together.

    Let the money go, sisters. The most important thing to do is preserve your parents' legacy. It is alive and well in each one of you, and burns brightest when you're all united. Don't let it die.




    ***Dr. Malikah Shabazz's lawyer says his client denies the charges. Her case has been adjourned to March 15.

     

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    Man, If Charlie Sheen Had Some African Parents...
    Could Jimmy Manyi, the South African government spokesman, set Sheen straight?

    When African parents want to organize their kids to clean up a mess they've made, or take a seat in the car for a road trip, or grab some food in the kitchen -- or what have you, they tell the kids: "HEY! Come and answer your father's name!"

    The phrase is like a helpful command that nudges you to do something -- anything -- good, if only for the sake of your papa. Even when you get grown, you'll keep hearing that same phrase, "come and answer your father's name."

    Thus, if you were Charlie Sheen--and you had some African parents right about now? It wouldn't matter if you were a "grown" 45-year-old like he is; somebody from your father's side of the family -- if not your father himself -- would be watching you on the telly tube as you were exploding on it, wondering why in the great caves of Kenya you were misrepresenting your father's name.

    Your African mother would likely scream in the background, as she clutched her bespoke gold necklace and rolled her eyes at the T.V. screen, recalling how many plates of fufu she cooked for you as a child, and how many ignorant comments she had to endure from racists at her fifth job, where she worked an extra 38 hours a day in the '70s in order to save money for your college education -- Harvard, specifically, where all African immigrants attend -- only for you to have failed to attend Harvard... choosing instead to do "acting," and now disgracing your family as a consequence of this clearly problematic choice.

    Sure, Charlie Sheen answers his father Martin Sheen's last name, but man, if Charlie had some continental African parents? He would be in serious trouble telling these doggone "warlock" stories, throwing his hands in the air on television like he was throwing a spear... talking 'bout "WINNING! WINNING!" and disgracing his community of cousins, elders, and villagers back in Africa that hang his picture as a beacon of hope in their homes, clubs, and restaurants.

    He just wouldn't go around abusing the word, "warlock," because REAL wars would have been fought where his African parents came from, if they came from a country that still fights tribal wars--or, heck, if they came from any African country within the last half-century when colonialism ended.


    And, he just wouldn't have this luxury of "tiger blood" metaphors, unless he had physically seen a tiger as he dodged bullets from the African army in his father's dictator-led country. Most modern-day Africans have never, in fact, seen tigers, but quite a few have seen bullets and war. Think Egyptians, Tunisians, Djiboutians, Cote D'Ivoreans... you know... people with real news, who don't get covered because they don't film 'Two and a Half Men'; they instead fend for two and a half men: i.e. themselves, their uncle, their little brother. They care for two and a half women: i.e. their mother, their aunt, their little sister. They miss two and a half meals a day, and work two and a half jobs... only to make two and a half dollars a week.
    Charlie just wouldn't have the guts (if his D.N.A. leaned a little less towards "Adonis," and a little more in the African god-of-thunder/survivor-of-apartheid direction) to parade around big studio networks, losing wives and children all over the place, making the news cycle revolve around him and his overly privileged lifestyle.

    He wouldn't have the gall, if his name were Shobola rather than Sheen, Chukwu rather than Charlie, to dominate the airwaves with gibberish, as his former homies fight for free and fair elections in towns where African politicians have rigged their votes.

    Oh, no. Charlie's entire level of consciousness would be slightly different, if he had, maybe not just African parents, but at least some whoop-arse roots that were traceable from Africa to the Caribbean to the Carolinas, Georgia, Brooklyn and beyond. Many who have that background know exactly how it works. Even more know that as much as we love Charlie, as much as we enjoy his tragic-comedic genius, and his colorful T.V. appearances, there are much more believable revolutions in the Motherland that have not been televised -- even as they're happening live.

    To him, we say: do better, Uncle Charlie, and heal well.


    China Okasi on BlackVoices.comChina Okasi is a journalist/media personality who dishes witty commentary on CNN, Fox News & more. She is a Founding Editor and Editorial Consultant for MadameNoire.com. This fast-paced entrepreneur also owns PennandPaper.com and several other properties. Find out more at ChinaOkasi.com, or follow her at @ChinaOkasi.



     

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