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

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    Jessica Tata (pictured), who fled to Africa trying to escape charges of leaving her Texas daycare center unattended to go shopping while the building caught fire, is expected back in the United States on Monday.


    Tata fled to Nigeria two days after her daycare center caught fire on Feb. 24, killing four children and severely injuring three others. The 22-year-old was charged with manslaughter, reckless injury to a child and child abandonment amid accusations that she went off to Target to do some shopping and left the small children, ranging from 15 months to 3 years, alone and unattended.

    Tata allegedly lied to investigators, telling them she was in the bathroom of the daycare when the fire started. A nearby Target store has the video of Tata entering and departing the retailer during the time in question surrounding the blaze.

    Fire department officials concluded that the home daycare blaze was caused by a stove top burner that had been left on.

    Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee made the Tata case a high priority and met with State Department officials to ask them to request that the Nigerian government put more resources into arresting one of America's most wanted. The Congresswoman also contacted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Tata's capture.

    After meeting with the State Department officials, Congresswoman Lee issued the following statement:

    "We understand that the United States has a valid Extradition Treaty with Nigeria since 1931. I therefore urgently request that the State Department and the Department of Justice officially send additional U.S. law enforcement officers to Nigeria, and that they engage the Nigerian government and urgently ask for their immediate and intensified efforts to find, detain and arrest this alleged perpetrator who has left 4 dead babies in Harris County and some 3 other babies fighting for their lives while their parents and loved ones suffer in a state of excruciating anguish. I am certain that both departments are engaged in diligent efforts to work with the international community to locate Ms. Tata."

    Congresswoman Lee's steadfast efforts finally paid off.

    Tata reportedly departed Lagos, Nigeria, on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. CDT and is expected to be in Houston 24 hours later on Monday. The U.S. Marshals Service was put on the case and led the search for Tata, placing her on a list of the 15 most-wanted fugitives and offered a reward of up to $25,000.

    "I am glad she decided to make the right decision, which is to return to this country of which she is a citizen in order to face the charges against her," Congresswoman Lee told the Associated Press.



    Watch the story here:

     

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    Melanie Brown is set to welcome another little spice to her family. Formerly Scary Spice of the Spice Girls, she and husband Stephen Belafonte already have three daughters between each other, Phoenix 12, Angel Iris 4 and Giselle 6, and are expecting their first biological child together.

    Brown is the third of her former bandmates to become pregnant recently. Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) is due to deliver a boy in May and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) is due with a girl in July.

    The sex of Melanie's child is currently unknown but she and Stephen, both 35, are "...really thrilled. We wouldn't have planned and waited for four years to have a baby if we weren't excited and ready for it," she told Hello! magazine.

    She's also excited to experience pregnancy again. "I like the feeling of being pregnant. I like being able to just eat something if I'm craving it," she says. "I definitely do put on weight [during pregnancy] but I think you're meant to when you're pregnant. I think it's healthy."

     

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    Obama-Inspired Church Burning Trial to Start



    According to prosecutors, Massachusetts man Michael Jacques is a racist.

    The election of Barack Obama as president reportedly upset Jacques and his buddies so much that they allegedly burned down a predominately black church.

    The trial begins on Monday, according to authorities.

    Prosecutors say Jacques, 26, Thomas A. Gleason Jr., 22, and Benjamin Haskell, 23, burned down the partially built Macedonia Church of God in Christ (pictured below) on Nov. 5, 2008 -- hours after Obama was elected as the first black president of the United States.

    The men allegedly poured gasoline outside the church, set it on fire and destroyed the structure, according to prosecutors.

    Jacques faces up to 60 years in prison if found guilty.

    Jacques' defense is that he was forced to sign a confession, after hours of grilling by police officers as he fought off painkiller and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

    But Jacques' defense seems a little flimsy since Gleason and Haskell have already pleaded guilty to civil rights charges in the case.

    Haskell of Springfield was sentenced to nine years after pleading guilty to charges.

    Gleason also pleaded guilty to charges and is awaiting sentencing. He is expected to testify against Jacques and confirm that the group used racial slurs and expressed anger about Obama's election.

    One has to wonder about the quality of legal advice Jacques is getting in this trial.

    It's hard to see how he will be able to mount any defense when two of his cohorts have already admitted to the crime.

    I wasn't there, but it sounds like the young racists got a little liquored up, and some bold, angry talk about Obama's election turned into violent action -- action that could have cost the lives of many people.

    It's true everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but Jacques is entering court with two strikes against him.

    Watch the case here:


     

     

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    Barry Bonds

    There's never a dull moment in the Barry Bonds circus.

    The trial for baseball's all-time home run king begins Monday with jury selection in San Francisco.

    Bonds is charged with four counts of making false statements to a grand jury in December of 2003 and one count of obstruction of justice.

    The biggest part of Bonds' defense is that he claims he didn't know that his trainer and childhood friend Greg Anderson gave him was performance-enhancing drugs.

    Anderson has spent more than a year in jail, thus far, for refusing to testify as a government witness to implicate Bonds, and he is refusing to testify again, which will likely garner him more jail time.

    As Whodini's "Friends" plays in the consciousness of anyone that has kept up with this trial, government officials say they can prove other counts without Anderson's testimony.

    Each count comes with up to 10 years in federal prison, but could also potentially result in a tap on the wrist with house arrest. The outcome of the trial could also affect Bonds' chances of getting in to the Hall of Fame.

    I'm not sure what Anderson is receiving for all of his loyalty, but I'm guessing it's something that's not on the market yet.

    If Bonds gets a not guilty verdict, don't be surprised if every time we see Anderson, he's looking like Ron O' Neal.

    The circus/trial should take about 3 weeks.

     

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    Haiti NewsHaiti News


    Finally, Haiti may soon learn who will attempt to lead the country from its troubles: a dancehall singer or a former first lady.

    Voting has begun in the presidential runoff election, pitting singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly (pictured left) against ex-first lady Mirlande Manigat (pictured). No matter who wins, the besieged island-nation faces a very long road back to any semblance of stability.

    Reports of the problems that plagued the last round of voting, such as closed polling stations, damaged ballots and untrained poll workers, were repeated this weekend. Luckily, the wide-scale violence of last year's election was avoided for the most part, so the election is being hailed as a success.

    Talk about having low expectations.

    Preliminary results are expected in 10 days, but the people of Haiti don't have time to wait.

    Martelly, 49, a political novice and popular singer of konpa-style music, is known for dropping his pants and dancing during live performances. He has won the support of younger Haitians who believe he will bring an uncompromising honesty to government.

    Manigat, 70, wife of former President Leslie Manigat, received the most votes in the November 2010 election. Manigat has campaigned on an establishment platform, saying she will bring stability to the island-nation.

    International funds to help aid-rebuilding efforts have been held up in the leadership void since the January 2009 earthquake destroyed the nation and killed more than a quarter-million people.

    Add to the mix the return of exiled dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in January and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide weeks ago and the prospect of a peaceful orderly transition dims even further.

    Ironically, as the tension has grown in the Haiti story, most people are seeing less about it in the news media.

    The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan and America's involvement in the Libyan civil war have pushed the Haiti story off the front page and right out of many news broadcasts, leaving many to wonder if all of the billions in international aid pledged to Haiti over the past year will ever be delivered.

    While job No. 2 for Haiti is getting housing, school buildings, roads and other infrastructure rebuilt. Job No. 1 is picking a new leader: the raunchy singer or the matronly ex-first lady.

    Good luck, Haiti.

    Watch video of Martelly's new life as a politician here:

     

     

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    Only three months in, and 2011 is clearly shaping up to be the year of the baby. With Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon anxiously awaiting the arrival of twins, and 'The Game''s Tia Mowry expecting her first child with husband Cory Hardrict, we're all on perpetual baby bump watch.

    If anyone knows how to maintain their sexy while pregnant, it's celebrities. Knowing how to work the right outfit, stay in shape and what not to sacrifice are the secrets to feeling and looking your best while pregnant. If you're joining the circle of moms-to-be, here's how to keep your sexy over the next few months.



    1. DRESS THE PART
    Just because you're carrying a child doesn't mean you have to completely forgo your style sense. Yes, maternity wear is made especially for this time in your life, but let's be honest - some pregnancy outfits make expecting moms look frumpy. If there's a brand that you wear regularly because it flatters your figure and matches your style, stick with it - just opt for a bigger size.

    2. KEEP IT TOGETHER
    It's an understatement to say that having a baby does a number on your body, but the change that is happening within doesn't have to show up all over your exterior. While this is probably easier said than done, keep stretch marks and saggy boobs at bay by swapping in these body-enhancing products, specifically made for the not-so-nice repercussions of carrying a child.
    Basq Citrus Sugar Body Polish ($26, basqnyc.com) is a great prepping product for stretch mark creams. Exfoliating your skin sloughs away dead skin so that the creams you rub on top seep deeper down and work as they should.

    Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil ($35, mamamio.com) has high levels of Omega 3, 6 and 9 to keep your belly resilient as your baby grows.

    Carol's Daughter Sexy Belly ($22, carolsdaughter.com) butter has Tamanu oil and rose hip extract that helps maintain your skin's elasticity and evens out skin tone without leaving a greasy residue.

    Lastly, sleeping in a bra at night during your pregnancy - yes, all 9 months of it - can really do wonders for sagging. It might not be the most comfortable thing, but as you grow, your chest will really appreciate the extra support. Just pick a bra with comfortable fabric and thick straps so you don't wake up with irritation and shoulder dents.

    3. WORK IT OUT
    Sorry to break it to you, but being pregnant isn't a nine-month excuse to not work out. While you have to tweak your gym time and workout regimen to a safe and smart level, sticking with a workout routine can actually help you bounce back faster once you give birth. Your weight gain should remain within the 25- to 35-pound range. Talk to your doctor before hitting the gym to come up with a workout plan that works best for you. Pre-natal yoga is a great and relaxing start!

    4. PLAY UP YOUR PLUSH HAIR
    For the next few months you'll likely have your best hair ever, so take advantage of it. For many, one beauty benefit to being pregnant is the growth of lush locks. While it's not advised to chemically treat your hair while pregnant, make time for regular salon visits to keep your strands styled. Maybe even get a little adventurous and try something completely different.

    If you color your hair, switch over to vegetable dyes and swap out regular products for chemical-free ones, often made for natural hair. To keep your mane in tip-top shape, treat yourself to a deep-conditioning treatment weekly. Try Miss Jessie's Super Sweetback Treatment ($48, missjessies.com)
    5. DON'T SKIMP ON MAKEUP
    Inevitable weight gain while pregnant is no excuse to let yourself go. This is a time to feel your most feminine, so don't cut back on the rituals that only enhance that. If you weren't a regular makeup wearer before, then now's the time to start, and if you always wore makeup, keep it up. That, combined with the feminine boosts going on within, will make you feel really sexy.

    6. SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU'RE WORKING WITH
    You may have been dreaming for that D-cup since puberty, and luckily, thanks to pregnancy, you didn't have to go under the knife to get it, so put them to use while you have them - but not too much! There's a thin line between sexy and scandalous. Keep them nice and taut with Mama Mio Boob Tube Bust & Neck Firmer ($45, mamamio.com).

    7. GET A LEG UP
    So you may not be able to see your legs, but remember that everyone else can. The added weight that you're carrying may not only slow you down, but also drain the life and energy out of your limbs. Bring them back to life with a leg cream that's made especially for pregnant legs. Try Mustela Instant Comfort Legs ($20, sephora.com). Menthol extract refreshes and relieves achy legs and hyaluronic acid and avocado peptides firm your overworked skin.

    Need some real-life inspiration? Here's how these celebrity moms maintained their sexy while eating for two (or three!).

     

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    The young woman who stands accused of killing a yoga store co-worker in Bethesda, Md., on March 11th will face a judge on Monday afternoon.


    Brittany Norwood (pictured above) is charged with the first-degree murder of 30-year-old Jayna Murray (pictured below). Norwood worked with Murray at the Lululemon Athletica yoga apparel store in an upscale suburban area of Bethesda.

    According to police reports, Norwood told authorities that she and Murray closed the shop and left on the evening in question. When Norwood realized she left her wallet at the shop, though, both she and Murray allegedly went back to retrieve it. According to Norwood, it was then that they stumbled upon two masked gunmen who sexually assaulted them and left them for dead.

    The next morning, a store manager heard groans coming from the back room and called local authorities. Police discovered Norwood had been tied up and Murray, the victim of a brutal beating, was dead.

    As police interrogated Norwood, though, they began to find holes in the 27-year-old's story, which was also contradicted by physical evidence that they found on the scene.

    Investigators discovered that there was no evidence of sexual assault at all. The two sets of bloody footprints, which Norwood said belonged to the alleged masked intruders, were actually traced to her and a pair of size 14 shoes that belonged to a mannequin display in the store.

    A manager at the Apple store adjacent to Lululemon also told police that some shoppers in his store overheard two women locked in a heated discussion on the night in question.

    Montgomery County police detectives summarized that Norwood had self-inflicted wounds and then tied up her own arms and legs after killing Murray. Authorities also found out that Norwood, who is a gifted soccer player at Stony Brook College in upstate New York, had been sued by her landlord for delinquent rent in the Columbia Heights section of Maryland.

    Norwood was arrested on Friday, after her fourth police interrogation.

    In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," Murray's parents said:

    "We believe very, very strongly in the U.S. justice system and we are going to let the justice system prevail."

    Given all of the evidence authorities have found so far, Norwood appears to be guilty. As the case goes on, the truth will come out and we will find out exactly what happened to Murray.

    Watch the incident here:


     

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    Jonathan Zimmerman (pictured), a 26-year-old New Yorker, is suing the New York Police Department (NYPD), after he had to have a prong from a Taser surgically removed from his back.

    Zimmerman was sitting in his car with a friend outside her Bedford-Stuyvesant home, and a uniformed officer wrote him a ticket for allegedly being double-parked.

    When Zimmerman began to argue with the officer for writing the ticket, he was ordered out of the car. Zimmerman, a security guard, refused to comply. This is when an officer allegedly grabbed the keys from his ignition and maced him in the face.

    Zimmerman was also tasered at the same time.

    A spokesman for the NYPD said that officers ordered Zimmerman to move his car, and he talked back instead. Zimmerman's response was that black men are stopped for no reason on a regular basis:

    "I see stuff like this a lot," he said, "and I've never seen anybody go through this for a parking ticket."

    After reading the details of his case, I am in full support of Mr. Zimmerman's lawsuit against the NYPD.

    I find it ironic that African-American men are regularly questioned and stopped by police officers, who then may punish them for talking back or refusing to comply with unjust instructions.

    If Zimmerman was indeed double-parked, the officer could have written him the ticket and left the scene. There was no need for him to force Zimmerman out of the car just because he had something to say.

    As the son of a high-ranking police official, I've seen both sides of the police brutality argument: I've seen officers unfairly accused of racism when they had to defend their lives by using force against a defendant who happened to be black. I've also seen cases in which power-hungry officers have punished otherwise law-abiding citizens for speaking out or exercising their legal rights.

    We can't deny the role that racial profiling plays in the disproportionate likelihood of black men being arrested and incarcerated.

    If the police were to search college campuses the way they search black neighborhoods, a good 20 percent of white college students would go to jail for drug possession, underage drinking and other atrocious things that happen on campuses all across the country.

    This also plays a role in the growth of black female incarceration in recent years. Although black and white women are equally likely to commit crimes, black women are eight times more likely to go to prison than white women.

    The Zimmerman case is a reminder of what happens to black men and women all across America. If you are more likely to be stopped and searched, then you also have a greater likelihood of experience unfortunate confrontations with police. The seemingly endless power of the state to violate individual freedoms and disrespect American citizens should be of concern to us all, for there should be nothing wrong with talking back to a police officer.





    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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    Farrakhan Issues Stern Warning to President Obama About Attacking Libya

    In his usually powerful way, the Minister Louis Farrakhan has taken to the public airwaves to address the U.S. government's decision to attack Libya. The United States has joined with allied forces to (in their words) protect the Libyan people from the alleged tyranny of their leader, Muammar Gadhafi.

    Since it has been alleged that Gadhafi used his military forces to attack his own people, the U.S. government has spoken against Libyan leadership and has also begun air strikes on Libyan soil. Gadhafi has warned the United States that a war against his country will be long and that he will emerge victorious.

    Minister Louis Farrakhan, who has a long-standing friendship with Gadhafi, went to WVON in Chicago to speak on the situation. As expected, Farrakhan is not happy with the invasion and openly spoke about U.S. policies that involve deliberate destabilization of nations with whom they have a financial interest.

    In the case of Libya, Farrakhan openly asks President Barack Obama why he and his administration are suddenly concerned with alleged atrocities in this country while the U.S. government looked the other way a few years ago, when the Israelis were engaged in relentless bombing of Palestinians, many of them women and children.

    Farrakhan also noted that the U.S. government showed no interest in becoming involved when numerous human rights violations were occurring in Rwanda and the Congo. He argued that the U.S. government's goal has been to spend funds arming dissidents in Libya who do not want to see Gadhafi in power.

    In an even more telling fashion, Farrakhan noted similarities between Gadhafi and President Obama: He mentioned that similar to Gadhafi, there are millions of Americans who don't want to see Obama in power, and that intervening with internal dissent in Libya would be no different from someone doing the same here in the United States.

    Farrakhan asks the president, "Who in the hell do you think you are that you can talk to a man that built a country over 42 years and ask him to step down and get out? Can anybody ask you ... to step out of the White House 'cause they don't want no black face in the White House?"

    Farrakhan notes that dissatisfaction with Obama and the U.S. government has reached a boiling point and that the president should be careful about intervening in another nation's internal discord. The Council for Afrika International, a UK-based think tank, also takes issue with the United States' decision to circumvent the African Union in its decision to create a no-fly zone around an African country.

    As arguably the most persuasive speaker in the United States, Minister Louis Farrakhan lays out a very clear and poignant case for his objections with the U.S. military action in Libya. The United States government is already facing massive budget deficits and two expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so one can only wonder how we expect to afford yet another intervention in the Middle East.

    Farrakhan's points about selective morality of the government are also quite interesting. The United States stands idly by during countless revolts in countries around the world and usually doesn't have much to say when a government responds with violence toward its citizens, but for some reason, the case is different in Libya, and it appears to be more than coincidental that the nation just happens to be sitting on a great deal of oil.

    Rev. Al Sharpton and I have spoken extensively about the Libyan issue. It appears that this intervention is something of significant interest to the African-American community, particularly black Muslims. President Obama is not only the first black president in U.S. history, he also has the strongest ties to the Muslim community of any president our nation has ever had.

    Obama is indirectly linked to Louis Farrakhan given their mutual relationship with Jeremiah Wright (Obama's former pastor) and his roots in the South Side of Chicago. So Farrakhan's message has a special degree of power and value, at least to black Obama observers.

    Farrakhan also makes a strong point regarding the nature by which the United States government justifies its invasions of other countries. He mentions that in order to get American support for preconceived decisions, the government engages in a concerted effort to make the other nation's leader look like (in his words) "the boogeyman." To Farrakhan's point, public perception of Gadhafi seemed to change overnight, as celebrities who were fine with performing for the Libyan leader just three months ago were suddenly expected to give the money back.

    Rev. Sharpton's position appears to be one that is based on fact-finding and determining whether there is merit to the populist uprisings occurring all through the Middle East. Given that there appears to be a newfound hunger for democracy in the region, Sharpton doesn't rule out the possibility that the rebellion taking place among the Libyan people has roots in genuine dissent that has not been impacted by outside forces.

    While I see merit to Sharpton's point, I am personally concerned with the fact that the U.S. government has a history of sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. For example, the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s led to rebel groups being allowed to sell drugs and weapons in black communities to raise money for a U.S.-sponsored rebellion that was being illegally funded by drug proceeds. This created the crack-cocaine epidemic, urban decay, out-of-control violence and mass incarceration within black communities for the next 30 years.

    There's something fishy going on in Libya, and I suspect that if the country didn't have any oil, we wouldn't even be talking about it in the news. We must also wonder if it makes sense to give President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, when we are making questionable declarations of war on smaller nations. Farrakhan has a point in his argument, and perhaps black America should listen. But I have a feeling that this situation goes much deeper than Barack Obama.



    Watch Farrakhan talk about Obama and Libya here:







    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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    A Brooklyn man says he was left with a painful reminder from an encounter with NYPD cops: A prong from a Taser had to be surgically removed from his back.

    Jonathan Zimmerman, 26, is suing the city and the two officers, saying that after he double-parked, he suffered through an excruciating Tasering that left him with a dime-sized scar.

    "I was hurt because I don't think I should have gone through what I went through that night," he said of the April 2010 ordeal.

    Zimmerman, a security guard, said he was sitting in his car with a female friend outside her Bedford-Stuyvesant home when uniformed cops wrote him a ticket for double-parking.

    After he and the woman started to argue with the cops about the summons, one officer ordered him out of the car. He refused.

    He says the cop yanked the keys from the ignition and Maced him while he was still strapped in his seat belt. Next Zimmerman felt something "very, very painful," he recalled. He was zapped, pulled out of his car and Tasered two more times, he said.

    An NYPD spokesman said cops ordered Zimmerman to move his car but he instead talked back and had to be restrained. Doctors later dislodged an inch-long spur from his back. All charges against him, including resisting arrest and disorderly conduct,were dismissed.

    Zimmerman, of Brownsville said cops routinely stop black men for no good reason: "I see stuff like this a lot," he said, "and I've never seen anybody go through this for a parking ticket."


    Source: NY DailyNews


    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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    If you've seen the Oscar-winning film Black Swan, you know that the ballet world can be brutal. The movie may include exaggerations, but the message is clear: it's highly competitive, overwhelmingly white and the dancers are incredibly thin.

    Yet with all of this, classical ballet dancer Misty Copeland of the American Ballet Theatre has managed to navigate this elite world and, in 2007, even etched out a spot as a soloist - the first African American female to do so. She was even the featured dancer on legendary singer Prince's "Welcome 2 America" tour this past year.

    However, it's not Copeland's ethnicity that makes her unique; it's another "cultural" attribution that sets her apart: her voluptuous body. At 5'2 and 103 pounds, the petite, curvy ballerina doesn't feel pressure to represent for all African Americans but says it'd be nice to see more ballet dancers who looked like her.


    We chatted with 28-year-old Copeland about her experiences with this grueling art form.

    BLACK VOICES: You began ballet at 13 - considerably late for that industry - and you've said you have to get the body and mold it before it changes. Please explain.

    MISTY COPELAND: Well, I think that it's more important with women to start early because we go through puberty and it's harder to get your body to adapt [to ballet dancing]. When you're working with something like ballet, you're changing the way your body is shaped and how your body grows.

    I wouldn't say that ballet is a natural art form because most people are working against what their bodies are supposed to be doing. Few people have naturally flexible bodies and can do certain things. We still end up with major problems at the end of our careers. It's beautiful and I think that my body has adapted very easily to this form of dance. I don't think my body would've been any less curvy, because it's genetic.

    BV: You are a curvy young lady - what's your experience been?

    MC: It's been a struggle, especially corps de ballet sets (the large group of dancers). When I was in the corps de ballet, my body was harder to deal with because they made the clothes for the size they expected dancers to be and look like. And just coming to terms with looking around when we're training and not seeing women who look like me. It was harder when I was a teenager.
    BV: When do you think you became more comfortable with yourself in that way?

    MC: When I was around 24-ish, I stopped [being uncomfortable]. I think [that in] being a woman in general it's hard to be completely comfortable and confident with how you look. Especially in an art form like this when it is about your physicality and what you look like. It's difficult being critiqued and judged on that basis.

    I had a breakthrough with accepting my body. I surrounded myself with other women who looked like me and who were successful - other successful black women. Even though they weren't in my field, having that motivation helped me to come to terms and accept myself.

    BV: Have you felt pressure to lose weight or had to deal with any mental or physical challenges with accepting your body?

    MC: Absolutely! I felt pressure to lose weight. It's kind of hard to avoid that when you're in this field. I never dealt with an eating disorder in any way and yes, I was told many times to lose when I joined the company. I learned to accept my body but I also learned to take care of it, which is hard. Most people who join a company like American Ballet Theatre or New York City Ballet have some problems because they're young, alone and don't have much guidance and it's easy to fall into having an eating disorder.

    BV: Are eating disorders commonplace in the ballet world? Is that something you see your peers struggling with?

    MC: When someone is doing something like that, it doesn't matter what you say to them. They have to find it by themselves. I don't think it's as common as some people may want it to be, but it's there.

    BV: Prince featured you in his 2009 'Crimson and Clover' video and you even toured with him last summer. How was that experience?

    MC: He's been a mentor to me and a friend. I'm very lucky to have him in my life and he's introduced me to other artists like Esperanza Spalding, who I adore. It was a great opportunity. It's important to expose that world to what I do. I want people to know that classical ballet is what I'm here to do, and hopefully will open up other doors in the ballet world. Even with this, I'm not distracted and classical ballet is still my priority.

    Prince - Crimson and Clover (Official Video) by Lemongol

    BV: What message do you have for other black women or curvy women who want to be classical ballet dancers?

    MC: I've seen so many talented black women who come in with the perfect physique and still not get into this company or another one. I think it's probably about timing as well but it definitely may have been because they were too dark. I think I was lucky to get in when I did and maybe they felt that position was filled.

    A young black girl came into the company, and she's fair-skinned like me. We have yet to see a dark-skinned woman come into the company. It's a very touchy subject in general. Some black women give up and don't do classical ballet dance. I want them to know that times are changing. The more people we have auditioning, they can't deny talent.


    To learn more about Misty Copeland, visit www.mistycopeland.com.

     

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    Currently online is the trailer to 'Master Harold...and the Boys,' which stars Ving Rhames and Freddie Highmore.

    Rhames plays the lead role in the big-screen adaptation of Athol Fugard's 1982 play, a role Danny Glover originated on Broadway.

    Emmy Winner Lonny Price, who played opposite Glover in the Broadway play under Fugard's direction and directed the 2003 revival, makes his feature directorial debut with the film. Nicky Rebelo wrote the screen adaptation.

    The story centers on Hally (played by Highmore), an adolescent white South African. He is stuck between his intolerant father's outlook of him and those of his caretaker, Sam (played by Rhames). Sam is a black waiter and Hally's friend and teacher. Hally is required to laugh at his father's racist jokes, and by contrast, Sam exposes Hally to uplifting experiences. One day Hally was terribly humiliated by his father and Sam shows Hally how to be proud of something he can achieve.

    South African actor Patrick Mofokeng rounds out the cast as Willie, a younger, more lighthearted waiter who is preparing for a ballroom dancing competition.

    There is no U.S release date set for the film as of yet.

     

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    FBI Investigates Cross Burned Near Home of Black Family in Wealthy California Suburb


    It is one of the most horrific symbols of hate in American culture, and it was openly used to strike fear into the hearts of Southern blacks by the Ku Klux Klan for decades.

    For a black family in the wealthy, mostly white central Californian town of Arroyo Grande, though, that reality came to life last week, when an 11-foot cross stolen from a nearby church was set ablaze near their home.

    A 19-year-old woman in the house looked out of her window and saw the flames, and a town that has not had a reported hate crime in almost a decade was in shock.

    "I was horrified," the Rev. Stephanie Raphael, president of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association, told the Associated Press. "We live in a paradise, and I think the first thought was, this can't really be real."

    Unfortunately, hate does still exist in this world. Even though the town in rural San Luis Obispo County is "a region of vast farms, picturesque towns and a state university campus," ugly sentiments can easily lie beneath the surface. Those sentiments can be brought to the surface when a black family does something as simple as move into a neighborhood of their choosing.

    As the settlement patterns of African Americans change and we head into suburbs that were once all white, I won't be surprised if we see more incidents like this.

    Some people just can't accept change.

    These old symbols of hate seem to endure, passed down from one generation to another. Take the Massachusetts man who pled guilty to burning down a black church, after President Barack Obama was elected.

    Law enforcement needs to make it abundantly clear to the perpetrators of these crimes that there will be swift and harsh consequences for these sorts of actions. The man who burned down the church in Springfield, Mass., was sentenced to nine years in prison. In 2007, a man who burned a cross outside a northern California church to intimidate a clergy member visiting from Rwanda was sentenced to two years in prison.



    Luckily, the response to this hate crime seems to be swift and overwhelming.

    The FBI is investigating, and a $3,500 reward has been offered. Thirty members of the local clergy community signed a letter to the paper. More than 100 members of the church where the cross was stolen from have signed a card to the family.

    "Any kind of hate crime is not a joke, it's not a prank," Raphael said. "It's designed to intimidate and frighten. We live in a beautiful area, but it's only beautiful if every single person feels safe conducting their lives and living here."

    Pastor Randy Ouimette of Saint John's Lutheran Church, the church where the cross was stolen from, also said the church feels violated:

    "It's such a violation," he said. "You know, the cross originally was an instrument of violence... but Christ redeemed it. Through the cross has come forgiveness and peace."

    I hope that the family victimized by this terrible act is able to regain a sense of peace in their home.


     

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    The scene was pretty typical for a fashion show:

    Front-row seats were reserved for editors, stylists and friends of the designer, but that didn't stop crashers from grabbing seats like they were Louboutins at a sample sale. The celebrities in attendance caused a bit of a frenzy among the photographers. Some guy claiming to be a casting director was creeping on a woman too naive to know better.

    The show started ridiculously late, but once it did, audible gasps of delight were heard every time a model walked down the runway in a particularly brilliant outfit. The designer walked out at the end, waving and bowing to applause. Then it was over. People collected their things and headed over to another tent for another show.

    Yep, it was all pretty typical. Except the fashion shows that took place during ARISE Magazine Fashion Week weren't typical at all. They were exceptional.


    Designed to compete with and complete the world's global fashion weeks, the shows took place in Lagos, Nigeria, from the March 10-13 at the Federal Palace Hotel. Some of Africa's top designers spent those three days showcasing their collections for Fall and the festivities concluded with the ARISE Magazine Fashion Week (AMFW) Awards, where it was revealed that designers Tsemaye Binitie, Jewel by Lisa, Bunmi Koko, Kluk CGTD and Pierre-Antoine Vetterello would represent Africa at the AMFW Gala in New York on Sept. 14, 2011, during New York Fashion Week.

    While we loved too many collections to mention, the best part of AMFW weren't the clothes but the environment. Being in a room of predominately black females of different shades, sizes and ages was gratifying. BV on Style had a great time style-stalking some of the lovely ladies (and gents) who attended the events.

    The ARISE Magazine Fashion Week wasn't just a celebration of Africa's talented designers; it was a celebration of the beauty of women and diversity. In an industry where minorities are still grossly underrepresented, it was nice to see so many models of color walking down a runway and WORKING it!

    We applaud them for showcasing the talent coming from Africa. Check out the hottest runway and audience looks in the gallery below.

     

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    S. Epatha Merkerson, who spent 17 seasons playing NYPD Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running NBC police procedural drama series 'Law & Order' until the show was cancelled in 2010, will be returning to TV on CBS' untitled Susannah Grant supernatural medical drama pilot.

    Jonathan Demme ('Beloved,' 'The Manchurian Candidate') is directing the pilot, which centers on Michael (played by Patrick Wilson), an ultra-competitive surgeon whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife (played by Jennifer Ehle), a doctor running a free clinic, dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the hereafter. Merkerson will play Michael's assistant, Rita, stated Deadline.com.

    Without her help, he probably wouldn't make it through the day as she is really the person running the office. Sassy and strong-willed, Rita is not someone you should cross.

    Merkerson, who also won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress for her role in the HBO film 'Lackawanna Blues' will next be seen on the big screen as one of the leads in the upcoming Tyler Perry film, 'We the Peoples.'

    The veteran theater actress, whose stage credits include 'Birdie Blue' and 'Come Back, Little Sheba,' was last seen opposite Kerry Washington in the independent film 'Mother and Child.'

     

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  • 03/23/11--04:40: Chris Brown: Losing
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    It seems as though Chris Brown insists on challenging Charlie Sheen for the 'bad boy' award of 2011, although his antics portray a guy who is, nonetheless, losing it.

    Appearing on 'Good Morning America' Tuesday morning for an interview with co-anchor Robin Roberts to promote his new album, F.A.M.E, Brown went into a rage after his first performance. Trashing his dressing room and smashing a window with a chair, he tore off his shirt, threatened a GMA producer and stormed out of ABC Studios without completing a second scheduled performance.


    Having lost his good-guy image after he beat his ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, Brown now seems intent on showing the world just how bad he can be. With bleached hair, a slew of tattoos and the quintessential jean jacket with the sleeves torn off, his image screams more teenage rebellious angst than true 'bad boy,' and throwing a tantrum is a surefire way to let mommy Robin know "I'm mad!"

    Is this just a case of "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore" or are we seeing the pattern of a young man who never learned how to communicate, instead reverting to anger and violence?

    Brown was witness to domestic violence as a child, and spoke out about his harrowing experience living with an abusive father. Although unfortunate, it doesn't mean his behavior as an adult is excusable. Many people struggle with anger, especially in relationships, and without the proper tools to communicate, one is unable to channel or release the anger, and they end up catching the crazy over and over again.

    I'm currently working with a client whose anger issues are driving a wedge into his relationship. He has been using anger as a shield to block anything that makes him uncomfortable in life, and as a weapon to get his way. The misuse of this emotion has not only created a wall to protect himself from those he perceives to be his enemies, but has alienated and hurt those who seek to love him. This has left him depressed, lonely and unable to open himself up completely to let love in.

    On the other side of the coin, dating men who have bad tempers is a recipe for disaster. Anger and violence are commonly used in relationships to control and exert power over a partner. These are some of the most dangerous relationships, because no matter what you do to avoid or tiptoe around the angry partner, they will find any excuse as a reason to abuse and dominate, justifying their actions by blaming the victim.

    If you find yourself in a relationship with a "yeller," or someone who uses physical dominance to intimidate others, find the nearest exit and bolt.

    Emotions are tools to help you deal with life, but if you mismanage or abuse them, you alienate yourself from others. Anger can be debilitating if you don't get it under control, and it will destroy your relationships, your career and the things you value in life. You not only need to be aware of your anger, but you also need to own up to how you use it and assess how it truly affects those around you.

    As for Chris Brown, it seems he needs a few more rounds in anger management, since he still hasn't learned the number-one lesson in childhood: Actions have consequences. Think before you act!

    Follow Coach Brody on Twitter @LuvCoach

    Rebecca Brody is a relationship coach and columnist in NYC. She hosts improvdates.com and works with private clients. Send your questions to Brody@TheLuvCoach.com or visit her at theluvcoach.com.

     

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  • 03/23/11--05:29: Lawrence Taylor Goes Down
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    Lawrence Taylor Is a Sex Offender

    NFL great Lawrence Taylor was in a New York courtroom this week to receive his sentence for pleading guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute in January. Taylor was sentenced to six years of probation and must register as a sex offender.

    Sex offenders are restricted from being in the presence of minors, living in proximity to a school or day-care center, owning toys or other items of interest to minors and using the Internet. They are also put on a list that is made public.

    There are three tiers of offenses. Taylor's offense is a Tier II offense, which means he may be required to be a registered sex offender for at least 25 years. The hearing to determine how the tier will affect him is postponed until April 12.


    At the hearing, the victim, now 17, (pictured below right) hoped to convince the judge to include jail time in Taylor's sentence. That didn't happen, but according to the victim's attorney, the well-known Gloria Allred (pictured below left), this thing isn't over yet:

    "We look forward to representing her as she continues her fight for justice," Allred told the Associated Press. "[He] should be in the hall of shame, not the Hall of Fame."


    The victim, who was 16 at the time of the crime, also spoke to reporters after the sentencing:


    "I believe Mr. Taylor could see my face and how young I was," she said. "I did what he told me to do because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn't. I am upset that he will not go to jail for what he did to me."


    Although neither the victim nor her lawyer announced what they plan to do, a civil lawsuit against Taylor is on the horizon.

     

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    The trailer to 'Set Up,' the heist film starring rapper/actor 50 Cent and Bruce Willis, is currently online.

    Written and directed by Mike Gunther, a veteran stunt coordinator whose credits include 'Live Free and Die Hard,' 'Set Up' centers around a group of friends who get caught up in a diamond heist that turns deadly.

    Ryan Phillippe, James Remar, Jenna Dewan, Will Yun Lee and Randy Couture also co-star in the film.


    This is the first of the 10-picture, $200 million deal 50 Cent's Cheetah Vision has with George Furla's Hedge Fund Film Partners. Cheetah Vision has already produced 'Caught in the Crossfire,' 'Gun' and the upcoming 'Things Fall Apart,' for which he dropped a lot of weight to play a man battling cancer.

    There is no release date set for the film.

     

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    With all of the recent controversy about Planned Parenthood being disproportionately placed in minority communities - and allegedly being the cause of many African-American babies being aborted - actress Gabrielle Union has decided to speak up.

    For Union, the Planned Parenthood controversy hits a personal note: Her best friend, who lacked health care, was able to receive both screening and treatment for cancer. Even though Union's friend recently died from the disease, Union contends that Planned Parenthood still gave her friend a fighting chance.


    At the age of 32, my girlfriend Kristen Martinez was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She fought incredibly hard for five years but ultimately lost her battle with breast cancer on June 16, 2010.

    We knew she wasn't going to make it this past summer, so I asked her, What's the one thing that you want young girls to take away, what do you want your legacy to be?

    She said just to remind people and women, especially, that you are your own best advocate, and if you don't put you first, no one else will. With all that's going on in the media about Planned Parenthood and abortions, I think the media is doing the public a great disservice. The fact that only 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides are abortions makes you wonder what's happening with the other 97 percent of what Planned Parenthood is doing.

    The vast majority of the work that they do is preventative. Planned Parenthood provides low-cost reproductive information and care, which goes into providing contraception. For women who choose to keep their babies, they offer low-cost pregnancy services as well.

    Planned Parenthood is providing vaccines, cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 mammograms, STD screenings and (overall) half-a-million HIV screenings. The way people are focusing now on Planned Parenthood is like they are taking one piece and deciding that the whole thing is bad, and that's just not the case.

    As for Planned Parenthood's supposed targeting of African-American women, I think when you factor in socioeconomics and the fact that there are plenty of underprivileged and younger women who don't have access to proper health care and affordable contraception, you also see an increase in the number of African-American women getting abortions.

    The reality of what Planned Parenthood is doing is trying to increase the number of planned pregnancies and give women the options of planning out their pregnancies by way of contraception.

    That is the bulk of what Planned Parenthood is doing.

    For a lot of women, the last stop for affordable health care and acceptable health care is Planned Parenthood. It's the place that a lot of people go to, certainly minorities, because you know it's the one place where you're not getting turned away when you're asking questions about reproductive care.

    If we provide more access to quality and affordable contraception, and information, you're going to see those numbers go down across the board and not just in terms of the African-American community.

    For women, and for society at large, we should care that Planned Parenthood's funding could get cut. If you look at the fact that a good chunk of the women that go to Planned Parenthood receive federal funding anyway and you realize this is where they're turning to go ... if you eliminate Planned Parenthood, think of all the STDs that will be spread, all of the women who won't be receiving preventative health care in terms of breast cancer, cervical cancer. Think of all the women who wouldn't get reproductive health and information. Cutting Planned Parenthood's funding does such a disservice to our already underserved community.

    This should be the last place that should be cut.

    One in five women will visit a Planned Parenthood at some point in their lifetime. We cannot eliminate the funding. It does not make good sense, it doesn't make good business sense, it doesn't make moral sense or health sense.

    If you go to IStandWithPlannedParenthood, you can add your name to a petition asking Congress to stop Planned Parenthood from losing federal funding. Almost a million people are already signed up, but we just need to keep it going. Our elected officials want to hear from you, and there's strength in numbers.

    The more numbers we can get saying we refuse to stand by idly and let you cut such a necessary institution like Planned Parenthood - they will respond to that. As people who want to eliminate the funding are rallying their troops, we need to rally ours, and it doesn't mean you need to be pro-life or pro-choice, it just means you don't want to see underprivileged women across the board stop receiving the health services that they so desperately need.

    Gabrielle Union has starred in "The Perfect Holiday,""Meet Dave" and "Cadillac Records" and is the long-standing face of Neutrogena. She is currently filming a pilot and is an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Young Survivor Coalition.

     

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    Robin Roberts Invites Chris Brown Back to 'Good Morning America'

    Even after Chris Brown stormed off their set and allegedly smashed a window after his interview with Robin Roberts, 'Good Morning America' is extending an invitation to Chris to come back on the show!

    Chris reportedly was so angry after his interview with Robin on Tuesday, which included questions about Rihanna, that he caused quite a scene leaving the studio.

    But it looks like GMA is willing to give Chris a second chance and doesn't seem to be holding anything against him.

    "I wish him the absolute best," Robin said on 'GMA' on Wednesday morning. "We extended the invitation to him [to come back], and sure hope he takes us up on it because I'd sure love to have another chat with him."


    Robin Roberts Invites Chris Brown Back to 'Good Morning America'

    "Anytime we have a guest, we let them know ahead of time the subject matter and the topics. And even right before the interview I let him know," she explained on air. "I was shocked like everyone else, because we've had a wonderful relationship. I've been to his home, he's very gracious, and we've had easy conversation."

    And Robin even said that she "thought he was joking about some things" during the interview.

    "We've extended an invitation," Robin said. "We'd love to have him back. He's seriously considering that."


    Source: OK!Magazine


    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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