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

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    Donald Trump will believe it when he sees it.

    The loud-mouthed billionaire called out President Obama during an appearance on 'The View' Wednesday, demanding the nation's leader put an end to the debate over whether or not he was actually born in the United States.

    "I want him to show his birth certificate. I want him to show his birth certificate," Trump shouted to the show's five co-hosts. "There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like."

    Trump, who was on the show to discuss his own potential presidential run in 2012, said he felt Obama was probably born in the U.S.

    "I really believe there's a birth certificate," Trump said. "Why doesn't he show his birth certificate? And you know what? I wish he would. I think it's a terrible pale that's hanging over him."

    Trump's pleas seem unnecessary, as Obama's birth certificate has been widely available on the Internet for years.

    Many news organizations requested in 2008 that the then-Illinois senator provide a copy, which his campaign readily produced.

    The ladies of 'The View,' most notably Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg, were dismayed by Trump's statements.

    "I think that's the biggest pile of dog mess I've heard in ages," Goldberg quipped.

    While several Republican candidates have strongly hinted they'll be running in 2012, Trump said he won't know for sure until later this spring.

    "I'm going to make a decision sometime prior to June," he said. "I'm thinking about it very strongly. I think I'd do a really good job. I think I'd protect this country like it's not being protected."

    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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    With Hollywood greenlighting many remakes and reboots of classics and cult favorites, here comes another film to the mix.

    Long talked about but never going anywhere, Warner Bros. and Overbrook Entertainment have brought on comedy screenwriter Tim Dowling to rewrite the remake of 'Uptown Saturday Night,' the 1974 buddy comedy that starred Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier.

    Overbrook partners Will Smith, James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz and Jada Pinkett Smith will produce the remake, which has been in development since 2002 and was originally scripted by Mark and Robb Cullen ('Cop Out'). David Dobkin ('Wedding Crashers') is attached to direct and exec produce, stated Variety.

    The story centers on two estranged friends who have their wallets stolen at a nightclub. The next morning, they learn that one of their wallets contained a winning lottery ticket, and together, they set out to find it.

    Among the rumors floating around is that Will Smith will likely star in the film, along with Academy Award winner Denzel Washington.

    While Smith has starred in a number of sci-fi action comedies ('Men in Black') and romantic comedies ('Hitch'), the last time Washington starred in a comedy film was 1990's 'Heart Condition,' which co-starred Bob Hoskins. The movie's reception was largely negative, scoring 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. At the end of its run, the box office total was $4,134,992. Washington was talked into making this movie by his agent. Afterwards, Washington fired him and has not starred in a full scale comedy since.

    Smith is also remaking 'Annie' for his daughter Willow Smith to star in and rapper Jay-Z collaborating on the music.


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    From Huffington Post: Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was ejected from an upscale Dallas shopping mall after a dispute over the sagging pants worn by him and some companions.

    Read the whole story at Huffington Post


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    From Shadow and Act
    : First, did you know that (Spike Lee's) feature film debut, She's Gotta Have It, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year?!

    And second, did you know that She's Gotta Have It was initially given an X-rating by the MPAA? Why? The exact quote, according to Spike, was that the MPAA said it was "saturated with sex."

    Hah! You can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of that given reason. Talk about a double-standard!

    Have things have changed in 25 years? Find out at Shadow and Act


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    From the Root
    : The Newark mayor tells The Root his one million Twitter followers give him far greater reach than New Jersey's largest newspaper. Watch him talk with Omar Wasow about his city, building dynamic coalitions and the different approach of his younger generation of leaders.

    Watch the whole interview at The Root


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    Fashionistas braved a hailstorm last night in New York City to make it out to the opening of designer Rebecca Taylor's new store in the Meatpacking District, an area known for its great shopping. Among the stylish crowd shopping for spring staples, BV on Style spotted Tika Sumpter, the breakout star of 'Gossip Girl' and 'The Game' and supermodel Selita Ebanks.

    Tika, who looked lovely in a vintage-inspired Rebecca Taylor floppy hat and belted maxi dress, spoke about her style icons.

    "I love Cher and Diana Ross, so I'm glad that bell bottoms and high-waisted pants are coming back," she says. "That's my style! And I love clothing that flows. When I'm comfortable in it, I'm confident."

    The gorgeous actress had one thing on her mind when it comes to spring fashion: color! "I'm a color girl. Every single day I'm wearing a bright color!" Why not brighten up your wardrobe, even when the weather can't seem to get on spring's program just yet?

    BV on Style also caught up with Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks, who was sporting an adorable new bob haircut and a ladylike floral and polka-dot dress. Selita, who's known for her fabulous fashion choices, was excited about wearing Rebecca Taylor in the spring.

    "This store has everything I'm feeling for the spring," says Selita. "It's a very a '70's hippie vibe. Fun, light and flirty. Sexy, but still conservative."

    Speaking of conservative, the model hopes a new trend will catch on when it comes to women's fashion.

    "I'm all about the mid-calf skirts right now. It's a breath of fresh air. You can be a lady and look nice going out without having to wear mini skirts."

    Selita has been seen quite a few times hanging close to fellow fashion lover Kanye West since her collaboration with him on his 'Runaway' video.

    "It was an amazing experience. For those four days, you get to live inside of his head and he's incredible. He allowed me to just do my thing."

    And we think she's doing her thing well!


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  • 03/24/11--10:00: Parenting Battle Royale
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    I've been a husband for six years. I've been a father for 18. Do the math. That's negative 12. Who needs an abacus? I belong to a generation of parents who, in financial speak, are upside down. If our children were mortgages, we would be one nation underwater. Wait a minute, we are. Shucks.

    From foreplay to foreclosure, we keep getting screwed. Blame it on the burst of the housing bubble or blame it on the burst of the condom bubble. Either way, things don't always unfold the way we hoped.

    Ideally, love and marriage should come before baby and carriage just as incontrovertible evidence should have come before Bombs Over Baghdad. Then again, Bush and Dick always had a mind of their own anyway.

    Even though I'm no longer an unwed single parent, I'm not married to my son's biological mother. And now that "blackman" (as my wife and I affectionately call him) is weeks away from high school graduation, I have some words of wisdom to share with other parents who aren't married to the mother or father of their child(ren).

    "Words" is the operative word here. Word to your mother. Word to your baby's mother. Word to your baby's father. However you want to word it, it's the words that matter.

    We all understand that things break apart. Relationships don't come equipped with cases and holsters and screen protectors. They're unprotected social experiments. Drop them one too many times -- or one good time -- and they will stop working properly. And while they don't come with rubber cases, they should come with rubbers. You know what I'm talking about: that unopened box of latex balloons still sitting on the dresser as you scurry to the bathroom to grab a clean-up towel. And what do you know: Nine months later, yada yada yada, the relationship has broken and so has the water. Welcome little Kenyada to the world.

    We all know the story. After the initial elation, the war of words commences. There are plenty of exceptions to the rule but not nearly enough. Too often the relationship spirals quickly into verbal violence, leaving the child as an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.

    But if we tilt our heads upward, invariably, we will see the high road. We should take it more often. All of us who find ourselves in such a situation are guilty to one extent or another of taking the low road. Several paragraphs ago, when I noted that I'm not married to my baby's mama son's biological mother, it took everything in me not to insert "winning," but I refrained. While that certainly isn't word warfare, it's not helping.

    Of course, there are (sometimes) reasons for the acrimony. When the reasons become so high pitched that you have to get your Phillip Bailey on and say something, find the time and place to say it when the child isn't present. Even if the child support payments are late while the car note is current on the baby daddy's caddy, the "baby mama drama" has to be brought at the right time. Poisoning our children against the other parent, regardless of reasons, is just as deplorable as the act committed by the other parent.

    Living out our your favorite episodes of 'Jerry' and 'Maury,' unedited expletives and all like Def Comedy Fam in front of the children isn't exactly the hallmark of well-adjusted parents. But, to be sure, this isn't gender specific. And regardless of who is right or wrong, both parties have their roles and the lines are as predictable as a Tyler Perry script. All that's needed is Madea to hit her mark and smack both of you with her penis. Too much? I'll apologize for the imagery as soon as TP apologizes for the character and his unbridled exuberance he exhibits every time he dons the bodysuit and wig to play said character.

    Let's get it together. Children shouldn't be scarred by the hostility that exists between their parents. We need a no-fly zone. The love a child has for his or her parents should be unconditional and uninterrupted by hostile aggression from another parent. If we have nothing good to say about the other parent in front of a child, say nothing. The child will appreciate it.

    No kids were hurt in the making of this post.

    Mason Jamal writes about men, women and popular culture. For more of his musings, visit To have his commentary delivered to your e-mail, subscribe here. Keep up with Mason's daily thoughts and observations by following him on Twitter @masonsays.


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    A long shot.

    That is what it's like for Sylvia Harris trying to live life on her terms.

    It's a long shot because she has struggled with manic depression for most of her adult life. Her distempered days were filled with the hallmark symptoms of the sometimes crippling disease -- extreme highs and spiraling lows -- making it impossible for her to deal with life's daily challenges.

    Frequently, she found herself trying to quiet the voices in her head with alcohol, Lithium and Buddhist chanting. But that was until Harris found relief through work as a horse groomer, then as one of few African American female jockeys. She became the second black female in the U.S. to win a major thoroughbred horse race.

    She recounts her story in the newly released heart-wrenching memoir Long Shot: My Bipolar Life and the Horses Who Saved Me.

    The mother of three who lives in Wilmington, Del., told that she decided to tell her story because she wants readers to know they do not have to be a slave to life's predicaments.

    "I wanted people to see that, regardless of the obstacles, you can still succeed,'' she says. "I especially wanted people who suffer from mental illness to know that they don't have to give in to it. They may not be able to cure it, but you can live with it. Never give up, no matter who tells you no, you can't do it.''

    In her no-holds-barred story that is highly recommended for people struggling with the disease itself and anyone who loves them, Harris recounts how one manic high led her to dress up as a cowgirl and, during another, to await an alien invasion.

    "When you are bipolar, a thought or an idea becomes a necessity, and you have to plan and live it out,'' she shared, when asked about the episodes. "So, what seems abnormal to you seems normal to me. My thought in helping others is to find the right team of doctors and therapists who provide the right medication and methods that will help them to cope.''

    In gripping detail, she discusses the struggles of trying to maintain a so-called normal life for herself and her three children, given her medical condition. The disease, in part, led her to create a family that she had difficulty caring for. Today, one son lives with her father. The other two live in Europe and she sees them whenever she can.

    To help cope with such losses, Harris found horses, which helped change her life. She began the life-changing journey of recovery about 20 years ago, at the height of her illness, while at Cardinal Farm, an equine range outside of Orlando, Fla.

    "My reaction when I first arrived was peace,'' she said of her discovery that horses help calm her. "It was quiet, loving and nonjudgmental. By that, I mean the horses and the family-owned the farm.

    "The horse-racing industry has been good to me especially now that I am at a track that supports me as I work through my illness,'' she continued. "But it is still a struggle. Like any business in America, the horse-racing industry is going through a rough time during the economic downturn. Before, it was somewhat easy to get mounts as a journeyman jockey. But now, even the higher-paid jockeys will take lesser amounts to keep riding. But it is my passion. It is what helps and soothes me. I will race as long as I can.''

    Today, Harris works at Delaware Park, exercising and racing horses. "I have to [keep riding horses],'' she said. "The horses keep me together, better than any medication or therapy. Fortunately, I have a great counselor and doctor. I go to group meetings, take a new medication that sometimes needs to be adjusted, and I try to stay in the saddle.''

    What's next for Harris, whose fighting spirit emanates from the page?

    "I want to continue to ride, and after I hang up my saddle, I'd like to try my hand at training,'' she said.

    Not only that, she will continue to try to live life on her terms -- even if it is, as she says, a long shot.


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    Haitian Teens Need $15,000 to Travel to Robotics Competition
    They watched their friends and families die in last year's devastating earthquake and they have survived the rigors of being an immigrant in a new land to excel in school.

    Now a group of Haitian teens from Brooklyn, N.Y. who have won an invitation to a prestigious robotics competition in St. Louis need just $15,000 to make it there.

    The mostly Haitian students from the It Takes a Village Academy in East Flatbush beat out kids from 63 other area high schools, including some of New York City's most prestigious, to earn the invitation. It was something many of the kids on the team did not think was possible.

    "It's like a dream come true," said Margely Saint-Pierre, 17, who saw 10 friends die and his high school destroyed in the devastating Haitian earthquake, told the New York Daily News.

    The school is just one of two from the city to be invited to the FIRST Tech Challenge next month where they would participate in a competition to build the fastest and most precise robot.

    "What their victory shows is how a little bit of money in the right place can accomplish a lot," Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, told Aol Black Voices in an interview.

    The foundation, in conjunction with Polytechnic Institute of New York University, sponsors the Central Brooklyn Robotic Initiative. Graduate students from the university travel to 18 schools in Central Brooklyn to work with the kids on robotics programs. The program is working so well that it will double to 36 schools next year.

    "To travel from Brooklyn to St. Louis to compete on a national level would be an extraordinary experience and show these kids that you can be written off as one who is not going to succeed but come out on the other side as champions. We want them to be champions and represent all kids in that situation," Gelber added.

    For many of these kids, participating in the robotics program has brought a world of benefits.

    Closing the Gap with Robotics from NYU-Poly on Vimeo.

    "They're like brothers and sisters, sharing experiences," Yvon Morin, a computer science teacher who serves as the team's coach, and who's also a Haitian immigrant, told the News.

    It takes math, physics and computer programming to build these robots. And they are learning about cooperation and being creative as well. Many of the kids also see this as another opportunity to add an impressive attribute on their resume as they strive to go to college.

    "We're going to show that we're Haitian and we've accomplished something really important," said Christopher Leveille, the 17-year-old team captain who immigrated from Port-au-Prince just two years ago.

    And more children of color should be involved with math and the sciences. It's about these kids serving as role models for future generations.

    In a piece a few weeks ago about Benjamin Alvin "Al" Drew Jr., the only black astronaut on the last mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery, I shared how my sister was laughed at by her own high school teachers in Brooklyn when she shared her goal of becoming a doctor.

    It's one of the reasons black children are not as involved in math and science professions as they should be. Luckily, my sister had the encouragement of my family. Today, Dr. Mays, as my mother loves calling her (She earned it, my mother says.), is rated as one of the top practitioners in her field in the region of the country where she lives.

    That's what I want for these kids and for all of our kids. This program may produce the next Benjamin Alvin "Al" Drew Jr., Bill Gates or Dr. Mays.

    "Science and math education is important to the future success of students. We want to emphasize math and science but do it in a way that is engaging to young people," Gelber told Aol. Black Voices. "Young people love math and science but too may are just consumers of technology. We want to let them know that you can be a creator and an inventor. You don't have to be just a consumer of technology. Robotics makes that idea very real to kids."

    As this country heads toward a more technologically advanced future, we need to make sure our kids have a chance to compete at the highest levels and to be the next great inventor.

    I know that $15,000 seems like a lot of money in these tough economic times but it's not. If each person reading this story contributed just $5 or $10 we could help these teens reach their goal in no time.

    For many of these children, Gelber said, their families simply aren't able to produce the amount of money needed to go on the trip this quickly.

    "Fifteen thousand dollars is a lot for these families and these kids but they they are out their working at raising the money," said Gelber.

    Think about the amount of money we waste on coffee or junk food in a single day and then make the decision to send that money along. All of the donations are tax deductible. This is the type of endeavor that the community, the diaspora, should be able to make quick work of.

    "These are children who were deeply affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Some arrived here after the earthquake but others had family members affected. Just a year later these kids are competitive on such a high level," said Gelber. "It's not an exaggeration to say that going to this competition would mean the world to them."

    Call (718) 260-3524, (718) 629-2307 or visit the Brooklyn Community Foundation at to get more information or to make a donation.


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    Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper is a highly-educated and motivated business woman with the primary goal of bridging gaps in secondary and post-secondary education for young people. She also works to help people obtain the skills they need to navigate the challenges that exist in corporate America. Her hard work, tenacity and spirit of black entrepreneurship is what makes Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

    What is your name, and what do you do?

    My name is Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper, and I lead a personal and professional development training and consulting company called Improve Consulting and Training Group, LLC. My organization specializes in Lean Six Sigma process improvement.

    What is your educational and professional background?

    I have a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I received a doctorate in organic/polymer chemistry from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia and a MBA from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition, I am also a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt in Quality and Process Improvement. I received this from the 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    In regards to my professional background, I worked eight years in research and development with a fortune 500 company as a senior technical and business manager, four years in financial services as a senior vice president in quality process improvement, and three years as an adjunct professor in both business and chemistry at the master's and doctorate levels.

    I have taught over 350 training courses and seminars and presented at numerous speaking engagements in areas such as soft skill development and quality process improvement.

    As founder of Improve Consulting and Training Group, LLC, part of your objective is to offer skills critical for survival in social and business environments as well as help individuals understand the elements required to make positive interactions for advancement in business settings. How do your services help clients reach these goals, how are your services superior to those offered by your competitors, and where can readers find more information?

    Improve Consulting and Training Group's approach to service is to create a sustainable model for achievement. We implement this by bridging the gap between an individual's functional knowledge and their professional development through a highly interactive curriculum, geared toward multiple learning styles. Improve ensures this degree of quality by employing qualified consultants who are experts within their fields, who have consistent outcomes in the coaching and training arena.

    A branch of your company also works with youth to bridge the developmental gap between secondary and post-secondary education. Through what means does Improve help to bridge this gap, and what positive effects have you seen take place?

    Improve uses a proven method of highly interactive training and engagement, along with customized simulations to provide opportunities for experiential learning. This method accelerates the pace at which youth are able to absorb and apply information, thus reducing the time they spend in transition. Improve has trained over 1000 youth in the past four years, and we have tracked those who have successfully transitioned and navigated their path to a post secondary experience. Six of these talented individuals have come back to work with Improve as interns.

    You mentioned that you are an author. What is your work titled? Please briefly share with readers what it is about, and why they should purchase it.

    My book is titled, Canine Instinct, A Guide for Survival and Advancement in Corporate America. Canine Instinct provides information and business scenarios to help readers understand how to ensure their actions positively impact the dynamics in a corporate culture. The examples assist in the understanding of channeling activity so that you are more likely to secure alpha leadership positions. It also provides practical and proven tools and techniques for navigating the workplace with confidence. The main objective is to get your organization to recognize and reward you with advancement opportunities.

    Starting a business is a feat in itself. It is amazing that you have been able to do so while also battling illness. What challenges have you faced in starting Improve Consulting and Training Group, LLC, and what advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs?

    One of the biggest challenges with starting Improve was securing a client base large enough to meet the revenue goals to operate independently with a positive cash flow. I would advise entrepreneurs to seek out collaborative partnerships, not only to help them get started, but to leverage as they grow.

    I would also advise entrepreneurs to set metrics that will allow them to: (1) track how well they are advancing and (2) identify areas of development where efforts should focus.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

    I would encourage anyone who wishes to improve themselves either personally or professionally, to seek additionally training. It doesn't necessarily have to be in your field, but it should be an area that enhances your skills and provides an edge that will help you in the future.

    If you need a referral, Improve is happy and available to help.

    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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    Currently the number one film is America is the 'Limitless,' which stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

    Among the supporting cast is Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Daniel Breaker.

    For Breaker, who received a Tony Award nomination for his role in the critically acclaimed and Tony Award winning musical 'Passing Strange,' and last starred in the stage musical of 'Shrek,', making the transition to the film world and having the film be seen by many is certainly a joy as he spoke exclusively to

    "You know it's pretty thrilling. It's fairly new for me. The only other movie I've done was this movie called 'Passing Strange', that Spike Lee film which was a musical that he filmed on stage. So it wasn't necessarily a full on movie event. Whereas this one is actually a good old thriller. So it's very exciting to come to shape."

    'Limitless' is an action thriller about an unsuccessful writer (played by Bradley) whose life is transformed by a top-secret "smart drug" that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this suspenseful and provocative film.

    The film is filled with some twists, and Breaker is keen enough not to reveal spoilers, including his own role.

    "I don't want to give it away because there's a lot of things that happen at the end of that film that, but basically I'm a leading man's sort of campaign manager at a certain part of his life. But that's sort of all I can tell you because I don't want to ruin the ending."

    As the neophyte on a film set, the Kansas native got to watch and learn the process and interact with De Niro, a master pro at this game.

    "To be near Robert DeNiro was absolutely nerve wracking. I was completely nervous. I don't typically get nervous around certain people but the guy from 'Raging Bull' is one that you would feel a little intimidated by. We talked briefly about things, about weather and just, you know, sort of small talk. I was just excited to be talking to him."

    In regards, Breaker doesn't think an omnipotent drug exist, but can imagine people looking for one.

    "I don't know if that drug exists at this size. If a drug like this really exists. But I think many people already trying to create that feeling whether it be with an illegal drug or with caffeine. Or whatever you have near you."

    Whether 'Limitless' will parlay more film roles for Breaker, he's certainly not waiting for his next role to come along as he's currently rehearsing for his play, which is opposite Sanaa Lathan.

    "I try to go in as many different directions as I can. I think it's been a fortunate couple of years both in the career, but also I got married and I have a son now. So it's been quite fulfilling to have all those things right now. I'm back into the world of theater. I'm doing a play right now over at Second Stage, 'By The Way, Meet Vera Drake,' the new play by Lynn Nottage, and directed by Jo Bonney. I play two characters. In the first half I play a jazzman from the '30s. A fictional character, a trumpeter named Leroy Barksdale who later he falls in love with Vera Stark, played by Sanaa Lathan. But it ends tragically. And in the second half I play this academic from early 2000 named Herb Forrester. He's a bit of an intellectual and it almost reminds you of Cornel West in his look. But this play is very thrilling. It takes place in four different time periods. The '30s, the 1850's, the 1970's and then the early 2000's. And this show also has a lot of film in it. We've actually filmed part of a movie to be projected in the play. So it's a bit of a mash up of different styles. So it's kind of exciting to be bouncing off to different events. In terms of my career, I always try to do something that I've never done before. So as long as it's something I've never stepped into I'm happy. And so in an ideal world I can just be plugged into film and musicals and plays and whatever comes my way."


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    You know the types of fashion you fancy most. But when it comes to your style at home, it's sometimes hard to translate the same aesthetic into your living environment. So just how do you identify an interior design style that represents you best? Follow our mini guide to understand which design tastes you absolutely love, the ones you can live without and when to mix them up to get the look you desire.

    The Basics:

    There are four main interior design style categories used to create looks that represent a person's lifestyle and personality: traditional, contemporary, modern and eclectic.

    To create the perfect design for your home, start by selecting furniture and accessories that you love. It is important to pay attention to the details when combining these elements, as you want them to complement, rather than clash or detract from, the architectural design of your home. The right design choice combined with a solid floor plan will give you a space that's inviting, functional and absolutely beautiful.

    Below, our quick-and-easy guide to the four standard design styles to give you the look for your home that you truly desire.

    Traditional interiors are more formal and vary from English and French to American styles: think turn-of-the-century furniture made of oak, walnut or mahogany -- like wing-backed or Queen Anne chairs with S-shaped cabriole legs -- with plush textural fabrics and ornate accessories for the former two and simple, straight lines for the latter. Homes with architectural crown moldings, arches, intricate tile designs, columns and built-in furniture are also key features of a traditional design style.

    Contemporary interiors offer a more streamlined style that strips away all the embellishments found in a traditional look. This design says less is more and achieves it with clean lines and smooth surfaces for what some believe is a more comfortable, livable feel. Neutral-colored furniture made in geometric and blocked shapes, abstract patterns in carpeting and accent pieces with pops of bright color help create a room that is warm, inviting and without fuss, yet still sophisticated.

    Similar to the streamlined approach found in contemporary designs, modern decor's sensibility strips away even more, taking an extreme minimalist view on style. The most important element to this design is maintaining an uncluttered space. Modular furniture, glass accents and metals, like chrome and stainless steel, are key pieces found in this design style. Black and white color choices mixed with bright, bold furniture pieces are a staple in designing a modern look. Modern design focuses on the form of its featured pieces and highlights each one like a piece of art by allowing them room to breathe.

    Eclectic interiors combine different decorating styles based on the pieces you love. The furniture choices and accessories may come from various time periods and eras, but the ultimate goal to designing an eclectic room is to have the selected pieces work harmoniously together -- to transport you to different parts of the world or tell a complete story. One of the hardest styles to pull off -- due to its melting-pot approach -- it requires a more careful touch and a singular theme, such as a color scheme, to unify the room.

    Now that we've explored the different design styles, view our gallery for more design ideas that will help you determine which best represents your personality and lifestyle.

    Whatever it is, be sure to pay attention to the details, keep it clutter free and love living in it!

    Always... "Experience Something Beautiful"

    Kesha Franklin

    CEO and Brand Architect

    Design- Events- Lifestyle


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    From NPR
    : On Sunday, marriage activists in hundreds of communities around the country will gather to celebrate the Ninth Annual Black Marriage Day. It aims to strengthen and promote marriage in the black community. There's been a sharp decline in marriage overall in recent years. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2008, 72 percent of black women giving birth were unmarried. That's more than in any other ethnic group and almost double the amount from 40 years ago.

    Get details on Sunday's activities and the full scoop at NPR


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    From Bleacher Report: The NBA is dominated by African-American stars. Virtually all of the league's most famous, talented and marketable players-Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and so on-are black.
    Like many white suburban kids growing up in the 1970s and since, my first experience with black people came through the vicarious experience of rooting for the players on my favorite team. In my case it was the hometown Seattle SuperSonics who taught me to understand basketball as a sport closely connected with African-Americans.

    Learn How at Bleacher Report


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    I am african campaign

    A slew of A-list stars are featured in the new "I Am African" campaign for the nonprofit organization Keep a Child Alive.

    The Hollywood heavyweights -- including Richard Gere, Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler, as well as black Americans Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and Tyson Beckford, along with Somali-born supermodel Iman, the organization's global ambassador -- are photographed in tribal face paint to more effectively send the message that "each and every one of us contains DNA that can be traced back to our African ancestors." Seems we could use that message to help bring attention to a number of issues, like, say, racism, but oh well. The campaign is meant to spread awareness about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. It's a noble campaign, an epidemic is an epidemic -- the more awareness around it, the better. Still, the photographs raise some questions. For starters, why is it necessary to pose a formulaic African aesthetic in order to be compassionate? The campaign's art direction is coherent, yet desperately forced -- Sarah Jessica Parker just looks confused made up with the purple fertility line traditionally worn by women in eastern Africa.

    "I Am African" ads have been sighted in urban spaces throughout the U.S., particularly in New York City, where thousands of African immigrants live and who, one can only imagine, may not be in the mood while waiting on the subway platform to take in an image of privileged celebrities who have the luxury of walking in and out of an African identity whenever's clever. Not to mention the sexually active urban black youth, many of whom are still not using condoms, and for whom this campaign only pushes the AIDS epidemic farther away from them.

    Again, the cause is good. No one faults the effort. It's the additional stylized assertion that these celebrities, who, it is assumed, all citizens of the world aspire to emulate, must somehow become African -- and explicitly appropriate African-ness -- in order for this very important global issue to matter.


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    From The Atlantic: Menthol cigarette smokers can exhale in relief: their Kools won't be losing their cool anytime soon.

    A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has declined to recommend a ban on menthol cigarettes, even though the study group conceded that a ban would improve public health. The decision follows a 2009 federal ban on candy flavorings in cigarettes because of their potential allure for young smokers.

    Find out this vice's strange history at The Atlantic


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    Houston Black Firefighters Who Claimed Racism Could Get Settlement

    Seven black firefighters may receive a $300,000-plus settlement for a discrimination case they filed in Houston.

    The firefighters allege that they were overlooked when promotions were handed down, while city officials claim that the men did not score high enough on their 2006 written exams. Refusing to be daunted, the men fought fire with fire and sued the city two years later for using a racially biased exam.

    The Houston City Council approved their case on Wednesday.

    Dwight Bazile, Johnny Garrett, Thomas Ward, Mundo Olford, George Runnels, Trevin Hines and Dwight Allen all took the captain and senior captain level position tests and passed. White firefighters also took the exam but received higher scores. Cash awards and promotions were awarded to the highest scorers, so the 7 black men were cut out of both money and career advancement.

    According to the firefighters' lawsuit, the promotional exams "have an adverse impact upon African Americans," and white candidates who aced the exam were promoted at more than twice the rate of blacks who passed.

    City Attorney David Feldman told the Houston Chronicle that the settlement is in no way an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing:

    "There clearly were concerns with respect to the exam and the impact of the exam," he said. "As we looked at it, and as the court looked at it, we recognized that changes needed to be made to the exam so that it could properly be validated for (equal opportunity) purposes."

    According to Feldman, the revised exam will now be given the stamp of approval by a testing firm to assure that it does not produce results related to the race or ethnicity of the test takers.

    On the flip side, there are those who are grumbling about the new and improved test:

    "Changes to the promotional system should be negotiated with the representatives of the entire firefighting corps, not just seven of them," said Jeff Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. "Our issue is that the seven plaintiffs have dictated to the city changes to the promotional system irrespective of our collective-bargaining agreement," Caynon said.

    Lawyers for the city have negotiated a settlement that offers $301,165.12 in attorneys' fees and back pay to the seven men. Since their battle began, Garrett, Ward and Runnell have retired.

    Houston has been sued quite a number of times for employment discrimination in hiring and promotion policies.

    It was only two years ago that the city's fire department was yet again checked for its alleged unfair promotion policies against women. Let's hope that this most recent manifestation of discriminatory behavior will prompt the city to take a good look at more of its governing policies.


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    From Michelle Obama's stunner in Chile to Willow Smith's fearless style confidence, here are our style faves for the week.

    Model Jessica White (above) keeps it chic and sexy, yet low key, in a white top, leopard leggings and red booties at the Purim Party at Prime KO in New York.

    Jennifer Hudson showed up to the '106 & Park' studios in a cute long-sleeved pleated mini and nude Louboutin Mary Janes.

    Say what you want about Willow Smith's style -- confidence is a huge part of what makes an outfit cool! She's rocking this tricked-out Adidas tracksuit during her concert at MEN Arena in Manchester, England.

    As usual, Michelle Obama stuns in a strapless burgundy gown at Chile's La Moneda Palace.

    Actress Terri J. Vaughn is cute in a sheer black mini dress and black leather jacket at 'The Next R&B Star' launch party in Atlanta.

    Singer Jordin Sparks is working the heck out of that weight loss in a black mini dress with a sheer lacy front. Congratulations, Jordin!

    Who was your favorite style star this week? Tell us!


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    From the guy who scored a hit with the remake of 'Dawn of the Dead' and '300,' but struck out with 'Watchmen' and last year's 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,' director Zack Snyder brings us 'Sucker Punch.' A film filled with emptiness and a hodgepodge of other films, it's like watching an unofficial sequel to 'Showgirls' with some 'Kill Bill' and 'Battle L.A.' thrown into the mix. Avoid at all costs.

    Featuring a cast of young starlets (Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung and Jena Malone), the film is nothing more than a long music video aimed at pleasing teenage boys who are tired of seeing these faces on Maxim magazine and needed some movements to go with the visuals.

    Starting with newcomer Emily Browning, we meet her character Baby Doll, whose mother has just died and she has to defend her little sister against their stepfather, who feels angry for having been left out of the will and is out to torment them. When an accident causes the death of her sister, Baby Doll is taken away to a mental institution, where she meets the other patients, Sweet Pea (played by Cornish) and her sister Rocket (played by Malone), Amber (played by Chung) and Blondie ('High School Musical''s Vanessa Hudgens).

    Without an explanation, the audience is led to believe -- because the girls are dressed in lingerie -- that the facility is a front for a nightclub, where the owner named Blue (played by Oscar Isaac) and his madam (played by Carla Gugino) train the girls to dance for clients or face the doctor (played by Jon Hamm), who only comes in for lobotomies.

    While Sweet Pea is initially reluctant to befriend Baby Doll, the others take a shine to her, and when told to dance or face dire consequences, Baby Doll imagines life outside the compounds. This is where Snyder elects to put the girls, while in dream sequences, in scantily clad combat uniforms as they fight in ancient China against samurais, on the fields during World War I against zombie soldiers and other places they face dragons and orcs that seem to come or are borrowed from the set of 'Lord of the Rings.'

    The whole point of Baby Doll's dances is for the others to gather the components they need to free themselves from the facility. Whether Baby Doll and the others make it out alive depends on how alluring her dances/dreams are to distract the guards before getting caught.

    Considering that Snyder added some elements to what Frank Miller created with '300,' 'Sucker' serves as Snyder's first writing credit on his own. There are others screenwriters credited to this, but Snyder is the main guy on this, and after seeing this 'video,' it would be best for him to stick with just directing and not wear many hats on the set.

    There is no story here. No reason is given why the other girls are there, and each battle scene is played out with no emotional effect. The quick cuts get old and tired very fast. It's not even campy enough to be funny.

    No fault goes to the young stars, who are looking to make a name for themselves, but pity Carla Gugino, who worked with Snyder on 'Watchmen,' veteran actor Scott Glenn and Jon Hamm. Their talents are totally wasted here.

    One would be better served seeing the clips provided online and not spend any money on this.


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    From the Grio: More than 500 graduates of Spelman Graduates are preparing for a commencement address they won't soon forget.

    On May 18, first lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address to the liberal arts women's college located in Atlanta, Georgia, White House sources said today.

    Find out more at the Grio


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