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

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    My friend and her husband, who are white, recently adopted their first child, who is black. They were selected through an agency by a black birth mother who felt they would make good parents to a child she could not keep. My friend had not been seeking out a black child. She had tried for years to conceive on her own, and they had also gone through several failed adoption efforts. She pursued becoming a mother as any parent would -- with a trance-like dedication to providing her child with love and a sense of security. My mom felt the same way when she adopted me.

    Today I read that the 'Law & Order: SUV' actress Mariska Hargitay has adopted a black daughter. "We talked a lot about mixed-race adoptions, and we are very excited that we are now a multi-racial family. We're just so happy she's here," she told 'People' magazine. Awesome.

    Hargitay becomes the latest white celebrity mom raising a black child in contemporary America (along with Mary Louise Parker, Madonna, Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, among others), and I speak from personal experience when I say that I truly hope they don't raise them to believe we are living in a "post-racial" era. Because we're not. We are present-racial every damn day, every damn era. It's like that.




    When I went through my first ultra "I am BLACK" phase at about 15 years old, I asked my mom what the hell she'd been thinking when she and my dad thought raising a black child in rural New Hampshire was a swell idea. "We thought the world was changing," she said, "the world was changing." Bless her heart.

    But the point isn't whether or not the world is changing, or if as a general population we are making great strides in racial progress. It's really about cultivating self-awareness around a cultural identity that will be judged and exploited and questioned again and again throughout the life of this brown-skinned person being raised by white parents.

    Adoption in and of itself can be pretty sucky. Almost always it starts from a place of pain for everyone involved: a woman who has to surrender a child that has come from her body, a child whose first visceral experience is one of primal severance, and two people (or one person) who are aching to become parents. When you throw race into the mix, it gets complicated. And the celebrity element just gives it that trendy, colonization feel that puts everyone on edge.




    I'm sure that Madonna and Sandy Bullock love their kids and wanted to become parents as much as my friend did, and as any prospective parent does, for that matter. My concern is that in their innocuously microcosmic bubble of fame and celebrity, they will struggle to help their kids build a racially honest sense of self. Rather they will end up instilling this: "You are special, the world is yours, you can be whatever you want, nothing can stop you!" And that may be the case for their kids if they, too, remain inside the celebrity bubble. But if they don't, I'll tell you what can stop them right quick: Glenn Beck (with or without his own show).

    I was fortunate that my parents, who are artists and writers, encouraged individuality and gave me the freedom to create the person I wanted to be -- and that's all well and good, until someone calls you a nigger. Because my parents focused primarily on raising a child, not a black child, my young cultural identity was shaped, in large part, by outside judgment and prejudice aimed toward me, which didn't feel that fun and caused a whole lot of unnecessary anxiety.

    As I got older, I came to the conclusion that I would be in charge of being black on my own terms. And I'm good with that. I'm not saying it doesn't still feel lousy when someone is blatantly racist toward me, but I figured out that it feels slightly less lousy when you sort of know it's coming.

    All that said, racism is far from the only challenge faced by white parents adopting black kids ... I didn't even touch the more and very pressing issue of proper black hair maintenance.

     

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    Fox News Boycott From The Loop21: The announcement Wednesday that Fox News would end "The Glenn Beck Show" proved nothing short of stunning. After all, Glenn Beck's not only one of the most high-profile personalities on Fox News but in conservative politics period. So just what did him in? Falling ratings, conflict with Fox executives and an unclear direction for the show all reportedly played a part. But news outlets from the Los Angeles Times to the St. Petersburg Times say what likely hurt "The Glenn Beck Show" most was an advertising boycott launched by African-American political group ColorofChange.org after Beck remarked that President Obama harbors "a deep-seated hatred for white people."

    Read more at The Loop21

     

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    The 18th annual New York African Film Festival is on through May 31st. Check it.

     

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  • 04/08/11--14:06: Good Times in Hannah's World

  • Last week, I walked from my apartment in the East Village to Milk Studios in the Meatpacking District, wearing Hudson Army pants and a Steven Alan button-down shirt to shoot the look book for Mauvais Garcons, a chic, new bow tie line started by Paul Johnson Calderon. Photographer Julian Ungano, who happens to have a photo exhibit opening April 13 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, was in charge of shooting me and the other models including Fat Jew, Becka Diamond and Gabe Saporta. Tra la la...


    After the shoot, I headed uptown to read for a part in a movie. I am in no way an actress. When I was 11, I was once in a commercial with Spike Lee for Black History Month. When I got the call from the director asking me to come in and read for the part of Mia, a tattooed hipster DJ, I thought, Hey, minus the tats, I do that anyway. So there we went, take one, take two. I was having a good time with it, and hope that my enthusiasm translated on screen. It did! I found out later that I got the part.

    I rushed downtown because I was late for my boxing trainer. That's right, boxing. I never imagined hitting anyone-except maybe my brothers-but it really does feel amazing. I can throw jabs and hooks and I'd say my jump-roping skills are at an eight, on a scale from one to 10. I'm really embracing my inner Laila Ali. Boxing has seriously given me a new sense of confidence, and I highly recommend trying it. I've always had some spunk in my step, but now I really feel like I can deal with whatever these New York winds blow my way.

    Showered and polished, I slipped into my red Louboutin's, adding a pop of color to my black ensemble, and went to the Hudson Hotel where PAPER magazine held their annual Beautiful People Party. Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari hosted and Duran Duran was the musical entertainment. There certainly were beautiful people everywhere including Sally Singer from 'T Magazine,' hot, young designers Mandy Coon and Erin Fetherston, Moby and cute male models from Next modeling agency. My friend was bartending so I got the hook up with some Absolute Wild Tea concoction they were serving, and drank up while Duran Duran killed it.

    Later my two male besties, known as "The Serve," picked me up and we went to Chinatown. There is a new party there on Wednesdays with DJ Mia Moretti. I danced up a storm and my tootsies were killing me after.

    I woke up the next morning with a text message from my friend Max Winkler, reminding me about the premiere of his movie 'Ceremony,' starring Uma Thurman. I love film! I was thrilled when my friend recently informed me about the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), a multi-venue, two-month celebration of African Arts and culture, taking place from April 2 through May 31. I can't wait to see all the films, which I am sure will shed all kinds of new light on African culture.

     

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    46% of Mississippians Believe Interracial Marriage Should Be Illegal

    In a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, whose function is to "put out highly accurate polling on key political races across the country," according to its website, 46 percent of Mississippians believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.

    The poll also reveals that the majority of the poll participants are male (53 percent), very conservative (40 percent) and between the ages of 45 and 65 (36 percent).

    One commenter wrote:

    "I believe God made us a different color for a reason and should be honored by not marrying outside of the race that God picked for me, however the color of one's skin does not make him/her better than another color."

    Right.

    But before I even consider Mississippi's fascination with all things Jim Crow, let's explore the premise of the poll in the first place. The goal of the poll is to identify which Republican candidate Mississippians would vote for in the 2012 presidential election.

    The infamously controversial Governor Haley Barbour is invariably the state's favorite among ignorant-media-whore Sarah Palin, the God-righteous Mike Huckabee, the-Mormon-most-refuse-to-embrace Mitt Romney, the-incessant-adulterer Newt Gingrich, I-think-the-founding-fathers-ended-slavery Michele Bachman, cap-and-trade-flip-flopper Tim Pawlenty and I-don't-believe-in-civil-rights Ron Paul.

    What a lovely bunch.

    So how on earth did Director and pollster Tom Jensen come up with that question? I mean, after asking about whether participants had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the named candidates and how they identified themselves, why ask whether they are for interracial marriage?

    Is it because our President is the product of an interracial union? Is it because they consciously wanted to rile people up? Is it because, he, himself, or Public Policy, is biased on the issue to begin with? I just have a difficult time focusing on the actual poll, when this reeks of someone's shameless effort for media attention.

    And if I am to focus on the findings of this poll at all, are we really surprised to see that Barbour, known for saying he doesn't think the slavery conversation is important, would be the front runner in this state? Or what about his equally progressive brother, Jeppie, who lit-er-ally said:

    "I guess they're [blacks] just goin' through a state of being rebellious and hard-nosed and not listenin' to white people like they used to."

    I wish I was making this up.

    Good ole Mississippi, the state where Medgar Evers was murdered. Good ole Mississippi, the state where three civil rights workers were killed by the Ku Klux Klan. Good ole Mississippi, the state where after President Obama won the 2008 election, racial slurs and bigotry reigned supreme.

    One thing the poll did make clear, though, is that the racism of the past largely lives with the old. I just hope that once much of that embattled generation passes away, they will take their archaic mind-set about interracial relationships with them.

    But I won't hold my breath.



     

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    ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast - United Nations and French helicopters have fired rockets on the residence of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who is holed up in a bunker, residents said Sunday.


    Two residents from nearby neighborhoods reported seeing two Mi-24 attack helicopters and one French helicopter open fire on the residence. One resident reported seeing smoke rise from the compound. The residents couldn't be named for fear of reprisal.

    An Associated Press reporter saw the same three helicopters take off from the French military base minutes before the reporter heard explosions coming from the direction of the residence.

    Gbagbo's adviser in France Toussaint Alain confirmed the attack.

    Gbagbo is holed up in a bunker in his residence in Abidjan. After a decade in power, he still refuses to step aside even though the United Nations has ruled that he lost the November presidential election to Alassane Ouattara.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    Grime music was never supposed to last this long -- according to aging music critics who have probably never attended a grime club night or listened to Rinse FM in their life -- but ten years on, it's still churning out the potential chart-toppers of tomorrow.

    To celebrate the longevity of the scene, I've called on a few friends -- who have all played a major part in the growth of the genre throughout the years -- to help me choose ten tracks that has gone on to define the ever-evolving grime sound over the last decade.

    In no particular order...

    Crazy Titch - 'I Can C U'

    An MC known for unleashing anger on the mic, Crazy Titch had an aggressive, yet skippy flow that could cause damage on any given beat - even if it did sound like untranslatable noise, at times. Fuelled by nothing but raw passion for the music, Titch went on to gain a loyal legion of fans, inspiring some of today's most highly-rated MCs along the way. 'I Can C U' is grime in its rawest form.

    Lethal B - 'Pow! (Forward)'

    Undeniably one of the scene's biggest anthems, 'Pow! (Forward)' caused absolute havoc in clubland when it was released back in 2004. It still causes riots today. Literally! When NME magazine latched on to this mosh-pit-making grime number, the rest of the mainstream media quickly followed suit. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen a 100% grime track receive the same amount of (good) press attention. Here's hoping it doesn't take another decade for the new wave of MCs to come up with something equally impressive.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    An impossibly brilliant, modern and beautifully difficult view of our country, Glenn Ligon: America is the first real and substantive retrospective of the New York-based artist, who has pursued his work with vigor, grace and integrity throughout his career.
    Do yourself a solid and jump the 6 train in New York City up to 77th, and check out this show, which includes a wonderfully odd portrait of Malcolm X. Through June 5, 2011. Find out more at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

     

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  • 04/11/11--01:27: Voodoo on the Rise

  • From The New York Times: It was past 3 a.m. in a dim basement in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Jack Laroche, a Haitian-American computer engineer, nervously awaited his bride: a voodoo spirit named Ezili Freda who believers say has the power to lavish love and wealth and render wayward spouses impotent.

    As four drummers pounded rhythmically, voodoo priestesses in bright-colored dresses danced in ecstatic circles, dousing the floor with rum and chanting, "Ayibobo!" - the voodoo "amen." The bride's dramatic entrance was signaled when a priestess in a shimmering pink silk dress started trembling violently, her eyes rolling toward the back of her head before she fainted. When she came to, apparently possessed by Ezili Freda, she took Mr. Laroche's hand and nibbled on his ear coquettishly before the happy couple exchanged vows in French.

    Long misunderstood and maligned in Western popular culture, voodoo has become a spiritual anchor in New York City's vast Haitian community and in Haitian enclaves across the country as practitioners look for comfort after the devastating earthquake in the impoverished Caribbean nation last year.

    In New York, where there are roughly 300,000 people who were born in Haiti or are of Haitian descent - the largest concentration in the United States - richly painted basement voodoo temples are sprinkled around Harlem and in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Mambos, or voodoo priestesses, say they can barely keep up with "demann," or prayer requests; spiritual love recipes to lure recalcitrant lovers are the most popular. Voodoo prayer circles in which practitioners meet to commiserate have also proliferated, with a notable intensity in the months since the earthquake.

    Read more at The New York Times

     

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    On a drizzly overcast evening in Manhattan, the jazz cognoscenti and fans of guitarist Eric Clapton descended onto the elegant Rose Theater, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, for an evening of uplifting "hot" jazz featuring the iconic blues and rock guitarist.


    The evening's opening act was a solo performance by blues legend Taj Mahal. Dressed in a black suit with a wide rimmed black hat, Mahal warmed up the audience with his unique patois of rootsy music. Starting off with a song that had Hawaiian influences aptly titled "Hula Blues," moving through a version of the Mississippi John Hurt's classic "Stagger Lee" and onto his own "Spooky Blues," Mahal's voice ranged from sweet and melodic to gruff and gravelly at times reminiscent of the late R.L. Burnside. He is a master of the guitar/vocal blues format for which he is justly famous.

    For Eric Clapton, who recently celebrated his 66th birthday, it turned out to be a validating concert of sorts. The guitar "god," as he is known by some of his more ardent followers, is clearly a paragon of the rock and blues genre. It could be argued that he, together with fellow Brit Jeff Beck and the inimitable Jimi Hendrix, form a triumvirate that inextricably influenced scores of would be guitarists for generations.

    Although Clapton has played with veteran jazz musicians in the past, most notably a 1997 tour with David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Joe Sample and Steve Gadd, that music was primarily tailored to fit his blues oriented style and did little to bridge the gap between genres.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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  • 04/11/11--01:47: Ghetto Physics


  • A new documentary is making its way through the major cities of the United States. The film, GhettoPhysics: Redefining the Game!, is an intriguing movie about power dynamics. Its provocative premise tells us what history has already demonstrated time and time again: No matter how often the players of "the game of life" might change, the game itself remains the same.

    The film makes the case that at any given point, one is either an exploiter or an exploitee, either a player or getting played or, in the vernacular of the street, one is either "a pimp or a ho" - and occasionally one is both at the same time. And while many people might wince at the politically incorrect analogy, it certainly does get your attention. On so many different levels, this film is dead on point.

    "GhettoPhysics" is interspersed with footage and words of wisdom from real life pimps and prostitutes juxtaposed against historical events and thought provoking commentary from the likes of KRS-One, Cornel West, Rev. Ishmael Tetteh, Ice-T and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. While the movie has a much larger metaphysical message, the pimp and ho analogy is used to illuminate how corporations and governments prey upon and exploit the average Joe.

    Interestingly enough, while the movie shows some of the world's worst exploiters, it neglected to mention the most powerful, deceptive and predatory industry of them all, Big Tobacco.

    Read more at the San Francisco Bay View

     

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    By Bene Viera, from Clutch Magazine: When a BBC News reporter from the UK contacted me last summer about being the core subject of a radio documentary focusing on single Black women, my immediate reaction was skepticism.
    American media had been particularly careless with the topic (read: Nightline, Washington Post); and I didn't want to be a contributing source perpetuating the spinster Black woman meme. After several conversations with the reporter who convinced me she would not use my story to paint a broad picture of all Black women, I agreed.

    I flew out to New York City on the Fourth of July weekend for the documentary. The reporter set up a series of blind dates for me that I'd go on with different types of men. She also interviewed me in various locations such as Grand Central Station or on subway platforms about the state of single Black women, as well as my overall feelings about each guy. After spending three days with the BBC reporter, I was confident she had done significant research, interviewed several sources and understood enough of where all of her interviewees were coming from to convey a balanced story in her documentary. Unfortunately, I was wrong.


    Read more at Clutch Magazine

     

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    Olympian Carl Lewis to Run for NJ Senate

    Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis (pictured) is planning to run for New Jersey Senate.

    A state Democratic Party official says Lewis will announce his candidacy on Monday.

    Lewis has called a 2 p.m. news conference in Burlington County to announce his "political plans."

    Read the full story here.



     

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    Tax Refund

    The IRS reports that 75 percent of taxpayers get a tax refund check each year, and that the average income tax refund is currently about $3,100. Getting a refund check after a year of hard work often feels like a bonus, but isn't a tax refund more like giving the government an interest-free loan?

    The reason why you are getting a refund in the first place is because you ended up paying more taxes than you actually owed over the course of the year. That money could have been left in a high-interest savings account or put to some good use.

    Consider the following 8 reasons why getting a tax refund check is really not a good idea:

    1. The government could seize your money.

    Did you know that you could be eagerly awaiting a nice, big tax refund check only to have it snatched away by the government? It's true. When you owe certain debts, the IRS or the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Management Service, the agency that issues tax refunds, can keep all or part of your refund check as an "offset" against various delinquent debts.

    What kind of delinquent bills can put you at risk for having your tax refund check snatched by the feds? Everything from past-due federal or state income taxes to unpaid child support and court-ordered alimony to defaulted federal student loans. Under these circumstances, the IRS can legally keep the refund check you expected to get and apply it instead against your outstanding obligation.

    As if that's not bad enough, here's something else that might seem even more galling.

    Even though you personally might not have any such debts outstanding, if your spouse does - and the two of you filed a joint income tax return - your refund check could still be tapped to satisfy your husband or wife's debts. If that happens, and you're not legally responsible for your spouse's debts, you might be able to get a portion of the refund check doled out to you by filling out IRS Form 8379 and claiming injured spouse relief. But good luck proving your claim to the Tax Man. And even if you are successful, don't expect that partial refund check to be quickly sent to you either.

    2. Other fees could bite into your tax refund.

    Be honest: Have you ever used a "rapid refund" service or taken out one of those "rapid anticipation loans" to get your tax refund check faster? If so, you probably paid high fees for the privilege of getting that cash quickly. Experts say the price tag for fast tax-refund loans rival payday loans, and can run as much as 250% in interest or more.

    This one really baffles me. But it happens year in and year out. During tax season - starting in January when the W-2's start rolling in and right up until the mid April tax-filing deadline - some people get a sense of urgency about getting their money back from the government. Mind you, these are the very same people who had no problem letting the feds hold their money all year long.

    But now, all of a sudden, many people expecting a large refund will pay steep fees to rapid refund services and rapid anticipation loan providers just to get a refund check a few days faster. Electronic filing is free and easy with the IRS, and e-filing using direct deposit already gets you a refund check very quickly, typically in 8 to 10 days. But impatience, financial imprudence - and I suppose, economic desperation - drive some tax payers to unnecessarily fork over even more of their hard-earned money just to more quickly get their hands on a refund check.

    3. The IRS got over on you by not paying you any interest.

    Isn't it just like the federal government to make one set of rules for itself and another set of rules for you and I? Of course, these rules are designed to fatten the government's coffers and wring the most money possible out of us taxpayers.

    That's essentially what happens when the government has to issue a tax refund check. The feds don't pony up any interest to you, even though you let the government sit on your money for nearly a full year. But you can be sure that when the shoe is on the other foot - and you owe money - the IRS will calculate to the penny every bit of money you must cough up -- and will tack interest on top of it.

    For example, when you owe the IRS and you don't pay your full tax bill by April 15th, the penalty for failing to pay is 0.5% of your unpaid taxes per month, up to a maximum of 25%.
    The penalty for failing to file your taxes is 10 times worse: it's 5% of your unpaid taxes per month, up to a cap of 25%.

    Since the IRS makes us pay interest for being late on a tax bill, why doesn't it do the same thing and pay us interest when the feds owe us a refund? I guess what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander.

    4. You goofed in calculating your estimated taxes or withholding allowances.

    Regardless of whether you're an entrepreneur who pays estimated quarterly taxes or an employee who has taxes taken out of your paycheck, if you're getting a large tax refund check that means you've miscalculated your deductions, exemptions or withholding information and need to re-assess your tax figures.

    Small business owners should review their deductions, more accurately estimate business expenses, and make sure they're not overpaying the government each quarter. Employees should use the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine if they need to give their employer a new W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. By tweaking your withholdings, your employer will take fewer tax dollars out of your paycheck each pay period. For more information on this topic, check out IRS Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?

    5. The tax refund feels like a bonus - but isn't.

    Remember that the money the government is sending back to you is money you already earned. You overpaid a bill and are now getting some of those funds back. If the refund was a real bonus, you would be paying less in taxes and/or receiving the money as a "gift" from the government.

    6. You could have paid down debt.

    If you had been paying the right amount of taxes over the course of the year, you could have used it to pay down some of your high-interest debt more quickly. You could go ahead and pay down some debt in one lump sum when you receive your tax refund check, but you've probably already accrued some interest on your debt balances over the course of the year. Besides paying debt, here are some other smart ways to use your income tax refund check.

    7. You're not paying fewer taxes.

    Some people make the mistake of believing that they are paying fewer taxes because they got a large refund this year. The truth is, your tax rate is still the same and is based on your income level. You haven't "tricked the system" because you are getting a big refund. You are still paying your taxes like everyone else. You simply ended up overpaying this year and are getting your own money back.

    8. The refund isn't a short-term savings plan.

    If you are looking forward to a big refund because you want to put it towards a new savings account or set up an emergency fund, you may be fooling yourself into thinking this is the best strategy for doing so. But the best of intentions can go awry. And studies show that although many people say they plan to use income tax refund checks to boost savings or pay off debt, often times the money simply gets spent.

    What all this shows is that clearly it's not a good decision to get a tax refund check. Instead of giving the government an interest-free loan, make sure an appropriate amount of taxes are being paid quarterly (for entrepreneurs) or taken out of each paycheck (for employees).

    If you routinely get a big tax refund check, it might feel like the IRS is handing you a yearly financial windfall. But the truth is that waiting around for your own money to be returned to you can be risky, costly and financially foolish.

     

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    eddie murphy

    Eddie Murphy won the first Comedy Icon Award at the inaugural 'The Comedy Awards' for making people laugh for more than 35 years. Tracy Morgan presented Murphy with the honor, declaring that Murphy was his main inspiration for pursuing comedy.





    Murphy, who is turning 50-years-old this year, graciously accepted the award on Comedy Central and acknowledged that the recognition is a reminder that he's getting older. The comedian said he started doing stand-up shows when he was 15. And in the years that followed, he's consistently entertained viewers with his sketch comedy skits on 'Saturday Night Live,' memorable stand-up specials 'Delirious' and 'Raw' and films such as '48 Hours,' 'Trading Places' and 'Coming to America.'

    During his acceptance speech Sunday night he received a standing ovation from the audience and mentioned Richard Pryor, Charlie Chaplin, Bill Cosby and George Carlin as the greatest comedians of all time.

    Other award recipients of the night included Tina Fey who won the Best Actress in a Film Award and David Letterman was awarded the highest honor of the night as the first recipient of the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.

     

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  • 04/11/11--05:47: 5 Questions With L.A. Reid
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    Antonio LA Reid XFactor judge


    Antonio "L.A." Reid knows exactly what it takes to succeed in the music business. As former Island Def Jam honcho, he's helped acts including Mariah Carey, Justin Beiber and Jay-Z become even bigger international superstars. So it made perfect sense when Simon Cowell tapped Reid to be a judge on 'The X-Factor.'

    "I'm a supreme court judge," Reid said of his slight career shift. "I'm a supreme court judge of talent." In fact, preliminary rounds of judging have already begun. 'The X Factor' auditions, which have taken place in Los Angeles and Miami, are scheduled for Newark (April 14), Seattle (April 20), Chicago (April 27) and in Dallas (May 26). In a recent phone call, Reid told us about how excited he is about his new job title and how he can't wait to find the superstars of tomorrow.

    Brett Johnson: On the surface your role as 'The X-Factor' judge seems like a major career shift but you'll be evaluating talent like you have been doing for years, right?
    Antonio "L.A." Reid:
    Yeah it's basically what I've always done. I'm very excited to join the 'The X Factor,' really excited to be in business with Simon Cowell and honored to be on the same judging panel as Simon. I'm trying to find really interesting and exciting talent and hopefully reaching outside of the mainstream music genres and really reaching deeper into all genres of music. I want to see singers. I want to see rappers. I want to see big voice gospel singers. I want to see it all. I want to see pop and country and rock. I want to see all genres represented here. That to me is really vitally important.

    BJ: How has it been working with Simon?
    Reid:
    I've known him for quite some time. I love that he's created this platform. He created 'American Idol.' He's had huge success with 'The X Factor' around the world and 'America's Got Talent,' 'Britain's Got Talent,' so many shows. He's so talented at what he does. [But on 'The X Factor'] we don't intend to agree and it won't be for show. We're going to be bloody honest about what we think of talent. That's the beauty of it. There won't be any yessing. It's the Simon show, and I'm very happy to take a back seat to that, but I will be very honest about my opinions with the artists and music.

    BJ: There have been reports that you let it slip that Cheryl Cole will be the third judge. Can you set the record straight?
    Reid: No, that isn't correct. I never even interviewed or did anyone asked me about that. But what I can say is that the judging panel, it is a process and there have been many names that have been discussed, many people who have been thought about. Simon is an expert at this and when he finally decides the panel, I'm sure it's going to be a fascinating panel. I don't have any preferences. I don't do casting.

    BJ: What's your advice for folks interested in auditioning?
    Reid: We're in the middle of the audition process and I'm really just looking for people to come out and be amazing and give up themselves. Get lost in their performances. I'm looking for the next generation of superstar artists. I'm looking for people who want it. People who really understand what it is to get on television in front of millions and millions of people and if you nail it, you become a superstar. You win a $5 million recording contract. I want to really emphasize that. That is a huge win. Huge opportunity. We're looking for superstars. We're looking for greatness out of people. We want people who really want this and you know we want many people from all genres to come out. We want everyone out for the show, for this audition.

    BJ: @MRJORDANBROWN had a question for you via Twitter: Will you and Babyface ever write and produce together again?
    Reid: Yeah, there's always that possibility. We've talked about it many times. I don't know, this may be the opportunity to do it. I stopped because I never wanted to become dated. So I decided that I love so much music from so many great people and I wanted to open up the door of opportunity for great creative talent. I didn't want to be viewed as the competition, we opened the door and allowed other people in. But we may get back in the studio. We loved working together.

     

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    Philadelphia Tribune Digitally Archive Photos Documenting African-American Experience

    This nation's oldest newspaper, The Philadelphia Tribune (pictured), announced Monday that it is digitally archiving their entire photo collection, which includes more than 250,000 photos and spans 125 years.

    The photographs, which were previously unpublished, showcase African-American life in and around Philadelphia from 1884, when the newspaper was founded. Of their new offering, Tribune President and CEO Robert Boyle said:

    "These photos reflect the life and experiences of the African American community in both America and in the Philadelphia region."

    The Tribune, also the largest newspaper to serve the African-American community, is using Advanced Imaging Archiving (AIA), a new digital image archiving and monetization service, to both restore and archive their expansive collection.

    Cofounder and President Bob Pokress of Image Fortress, the company alongside Masterpiece Marketing Group who created the AIA, added:

    "Their [the Tribune's] photo library provides a unique and historically vital perspective on the evolution of the history of our nation as well as a unique prism into the events and people in and around the Philadelphia metro region who have shaped and been shaped by that history."

    The Tribune's photos will be available on the their website, Philly Connection, soon.





     

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    In this exclusive "Smiley & West" preview, Father Michael Pfleger talks with my co-host Cornel West and me about his current battle with the Archdiocese of Chicago. Father Pfleger says his extended run as the head of St. Sabina's parish is now the target of conservative Catholic forces and the National Rifle Association.The complete interview will be heard starting this Friday on stations across the country and www.smileyandwest.com.


    Interview can also be seen at The Huffington Post

     

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    This past weekend, Ciara was spotted performing at the Sydney Supafest music festival along with the likes of Keri Hilson, Nelly and T-Pain.

    What's the point in working so hard for that body if you can't flaunt it, right?


    The singer performed in skin-tight black leggings with a cropped see-through and black-striped top. Despite her many dance moves, there was nary a muffin top or hint of flab to be found.

    Is her outfit too revealing for a concert, or is this just good ol' Ciara? Tell us: Was she hot or not?

     

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    Anyone who's seen Beyonce perform knows that her body is not a product of classic Hollywood starvation. The singer pulls out all the stops when she gets on stage, usually giving a full two-hour, sweat inducing, dance-filled performance that lends itself heavily to her the toned abs, arms and thighs.

    As her hits are enough to give you a full workout while listening to her in your home, Beyonce has teamed up with Michelle Obama and the Let's Move! campaign to create "Move Your Body," a dance workout video set to the tune of her hit song "Get Me Bodied."


    "Move Your Body" takes Beyonce's classic song and adds an active, plyometric-heavy dance routine that includes twists, classic dance steps (remember the Running Man?), and cool freestyle moves.

    Beyonce's official "Move Your Body" video airs May 3 and will be played in middle schools everywhere, but until then, check out the choreography below.


     

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