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

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    Brazil once touted itself as free of racism. It turns out that the truth was more complicated -- a lot more complicated. In his new PBS series, The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates, examines the complexities of race and color in Brazil, the country with the second-largest number of people of African descent in the world after Nigeria -- far more than the United States. Says Gates, "I knew how barbaric slavery was in the United States, but it was even worse in Brazil."


    See more stories and a clip from the film at The Root.

     

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    John Legend weighs in on Trump's Obama remarks

    "He needs to stop saying that racist bullsh-- birther sh--. Quote me please. He should be ashamed of himself. It's awful, really."

    --Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend on Donald Trump's recent comments about President Obama. (NY Mag)

     

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    Anyone who's gone through with the big chop - or any big hair change, for that matter - knows how traumatic it can be. No matter how confident you were in your decision, you lose your hair and start asking yourself:

    OhmybabyjesuswhatdidIdo?

    Does my head look big?

    Do I look like a boy? I look like a boy, don't I?

    Why?!?!?!?

    The big chop takes some getting used to, especially if you're used to having a lot of hair. So when you feel like wearing a hat semi-permanently or just saying "the hell with it" and getting your hair relaxed, it helps to have something to motivate you. For us, we like having hairspiration. Looking at photos of women rocking their head of curls helps remind us that hair does grow back, no matter how slow the process feels. So check out our gallery of celebrities looking fly with their natural 'dos and remember: you won't always have a TWA (teeny-weeny afro).

     

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    Every night, the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade goes home to his two sons. He was awarded sole "care, custody and control" on March 11th after a year-long court battle with his ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade.

    Following their recent divorce, Dwyane claimed that Siohvaughn wasn't allowing him to see their two sons, ages eight and three, and the court agreed with him. Her actions in this case--alienating the sons from their father--were so heinous that a court had to recognize it and do something about it. This ruling was rare.


    Siohvaughn "has embarked on an unstoppable and relentless pattern of conduct for over two years to alienate the children from their father, and lacks either the ability or the willingness to facilitate, let alone encourage, a close and continuing relationship between them," said the court's papers.

    The problem is, Siohvaughn is far from the only woman to pull the stunt called Parental Alienation. PA is a very common tactic used by women like Siohvaughn who have no problems manipulating, distorting or trying to dissolve a father's bond with his child.

    In typical cases of PA, visitation after visitation is denied repeatedly and both parents are consistently in and out of court. In the most extreme cases, one day the father wakes up to learn his child has been relocated to another state or country--without approval or notification. This is a form of kidnapping. But the crime rarely goes punished.

    Several years can go by before the child is found and at that point, the child will have grown up not knowing or being able to bond with the father.

    For some reason people don't think this hurts men. But no man wants to be separated from his children.

    I know this first-hand. For five-and-a-half years, I was separated from my two daughters, then ages five and three. During that time, there were no two hours within a given day when I didn't feel the pangs of loneliness in my heart caused from not being able to take part in my daughters' daily lives. I had anxiety attacks. I cried thinking about how my daughters were doing, how they were growing and what they were experiencing. But more importantly, what I was missing.

    From the moment of their birth, my daughters captured a piece of my heart that was quite different from the love I have for my eldest son. I'm not going to say I love the girls more than my boy, but I protect them in a different way.

    Ironically a similar bond didn't develop between their mother and I. And because of the tumultuous relationship with the mother of my children prior to her disappearance, I asked for joint custody and received it.

    Then the games started: on the days I was scheduled to see my daughters, she wouldn't allow me to; she stopped answering her phone. Then she disappeared with my daughters. For years, I unwillingly played her game of "Where in the world are my kids today" as she moved them out of state, changed numbers and schools without notification and tried to block my every move to see the girls I helped give life to.

    Taking her to court didn't stop the crime from being repeated, however. The system provides no penalties, no judgments or liens against mothers who practice severe cases of PA. Ceasing to pay child support, however was the first step to correcting what was wrong. It took two years of not paying child support for her to resurface--albeit to take me to court for not paying child support. I am now seeking full custody of my two girls and saw my girls for the first time several months ago.

    How hard is it for a man to establish custody? The bias against the father dates back to the 1800s from what's known as The Tender Years Doctrine, which determines that children under the age of five would be better off under the care of their mother. Even though many states have since moved to the "best interest of the child" as the basis for all decisions, many courts still function under that "tender years" mentality, routinely awarding immediate custody to mothers regardless of any other factors.

    That's why Dwayne's ruling was so important to fathers like me. It meant that the court finally recognized a mother's unwillingness to co-parent and actually did something about it. The reasons a man should have custody are the same for a woman. This allows him to make decisions on schools and doctors and grants him access to the child's medical records.

    But the most important thing is that joint custody allows a man to play a role he has every right to--and one he wants to embrace.

    The love you feel when your children are born is unbelievable. If you're not a parent, then it may be hard to understand that that love is greater than any wife, girlfriend, wife, or even your own parents. Everything becomes about that child... until someone takes him/her away - usually the family court following an angry woman's lead.

    Once the wheels of the family court start working against you, it can be debilitating. The forced demand for child support, which is usually treated separately from any custody proceeding, alone can cripple the average man. Each state has its own guidelines for determining the amount of money to be paid in child support, but what is consistent throughout all states is that if you are poor - if you make $30,000 a year or less - child support will render you unable to take care of yourself.

    In New York, for instance, child support automatically takes 17% of your gross salary. That's $5100 out of a $30,000 salary, leaving you with less than $25,000 out of which, you are paying tax on $30,000. There are no child credits for non-custodial parents on tax returns, although Obama is talking about changing that.

    Now, consider that according to the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, 70 percent of people who are ordered to pay child support earn less than $10,000 per year. In other words, most people that don't pay child support don't pay because they can't afford it; not because they don't want to.

    Which brings us to deadbeat dads. The media perpetuates this image of father who makes loads of cash and refuses to pay child support because he hates his ex-wife, doesn't care about his kids, or both; but the reality is, men want to be with their children from day one.

    They can take so much money that you can't afford a place to live or to have a car and you certainly can't afford to get married and have another family. It's all very emasculating and for many, once the world of enforced child support comes crashing down due to non-payments, it sends them into a deep depression.

    This image is never shown on TV or talked about on the morning radio shows, but these men are listening when all the jokes are made. Sure guys will be loud about the injustices of the court system and how unfair child support can be, but they rarely talk about how hurt they feel inside because they cannot see their child. They never mention how hard it is for them not to be in their children's lives.

    The way a parent loves a child is 100 times greater than any other love that exists. Gender has no stronghold on love for a child.

    As more and more men pour into family court around the country protecting their rights to parent, maybe this Wade case will effectively start swinging the pendulum the other way.

     

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    A scuffle broke out under the basket late in the second quarter of Miami's 100-77 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday.


    LeBron drove to the basket on a fast break and Celtics forward Jermaine O'Neal delivered a hard foul with a shoulder check.

    The two-time MVP chucked the ball at O'Neal as he knocked him out of bounds and both players had to be separated immediately.

    Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce began shoving each other and they also had to be restrained by their teammates.

    O'Neal earned a flagrant-1, while James received a technical for throwing the ball at O'Neal. The referees also gave Pierce and Wade technical fouls.

    "I thought it was all theatrical, all the crap. I guess that's called toughness these days," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after the game. "Two guys run into each other, we've got to call a flagrant foul, which I thought was a joke. And I thought the reactions by both were a joke."

    See the video at The Huffington Post

     

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    ATLANTA - The youngest amongst a family of Black comic book conventions is making a formal push to reach a community of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.
    ONYXCON is seeking to build global support for ONYXCON III by reaching out to Caribbean American media and targeting immigrant communities that represent the region.

    ONYXCON president, Joseph Wheeler III says Caribbean Americans have always been a part of the African American community and ONYXCON wants representatives of the African image conceived in other parts of the world.

    "Caribbean Americans are my extended family," he said. "The impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the exploration of first Africans to the 'Western' Hemisphere far before the slavery crisis brought many peoples of Africa into the Americas." Jason Walker, who produces WRFG-FM's "Caribbean Runnings," says that the invitation should be well received.

    "There are so many stories that up to this point have only been orally passed on that would have new life breathed into them when set in comic form in the African American market," he said. "This could facilitate a new cultural exchange between these communities, especially among the youth."

    ONYXCON is held annually in Atlanta and is one of four comic book conventions that represent the Black Age comic book genre nationally. The Black Age is a genre of comics and artistic illustration based on characters and creators of African descent. The original Black Age of Comics Convention was launched in Chicago by Black Age founder, Turtel Onli in February 1993 and had since spawned the East Coast Black Age of Comics in Philadelphia and the Motor City Black Age of Comics in Detroit. ONYXCON is the first Black Age convention in the Southeast.

    Read more at South Florida Caribbean News

     

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    From the New York Times: At 2 a.m. on a Saturday in the Bronx, the dance floor was packed, the drinks were flowing and a knot of young women with stylish haircuts and towering heels had just arrived at the door, ready to plunge into the fray.

    It could have been any nightclub or wedding hall - except for the T-shirts, posters and CDs bearing the photo of an elegant older woman. The raucous party was, in fact, a funeral for Gertrude Manye Ikol, a 65-year-old nurse from Ghana who had died two months earlier. A few blocks away, guests spilled out of an even more boisterous memorial.

    The Irish may be known for their spirited wakes, but Ghanaians have perfected the over-the-top funeral. And in New York City, these parties anchor the social calendar of the fast-growing community of immigrants from that West African nation.

    Held nearly every weekend in church auditoriums and social halls across the city, they are all-night affairs with open bars and window-rattling music. While the families are raising money to cover funeral expenses, teams of flourishing entrepreneurs - disc jockeys, photographers, videographers, bartenders and security guards - keep it all humming while turning a tidy profit.

    Read more at The New York Times

     

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    "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." - Ecclesiastes 3:1

    On Sept. 28, 2004, "BV Buzz" made its debut at AOL Black Voices and the lead feature was an interview with Tevin Campbell, who really wanted to clear up the many rumors that surrounded his 1999 arrest.

    That column set a tone for the many that were to follow and as "BV Buzz" became immensely popular with Black Voices readers, more and more celebrities and high profile personalities came to us when it was time to set the record straight.

    In this space I also broke some major news stories and reported countless exclusives. "BV Buzz" was the first to report that Jennifer Hudson was a frontrunner for the role of Effie White in 'Dreamgirls' on May 2, 2005. On Nov. 16, 2005, I was also given the exclusive that she had actually landed the role.
    In June of 2006, Star Jones gave "BV Buzz" the only print/online interview surrounding her controversial departure from 'The View;' and in 2007, Sherri Shepherd told "BV Buzz" first that would be joining 'The View' as a new co-host.

    Scoops and exclusives aside, in this space we've reported about celebrity hookups (Usher and Tameka Foster), breakups (Usher and Tameka Foster) and those involved in scandals and near-death experiences (Usher and Tameka Foster).

    "BV Buzz" also championed Black cinema; helped lobby to save the show 'The Game;' introduced Karrine "Superhead" Steffans to the masses; offered 'Where Are They Now' features on everyone from Ja'Net Dubois ('Good Times') to LaTavia Roberson of Destiny's Child; filed destination features from places like Japan to London and all throughout the Caribbean; and made sure gospel music got its mainstream shine!

    There have been a lot of highs (way too many to name) and even a few lows (despite what you heard, I'm not a fan of celebrity feuds though having experienced several-the most infamous ones being with Brandy Norwood and Usher's ex-wife); but like Frank Sinatra sang, 'I Did It My Way.'

    For six and a half years this column (which later evolved into a blog) was a labor of love! For six and half years "BV Buzz" was Black Voices' top franchise and the only franchise that has been in place since AOL acquired Black Voices.

    Though there was an opportunity for me at the new Black Voices following the Huffington Post merger with AOL, I've decided to close this chapter of my life and explore some other things. As my friend (and technically my boss for five years) Karu F. Daniels always says: "When its time to go, its time to go!"

    Thank you the reader for being on this journey with me! Thanks for allowing me to be ME and for coming along for the ride! God bless you all!"

    If you're interested, keep up with me on Twitter (@JawnMurray), check me out on Facebook (Facebook.com/JawnMurrayVIP), and keep listening to me on the nationally syndicated 'Tom Joyner Morning Show.'

     

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    Bill Cosby

    From The Huffington Post: Donald Trump fired back angrily at Bill Cosby for his harsh comments about Trump on the "Today" show last week.

    Cosby stunned "Today" host Meredith Vieira into silence last Thursday when he said that Trump was "full of it" and should either "run" for president or "shut up."

    In a statement, Trump said that he had never been a fan of Cosby's, but had always gotten along well with him when he ran into the TV legend. Therefore, he said, he was "surprised to hear [Cosby] blabber somewhat incoherently 'you run or shut up.' The hatred was pouring out of his eyes when he said this."

    Read More at the Huffington Post

     

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  • 04/12/11--04:31: Black Is
  • I do not believe black people need to do more explaining. As long as we simply live, our contributions to this nation and world are relevant. What we most need is to embrace ourselves and our heritage.
    We need to collectively strengthen our socio-economic position and align (or realign) ourselves for ownership and control of our images and our messaging.

    We have to push beyond the images that the media delivers to our communities, both nationally and globally, and re-frame ourselves as we want to be seen. We should consider expanding our conversations about blackness beyond even being non-monolithic to embracing our Diasporan ancestry and traditions.

    I say this because I often find myself still trying to explain to white people the enormous intricacies of black life. I wonder if when I do this I'm looking for acceptance or because I feel the need to provide some type of authentic clarification of who I am in the context of black culture.

    Many of us define blackness on our own terms. When President Obama and his family moved into the White House, it stirred the so-called melting pot. Instead of a hopeful silencing under the auspices of the term "post-racial," Obama's Presidency has been somewhat of an exposé, an unearthing of sorts to the not-so-hidden bones of racial and ethnic disparities in North America.

    These disparities glow and flicker like industrial style florescent lights. The resurgence of the Tea Party, the multiple economies, unemployment numbers, housing, census numbers that reveal the number of blacks leaving the North and going South, the Academy Award's White Out (or Black Out), and countless other headlines and episodes illuminate and agitate the already chaotic environment.

    President Obama's tenure has pushed me review and question my personal identity and question the notion of "collective" identity. His Presidency has put a spotlight on blackness in ways I did not imagine.

    Outside of the Presidency, and looking at historically white colleges and universities, we still see that the number of black professors pales in comparison to white professors. Yet, look in the kitchen of a restaurant or other service positions and you see mostly black and brown faces. In news rooms, fire departments, and still Hollywood, we are under-represented and in service jobs (and prisons), we are over represented.

    Black identity (as humanity), is nuanced and complex. The media has reduced and pigeon-holed black life to: blacks as entertainers and rappers, athletes, and suspects on the local news.

    This leaves little room for multi-faceted black life, and the realization that there is a full-spectrum of blackness that includes people with families in suburbs, cities, and public housing, that there are active black father's, that we are artists, intellectuals ... citizens.

    Marlon Riggs' 1995 documentary 'Black is Black Ain't' explores the discomforts and beauty of blackness. Fifteen years later, I began my project titled 'Same Difference and Other Meditations.' The 4-channel video is a reflection on blackness from the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present -- a combination of silent visual meditations and voices of people from various walks of blackness. Like Riggs, I developed this project because we still need to let the people know we are here and we matter.

    But mattering does not need explaining. We don't need to explain. We need to reposition, reassert. Be here.

     

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  • 04/12/11--04:33: Can Religion Be Funny?

  • From The Huffington Post: A lot of people ask me what it's like to be a Muslim comedian and if it's possible to be religious and funny. I believe laughter and prayer helps people heal. Islam is not just something I practice, like working out or something.

    It's how I aim to live my life. It makes me a peaceful person, easy-going, positive by nature, loving, caring, forgiving, firm and confident. It has taught me that we are all connected -- we are all people, we all want peace, love and respect, we are all one and believe in a common message. We must love each other like we love ourselves. Just as Jesus said, "We even have to love the ones who don't love us for if we only love the ones who love us, what reward is there in that?"

    Comedy is a bonding experience through which better relationships can be built. When we can laugh with each other, we can understand the serious issues in a way that brings a better understanding and appreciation of our differences. To make people smile is a great reward and highly encouraged in Islam, and with any talent that we have been blessed by the creator to have, we are encouraged to use it for good.

    Islam helps me be conscious of all my material, it grounds me to not just want to make people laugh, but to focus on the greater good and a bigger picture as I know I'm accountable for every word that comes out of my mouth. Religious topics can be funny when you poke fun of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that are humorous at times. People usually see truth within themselves that makes them laugh because they can relate to the material in one way or another.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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  • 04/12/11--05:33: Grouplove and Group Life
  • Filed under:


    One of the more affable bands to land in recent memory is Grouplove. Brought together by a series of events that frankly sounds too weird to be fabricated, the five-piece coalesces in a mix of punchy vocals, tight harmonies, and youthful abandon. They are an "LA band," but their story begins beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The tale is best told by the band itself. Its members collectively recalled Grouplove's origins via email while on tour:


    "Maybe it starts the night [singer] Hannah [Hooper] met [lead singer and guitarist] Christian [Zucconi] at one of his acoustic shows in New York in the summer of 2008. Their connection was instantaneous and they ended up listening to tapes under the Brooklyn Bridge until the wee hours of the morning. Hannah had just been invited to an artist's residency in the small village of Avdou, Crete and was set to leave in a week. She was worried that if she left she would never have contact with Christian again, so she invited him...and he said yes.

    They sold everything they had to buy the ticket and sublet their apartments. [Guitarist] Andrew [Wessen]'s brother set up the residency, which brought Andrew out there. They also set up a small music festival in the town, for which a group of musicians were making a pilgrimage to play. [Bassist] Sean [Gadd] had come with a group of musicians from London to play. [Drummer] Ryan [Rabin] was finishing an exchange program in the Czech Republic and Andrew called to invite him to play drums with him at the festival."

    Grouplove's sound is undeniably nineties, but standing on the shoulders of giants is not what makes the band great. Yes, Zucconi yowls like a combination of Frank Black and Billy Corgan. And yes, the group's loud-quiet-loud delivery, boy/girl dynamic only fuels comparisons to The Pixies, The Smashing Pumpkins, or a host of other pre-millenium bands. But Grouplove avoids being a nineties re-run, and the band is better for it.

    The band employs a straightforward vigor that belies the sort of disaffection that ran through much of early nineties alt-rock. Also, Sean Gadd's bass on songs like "Lovely Cup" is way funkier than almost anything that came out of that scene. Grouplove's effervescence seems to flow from the incredibly close friendship that has formed between its members, though it should be clear by now that this group loves each other.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    Skin Bleaching Increasing in JamaicaThe Associated Press' highlighting of skin bleaching in Jamaica is both sad and eye opening, and while I'm certain many would think that the lightening of skin is a fixation of past generations, NewsOne shows that the beauty exercise in self-hatred is unfortunately alive and well.


    Evidenced with a 23-year-old Mikeisha Simpson (pictured below), who is said to slaver white cream all over her body, don a track suit and then intermittently dodge the hot island sun, skin bleaching is seen as a modern improvement much like Botox:

    "I hear the people that say bleaching is bad, but I'll still do it. I won't stop 'cause I like it and I know how to do it safe," said Simpson.

    Skin Bleaching Rampant in Jamaica


    I mean, she's young and deeply misguided, but how deep can it be?

    The article seems to answer my question with a nightmarish scenario of a Mother who admits to bleaching her baby, and then storms out of her dermatologist's office once he advises her not to:

    "I know of one woman who started to bleach her baby. She got very annoyed with me when I told her to stop immediately, and she left my office. I often wonder what became of that baby," said Neil Persadsingh."

    While attempting to lighten one's color screams of poor self-esteem, the dermatologist's concerns, for example, are more than skin deep. In order to effectively stop melanin (responsible for skin's color) production in one's skin, toxic chemicals, such as hydroquinone and mercury, are often key ingredients.

    According to the AP,

    "...Hydroquinone, has long been linked to a disfiguring condition called 'ochronosis' that causes a splotchy darkening of the skin. Doctors say abuse of bleaching lotions has also left a web of stretch marks across some Jamaicans' faces."

    As for the harmful effects of mercury, which is banned in the European Union and the United States:

    "The symptoms of mercury poisoning include emotional disturbances, unsteadiness, inflammation of the mouth and gums, general fatigue, memory loss, forgetfulness and headaches. It may also lead to kidney damage. Excess mercury in the system has been known to cause kidney problems (membranous nephropathy)," according to WhiterSkin.info.

    The harmful ingredients of skin lighteners have done little to stop its use. Skin bleaching is also rife throughout Africa, where Jamaicans are said to get their knockoff skin-bleaching products.

    Skin Bleaching Rampant in Jamaica


    According to PubMed, a study in Senegal (woman pictured from Senegal above) revealed that 72.5 percent of women used skin bleaching products, while 77.6 percent of working women also used the products. Similar studies were said to also be conducted in Mali and Togo, and you guessed it, the unfortunate findings were similar.

    While the AP's article focuses on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, skin bleaching is a worldwide phenomenon that can be found in practically any place that has been colonized by Europeans.

    I'll never forget the experience I had about two years ago, when I worked with an Indian woman. "Shakti," I'll call her, told me about the trouble she was having conceiving. Five long years had passed for her, and she still couldn't have a baby.

    So you can imagine my jubilation once Shakti told me she was pregnant.

    I mean, her and her husband had exhausted every fertility treatment known to man. To see her glowingly with child really warmed my heart. Unfortunately, this feeling would be fleeting.

    Me: "How's your pregancy going? You look beautiful!"

    Shakti: "Good. But I've been having these strange dreams."

    Me: "What are they about?"

    Shakti: "I keep dreaming that I am holding an American baby. How silly of me, though, what with my husband and I being so dark ... that would never happen."

    Me: [Perplexed] "What do you mean by an American baby?"

    Shakti: "You know, a blond, blue-eyed white baby. Too bad that will never happen -- only in my dreams...."

    I was horrified and embarrassed for her and practically pushed her out before my white colleague, who I shared my office with, returned.

    Just a few months ago, she was bemoaning her misfortune that God hadn't blessed her with a child. She gets her gift, and all she can do is dream about a white baby?

    BlackVoices.com covered the booming Indian skin-bleaching industry about two years ago and even revealed Vaseline's skin-lightening app being marketed in India a few months later.

    And of course, America is just as obsessed with all things light and white -- remember the '90s, when light-skinned crooners Al B. Sure and El Debarge were all the rage? But there is more to this problem than confused individuals who weren't told they were pretty enough when they were children:

    "If we really want to control the spread of the skin-bleaching virus, we first have to admit that there's an epidemic of color prejudice in our society," said Carolyn Cooper, a professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, writing in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper."

    In other words, whether you are pointing to the age-old caste system in India, which puts the lighter citizens on top, granting them access to the most resources and power, or the 300-plus transatlantic slave trade that systematically made all things white both right and powerful -- effecting the citizens of Africa, the United States, South America and the Caribbean -- much of the world has consistently been force fed the idea that whites are the chosen race who receive the top jobs, biggest homes and most luxurious lifestyles.

    And I don't care if you won't admit it now, but most would have given their next five Now-A-Laters to have been in the popular crowd in grade school.

    That is why I absolutely love having Michelle Obama as First Lady. As an educated dark-skinned black woman going to schools across the country, in Haiti or in the villages of Ghana, she shows black girls everywhere that they can hold this post too. That they can attend the top universities too. That they are capable and beautiful too.

    In spite of what the commercials, videos and movies are saying.

    Someone needs to tell all of our children that they are beautiful -- really and truly -- and God took his precious time and rejoiced when He made them.



     

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    This April 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the fight between the preservation of slavery against the preservation of the union. And although blacks were caught somewhere in the middle of this struggle, black soldiers played a vital role in the war since the start of the first artillery gun shot in Charleston, South Carolina in 1861.


    After July 22, 1862 when then President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation and freed blacks in rebel-held resisting territories, black recruitment was sought after and increased. Initially, because of prejudice and fear of uprisings, there was hesitation from both the Union and Confederate armies to use black soldiers in combat, but according to the National Archives, "by the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy."

    Notable figures like Frederick Douglass encouraged black men, including Douglass's own sons, to enlist under Ulysses S. Grant's command to gain citizenship, and although enlistment began slowly, volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee and Massachusetts ultimately signed up in great numbers. Lincoln was convinced their presence would intimidate Confederate soldiers and in 1863 wrote, "the bare sight of fifty thousand armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once." Confederate soldiers were not deterred, of course, but black soldiers did play a significant role in the Union's victory.

    After Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrendered on April 9, 1865, slavery was abolished for nearly 3 million blacks living in the South. Racism still persisted long into the Reconstruction era, but black veterans gained some support and appreciation for their service, as Allen C. Guelzo reported on The Root: "The white officers who commanded black troops often became their advocates in the postwar years, and Union veterans refused to celebrate postwar anniversaries if black veterans were excluded or ex-Confederates planned to display the Confederate flag."

    This anniversary marks much more than the Confederate's defeat, it represents the abolition of slavery and the early and active participation of black Americans in the Emancipation. African-Americans can celebrate the legacy of this war knowing that thousands of black soldiers risked their lives in the struggle for their freedom.

     

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    He's approaching 53 but Prince is showing no signs of slowing down.

    And the Minneapolis native who introduced 'Controversy' to the masses in 1981 may just about set the concert industry ablaze with his unorthodox approach to touring.

    Today, tickets went on sale for his latest 'Welcome 2 America Live' tour dates, billed as '21 nite stand' in L.A. and announced just yesterday - playing at the Los Angeles Forum April 14, 21st and 22nd.

    Going where no artist seems to have gone before, Prince hasn't only just surprised fans with the new spate of shows, but he also declared that roughly 85% of all tickets will be available at $25, inclusive of all service fees.

    Taking a very different approach with his concerts, the Grammy and Academy Award-winning musician is announcing shows a matter of days before they happen. And his loyal fan base have come out in full force and shown their support.
    The first two Madison Square Garden shows sold out in 30 minutes and over 45,000 tickets were sold in the first three days for the string of Oakland shows.

    Produced by Live Nation, the show is a seemingly endless parade of hits - and even some of his beloved rarities. Special guests for the Los Angeles performances are expected to be announced shortly but for his previous dates Prince has been joined by the likes of Esperanza Spalding, Maceo Parker, Graham Central Station, Santana, Cee Lo Green, Cassandra Wilson, ballerina Misty Copeland and Sheila E.

    No telling who will show up at The Forum. But we're sure it will be just as buzz worthy.

     

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    From Papermag.com: There are plenty of power brokers in the modeling industry, but few kingmakers -- better make that queenmakers -- like Riccardo Tisci.The creative director of Givenchy has one of the sharpest eyes for spotting new models. And when he sent out the coltish, long-legged stunner Joan Smalls at his Spring 2010 Haute Couture show, voila. Cliché but apropos: A star was born.

    Technically, it wasn't Smalls' first show. The Puerto Rican beauty had been kicking around the industry, appearing at smaller New York shows (and once in a Ricky Martin music video). But after the Givenchy show--and a subsequent ad campaign--all the doors were thrown open. "I had a feeling that this was the beginning of my career, that people were going to notice me and see me differently," Smalls says. "I'll never forget that moment and I'll never forget that man."

    Read more at Papermag.com

     

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    White House Unveils New Webpage to Connect with African Americans

    On Monday evening, the White House presented their new webpage dedicated to President Barack Obama's efforts in the African-American community.

    The page promotes how President Obama's agenda benefits our community:

    "Since his first day in office, President Obama has been working to secure the future prosperity of the African-American Community through efforts such as increasing access to health care, creating jobs, revitalizing schools, and the development of targeted job creating investments in underserved communities. While much more needs to be done, we are making progress. This site is a tool for you to learn about how the President's Agenda is helping to win the future among African-American Communities." In addition to the page's mission statement, there are weekly blog posts, a number of fact sheets and an area that showcases the Administration's latest news.

    If Rev. Al Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West's recent battle over Obama's effectiveness in our community is any indication, the heat is sure to increase as we move closer to the 2012 election.

    The site is a good move for President Obama in being transparent and action-oriented, but in order for him to really stem the tide against the school of thought that says he hasn't provided African Americans with the relief and resources needed to project our community forward, he will need to put an even greater emphasis on issues that are crippling us, such as unemployment and incarceration.

    I actually think the President has made sizable strides in areas like home foreclosure and health care. Unfortunately, though, Obama's wins have been whittled away by Conservatives and their tireless spin-o-meter.

    Either way, the President is moving in the right direction with this site. Let's see how else Obama continues to meet and lift our population.




     

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    From The Huffington Post: Barack and Michelle Obama will appear on Oprah Winfrey's show on April 27, it was announced Tuesday.

    Obama will be in Chicago for a series of fundraisers and will sit down for a taped interview. The interview will air on May 2, and will presumably be the final interview Oprah has with the pair on her talk show, which is ending on May 25.

    Oprah, of course, is a longtime backer of the Obamas, and has interviewed the two numerous times before. Most recently, she interviewed Michelle Obama in January, where the two discussed military families.

     

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    Angela Bassett is so darn beautiful. Every year more so -- here's a look at her endlessly striking poise over the years.

     

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    NEW YORK (Grant McCool) - Hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam hopes a "Superman" will be able to help him win over the jury at his insider trading trial.

    The judge ruled on Tuesday that American social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada, who appeared in the award-winning 2010 documentary film "Waiting for 'Superman'" can attest to Rajaratnam's character.

    His Harlem Children's Zone in New York has benefited from the Galleon Group founder's philanthropy and board service. Canada, along with other nationally-known figures such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, appeared in the film that won a best documentary award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

    "I will allow the character witness because the government itself has raised the issue of alleged greed by the defendant," U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell said before the jury came into the courtroom on the second day of the defense's case.

    In what federal prosecutors have described as the biggest probe of insider trading at hedge funds, Rajaratnam is charged with conspiracy and securities fraud in a case in which 19 out of 26 defendants have pleaded guilty.

    Prosecutors contend Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam made an illicit $63.8 million. If convicted, the 53-year-old hedge fund manager could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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