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

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    Having a white friend who has adopted a black child, and bearing witness to the process from the get go, feels alternately like receiving some sort of epically heartbreaking gift, and time-traveling on a really high-quality hallucinogen.

    When my friend, who I will call Alice, and her husband were first meeting with the birth mother then pregnant with the child they hoped to adopt, Alice told me the first thing this woman asked was: "Do you know how to handle black hair?" To which Alice responded, "Well, no. But I have a friend who does." I look at little Zahara Jolie-Pitt, as cute as she is, and I think, does Angelina Jolie have no black friends whatsoever?

    My mom did not have any black friends, which you'd likely have been able to tell by looking at my own head of unkempt hair as a child (that's me, below), but she did manage to find me a black dance teacher, who wore her hair in a lovely, understated Afro. I didn't mirror her look knowingly, but I'm sure her Afro made me feel less freakish about mine.

    And really, I didn't feel all that freakish about anything until I started middle school. Then I didn't need to simply worry about getting boobs, toning down my boy-craziness, and coveting the latest Nike sneaker (white leather with red swoosh). I also had to figure out how to somehow make my coarse, frizzy and difficult hair appear shiny, silky and easy.

    My sister had a curling iron, which I used to no avail. I pulled and tugged at my hair. I wore head wraps and forced barrettes to hold what they couldn't, and weren't made to. I had a neighbor braid the front half, the rest was too knotted to comb through. And then there was the issue of my scalp. It was dry and itchy, and I had no idea what to use for it. And in any event, none of these efforts, which went on through high school, came close to producing the result I was hoping for, which was to bear at least some resemblance to Julie McCoy from 'The Love Boat.'

    In college, I had a (white) boy ask me why, if I washed my hair regularly, as I told him I did, was my scalp so flaky? And then I had girls (white) ask me if I was able to get my hair wet -- could I, they wondered audibly, 'Go, like, you know, swimming?' I said that I could, of course, but secretly wondered if I hadn't been properly taught that black people were not supposed to get their hair wet.

    My mom, who made gorgeous crowns of wildflowers for me to wear around my Afro when I was small (don't judge, hippies are people too), always just told me that my hair was beautiful. It did have a certain beauty, in retrospect. It was strong and willful, oddly elegant with its rough-hewn sprigs of anger, as I tried to force it into something it could never be.

    It wasn't until I was in my early 20s that a (black) girlfriend, who straightened her own hair, was thoughtful enough to tell me not long after we'd become friends, "Honey, you need to put some oil on that scalp." I returned the favor, at that point fully embracing of my inevitably boho style and sensibility, by telling her to go natural, which she did.

    My friend's suggestion didn't solve all my problems -- and lord knows, we black women are engaged in an endless dance with our hair. It is a defining characteristic of our lives -- for better or worse. How we care for, think about, and wear our hair takes us to emotional heights and depths unimaginable to most non-black folks. And much of the time, it's nearly impossible to explain why.

    And so it's really important, Angelina Jolie, for black girls to be taught proper hair care in much the same way that they are taught to ride a bike -- as an integral part of their childhood learning. Luckily for my friend Alice, the birth mother had a boy, and black hair for boys is tons easier.


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  • 04/13/11--05:50: Why We Need Jill Scott

  • The first five seconds of Jill Scott's first single in four years, 'So in Love,' is without question, healing. The song's intro with its teasing cymbal, then drum, and finally Anthony Hamilton's voice will transport even jaded Age-of-YouTube listeners to a time when love was love, and music could save us.

    The thing is, there's nothing all that extraordinary about 'So In Love,' which is the debut single from her forthcoming 'Light of the Sun.' The track comes across as really quite regular to the seasoned soul music ear -- there is no roaring instrumentation, or belting bridges or hooks. It's just that we've been suffocating all these years without a real authentic sound, no thanks to Erykah Badu's 'New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)' for stealing the last pocket of air, that Scott's single feels like an inhaler for the relief of a sonic asthma attack.

    The single's record art boldly captures Scott and Hamilton in an illustration reminiscent of a 70's-era album cover that might have aired in promo across a new color TV set during an episode of 'Soul Train.' It's a striking presentation and a piece of nostalgic 'Black love' iconography in an era saturated with imagery of surgically inflated butts, and nude celebrity twit-pics.

    What's more, the artwork seems to demonstrate Scott's commitment to 'neo-soul' -- a tag so many of her contemporaries have done everything they can to run away from. Scott clearly embraces the now often stigmatic genre and proves there is an aesthetic power in the headwraps, earthy 'boho' colors and beautiful brown skin.

    And whether Scott is seen in a fro or curly weave -- the latter she wears in the video to her next single 'Shame,' featuring rapper Eve and scheduled to premiere on Thursday, April 14 -- there is ultimately cultural movement in the music. During a poetic sequence in 'So in Love,' a trademark for the vocalist/poet, Scott says:

    "First thing in the morning/when I open my eyes and see you/I feel like a breathe of air/I feel like I can fly/and I can get by/any obstacle that comes my way/cus of your love."

    "Cus of your love," 'When I open my eyes," "I feel like a breathe of air" -- a series of perhaps basic contemporary R&B lyrical go-tos -- but all so necessary. So very much needed in a time where black love has taken hits from everywhere, and nearly everyone. Relationship experts argue black women are quantitatively disadvantaged. They say black women outnumber black men on college campuses, and in professional spaces. But I argue what's more damaging is how black women have become musically disadvantaged.

    There is nothing about today's popular R&B and Hip Hop that tells black men it's cool, sexy, or .com to be so in love with a black woman. Soul music used to blare at high volumes on the frontlines of marches, sit-ins, and rallies throughout our collective history of the black American experience. Today, the music acts as a poignant marker of a changing culture that now tattle-tells the secrets of a narrowing black private space with screened doors left so ajar that CNN can tell me if my man is loving me good enough or not.

    And when our children's children look back on the near ancient 2000's, our era's music will tell a story of fragmented hustler fables and hazy 'get on the floor' dance hits.

    But it will be most telling of why we needed Jill.


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    Black Women's Hair Loss Tied to Weave, Braiding

    According to a study
    , black women who use chemicals in their hair and then braid or weave it are subject to permanent hair loss. After having 326 black women fill out a questionnaire, it was revealed that almost all of the women had relaxers and 1 in 6 of the women had scarring hair loss or what dermatologists call "central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia."

    According to

    "More than half the women with this condition said they had braids, weaves or hair extensions, as compared to only a third of those with less severe hair loss."

    This balding has only been seen in black women and is thought to be caused by prolonged pulling of the hair strands, causing inflammation of the hair follicle. Once the balding begins, it starts at the top of the head and then spreads throughout.

    The women most likely to have this form of alopecia also have three things in common:

    "Reseachers found that women with scarring hair loss were also more likely to have type 2 diabetes, to braid or weave their hair tightly, and to have bacterial scalp infections."

    Scarring hair loss first came to attention during the 1960s and was thought to be caused by hot combs. Little research, though, was done to confirm this theory.

    Dr. Angela Kyei, who worked on the study that was published in the Archives of Dermatology, had this advice:

    "This is just telling us there is a trend and we need to study it further. If there is any take-home message from this study, it is that hair grooming is not the only thing you should look at in these patients," Kyei noted. "If you have hair loss - specifically if you have the central type of hair loss, which is permanent - you need to seek medical attention."


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    WASHINGTON -- In an effort to recast the debate over the nation's fiscal future, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday a plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. The plan was put together largely from the outline produced by his own deficit commission co-chairs.

    The proposal, which comes as House Republicans get set to vote on a budget of their own and a bipartisan group of six Senators chart their own deficit-reduction framework, includes a mixture of tax hikes, drastic spending cuts, reductions in the Pentagon's budget and smaller entitlement reforms. It would seek to achieve a final balance of three dollars in spending reductions for every dollar generated in additional tax revenue.

    "Now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s," the president said in a speech at George Washington University. "We have to live within our means, reduce our deficit, and get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, and protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs and win the future."

    In a nod to the likelihood that a compromise won't be reached, President Obama also included a "debt fail-safe" trigger, mandating that Congress pass across-the-board spending reductions if the nation's debt is not on a declining path as a share of the economy by the second half of the decade.

    Read more at The Huffington Post


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    Here's something to smile about: In Oakland, Calif., 23 black boys scored perfect scores on last year's state reading or math tests. Of the 23 whiz kids, 8-year-old Amir Ealy (pictured) is profiled by the Oakland Tribune.

    In the video, adorable Amir is described as a well-rounded, dedicated student who never misses school. His doting father seems amazed by his son's accomplishment and is supportive:

    "I hope for him to continue to get good grades and go to college and do whatever it is he wants to do: stunt man, police officer, army, whatever he wants to do I'm for it."


    Sobrante Park Elementary Principal Marco Franco attributes Amir's success to his family:

    "Amir is just an all-around kid. Like I said, it starts with him and his family, so he comes to us ready and is always prepared in class."

    Park Elementary has a wise principal.

    For most successful children, a high level of support, consistency and love can be found in their homes, propelling them in to greatness.

    But the community has a part to play too.

    In the video, Principal Franco celebrates Amir's success by bringing him in front of his peers in the school auditorium -- a smart move. If the standard is publicly set and the bar is continually raised, more and more students will be encouraged to realize success for themselves.

    Many blessings to you, Amir. I know this is just the beginning. May you grow up and change the world.

    Watch Amir and his support system here:


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  • 04/13/11--09:35: Flowing North and South
  • I've been a New Yorker and Harlemite for more than 25 years and love it, but like legions of American blacks, the South is calling me to come home.

    For at least five generations, my family has worked and lived in Tennessee, migrating from the Western part of the state early in the 20th Century to Knoxville (pictured above, circa early 1900s), where I was born and raised. I grew up surrounded by loving people in a geographically beautiful place, but by the time I was a teenager, I was itching to see what lay beyond the vertical horizon of the Smokey Mountains, and especially wanted to visit the New York I had read about in books by writers like James Baldwin.

    My career goals changed daily from florist to lawyer, writer to anthropologist. But no matter what I was to become, I felt it could only happen if I left my hometown.

    Legions of African Americans have felt that their ambitions could best be achieved by moving to the North, hence the mass out-migrations written about so eloquently by writers including Isabel Wilkerson ('The Warmth of Other Suns'), Nicholas Lehmann ('The Promised Land'), Farah Jasmine Griffin ('Who Set You Flowin'?'), and even me in my book 'Up South.' But another movement is gaining steam: a reverse migration of Northern-based blacks to the South.

    The most obvious reasons for leaving the urban centers of the North have to do with the shift in job opportunities and the climate -- we are largely a warm-weather people. There are, though, other forces deeper and less visible pulling us to South, which are beautifully detailed in a new novel by Lorene Cary called 'If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary.'

    In her fourth book, Cary tells the story of the Needham family, specifically Rayne Needham, a Southern-reared, Philadelphia-based contractor assigned by the grandmother who raised him to lead an effort to save the family land where she has lived alone since the rest of the family moved North. Issues around property ownership are inherently complex.

    I know this first hand because like Rayne, my grandparents left it up to me, a male grandson and a first cousin to make sure that three small plots of land bought by their parents stay within the family. There is a paper trail to be followed in order to probate the handwritten Wills, but greater than that is the necessary step of reaching out to family unknown for reasons of time and distance.

    My great grandparents, Ben and Cynthia Crump, had two sons, Kermit and my grandfather Lavon. The former settled and raised his family in Ohio, while Lavon and Eula raised his 13 children in Tennessee. Jimmy and I, the eldest of their surviving grandchildren, and the two named in the Will, migrated away from the old home too, but now have the responsibility of reclaiming it as our ancestors intended. Accomplishing the goal will require not only an intellectual and physical effort, but a spiritual one as well.

    Our situation is neither new nor rare, especially if you're black and have Southern roots. The subject of land is an important part of the African American narrative nationwide. Most of us are emotionally and spiritually, not to mention financially, connected to the land of our origins. Old home-places contain the blood, sweat and history of what our people did -- good, bad and indifferent -- to live and die.

    Cary's book weaves history and imagination into a story that captures essential human truths, with the main character facing consequences that brilliantly mirror the circumstances of our own lives, no matter what region of the country we live in, and no matter what kind of life we experience today as African, or any other kind of American.

    Several years ago, I bought a place in Atlanta, where I lived during and after my college days. I fulfilled the long-held desire to have a base in South again, and at least be close to Knoxville, where the complications around the heir property await.

    Today, I can enjoy the warmth of the Southern sun and spend time with relatives who live there, as I carry on with my cousin to do the work of bringing even distant family together to fulfill the mission of our ancestors.


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    "In the 21st century the best anti-poverty program around is a world class education," said President Barack Obama during a January speech in which he advocated for $10,000 tax credits for families with children in college, and the increase of Pell grants for low-income students attending college. Though the President talked of making education more affordable, students are protesting school budget cuts they say will lead to increased campus costs and a lower quality of education.

    Rallies, teach-ins and marches are planned today (April 13) at all 23 California State Universities in opposition to the cuts. Similar actions are happening at campuses in Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey where cuts to school funding have been proposed as a way to close state budget deficits. For the average college freshman, less funding translates to lower financial aid packages, higher student-to-teacher ratios and fewer student services and programs.

    California students are hoping that voters approve a temporary tax increases proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in order to prevent a $500 million dollar loss in state funding. Said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association: "What's at stake is really the future of the California State University and the ability of this whole generation to get a college education."

    In the same January speech, President Obama said that no American should go broke because they went to college. In order to lessen the debt plaguing many students and families, he has emphasized the importance of funding community colleges, waiving student loans after 20 years in the workforce and after 10 years if a graduate chooses a career in public service. Unfortunately, a lot of graduates do face heavy financial burdens and will likely continue to if these budget cuts persist.

    He has also admitted that in today's competitive job market, an education does not necessarily guarantee a great job, but it is an essential part of pursuing a career.

    But enrollment numbers don't lie. This year graduate school and especially law school applications have dropped as more students who may have once dreamed of adding esquire to their names now realize that a career as an attorney may not be as glamorous and lucrative as once thought.

    The 'Wall Street Journal' has reported that "the number of law-school applicants this year is down 11.5 percent from a year ago to 66,876, according to the Law School Admission Council Inc. The figure, which is a tally of applications for the fall 2011 class, is the lowest since 2001 at this stage of the process."

    And black graduation rates in general reside at a dismal 43 percent, 20 percent lower than graduation rates for whites, according to a CBS report.

    Despite Obama's well-intentioned rhetoric, unless the proposed slashes in spending are resolved, we may see fewer and fewer students able to afford higher education as its costs threaten to outweigh its benefits.


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    50 Cent at the Scream 4 premiere in NYCThough his Oscar nominated co-host James Franco turned out to be a no-show at last night's exclusive screening of 'Scream 4,' rap superstar 50 Cent held down the fort and represented The Weinstein Company's hit slasher franchise well at New York City's Crosby Street Hotel.

    For the after-party, held at Mr. H at Mondrian Soho, hip-hop royalty such as Russell Simmons and Eve mixed and mingled with the likes of Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe, rock goddess Courtney Love, hip-hop soul singer Estelle, 'Saturday Night Live's latest black scene-stealer Jay Farrow, and actresses Vanessa Ferlito and Tika Sumpter.

    As the clock struck midnight, the soiree kicked into high gear when a club staffer ripped off her silk kimono and took to one of two stripper poles in the middle of all the action. While 50 and his cronies seemed unfazed with all the T&A, 'Scream' franchise mainstay David Arquette seemed to take in the sights well.

    'Scream 4' arrives in theaters April 15. Check out the pics below.,feedConfig,entry&id=996309&pid=996308&uts=1302723223

    Aretha @ 69

    Surprise guest Stevie Wonder kisses Aretha Franklin during the finale of the 'VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin' at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, 4/9/01. The show airs live on VH1 on Tuesday, April 11, 2001 at 9:00PM EST. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

    Aretha @ 69

    BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI - FEBRUARY 05: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Aretha Franklin poses for a photo shoot at her residence on February 5, 2011 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Monica Morgan/WireImage)

    Aretha @ 69

    Aretha Franklin during VH1 Presents: "Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin" at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

    Aretha @ 69

    NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Aretha Franklin performs at the 2010 Apollo Theater Spring Benefit Concert & Awards Ceremony>> at The Apollo Theater on June 14, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

    Aretha @ 69

    (EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Aretha Franklin visits backstage during Good Housekeeping's "Shine On" 125 years of Women Making Their Mark at New York City Center on April 12, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Good Housekeeping)

    Aretha @ 69

    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 02: Singer Aretha Franklin performs onstage at attends the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center on December 2, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

    Aretha @ 69

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 26: ***FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY*** Singer Aretha Franklin performs at the Hollywood Bowl on June 26, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mathew Imaging/WireImage)

    Aretha @ 69

    Aretha Franklin (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

    Aretha @ 69

    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 14: Aretha Franklin performs during "The Torch of Freedom: A Holiday Tribute to Our Troops," a benefit concert presented by Soldiers', Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard and Airmen's Club Inc. at Nokia Theatre on December 14, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images)

    Aretha @ 69

    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Aretha Franklin attends a signing of "This Christmas Aretha" at Borders Columbus Circle on October 29, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

    Aretha @ 69


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    Actor Isaach de Bankolé has been checking in with his family in the West African nation of Ivory Coast three or four times a day since the political standoff between his country's former and current presidents began to dominate news headlines. Amid the turmoil, de Bankolé is being honored for three decades of acting at the Museum of Art and Design.

    The Museum of Art and Design is honoring de Bankolé in conjunction with its "Global Africa Project" exhibit, which will include a survey of films.

    Just don't call it a retrospective.

    "When I first heard about it [the survey of films], I thought maybe I won't be able to work anymore," de Bankolé said, laughing. "Because usually a retrospective is for people who passed away."



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  • 04/13/11--11:38: Barry Bonds: Guilty
  • SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three other counts that the home run king lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he specifically denied that he knowingly used steroids and human growth hormone.

    Following a 12-day trial and almost four full days of deliberation, a jury could not reach a unanimous vote on three of four counts, a messy end to a case that put the slugger in the spotlight for more than three years.

    Bonds sat stone-faced through the verdict, displaying no emotion.

    Read more at The Huffington Post


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  • 04/14/11--02:29: Notes of a Military Son
  • During this week -- Military Families Week -- I am reminded of the valuable lessons I learned from my father about the humanity and importance of those who defend our freedom.

    My Dad, Clifford Alexander, is a "first" in many ways, born in 1933, an only son of two civic-minded parents who were deeply immersed in their community, Harlem. His parents were both bright, and while neither had college degrees they knew that education was the road to their son's life success, and he graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School -- an incredible success for anyone, much less an African-American of his generation.

    He then made a career of leaping over racial barriers and breaking down doors. He served several presidents, and in 1977 President Carter asked Dad to serve in his Administration, as Secretary of the Army.

    Dad was responsible for military operations worldwide, wielding civilian powers that were only surpassed by the President himself. His service as Army Secretary immersed him in a world in which there were clear chains of command and protocol, and fixed notions of rank and power.

    In my father's eyes, his powers also carried responsibilities and courtesies, and he made it a point to always try to respect the dignity of everyone he encountered. He also deeply valued the ultimate commitment to country that the men and women who serve in our armed forces -- our nation's greatest patriots.

    He was at the top of the chain of command, but he never saw himself as superior. It was quite the opposite; he knew that his service was equal to all who served -- one man among thousands in service to country.

    Dad made the quality of life of the soldier his top priority. Every time he visited an Army base, he scheduled an hour at the base gym for a pick-up basketball game with the enlisted men and women. He broke it down: Running the court, in shorts, on the floor, there is no rank.

    The lessons came all the time -- daily life, leading by example. I recall one weekend morning when he and I walked out the back door of our townhouse to pick up some groceries. As we walked through the alley, a homeless man approached us, and my father greeted him with a hearty "Good morning, sir."

    I had seen soldiers and four-star generals offer Dad the same greeting in the halls of The Pentagon, and at Army bases around the world. After we moved along, unprompted, Dad reminded me of something: "He was somebody's baby one day."

    Those words with that context remind me of the common humanity that my parents value so much. Their respect for others, and pride in our own identity as African-Americans, informed their -- and eventually my -- sense of self and commitment to service.

    My family was immersed in a generation of change defined by public service and social activism. Our life was defined by my parents' work, and by the values inculcated by our day-to-day existence.

    So in Military Families Week, I spend a little extra time thinking about those who commit themselves to country, so that we can live in these remarkable times today. Every day, I am thankful for our armed forces, and I pay particular tribute to the individual men and women serving all around the world.

    Dad is 77 years old, and just as committed as ever. In the past few years, he carried on his own mission to speak out against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that was a blight on our nation. He articulated the fight as one over the basic human dignity of those who serve our nation with pride and distinction.

    He won't be still, he won't be silent. I honor the individuals who wear The Uniform, as he taught me.


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  • 04/14/11--04:25: OWN Announces 6 New Series
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    Oprah Winfrey's OWN announced six new series Thursday ayem, with emphasis on unscripted shows about dealing with emotional trauma. The tyro cabler also announced four pickups.

    Relativity Real's 'Confronting...' will track the progress of people trying to heal broken relationships through meditation. Another reconciliation-themed show is True Entertainment's 'Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal,' while 'I Owe You My Life,' produced by Skip Film, will follow the stories of everyday folks who take risks to protect their fellow men and women.

    Two showbiz-flavored series will devote their focus to a single cast of characters: Pilgrim Films' 'Sweetie Pies' follows former Ikette Robbie Montgomery, who left the music industry and opened a soul food eatery after suffering a collapsed lung; and Kinetic Content's 'Louie Spence Dance Project' tracks the pop choreographer as he attempts to revitalize the curriculum Manhattan's high-toned Broadway Dance Center.

    Read more at Variety


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    NEW YORK, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In its first segmentation study on African-American women and their psychographics around beauty, ESSENCE uncovers the unique mindset of the most passionate beauty consumers, African-American women.

    Smart Beauty V: A Revealing Look at the Mindset of Passionate African-American Beauty Consumersshows African-American women to be twice as likely to feel positive about their beauty. In addition, the study discovers four distinct beauty archetypes among African-American women based on mindset, product usage and knowledge.

    The fifth installment of the Smart Beauty series, developed in conjunction with New York-based research firm Insight, looks at the distinct personality profiles that exist within the African-American market relative to the General Market; focusing on the psychographics that drive the beauty purchasing behavior of African-American women across hair, skin, cosmetics, fragrance and personal care.

    Unveiled over breakfast at the W Hotel, the Smart Beauty V presentation will be hosted by ESSENCE's Beauty Director Corynne L. Corbett and will include the following expert panelists: Mikki Taylor, Essence Editor-at-Large; Cynde Watson, Makeup Artist and Beauty Expert; Elana L. Jones, MD, Dermatologist; and Susan Akkad, Senior Vice President Corporate Diversity Marketing, Estee Lauder Companies Inc.

    "ESSENCE's Smart Beauty research confirms that beauty goes beyond how women look, it is also linked to how she feels, and that sentiment translates to how she spends," said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks. "Smart Beauty V has uncovered the diversity among women of color, who are a vital growth segment for beauty companies, by extracting four distinct archetypes relative to beauty consumption."

    Read more at PR Newswire


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    Keri Hilson is the latest singer to pose nude for Allure magazine's annual Naked Issue this May, in which she explains her shift from behind the scenes as a songwriter to the forefront as a successful R&B artist.

    Hilson, who posed tastefully on a white chaise lounge, talked in the article about how the shoot symbolizes her shedding the need to add enhancements to maker her feel beautiful. "We do a lot of things to seek validation: I have to get more expensive handbags or fake lashes or fake boobs. This shoot was about dropping all that," she said.

    Gabriel Union and Jill Scott have posed for previous issues, and for this issue Keri is joined by actresses Ashley Tisdale, Bridget Moynahan, and Kaley Cuoco.


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    Donald Trump shot down a report claiming he would announce his candidacy on the final episode of his show, The Apprentice, on May 15.

    "I can't announce during the show, I really can't" and "I'm not allowed to" he said, during an interview on Talk1300. "I don't know where it came from."

    But Trump - who has flirted with two previous presidential runs - said he was serious about it this time. "There's no doubt in my mind I want to run as a Republican," he said. "I've always felt that. Really, never wavered."

    "Years ago," he added, "there was a big move to get me to run in the Reform Party. Fortunately I didn't do that; I decided not to do that. And as you know, that was a strange group." He added, "I like the people but I just didn't think they had their act together at that time."

    "I haven't really thought about it since," Trump said about running for president.

    But now, he has.

    Read more at the New York Observer


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    Last October, Pace University junior Danroy Henry (pictured above) was gunned down by police in Thornwood, N.Y.

    The case quickly gained the nation's attention, because the details of the shooting didn't match up with the details of Henry's life as an "exemplary student" with no criminal record.

    Now the police officer responsible for killing Henry has been named "Officer of the Year" for his "dignity and professionalism" since the shooting.

    And his family is taking the news as a slap in the face.

    Angella Henry, Danroy's mother (pictured below at podium with husband at right) is outraged:

    "It speaks to the arrogance that we have experienced since Oct. 17, 2010. It just shows their inhumanity and their arrogance."
    On October 17th, 20-year-old Henry was said to be waiting with two of his friends in the parking lot of Finnegan's Grille for a friend.

    When a fight broke out outside of the bar, Finnegan's owners decided to close down the venue, causing more than 50 attendants to rush out of the establishment.

    Area police were immediately called to contain the situation. When they arrived, a cop was said to tap on the window and ask Henry to move his Nissan, which was allegedly parked in a No Stopping zone.

    Officers say that was when Henry hit two policemen with his car and then policemen Aaron Hess and Ronald Beckley retaliated with gunfire, shooting Henry and injuring his passenger, Brandon Cox.

    But witnesses tell a different story.

    They say that officers never asked Henry to move his vehicle and there was no clear reason why Hess, whose shots ultimately killed Henry, used deadly force.

    In February, a grand jury decided Hess did not commit a crime, clearing him of indictment, for shooting and killing Henry, also affectionately called "D.J."

    In response, Henry's father, Danroy Henry Sr. (pictured) said:

    "We will not stop until Mr. Hess is held accountable for the killing of our beloved D.J."

    Henry's parents have filed a $120 million lawsuit against the Pleasantville Police Department and are awaiting a federal investigation in to their son's case.

    Meanwhile, Hess was awarded this distinction by the Police Benevolent Association of the Pleasantville Police Department for being some sort of hero, rather than an officer who just took someone's life.

    Whether Hess was right to pull the trigger or not (and it's likely he wasn't), there is no dispute that he took someone's child, friend and companion.

    I really feel it for the Henry family.

    In spite of all the negativity and press out there about raising black boys, they raised a bright young man who was admired and praised by his peers.

    Twenty long years cultivating, nurturing and educating your most-prized possession -- only to have his life snuffed out because of some haphazard brawl.

    What a crying shame.

    Something should also be said about how numb our society and the criminal justice system is to black males and murder. No one expects a white male in his prime to be erroneously cut down by a random bullet, particularly a policeman's.

    No one would then imagine that the policeman who actually was responsible for that white kid's death, would then be honored for his "dignity and professionalism."

    As a matter of fact, when was the last time you even heard of a young white male -- barely out of his teens -- being shot to death by a cop?

    The public should protest Hess' distinction and demand that it be rescinded. I pray Henry receives justice with the federal investigation, but even if he and his family are denied that, at least give him his respect.

    Amadou Diallo
    , Patrick Dorismund, Sean Bell, Eleanor Bumpers and all of our people who have been wrongly murdered by police deserve that.


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    Nene Leakes

    From The Loop 21: Over the past few weeks, Presidential hopeful and tea party f*** boy Donald Trump has been front and center in stating his belief that President Obama is not a native born American citizen. Trump, a billionaire and executive producer of the weekly television show Celebrity Apprentice, has received some criticism from African Americans but not much. Especially from celebrities.

    On his show there are several people of color including rapper Lil' Jon, reality television beneficiary Ne Ne Leaks, singer Dionne Warrick, and lawyer Star Jones, but to my amazement, none have spoken out openly against Trumps assertions that Obama was not born in America. I find this troubling for two reasons. First that they are afraid and subconsciously see Trump as a slave master who would be more prone to chop off their foot for not changing their slave name (a metaphor for money) than to stand for the truth and their community. The second is that they appear to be cowards, afraid to voice their beliefs in support of Obama, as if they have forgotten they will not have water hose sprayed on them or dogs let loose on them.

    Read More at The Loop 21


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    The concept of marriage is romanticized in the United States, and even though there are countless media reports on black women's low rates of marriage, most still hold on to the hope of falling in love and "finding the one." But what happens when someone doesn't marry for love but rather for for practicality? Academy Award winner and 'The View' co-host Whoopi Goldberg recently revealed to CNN's Piers Morgan that she was not in love with any of her three ex-husbands, and the one man she loved got away.

    Goldberg "wanted to feel normal," she said. "And it seemed to me that if I was married, I'd have a more normal life. But clearly, that's not the case. There's not a good reason to get married."

    Societal pressure forces some women to feel that they're abnormal if they are past a certain age and unwed. While marriage may enhance a man's life and status, it's been ingrained that it completes a woman's. One study identified "spinster stigma" for unmarried women over the age of 30. "We found that never-married women's social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway," said Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family at the University of Missouri.

    Whoopi rationalized that in order for a marriage to be successful and long lasting, love is an essential element. She was married to Alvin Martin from 1973-1979, cinematographer David Cleassen from 1986-1988, and actor Lyle Trachtenberg from 1994-1995. Goldberg told Morgan that she was in love with none of these men, but was in love with one man who's identity she wouldn't disclose.

    According to Goldberg, women should hold out for prince charming before they marry. And even while those madly in love are susceptible to divorce, as the saying goes, it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.


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    Duke Lacrosse Accuser Crystal Gale Magnum's Boyfrind Dies from Stabbing

    Crystal Gale Magnum (pictured), the infamous Duke Lacrosse Accuser, has just seen her fortunes turn for the worse: Reginald Daye, the 46-year-old boyfriend of Magnum, died Wednesday from wounds he sustained after Magnum allegedly stabbed him.

    A few weeks ago, Magnum was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill for reportedly stabbing Daye repeatedly in the torso.

    The upshot of this incident could be a sad and unfortunate ending to Magnum's string of oddly violent behavior: Magnum will probably face murder charges soon.

    Daye, who lived with Magnum, was said to be very excited about his relationship with the former topless dancer:

    "I mean he was excited," Daye's cousin said. "He was like, 'Man, guess who I'm dating now.' He was excited, but I told him, Man, you know her background. Be careful."

    Magnum, who has been in custody since the stabbing, is being held on $300,000 bond, but she has been acting up since last year.

    After setting her then-boyfriend Milton Walker's clothes on fire while police were on the scene, Magnum was arrested last February. Soon after, Magnum held a press conference, attempting to prove her innocence and then was later convicted of misdemeanor child abuse and damaging property.

    As I wrote recently, Magnum's spiral downward actually seemed to have occurred long before she accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her at a party, where she stripped.

    And with such lawless behavior, Magnum doesn't appear to be giving a thought to her children.

    Even though none of her kids were older than the age of 10, they were forced to call 911 for a domestic violence incident and then watch on as their mother lost control and burnt Walker's clothes in the tub.

    And where were the children when she stabbed Daye? Did they witness the violence? Each time she goes to jail -- she spent 88 days for her last infraction -- who do they stay with? Who will they stay with once she goes down for murder?

    See Magnum has already made her bed and now she will have to sleep in it, but the children didn't ask to be here. Who is paying attention to their needs?

    Only God knows.

    Watch the case here:


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    At a podium inside the Roosevelt Hotel last week, Wilbert Rideau, 69, stood before an audience of academics and journalists, as he prepared to deliver a speech more than three decades in the making.

    "After 31 years they invited me back," Rideau said. "They remembered me."

    Thirty-one years ago, while Rideau was serving a life sentence in prison for murder, he was awarded a George Polk Award for his work in journalism, one of the most coveted awards in the industry. He was not able to receive the award in person, until just last week.

    Behind the podium, his shoulders slumped a bit, the way you'd expect an old prizefighter's shoulders to slump. The long years showed in the specks of gray sprinkled throughout his mustache, and in the deep grooves in his face.

    "When I won the George Polk Award in 1980, a reporter had to explain to me what it was," Rideau said, the audience hushed. "It's difficult to overstate what the award meant to me, a 9th grade dropout and self-taught journalist who had once sat on death row."

    In 1979 when the award was first announced, Rideau joined a distinguished cast of journalists to win that year, including reporters from 'The New York Times,' 'The New Yorker' and Ed Bradley from '60 Minutes.'

    Rideau was being honored for a series of essays he wrote entitled 'The Sexual Jungle,' an in-depth look at the paradigm of prison sex and the power it held behind bars. He interviewed the "slaves" who had been "turned out," who were no longer considered men, but property. He interviewed rapists, other prisoners, prison guards and wardens.

    "Back then prison authorities nationwide did not speak of sexual violence in their prisons. They presented it to the public as something being done by homosexuals, gays, freaks," Rideau said. "But the reality of it was it was pretty prevalent and it wasn't isolated -- it wasn't done by gays and homosexuals, the rape and enslavement was done by heterosexuals, and it was done with the tacit approval of prison authorities. It was part of the internal power structure and overall inmate economy."

    The work was raw and groundbreaking, said Ed Hershey, a judge on the Polk Awards committee who voted on Rideau's series.

    "It could have appeared in 'Harpers,' 'The Atlantic' or 'The New Yorker,'" Hershey said. "The fact that it was done by and for inmates, was startling."

    As word of that year's winners spread and newsrooms erupted in cheers, handshakes and hugs, Rideau was called down to the prison's administrative office, where a reporter waited with the good news.

    "He asked me how I felt," Rideau recalled in a phone interview from his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "But, I had never really heard of the Polk Awards so, I didn't feel much."

    In 1993, 'Newsweek' magazine called him "the most rehabilitated prisoner in America." But long before that, Rideau was a 19-year-old who grew up poor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and eventually went on to make the worst decision of his life.

    He armed himself with a gun and a knife and decided to rob a bank.

    Rideau took three white bank employees hostage and forced them into one of their cars. Once they neared the edge of town, they came upon an old gravel road near a swamp. There, the hostages jumped out of the car and made a break for it. Rideau panicked and squeezed off several shots, striking two of the hostages. He caught the third and stabbed her in the chest. News accounts of the story say Rideau also cut the woman's throat, a claim he vehemently denies.

    All-white, all-male juries convicted him of murder and sentenced him to death in three separate trials, twice in the 1960s and once in 1970. But each time the verdict was thrown out on appeals, the courts citing misconduct by the government.

    As the appeals process wore on, Rideau remained on death row, where he came to the conclusion that he wanted to be a writer.

    "I was a fairly good observer of human nature and figured maybe I could explain things that puzzled people about criminal behavior," he said.

    Rideau remained on death row until 1972, when the United States issued a moratorium on executions. His death sentence was then commuted to life in prison.

    Off of death row he continued to write. First he started an underground prison magazine called 'The Lifer,' which the administration quickly shutdown. Then he became editor of the 'Angolite,' the first black editor of a prison publication in the country. At that time there were few, if any, black editors editing publications outside of the black press.

    While in prison, he eventually became a correspondent for NPR's 'Fresh Air,' appeared on ABC's 'Nightline' and co-directed a couple documentaries, including 'The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.,' which was nominated for an Oscar.

    Rideau was released in 2005 after a fourth trial, where a mixed-gender, mixed-race jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. He was released on time served after spending 44-years in prison.

    Last year he released a critically acclaimed memoir, 'In the Place of Justice,' published by Knopf, and he also writes the occasional column and book review.

    In 2008, he married Linda LaBranche, a former college professor who first saw him on a television program 25 years ago and ultimately joined the fight to free him.

    But of all the awards and accolades, he said, being honored with the George Polk award after all these years is perhaps most special.

    "One of these days you're going to be old," he said, "and really thrilled when someone reaches back and remembers you."


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