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

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    Pokot, Kenya, FGM

    The conversation is heated. There is no yelling or raising of the voice, but the exchange is intense:

    "I will never be cut, over my dead body. For how long shall we remain desperate in this dry and barren village? It's a vicious cycle, I bury you, then you bury me with the same sorrows instead of forging ahead and helping those who are weak.

    "How can you allow your child to die within like this as if you didn't give birth to me?"

    It is a question that lingers, and the Mother barely has an answer:

    "I'm defeated by all your stories. I am just confused."

    In Central Pokot, Kenya, young girls are refusing to be cut. They would rather commit suicide than endure what their mothers and grandmothers underwent with female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM). When I used to hear about FGM, it seemed as though all who were involved -- girls who were ready to be initiated, their moms, the elders and the men -- were a monolithic front in refusing to change the centuries-old traditions of their forebears.

    I saw photographs of young girls being held down by women they had known all their natural lives. These same women would usher them in to a life of communal pain and misery.

    And there seemed to be no end.

    But the girls of Pokot have had enough. They are verbally sparring with their mothers and resisting the steely stares of their fathers.

    Nancy Tomee, who spoke in the beginning, is fierce as she continues to battle her mother:

    "But I can see a flood coming and all you people just want to hold us back. I'm moving forward, moving forward. I'm heading to the land of milk and honey. My passion for education is driving me. Look hard for someone else to cut as long as it is not me."

    After Nancy asks her mom one last time if she will still cut her, her mother is silent.

    And Nancy is not alone.

    A grassroots group called "Kepstono Rotwo" or Abandon the Knife, works hard to educate the rural village people of Pokot about why FGM is unnecessary. But as an African myself, I understand how culture and tradition is a sticky thing. Culture and tradition bind us. It gives us purpose and value -- but it can also senselessly harm and kill.

    And the Kepstono organization totally get the intricacies of FGM in their society. In Pokot, FGM is the central part of the rites of passage ceremony for girls. Without the ceremony, there is no way to mark a girl's transformation from child to woman.

    So they make a plan.

    Why not create an alternative rites of passage ceremony that ushers their girls in to the world of womanhood without the cutting?

    A part of Kepstono is Jane, who is a warrior.

    She is relentless in speaking with the parents' of girls who don't want to be cut and making them understand all of the many drawbacks of FGM. She, herself, has had the unfortunate experience of FGM and serves as the community's midwife. She explains why FGM has been able to continue for so long:

    "Most of the people here, they just refuse to think. They choose not to see the consequences."

    But these young girls can. They've seen their mothers suffer and they want no part of it, but it isn't just Kepstono and a few recalcitrant girls who are fighting against the cutting. There are some Mothers who are putting their marriages on the line in order to save their daughters.

    Gertrude is another girl who doesn't want to get cut. She is the oldest child and only girl for her parents. While Gertrude is understandably scared and quiet, her mother stands up to her father and holds her ground. The father expresses out many of the pressures and fears he faces not forcing Gertrude to be cut. As a matter of fact, a potential husband has been put forward and Gertrude's grandfather has already accepted the dowry:

    Father: "My father asked me about Gertrude's suitor. I told him we were progressing ... now what can I say? You explain to my father."

    Mother: "I'll go meet with that old man!"

    Father: "You must be aware that once the Pokot take a person's goods, you are committed?"

    Mother: "Taken goods? I didn't go through labor pains for my daughter to be sold like that! Are you crazy?"

    Father: "Others are cutting their daughters. I will be the laughing stock when people are enjoying the beers they get for their daughters."

    Mother: "I will not cut my daughter for that."

    Father: "So you are the one who suggested my daughter run away?"

    Gertrude's mom is quiet -- yes, she is the one who sent her daughter to her grandmother's house for safety.

    At the end of the argument, Gertrude's father refuses to eat and tells his wife he wants a divorce if she insists on ruining their only daughter. Even though he physically pushes her away, Gertrude's mother remains steadfast:

    "He's angry now, but when he calms down, hopefully he will think about what I have said."

    Kepstono Rotwo have arranged their own rites of passage ceremony and 130 girls have pledged to attend. Nancy will attend the ceremony, and both of her parents will come. Gertrude also gets blessings from both of her parents to attend and take part in the sacred ceremony.
    Pokot, Kenya, FGM
    When the ceremony begins, 175 girls have showed up. The girls are educated about all of the health problems that exist with cutting off the clitoris and labia majora and then leaving a small hole to urinate. The photo they show to the girls leaves everyone speechless (pictured right).

    Then they have a young woman who also hasn't been cut speak with them about self-empowerment, myths and having a better life with education. It is just the type of concrete model the girls need to stay strong and confident in their decision.

    One of the best parts of the short film is watching the girls go through the actual ceremony. They are joyous and proud, and they dance through the streets so that everyone can know that they were initiated into womanhood without being cut -- something that has NEVER been done before.

    Nancy holds no punches in her celebratory speech. Not suprisingly, she has become the leader and spokeswoman for her group:

    "I tell you Mothers, I am truly sorry for this milk that has been spilled forever. We now know all the secrets and lies that you have been telling us. Now we know there is no shame in being uncut.

    "I refuse to witness my mothers' suffering and then to repeat the cycle. I have decided to set an example. I am going to be a role model. I will be an example."

    Indeed.

    The work of Kepstono and the presence of these uncut women have sent shock waves through the community. In reaction, one young man said:

    "My principle is, I'm going to marry an uncircumcised woman. Period."

    It is wonderful that the progress of Pokot, Kenya, is now immortalized in film. Communities throughout the world can learn from these fearless girls -- now women -- of the village. They had an age-old problem, female circumcision, and community members were steadfast in finding a way to solve it.

    They argued, reflected and considered until they came up with a solution that made sense. Then they took the time to visit as many households as they could and had full-blown ideological conversations to show people that what they thought didn't make sense.

    That type of action doesn't need to just happen in villages or remote places. It needs to happen in Compton, California; Brooklyn; Newark, New Jersey; New Orleans; and Atlanta, Georgia. It needs to happen wherever black people are so that they can rethink and refocus their efforts on methods to supplant age-old problems with tangible solutions.

    It can be done. It has been done.

    The world needs to watch out for Nancy, Gertrude and all the other girls-turned-women who said no.

    In the meantime, watch this community's journey here:




     

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    Tyler Perry
    was on a roll yesterday.

    Not long after the 41 year-old filmmaker set a jam packed press conference ablaze -- with his no-holds-barred comments about Spike Lee's criticism -- at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, he and his movie studio partner, Lionsgate,literally rolled out the red carpet for the premiere of his newest movie, 'Madea's Big Happy Family,' which arrives in theaters Friday.

    "If you are expecting Shakespeare in the Park, you are in the wrong place," Perry -- who portrays the scripture-dismantling, pistol-packing title character -- announced to a near capacity audience at Hollywood's Archlight Cinemas Cinemara Dome just before screening the near two-hour flick.

    'Happy Family,' which also stars Loretta Devine, Cassi Davis, Bow Wow, Isaiah Mustafa, Lauren London and David and Tamela Mann, marks Perry's 11th movie to be released in a span of six years. For that fact alone, the New Orleans native proves to be a force to be reckoned with in and aroiund Tinseltown. And while some of the old Hollywood guard continues to act like they don't want to get with the program, a nice sampling of entertainment's new regime came out to support the former homeless playwright turned movie-making maverick, and what could be his latest blockbuster.

    Below are pics of who showed up to take in the sites.


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    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Writer/producer/director/actor Tyler Perry arrives at a screening of Lionsgate Films' "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" at the Cinerama Dome Theater on April 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Actress Teyana Taylor arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Actor Craig Robinson arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Natalie Desselle Reid at Lionsgate Premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Singer Mario arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Tania Dawn and Isaiah Mustafa at Lionsgate Premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Actress Keke Palmer arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Actor Lance Gross arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Actress Tamala Jones arrives at the Lionsgate premiere of "Madea's Big Happy Family" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

    Isaiah Mustafa and Shannon Kane arrive to "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" Los Angeles Premiere at The Dome at Arclight Hollywood on April 19, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

    On The Scene: Madeas Big Happy Family

     

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  • 04/20/11--17:19: The Kitchen, Remixed
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    What does a kitchen look like in 2011? That's up to you. For the sake of spicing up life with some variety, we recommend mixing things up in the kitchen.

    Try a Different Kind of Island
    For starters, ShelterPop recommends experimenting with nontraditional kitchen islands. Before you invest in an expensive, custom-built kitchen island, you may want to consider these creative possibilities.

    Here are some suggestions:

    Rolling Cart
    There are lots of inexpensive microwave and beverage carts on the market, and if you're looking for something on the smaller side, a tiny cart is just what you need! Plus, most of them are on wheels so they can move around the kitchen with you as you perform your tasks.

    A Desk
    Maybe you just upgraded your office furniture or found a great vintage desk at a garage sale. If you're crafty, I bet you could come up with something creative, like adding a beadboard to the front and lumber to the top.

    A Dining Table
    Although the table might be a little lower than your standard kitchen island, a solid wood table acts like a butcher block and takes a pretty decent beating. If you don't mind bending over a little, you can slap some cute mismatched chairs around it, or try adding a bench to one end and use the other end for rolling dough or chopping onions.

    A Bookshelf
    If you're mostly looking for more storage, try a bookshelf. It's a great place to stash the cookbooks, mixing bowls and dishtowels if you have limited counter or cabinet space. You can also use two bookshelves as table legsand add a counter top.


    Technicolor Countertops
    So long, neutrals! Color is making a comeback in the kitchen, and countertops are leading the charge. To add a quick pop to any modern kitchen, ShelterPop recommends playing with colors.

    For anyone renovating a kitchen, choosing a kitchen countertop has been as easy as deciding which neutral you'd go with: crisp white marble, slick black or gray granite, maybe tan Corian. But kitchen countertops are getting a major makeover. Think: fiery reds, soothing aquas -- In other words, color.

    It's easy to see why these counters, like Red Dragon, are so alluring -- they can brighten up the dullest of kitchens -- but kitchen designer Stephanie Pritchard says to think it through before settling on something so bold. "Color is great, but it has to be in the right home or setting," she says. Still, it's an exciting development in kitchen countertops, especially since designs needed some shaking up.

    If you do live in a colorful setting or just fancy yourself a home design risk taker, we say go for it! Joining the ranks of other colorful trends like red refrigerators and cobalt blue dishwashers, many of these punchy possibilities are also made from eco-friendly materials, making them stylish and smart. Check out ShelterPop to see some favorites.


    Sprucing Up With Wine Storage

    Wine isn't only good for drinking. Here are a few budget-friendly ways for using your bottles as a design element. Substance, meet style.

    Many wine lovers have gotten pretty creative when it comes to storing their bottles. One of the quirkiest ideas we've found is this Mailing Tube Wine Rack project from ReadyMade magazine.

    The tubes were cut to fit the space and carefully layered under a shelf to ensure maximum support. While it may not be the most attractive options, we give the genius behind this idea props for making use of such a mundane material.

    See ShelterPop for some other tips and tricks, like how to use stainless steel rods or vertical wine rack.

     

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    music group posing

    The six-time Grammy award winning group Black Eyed Peas has set plans to help thousands of teens in New York City. They recently announced they would be opening the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices music and multimedia academy for students aged 13-19 in New York City.The Black Eyed Peas' organization The Peabody Foundation along with the Adobe Foundation, created by the owners of the Adobe software brands, has already opened three academies in California. The newest academy is set to open this July in New York City's Lower East Side in a facility operated by Urban Arts Partnership, which runs after-school arts programs for teens attending under-served schools. Students will be accepted based on teacher recommendations, and their interest in the music industry, learning video and music production.

    "Our passion for music and media was fueled by many generous people on our road to success," said Will.i.am. "Expanding the network of Peapod Adobe Youth Voices academies enables us to pay it forward, giving more youth the skills and encouragement they need to realize their dreams."

     

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  • 04/21/11--04:29: Trend Alert: Rosette Shoes
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    Spring is here and the flowers are starting to bloom. You can get in the mood for the warmer weather and flowers by adorning your feet with pretty rosettes.


     

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    Tyra Banks recently launched Type F, her new fashion website with former 'Vogue' editor-at-large, André Leon Talley. The site includes a web series called 'Fa-Fa-Fashion,' in which the two offer the scoop on fashion basics and trends. The latest installment features a breakdown on stilettos, and even though Tyra's arithmetic skills are a little off (see 1.45), she does succeed in giving practical advice.

    Some tips we learned:
    - Platform heels are your friend, because the extra support lowers the heel height making the shoes easier to walk in.
    - Scour the bottom of your heels with a scissor to make them slip proof.
    - Walk with straight legs in heels for better posture.
    - Spraying hair spray inside your heels help you grip better.
    - Fashion is pain.

    The Stiletto -- powered by TYPEF.COM

     

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    Gerard Smith, TV On The Radio bassist died


    After losing a battle against lung cancer, TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith, 36, died Wednesday morning (April 20), according to an announcement on the band's Website.

    "We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer," reads the band's statement. "Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly."

    Smith's death comes about five weeks after the band released a statement that he was diagnosed with cancer and would not be able to participate in the group's recent tour. He had been a member of TV On The Radio since 2005. The band's new album, 'Nine Types of Light,' and a feature-length film that included music videos for each of the disc's 10 songs were released last week to largely favorable reviews.

    The band also announced that shows from April 20-26 scheduled in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver have been canceled.

     

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    Danroy Henry's Parent Sue Officer Who Killed Son

    On Wednesday, Danroy Henry Sr. (pictured left) and Angella Henry (pictured right with children) officially filed their lawsuit against policeman Aaron Hess for shooting and killing their son, Danroy Henry Jr., in Thornwood, N.Y.

    At the press conference, Henry Sr. said:


    "Our son was wrongfully killed. The pain of losing our son so suddenly is insatiable and not only has his absence changed us forever, but his suffering will always haunt us as well."

    The Henrys contend that Hess violated their son's civil and constitutional rights and look to be compensated for Danroy's death as well as their suffering. Danroy was a junior studying business administration at Pace University. He was shot while he waited with friends outside a bar.

    Just last week, Officer Hess was awarded the "Policeman of the Year" award by his colleagues for his "dignity and professionalism" since Danroy's death.

    Yes, really.

    And back in February, a grand jury cleared Hess of any wrongdoing, so he wasn't indicted.

    Hess said that he was forced to shoot Danroy when he almost ran him over with his vehicle, while in the parking lot of Finnegan's Grille last October.

    In the lawsuit, the Henrys counter Hess' claim, saying "multiple witnesses" saw something other than what Hess described.

    According to the AP:

    They say Hess jumped in front of the car, "ascended" the hood and fired at their son for no good reason. They say he "steadied himself and fired four shots."

    The lawsuit makes them eligible to subpoena surveillance video and 911 recordings that they weren't allowed access before:

    "We don't know what's on them, but we think if that material was helpful to the other side they would have been released already," said Henry Sr.

    As I wrote last time
    , I hope the full truth comes out. One of my readers commented that I appear biased toward Henry's family in this case, but the truth is, we should all be asking for details and transparency when a young person loses their life in such a senseless way.

    And let's be real, police in this country have a history of being trigger happy when it comes to black youth.

    If Hess is honest in his testimony that he was indeed forced to shoot in order to protect his life, then let surveillance video prove and support that. If, however, Hess did do what onlookers say, deliberately firing in to Danroy's Nissan "for no good reason," then he should be penalized to the fullest extent of the law.

    And if this line of thinking makes me biased, then so be it.

     

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    By Jackie Calmes for The New York Times: PALO ALTO, Calif. -- He introduced himself as "the guy who got Mark Zuckerberg to wear a jacket and tie."

    "I'm very proud of that," President Obama quipped as he walked onto a stage at Facebook headquarters on Wednesday, and sat next to Mr. Zuckerberg. Both men then proceeded to take off their jackets. About an hour later, Mr. Obama, whose visit here forced Silicon Valley types to button down a bit, left with a far more casual item of clothing that has become de rigueur in some tech circles: a hoodie given to him by Mr. Zuckerberg. Of course, the Facebook logo was printed on it.

    In the interim, Mr. Obama conducted a town-hall-style meeting at Facebook, and on Facebook, in front of a largely friendly audience. He took questions from company employees in a cavernous room turned into auditorium and from Facebook users over the social networking service, with Mr. Zuckerberg acting as moderator.

    Mr. Obama delivered sharp attacks against Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin who drafted a budget proposal heavy on spending cuts and tax cuts, and talked about the economy, health care, education and immigration reform.

    Throughout the largely staged event, Mr. Obama and Mr. Zuckerberg appeared almost chummy with each other.

    At one point, Mr. Zuckerberg praised Mr. Obama for his work on education. "I think Race to the Top stuff that you guys have done is one of the most under-appreciated and most important things that your administration has done," Mr. Zuckerberg said.

    Read more at The New York Times

     

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    obese children

    From The Huffington Post: Forget the familiar A, B and C on your child's report card -- the new letters to look out for could be B, M and I.

    Sending students home with a "weight grade" has been a growing trend over the past few years, with several U.S. states adopting policies to list a BMI calculation on children's school report cards, often with exercise or nutrition tips to help parents keep kids on track. And now Malaysia has just passed a countrywide policy to include a BMI score at school alongside the typical academic marks.

    These weight report cards at school are the latest weapon in the fight against the growing obesity epidemic in children -- rates of high BMIs have tripled over the past three decades and close to one in three American children are now overweight or obese, sparking First Lady Michelle Obama to launch her Let's Move campaign.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    Gotham socialite and filmmaker Maggie Betts makes her directorial debut with the compelling new documentary, 'The Carrier,' which premieres tonight (Apr. 21) at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The story follows Mutinta, a young Zambian woman who's pregnant and in a legally polygamous marriage. When she discovers she's HIV positive, she sets out to keep her baby, and community, virus-free.
    Rebecca Carroll: One of the things that struck me most about Madonna's 2008 documentary, 'I Am Because We Are,' about children in Malawi with AIDS, was that there was absolutely no discussion whatsoever about practicing safe sex. Why is that?
    Maggie Betts: It's really hard to express an opinion about that issue, because the context is so different. The level of education I had when I was 12 is barely reaching people in rural [African] communities now. The one strong opinion that I do have, is that I truly believe that female empowerment and protecting the rights of women, and particularly HIV positive women, is one of the greatest opportunities we have to go at the pandemic in a new and probably more successful way. A lot of women in the film barely have any choice over who they sleep with, when they sleep with them, and if they get pregnant or not get pregnant. They are so conscientious about the spread of the virus, and I feel like if they were given more agency, it would make a great impact on how the disease is spread.

    RC: So if the women are super-conscientious of spreading the virus, what's the conversation?
    MB: The women don't want to infect other people, whereas men seem less concerned.

    RC: Which kind of resonates on a global level as well, right?
    MB: Yeah, and it's the same argument as if you said there would there be less wars if women ran the world.

    RC: Clearly, you are well known in NYC as a fashionista of sorts. What was it like filming in rural Africa day to day?
    MB: We stayed in a very bare bones, rudimentary hotel -- there's a toilet and electricity, but I would say that's the end of the amenities. We would get up super early, like 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning. You have to drive quite a ways to get where we were filming. It's absolutely gorgeous; I loved those rides, old dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. This particular family that we were shooting lived on a large maize farm, and we just kind of lived their life with them.




    RC: What did that look like?
    MB: They're subsistence farmers, so they get up really early and take care of their kids, farm, and usually by 1 or 2pm, when the sun is the highest, they take a break. For the women, you would not believe how filled up their days are with getting their children ready for school, sweeping up the property, farming, cooking, feeding themselves, doing laundry.

    RC: How about your hair? It's such a fundamental aspect of daily maintenance for black American women that I have to ask.
    MB: I usually wore it in a ponytail, and was just really concerned about keeping it up. I didn't care what it looked like.

    RC: How long did you shoot?
    MB: I spent four months total there. We shot two women, and this particular story just gradually emerged. Of those four months, the majority was with this family.

    RC: Have you been back?
    MB: It's hard because it takes 27 hours to get there. I want to try to go back this summer, and I became very close with the woman who served as our translator. We left a cell phone with the family, so the translator calls Mutinta, the lead character from the movie, and Mutinta tells her how she's doing and the translator emails that to me, and then I write a letter back and she reads it to Mutinta. That happens once a month. Mutinta is now mainly just interested in whether I've got a boyfriend yet.

    RC: Has Mutinta seen the film? Are you going to show it to her and her family?
    MB: No, she hasn't. I would like to show it to them, but they've never seen a movie in their lives, and so I don't know how it would be to process the sophistication of the editing. And there aren't that many facilities [in rural Zambia] to watch movies, even on television. But I want to figure it out and do it in a special way, and just be alone with her and watch it to see what she thinks. I think she'd like it, but it's also a totally different context. I think she would be pleased.

    RC: How did you describe it to her when you were talking about making the movie?
    MB: I told her that we were trying to tell a story in pictures, and it was going to be the story and effort to protect her baby from HIV. We just wanted her to be honest and open about what this was like, and then we would bring that back to our country and share that. And our hope is that people in our country would be moved to help people like her.




    RC: What struck you most about the filmmaking process?
    MB: Having never made a movie and going this far, it's almost like what didn't strike me about the process? I learned about things I cared about. I didn't know I had this deep, very visceral interest in women's rights. I learned what I value from [Mutinta]. I was filming, studying and obsessing over this person, and trying to figure out the larger themes that she represented so that I could communicate them to other people. I admire so many things about her. She taught me things that I value. I never felt it like that.

    RC: I often wonder about going to a place that is so far from your own experience, and seeing people and situations that are deeply compromised. Then coming home to America, which is so ridiculously over the top with resources.
    MB: I remember coming home after the first days of filming and crying, crying, crying over the variety of foods that were available within a two block radius on my street in the West Village. I could get pizza, Chinese food, Thai food, Japanese food, organic, raw and it definitely did seems so unfair.

    RC: It would be hard to compartmentalize my feelings once I got back home. I'd probably be thinking "Where is Mutinta today?" or "Why can't I bring her here?"
    MB: I said to her, do you have any idea of how many people have HIV in Africa? And she said "no clue." I told her it's about 25 to 28 million people, and she was shocked. I don't even know if she knew there were that many people in the world. The look on her face to know that there are that many people suffering is impossible for her to understand. I asked her if it made her feel comforted to know that she's not the only one, and she said, "No, because I'm one of those people."

    RC: And now you're headed to this film festival. You'll do a lot of press junkets and talk about this movie as if it's a commodity, essentially. How do you feel about that?
    MB: The movie is about an idea, the idea of the possibility of seeing an HIV free population in the next 10 or 15 years, and however I can sell that idea to people to make believe in that, is worth the effort for me.

    Here's a trailer of 'The Carrier' -- check it.

     

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    7-Year-Old Gets Handcuffed at School After Easter Egg Tantrum

    Straight out of the WTF files, 7-year-old student Joseph Anderson (pictured) is traumatized because he was handcuffed at his school, thrown in to an ambulance and then sent to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation. When Joseph, a special education student who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, didn't like the color of an egg he was painting, he became upset.

    School staff reportedly told him to calm down, but Joseph allegedly jumped on to one of the tables and continued his tantrum. Here, the story gets murky: Joseph says he repeatedly said, "I just want my Mommy," but an unnamed source said the little boy was waving scissors and cursing.

    Either way, by the time Joseph's mother, Jessica Anderson, arrived at Queens elementary school P.S. 153 from her job in Manhattan, her son had already been forcibly transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where she then learned from a nurse that her child had been handcuffed:

    "I was crying. I broke down," she said. "They know that my son is [in] special ed. It's like they're trying to get rid of him, and it worked because I'm not sending him back there."

    Describing her son's state, Anderson said:

    "He was crying and saying, 'I want Mommy.' Why handcuff him? Why get the cops involved? He's only 7."

    Ever since the incident, Joseph, who is speech delayed and is said to have emotional problems, haphazardly wets his pants and cries if he sees or hears an ambulance or the police:

    "If he hears an ambulance, he runs under the bed and screams, 'They're going to get me,'" said the single Mom. "He's really traumatized. I don't let him watch the news anymore, because if he sees cops, he cries."

    Still, City Education Department Spokeswoman Marge Feinberg maintains they made the right decision to cuff the kindergartener:

    "The school tried to defuse the situation and then called for outside assistance when there was a concern the child would harm himself or others."

    And the NYPD had this to say:

    "[Joseph was] acting in a threatening manner."

    But all I can think about are those pairs of plastic scissors my children use and have brought home from school -- you couldn't cut yourself with those scissors even if you tried.

    I completely understand that kids have gotten out of hand in schools. What with the Columbine shootings, adolescent tantrums aren't what they used to be. Now, instead of just practicing fire drills, my children also practice "Intruder Drills" with their peers to protect against emotionally dysfunctional shooters.

    But we are talking about a 7-year-old, who even if he brandished a plastic, blunted-edge scissor, only broke down and begged for his mommy.

    If I were Anderson, I would sue. I would sue until each adult present and the policemen who actually handcuffed him were penniless. What? We really can't restrain a single-digit child anymore? As if he needed restraining. He sounds like he just needed some quiet time with the school counselor so that he could explain how he was feeling and discuss better behavior for next time.

    After all, isn't he in special ed? Doesn't the school have people on staff -- if not within the classroom -- to deal with children who have special needs?

    Or are they just getting this little black boy ready for a life of prison? You tell me.

    Because last time I checked, we were supposed to support and build up our children, not treat them like hardened criminals who have hurt somebody.

    If Joseph were mine, I'd surely get him therapy, but on my own, when he got scared, I would hold him in my arms and kiss him tenderly until his worries slipped away. I'd look him in those big brown eyes and tell him each day that he is precious ... and loved ... and safe. And then I'd remind him that he is going to be somebody great one day.


     

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    By Trymaine Lee for The Huffington Post: Party insiders say the Democratic National Committee awards few contracts to companies controlled by racial minority groups, despite repeated pledges to increase business to such firms.

    Instead, Democratic leaders claim progress by leaning on a broader definition of "minority contractors" that includes white women, the disabled and the gay community, according to internal memos and emails obtained by The Huffington Post and corroborated by those insiders.

    The apparent dearth of contracts has fueled frustration and criticism, mostly from African American Democratic loyalists who accuse the party of failing to use its institutional finances to advance the cause of fair racial representation in the lucrative business of politics.

    "There is no more loyal group of voters to the DNC than black people, and yet they have done nothing to ensure that that constituency is able to participate fully in the economic benefits of party business," said a DNC member who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    DNC leaders say while they take such concerns seriously, having launched a broad review of the committee's hiring practices, they have been and remain committed to diversity, as does the broader party.

    "I appreciate that some folks may think the party has some serious challenges in this regard," said Patrick Gaspard, who was recently appointed the executive director of the DNC, "and one can, in all these kinds of instances, work hard to be more inclusive to make absolute certain and to make sure that the Democratic Party has as big a tent as possible.

    "At the same time," he continued, "I say clearly, loudly and vociferously that there's a commitment that is ongoing. That commitment did not just begin today."

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    Earlier this year it was announced that Oscar Award-winner Jamie Foxx signed on in association with his FoxxKing Entertainment to executive produce the music documentary, 'Thunder Soul.'

    Directed by Mark Landsman, the docu-pic follows the alumni from Houston's acclaimed 1970's Kashmere High School Stage Band as they regroup 35 years later for a tribute concert in honor of their band leader, Conrad "Prof" Johnson. The 92-year-old was responsible for breaking the color barrier and transforming the school's struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s.

    Since its 2010 debut at the SXSW Film Festival, the film has scored multiple accolades and nominations from various independent film festivals, including 'Best Documentary Feature' at the 2010 Indie Memphis Film Festival.

    "I can't wait to share 'Thunder Soul' with the world so that everyone can enjoy this one of a kind experience," Foxx told 'The Hollywood Reporter' in February. "It's such an entertaining and inspirational story that touches your soul and awakens the human spirit in the way that only love and the power of music can."

    Below check out an exclusive look at the 'Thunder Soul' trailer before it hits theaters this weekend during the opening of 'Madea's Big Happy Family.'



    'Thunder Soul' hits theaters this September.

     

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    It's common to have a love-hate relationship with black hair because, although it's unique and can be styled a million and one ways, it's high maintenance. It needs great care when dry and it becomes especially fragile when it meets up with water. But don't let H2O ruin your beach vacation or Sunday afternoon swim class with your kids. Here are some tips.


    Wear a Swim Cap

    Yes, you probably wore one when you were about nine years old but, if "it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sometimes the simplest things are the best solutions. A fitted silicon cap will do the trick for keeping your hair relatively dry if you want to take a quick dip. If you're worried the cap will make you lose your sexy, see the next tip.


    Wet Your Hair Before

    It seems counterproductive, but if you wet your hair before going in chlorine water it will absorb less of the chemical. Chlorine can break down the bonds of natural and relaxed hair, which sounds just about as gnarly as it is, so if a swim cap isn't your fancy, wet your hair before you hit the pool and you're hair won't suffer as much damage.


    Do Double Duty

    If you're OK with wearing a swim cap, but are worried it's not going to thoroughly protect your hair, you can apply a thick conditioner in your hair before you put the cap on. Or, alternately, you can wear a head scarf or saran wrap under your swim cap. You're hair should look pretty much the same as it's prior state once you get out of the water.


    Braid It Up

    If you are a good braider, you can plait your hair before you step into the water and you're hair will at least remain neat. When rinse you hair, you'll have a nice braid out.

    Sit Pretty

    If you're not fond of messing up your hairstyle or taking the necessary precautions to protect it, you can always just enjoy the scenery. At the beach you can set up your spot with a towel, umbrella, crack a good book and your hair will almost certainly be protected. Watch the incoming tide, but otherwise, all good.

     

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    Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon are awaiting the arrival of their twins, and the couple has already begun prepping their Bel Air, California estate and New York City home for the babies. Carey reportedly hired world-famous interior decorators to design a cozy spaces for the twins and reportedly spent $100,000 on the designs.

    "I wanted to create a beautiful, tranquil, cozy environment for the babies. Everything matches, but pieces are individualized to celebrate the twins as separate entities," Mariah Carey reported to 'Life & Style' magazine in the latest issue on now on newsstands.

    Mario Buatta designed the New York City nursery and the California nursery was designed by Gail Sedigh of AFK Furniture. It has orangey-pink clouds in a blue sky with golden stars based on two songs Carey wrote, 'Underneath the Stars' and 'Close My Eyes.'

    "Sometimes I just sit in the nursery and stare at the ceiling because I love it so much. To me, it symbolizes wanting my children to dream as big as possible and to let their imaginations be unbridled," she told 'Life & Style'.

    The platinum nursery will give the babies a fresh start into lives of luxury but Carey said "it's going to be a delicate balance between raising them around glitz and glamour and keeping them grounded. One thing I'm sure of is that I'll be grateful for the twins every day, no matter what."

     

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    Living the life of a rap star can be a bit troublesome for some artists due to their criminal history. Unfortunately for The Game (born Jayceon Taylor), his known affiliation with the Bloods street gang has cost him to lose any future job opportunities in Canada, at least for now.

    On Wednesday the Compton native was detained by Canadian customs as he was en route from Los Angeles to Nova Scotia during a tour stop at the Halifax Forum.

    According to TMZ, a rep for the promotion company behind the rapper's tour revealed that the promoter received a call from Canadian Customs stating that Taylor would be denied entry into the country upon arrival due to "new information received that Game is affiliated with organized crime and is an active member of the Bloods street gang."

    Apparently the 'Hate It or Love It' MC was unaware of Canada's newly enforced stipulations as the rep claims that concert organizers had secured and approved all permits and approval for the rapper's entrance into the country.

    As many would assume, the unforeseen news forced Taylor to cancel his April 20 show. Upon being detained he took to Twitter to alert fans of the bad news.

    "This just in: I'm being detained in Canada for 14 days until they process my inadmissibility, then I'll have a hearing heard by a judge," he tweeted. "At that point the judge will decide to either deport me or give me a sentence for violating Canada's immigrant entry laws. F**ked up situation!!! But at least they let me call home, & tweet before they lock a n**ga up!!!"

    Interesting.

     

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    On Thursday, President Barack Obama opened his High School Commencement Challenge up to the masses: the public can help select which high school the President should visit for commencement.

    In the running are Wayne Early/Middle College High School of Goldsboro, North Carolina; Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Science Park High (pictured) of Newark, New Jersey; Bridgeport High School of Bridgeport, Washington; High Tech High International of San Diego, California; and Booker T. Washington High School of Memphis, Tennessee.

    On the White House's site, each school is profiled with an essay and a three-minute video that shows why they should be the school of choice for President Obama. In their video, Booker T. Washington High draws on inspirational quotes from their namesake and boasts a more than 22 percent increase in graduation rates for 2010.

    Watch their moving pitch here:



    High Tech High tauts diversity, project-based learning and a 99 percent higher-education attendance rate as the reason why the President should come to their school.

    Take a glimpse here:





    Viewers can vote on their favorite school by clicking a button that ranks the school from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. On April 29th, three of the top schools will be given to the President for consideration and then he'll make the final decision on where he goes on commencement day.

    You can watch the other schools and vote here.

     

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    This week stars came out for the Tribeca Film Festival, the premiere of 'Madea's Big Happy Family,' the Children's Defense Fund benefit and more, looking their fancy best.
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  • 04/22/11--06:25: Fair Vote, Fragile Future

  • By Dele Olojede for The New York Times: Lagos, Nigeria LAST weekend, we trooped to the polls on street corners and under almond trees in this rough and ready city of 10 million to elect a new president. Everything seemed orderly and peaceful and oddly celebratory. This time, unusually, we even believed our votes would count.

    The results that trickled in suggested that Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded Umaru Yar'Adua upon his death in 2010, had been elected our president. And with that, we Nigerians quietly reached an encouraging but little-noticed milestone: we've held four elections at four-year intervals, and in the process passed power to three different presidents without a soldier's rifle pointed at anyone's head.

    We still have trouble counting votes accurately, but nobody's perfect. We take comfort that even in America, chads occasionally hang and the Supreme Court hands down Solomonic judgments.

    While our democracy remains rickety and our ruling elites remain unable to distinguish between public funds and private purposes, we take these baby steps as a sign that we will eventually get it right.

    Mr. Jonathan, with nearly 60 percent of the votes declared in his favor, appears to have persuaded at least a plurality of Nigerians, as well as most external election monitors, that his victory is legitimate.

    But Mr. Jonathan does have a big problem: a lack of support in the country's north. Whether he is able to manage it will determine if Nigeria succeeds in becoming Africa's economic and political heart, as its size and resources would suggest. Indeed, the rest of Africa will probably never fulfill its potential with a dysfunctional Nigeria. Nor can the United States, which gets more than 10 percent of its oil imports from Nigeria, afford disarray here at a time of upheaval in the Middle East.

    Read more at The New York Times

     

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