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

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    Water changes health, education, food security, the lives of women and children. The more people we at charity: water meet in the field, the more we realize how much water touches every part of a person's life.
    Things you wouldn't even think about when you've had clean water your whole life, like time spent collecting water. Women and children in developing countries spend about three hours a day walking to collect drinking water, usually from sources that can make them sick. In Africa alone, people spend up to 40 billion hours just walking for water -- that's time they can't spend working, studying or taking care of their families.

    We're a water organization. We're constantly talking about the water crisis and asking others to join our fight against it. On Earth Day, there can be some confusion -- by water crisis, do we mean our depleting water sources? Are we advocating water conservation?

    The answer is no. We know that's certainly a problem, but our sights are set elsewhere. We're focused on helping the nearly one billion people who live without access to clean drinking water.

    It's a crisis because it only starts with water. But when you're living without access to life's most basic need, you know that water changes everything.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    With nineteen seconds left during Game 2 of the Knicks-Celtics, with the Knicks up by one during a timeout, we turned to a friend we were watching the game with and said, "God, can you imagine how nuts the Garden will be if this series is 1-1?"

    He scolded us: "That's exactly what I said with twelve seconds left [in Game 1]. And I jinxed them. You just did the same thing." The Garden will be a madhouse tonight, but it will be tinged with legitimate fear: A loss tonight, and Game 4 won't have nearly the same buzz. The Knicks have learned a lot about themselves in the first two games, and they've impressed plenty of people. Now it would be helpful to go about the dirty business of winning an actual game.

    Certainly, it is not ideal for a team playing its first home playoff game in seven years to be so riddled with injuries - particularly considering how healthy the Knicks were coming into the playoffs - but them's the breaks. Chauncey Billups is looking increasingly unlikely to play, and Amar'e Stoudemire sat out yesterday's practice with his back issues. (He was at the team shootaround this morning.) The Knicks are not near 100 percent. And they weren't expected to put up too much of a fight in this series even when they were 100 percent.

    But a series does not take place in a vacuum, which is good, because otherwise everyone's hair would look all weird when each game was over. The Celtics' weaknesses have been apparent this series -- it's unlikely the Heat are feeling particularly worried right now, no matter what happens here -- and the Knicks, despite the two losses, still are more confident (and seemingly less desperate) than any team down 2-0 should be. The losses in Boston were tough to take, but they were certainly not demoralizing: The Knicks could very well be up 2-0 in this series. This does not seem like an impossible task.

    Read more at New York Magazine

     

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    You know you're dying to see Chris Rock in his broadway debut, 'The Motherf**ker with the Hat -- cursing and cussing and being, well, Chris Rock. That said, early reviews indicate a solid performance, and Rock is on Friday's Oprah, so he must be doing something right.

    It's at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre at 236 W. 45th St. in New York. Call 212-239-6200 for tickets.

     

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    If it weren't for slavery, Kimberly Daniels might be somewhere in Africa, worshipping a tree. That's according to Daniels herself, a city council candidate in Jacksonville, Florida and a longtime minister who's taking heat after video clip of her controversial sermons was posted online.

    Daniels, a Democrat running for a seat on the Jacksonville City Council in a runoff election May 17, has spoken openly about her past, which she says includes prostitution and drugs. But she only gained national attention after Truth Wins Out, a liberal group that fights anti-LGBT bias, posted a portion of one of her sermons online in which she made controversial remarks about slavery and Jewish people.


    "I thank God for slavery," she says on the Truth Wins Out video during one sermon. "I thank God for the crack house. If it wasn't for the crack house, God wouldn't use me the way he is using me. And if it wasn't for slavery, I might be somewhere in Africa worshiping a tree." In another clip, the bombastic candidate addresses Jewish people. "You can talk about the Holocaust, but the Jews own everything," she says.

    The video is edited, however, and Daniels says the remarks on Jewish people were taken out of context. "It was meant to be positive. Because the Bible says God blesses those who blessed Israel," she told Fox30/Jax.com. Daniels could not be reached for comment today.

    But Truth Wins Out says that response isn't good enough. "There is nothing she can say that would erase and change what she has said about Jewish and gay people," Wayne Besen, the group's executive director, told First Coast News. "She has no excuse," he said, "When you say things like that, you need to step down."

    African American Ministers in Action, a liberal network of clergy affiliated with People for the American Way, asked voters not to show support for Daniels. "At African American Ministers in Action, our hope is that Americans will always have the opportunity to elect public officials who stand for respect and liberty, fairness and equality, and treat all people with the dignity that they deserve," Leslie Watson Malachi, the group's director, said in a statement. "We are disheartened by the advancement of a candidate who has instead chosen to be a voice of fear and intolerance. The people of Jacksonville deserve better."

    Daniels' challenger, Republican David Taylor, could not be reached for comment.

     

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    Mom of Dead 'Lion King' Child Star Shannon Tavarez Continues to Raise Awareness

    Last summer, BlackVoices.com covered the plight of "Lion King" starlet Shannon Tavarez (pictured), who found out last April that she had an aggressive form of leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia.

    The 11-year-old desperately needed a bone marrow match in order to fight the disease. 50 Cent and Rihanna were just some of the high-powered celebs to help Tavarez find her bone marrow match.

    Still, Tavarez, who received an umbilical cord transplant in place of the bone marrow transplant, died last November to the astonishment of many.

    She never did find her bone marrow match.

    On Thursday, Tavarez's mother, Odiney Brown, went to her alma mater, Howard University, in order to continue to raise awareness for the need of more African Americans to join the bone marrow registry. "Shannon's illness caught us completely off guard," Brown, 39, said as she encouraged Howard students to sign up for the registry. "What we found last year was that there just wasn't the awareness in our community as there could have been, and I think that has really impacted the number of available black and Latino potential donors."

    Even though there are more than 9 million bone marrow donors in the National Bone Marrow Program (NBMP), only 650,000 of them (or 7 percent) are black, and it is more difficult for us to find bone marrow matches than anyone else.

    According to the NBMP:

    "[African Americans], whose ancestors migrated from Africa, are 50 percent more genetically diverse than those with European - American heritage."

    With her Shannon's S.H.A.R.E. foundation, Brown is raising awareness about the disease and providing financial assistance to families:

    "The last thing that you think about sometimes when you have a sick child is keeping up with the bills."

    Brown also hopes to keep her daughter's legacy alive:

    "We just wanted to do something that honored her strength, the strength she showed while she was going through her illness," Brown said. "Even when she was in the hospital, she thought about the other children a lot, and she wanted to make sure that they were okay."

    Suprisingly, joining the bone marrow registry is very easy. Participants need only swab their mouths in four places in order to join. Still, a misconception exists that being a donor is in some way uncomfortable:

    "A lot of people think it's painful, you have to give blood or that there's some kind of marrow test," said Brown.

    To become a bone marrow donor yourself, register at Bethematch.org and they will send you a kit to swab the inside of your cheeks. Will you?

    Watch Tavarez when she was alive here:

     

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    Is there room for a Latino American museum on the National Mall? That is the question being asked as the Smithsonian Institution mulls the creation of a separate museum to celebrate the history and achievements of Latino Americans, less than a decade after the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian and four years before the not-yet-built museum of African American history on the National Mall.

    Advocates of a Smithsonian Latino museum say it would finally honor the contributions of Latino Americans to the United States - contributions that are as old as the country itself, but have been conspicuously underplayed in the country's museums and on the National Mall, largely invisible. But supporters also admit they are expecting an uphill battle to prove the museum's relevance in a political environment often openly hostile toward Latino Americans.

    "It's going to be ugly," Ronald Mize, Latino Studies and sociology professor at Cornell University, said in a phone interview today. "I fully expect that once this gets into the political debate we will see all the ugliness of anti-immigrant discourse here. It's one of the greatest obstacles we'll have to overcome and probably serves as an example of why we need the museum in the first place."

    A federal commission created two years ago to explore what a Latino American museum would look like is scheduled to present its plan to Congress and President Obama on May 5. And already, critics have begun to voice skepticism about whether the Smithsonian should build another ethnic museum.

    "I don't want a situation," Representative Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, told 'The New York Times' this week, "where whites go to the original museum, African Americans go to the African American museum, Indians go to the Indian museum, Hispanics go to the Latino American museum. That's not America." The 'Times,' which first reported the story Thursday, noted that the museum has support from some members of Congress as well as celebrities such as actress Eva Longoria. But some say it will need widespread political support to be built.




    Members of the commission, known as the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, declined to speak publicly about their plan before it's unveiled next month, but said they expect much of the funding for the museum to be raised privately.

    Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, a history professor emerita at Brooklyn College and the author of 'From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City,' said she expected fundraising to be the most difficult challenge for the museum. "I'm expecting a budget battle," Sanchez-Korroll said today. "It's curious, because when it comes down to Latino issues it's always a matter of budget. This funding has to be found."

    Sanchez-Korrol said the museum is a matter of correcting the record - that the experiences of Latinos don't run parallel to American history, but are entwined with it instead. "The point is not that it is a separate history. The point is that this is a part of American history," she said.

    Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, a history professor at the University of Texas, said the best-case scenario is that the ethnic museums being built on the National Mall will one day become something of the past. "If they are built properly - if they show the absolute entanglement of the history of these people to mainstream America - they will have to become obsolete," he said. "But that's only if they do their job well."

    The National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open in 2015, has been generations in the making and suffered years of setbacks commission members say they are doing their best to avoid. But Mize said that painful, ongoing process should serve as a warning. "The longstanding fight to get an African American presence on the Mall should tell us that this could be a battle," he said. "As Latinos, we need to be cognizant that that could be our history too."

    Estuardo Rodriguez, a lobbyist with the Raben Group who is working with the commission, said the museum is worth the fight. "A museum like this really would change things for Hispanic Americans. It tells the rest of the country that our story is the American story," he said. "And my hope is that the museum isn't just full of Hispanic Americans, but that it's full of all Americans who want to learn more and push back against the negative stereotypes you hear when it's election season and politicians need a punching bag."

     

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    From The Huffington Post: On March 29, Texas-based anti-abortion group Life Always launched a billboard campaign on the South Side of Chicago that features a picture of President Obama's face alongside the words, "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted." Less than a week after the 30 billboards went up, community members covered most of them with fabric banners that featured angry messages written in red paint.


    "There is no place for those billboards in the discourse," Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, told HuffPost. "They were offensive because they focused on African American women and their wombs being somehow dangerous, and they raised major concerns in our community. The really underhanded attack on the president was also seen as being unfounded and unfair."

    Rev. Derek McCoy, the public face of the Life Always billboard campaign, has not been deterred by the outcry. He said Life Always is planning on expanding its black-targeted anti-abortion campaign into new cities, including Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. He is confused by the African American community's outrage.

    "I know I've punched my African American card, so to speak, so when folks tell me, 'Hey, this is a racist plot,' I think that's absolutely ludicrous," said McCoy, an outspoken Maryland pastor who sits on the board of directors at Life Always. "I'm not sold out to any particular party in terms of Democrat or Republican -- matter of fact, I'm Independent. But if I take a step back and look at this issue objectively and say, where are the majority of their abortion clinics? They're in urban and African American communities, hands down."

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

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    Tyler Perry is up and ready to roll on a sunny California day as he knocks out a battery of media chores for his latest movie, 'Madea's Big Happy Family,' at Beverly Hills' posh Four Seasons hotel.

    A crack team of handlers -- consisting of image makers and secret-service-like security detail -- are at his beck and call as journalists and media personalities are ushered in and out of his interview chamber.

    At first glance, he seems to be in good spirits. He should be. His money making alter-ego Mabel "Madea" Simmons is in rare form in his latest flick, a critic-proof comedy romp that will surely continue his winning streak at box office dominance.

    In true form, Mr. Perry (as some young studio staffers are commanded to refer to him) is ready to throw his interviewers through a loop when out of nowhere the loud and ornery voice of Madea appears to be yelling out catch-phrases a mile a minute -- thanks to a handheld device he has that threatens to "punch the hell out of you" with the push of a button.

    "I wanted to bring her with me," he joked. "So ask her anything you want."


    A direct question about his "formula" seems to catch Perry a little off guard. Eleven movies released in six years and grossing nearly $500 million, combined, at the North American box office is something no other director -- black or white -- has accomplished.

    "The formula?," he pondered. "I never thought much about the formula as much as I'm a workaholic. I like to work. I like to be busy. I like to keep moving and as long as I'm giving people what they want, then I'm in a good position. And i think that's what makes it work. There's a huge audience that I've built long before I ever did a movie who are waiting for the next thing, so that's pretty exciting to me."And a cottage industry he has become; From clever celebrity stunt casting in the films, to the sold-out, national tours of his stage plays, and the two top-rated TV sitcoms, Perry rules the roost in a niche he literally carved out for himself.

    "I noticed it on the road," he revealed. "There were thousands and thousands of people packing theaters to see the live shows. And it was sold out everywhere and I was trying to find a way to reach more people. So I thought film is the way to go. Because what people want, they want positivity, they want to be uplifted and they want to be encouraged. No matter what color you are, you want to laugh a little to help get through your days. So I think that's what's happening here. And I think that's what Madea does so well."

    Tyler Perry talks Madea

    Of the near dozen movies Perry has produced, the pistol-packing, pot smoking, bible verse-butchering, plus-sized senior citizen stars in and steals the show in six of them.

    To date, even with many mainstream movie critics panning them, flicks such as 'Madea Goes To Jail,' 'Madea's Family Reunion' and 'I Can Do Bad All By Myself,' has raked in unpredicted millions.

    In the beginning of it all, Perry said people kept referring to him as his alter ego, but once he started putting his name out there more, people got it.

    "I was having a battle with her in the beginning, but we're straight."

    And why does he think Madea is such a force of nature?

    "Everybody, I don't care who you are, somebody knows or had a grandmother like that -- who will set you straight, hit you on the backside when you were doing something wrong.

    "And that's what people can relate to because she's missed, she's not around anymore," he continued.

    Madea's Big Happy Family posterIn the new film, Madea jumps into action when her niece Shirley, played by veteran actress Loretta Devine, seeks to reunite and reconcile her three adult children after getting bad news about her health. Her children -- played by Bow Wow, Shannon Kane and Natalie Dessell -- are are having many family issues of their own. The flick also stars Cassi David, David Mann, Tamela Mann, Lauren London, Teyana Taylor, Rodney Perry and Isaiah Mustafa.

    "It's a different kind of storytelling," Perry explained. "I mean this is about family. The other stories that I've told is about relationships ... this is about family coming together, and finding out what's wrong, why can't [they] sit down, why can't [they]love one another. So it's a good, fun, inspirational movie."

    With all he's amassed over the past five years, it can be easy to lose sense of self. Not for Perry, who when asked about his sense of self, said "just understanding at 41, there is a God."

    "There is no way this could be happening without it," he continued. "And knowing that that kind of expression, that kind of love, that kind of faith dwells inside of me and makes the man I am. And as long as I stay true to that, that is who I am."

    'Madea's Big Happy Family' is in theaters now.





     

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    1 When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

    2 When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

    3 Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no "writer's lifestyle". All that matters is what you leave on the page.

    4 Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can't do aren't worth doing. Don't mask self-doubt with contempt.

    Read more at The Guardian

     

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  • 04/24/11--17:21: Super Groovy Wall Art Decals
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    Problem: Your walls are boring.

    Solution: Add a wall art decal.

    It's really that easy.

    Decals come in many shapes and sizes. The popularity of wall decals has increased exponentially since they first came on the scene a few years ago. Here are a few decal-centric ideas to help pull your white walls out of the doldrums.

    The Basics: How to Apply Wall Art Decals

    Decals are versatile, quick, mess-free and easy.

    These days the selection is endless, ranging from words to retro graphics to custom silhouettes. Vinyl decals don't leave any glue residue behind and most are removable, which is great for apartment dwellers!

    Sister site PopEater has a comprehensive set of detailed directions for successful decal application. Make sure to clean all surfaces, and make sure that it has been smoothed onto the wall bubble free.

    If you don't like it, don't worry. Most vinyl decals are removable. You can use a hair dryer to get it off the wall -- without damaging the surface.

    Say Something With Decals

    Decals don't just have to be pictures, according to ShelterPop. They come in letter and word cuts.

    Besides beautiful imagery, wall decals now come in the form of quotes and letters. A few companies even offer the option to create custom decals, so you can say whatever you want, however you want to say it!

    Twitter, statement tees and Facebook walls have allowed us to easily express our moods and what's on our minds. Why not articulate on your actual walls?


    Blik created the custom wall decal shown above, which looks more like wallpaper, and sites like Wall Candy Arts, Vinyl Silhouettes and Hu2 will do the same.

    Starch Fabric Decals

    Sister site DIY Life suggests using corn starch to paint a fabric onto your walls!

    Jessica at How About Orange made homemade starch, sketched out her plan, cut out fabric, then applied the homemade starch to the fabric (pictured right). She then applied the fabric to her door, smoothing out any air bubbles she encountered along the way.

    Jessica used double-stick tape to see how the fabric would first look arranged on her door. She advises that when taking the fabric off the wall, all you have to do is peel off the pieces and wipe off any leftover starch with a damp cloth.

    And On the Fancier Side ...

    For some more elaborate store-bought schemes, check out this PopShelter article. Though the plans require precision and many pieces, you'll find it worth your while when a scene from Donkey Kong winds up on your wall.

    Architect Scott Flora and food writer Jerinne Neils originally created the wall graphics for their home in Venice, California. Many of the colorful designs have a playful, cartoonish quality perfect for a child's bedroom. Think whimsical animals, storybook cityscapes, sci-fi robots and vintage video-game graphics.

    But silhouettes of furniture, chandeliers and china, vibrant flora and fauna, virtual bookshelves and abstract motifs could crop up in any room in need of visual flair.

     

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  • 04/24/11--17:33: The Dialogue of Art

  • I grew up in rural South Carolina, where my only access to visual art and culture was fashion magazines and cable television. I had a fascination with process -- the process of deconstructing the language of imagery, which led to me buying many fashion magazines and looking at advertisements and editorials for hours on end.

    I regularly tuned into MTV to record the music videos that most inspired me, and played them over and over again, until I could break the film down, frame by frame. Significant amounts of free time drove me to divide my visual universe into specific components, and I started to learn how the puzzle pieces fit together into coherent visual narratives. I began to engage with the way in which artists reconcile their outward expressions to themselves and the world.

    In 2006, I entered Morehouse College as a Sociology major, with the initial intention of pursuing a career as a public policy analyst to solve the social problems of the world. Somehow the artist within me had lost his way en route between high school and college. But I remember the exhibit that brought the artist back -- it was the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2008 installation, "Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe."

    That summer before my junior year, I moved to New York. It was a time when the art world was suffering the brunt of the economic crisis, and for the whole summer Chelsea looked like a ghost town. Galleries were closing and appointment only signs began appearing on door after door.

    At the time, there were 435 galleries in Chelsea's Art Gallery District. I made 500 copies of my resume and walked to every gallery in Chelsea until someone said yes. I ended up with three internships that summer, and learned information that continues to serve as source material for my vision moving forward. I took in the aesthetic value of the artist, art, fashion photography, design, architecture, and the urban landscape of New York City all at once, and learned even more so that every image and object is in dialogue with one another.

    I would see Diane von Furstenberg's branding in the public sphere and a Paul Sietsema show at the Museum of Modern Art, and began to see more similarities in these two worlds -- commerce and art -- than differences. Both were essentially spaces in which image-makers or artists decided to frame their visions.

    Since graduating from college, as I continue my journey through the art world, I look for venues, art and artists that are similarly experimental in the ways their aesthetics can be framed. There are many worlds and disciplines in dialogue with the art world, but at times they are not the spaces in which these dialogues can actively exist.

    Finding the space in which my ambitions about this dialogue can be realized and cultivated continues to be the most significant challenge. But it is a challenge of learning my niche and ultimately understanding the unique contributions I can make to the art world.

     

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    With Spring blossoming into season, the time has come for Hollywood to roll out its red carpet for this year's most anticipated films.

    Over the course of the next few months some of your most beloved stars including, Angela Bassett, Idris Elba, Paula Patton, Tyrese Gibson and others will attract thousands of moviegoers across the globe.

    Notable sequels such as 'X-Men - First Class,' 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' and 'The Hangover Part II' are already receiving a major buzz amongst film critics, not to mention the star-studded romantic comedy, 'Jumping the Broom.'

    We took a look at the stars of this year's blockbusters.

    Check it out.





     

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  • 04/24/11--21:11: Trend Alert: Polka Dots
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    If you think polka dots belong in the 1950s, you're sadly mistaken. Polka dots are totally 2011. Add a few modern polka dot pieces to your wardrobe and put your own new spin on an old classic.

     

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    Haiti's president-elect, Michel Martelly, known universally to his countrymen as "Sweet Micky," is - let's be delicate about this - a new kind of political figure.

    Wildly popular during his two-decade career as a singer, he was notorious for wearing a diaper during performances, for mooning his audiences and for gleefully leading his fans in obscene chants and taunts. Given that stage persona, Haitians barely batted an eye at revelations during this year's presidential campaign that Martelly used to snort cocaine and that several homes he owned in Florida were foreclosed on.

    But the "Sweet Micky" of yore was gone last week when he arrived in Washington for meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and international aid organizations. In his place was a spruced up president-elect, wrapped in a dark suit, sporting a sober tie and escorted by an entourage of thin-skinned advisers who bristled at questions about his past.

    Martelly wants to be taken seriously. And thank goodness.

    "Sometimes I feel like people don't give me credit - I didn't win the Lotto. There were 19 candidates, and I debated them and I beat them all," he said during a visit to The Post.

    If ever a country needed no-nonsense leadership, it's Haiti right now. And if ever a country has suffered from an onslaught of political calamity combined with cataclysmic disasters, it's Haiti for the last, well, pick your time period.

    Read more at The Washington Post

     

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    Gabrielle Union
    is an actress admired for both her talent and beauty. She's rocked a number of hairstyles throughout her career and worn several different weaves to add length and volume to her natural hair. But now she's going bold, and proudly showing off a weave-less look. Her latest twitter pics show her hair sans relaxer or weave. And though still bone-straight, Union's shoulder length tresses are all her own.

     

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    Which one to honor: Louisiana's best-known Confederate general or the African-Americans he was fighting for the right to keep enslaved?

    In the case of the open space between the Municipal Auditorium and North Rampart Street, many New Orleanians have long known it as Congo Square, but for more than 100 years its official name has been Beauregard Square, honoring Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

    That is likely to change this week.

    The City Council is expected to vote Thursday to officially rename the space, part of Louis Armstrong Park, as Congo Square, the way it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    An ordinance introduced by Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer would "rename and dedicate Beauregard Square to its formerly known and current widely used name of Congo Square in honor of the historical cultural gatherings of enslaved Africans and free people of color in this area under French, Spanish and American rule."

    According to widely accepted historical tradition, African-American slaves were allowed to gather on Sunday afternoons in an open field just outside the city, at a spot known by various names including Place Congo.


    Read more at Nola.com

     

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  • 04/25/11--08:51: Happy Birthday, Miss Ella!

  • Fun fact for jazz enthusiast and history music buffs, today marks the birthday of the late jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, born in 1917.

    Known as the "First Lady of Song," Fitzgerald was discovered by saxophonist Benny Carter who was leading the house band on the night she participated in Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1934. Soon after, her career would skyrocket.

    In 1938, she recorded a version of the Tin Pan Alley song "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" that went on to sell one million copies. Later, in 1946, Dizzy Gillespie hired Fitzgerald to be the vocalist in his band, where she was introduced to Norman Granz, the famous jazz manager and producer who started up the Jazz At The Philharmonic series.

    With Granz, Fitzgerald also recorded the infamous songbook series that would forever cement her legacy in music history. From Cole Porter to Duke Ellington, Fitzgerald dedicated whole albums to singing the work of the most celebrated songwriters of her time. The entire series - eight albums in all - was packaged by the Verve label in 1994 and reissued. It won the 1995 Grammy for Best Historical Recording. Fitzgerald also recorded two popular duet albums with Louis Armstrong, 1956's 'Ella and Louis' and 1957's 'Ella and Louis Again.'

    Fitzgerald passed away on June 15, 1996 in her Beverly Hills home. To this day, she is considered one of the most technically sound singers in jazz history. Her range was on par with that of opera singers, and her improvisation skills were admired by many of her instrument-playing peers. She won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums during her career.

    A personal favorite - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing George Gershwin's 'You Can't Take That Away From Me.' Enjoy.

     

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    By Stephanie Clifford for The New York Times: In one store, you're a Size 4, in another a Size 8, and in another a Size 10 - all without gaining an ounce.

    It's a familiar problem for many women, as standard sizing has never been very standard, ever since custom clothing gave way to ready-to-wear.

    So, baffled women carry armfuls of the same garment in different sizes into the dressing room. They order several sizes of the same shirt online, just to get the right fit.

    Now, a handful of companies are tackling the problem of sizes that are unreliable. Some are pushing more informative labels. Some are designing multiple versions of a garment to fit different body shapes. And one is offering full-body scans at shopping malls, telling a shopper what sizes she should try among the various brands.

    "For the consumer to go out and navigate which one do I match with is a huge challenge, and causes frustration and returns," said Tanya Shaw, an entrepreneur working on a fit system. "So many women tie their self-esteem to the size on the tag."

    As the American population has grown more diverse, sizes have become even less reliable. Over the years, many brands have changed measurements so that a woman who previously wore a 12 can now wear a 10 or an 8, a practice known as "vanity sizing."

    In men's clothes, the dimensions are usually stated in inches; women's clothing involves more guesswork.

    Take a woman with a 27-inch waist. In Marc Jacobs's high-end line, she is between an 8 and a 10. At Chico's, she is a triple 0. And that does not consider whether the garment fits in the hips and bust. (Let's not get into length; there is a reason most neighborhood dry cleaners also offer tailoring.)

    Read more at The New York Times

     

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    Following a tremendous amount of persuading and some negotiating with WEtv executives, Toni Braxton and her sisters (Trina, Tamar, Traci and Towanda) have signed their very own reality show, 'Braxton Family Values.'

    The series, which premiered on April 12, focuses on the many trials and tribulations faced by the Braxton family, including the 'Un-break My Heart' singer's much publicized financial woes and Traci's alcohol abuse.

    We recently caught up with Tamar, Toni and Trina to discuss the inspiration behind their show, how the women balance a hectic career with family, and how Toni parents her autistic son, Diesel.



    'Braxton Family Values' airs every Tuesday at 9pm on WEtv.

     

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    In January, Fortune released its annual "Best Companies to Work For" list. CNNMoney.com revisits this list by highlighting three of those ranking companies to pinpoint why included employers have "happy campers" or satisfied employees.


    CNNMoney profiles online footwear store Zappos, film production company DreamWorks Animation and nonprofit organization Teach for America, which ranks 82nd. Below, see why these companies stand out among the rest:

    Loyalty: Even with the recession, Zappos and DreamWorks made the decision to retain their staff rather than give in to layoffs. One of Zappos' mottos is "cut everything except people."

    Perks: Almost all the companies that made Fortune's list were generous when it came to the taking care of their employees. At Zappos, employees get free lunches and snacks, while DreamWorkers' staff get free dry cleaning and medical care.

    Flexibility: At Teach for America, staff is allowed to work from home irrespective of where they live.

    Here is the complete Fortune Top-10 list:

    1. SAS
    2. Boston Consulting Group
    3. Wegmans Food Markets
    4. Google
    5. NetApp
    6. Zappos
    7. Camden Property Trust
    8. Nugget Market
    9. Recreational Equipment
    10. DreamWorks Animation

    When you're looking for a job, it pays to do some research and get a sense of the work environment. In other words, if you find yourself interviewing at a particular company, just a little homework can enable you to interview them too.

    Beyond the health benefits a company offers, check to see whether loyalty, flexibility and perks are a part of the company culture. It can make all the difference.

     

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