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

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    From the Examiner:

    Professional NBA basketball player Shaquille O'Neal has been reported to be suffering from from a new health risk according to Yahoo news.

    Any Shaq fan will tell you that the big guy has had his share of health problems and injuries over the years, but this one was discovered by Shaq's girlfriend. It seems that Shaq's snoring has more to do with his health than just being exhausted. Shaq is suffering from sleep apnea.

    Shaq's girlfriend reality TV star Nikki"Hoopz" Alexander was so bothered by the 7'1 330 pound baller's snoring she asked hi to see a doctor and take part in a sleep apnea study.

    Read more here.


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    From USA Today

    Twenty years after breaking new ground at the Indianapolis 500, Willy T. Ribbs is preparing to set another precedent.

    And just as he did in becoming the race's first African-American driver in 1991, he's beginning at the grassroots level. Ribbs is back as the co-owner of a self-named, start-up Firestone Indy Lights team featuring Chase Austin, who aims to become the first black driver to qualify for Friday's Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    If that succeeds, expect Ribbs to use it as a springboard toward being the sport's first black regular team owner.

    "There's no secret I want to be a full-time IndyCar owner," said Ribbs, 56, who qualified 29th and completed five laps before a bent rod left him 32nd in a Lola/Buick co-owned by entertainer Bill Cosby.

    Read more here.


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  • 05/25/11--02:08: Storms Kill at Least 13 More
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    From the Wall Street Journal:

    Storms that moved through the central U.S. late Tuesday and early Wednesday left at least 13 people dead in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas.

    Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard on Wednesday said at least five people, including a young child, died in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. She didn't have further details.

    At least three people died as the storms hit Franklin and Johnson counties in Arkansas, state Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said. One person died after a tornado swept through the tiny western Arkansas community of Denning early Wednesday. Another person died in an area called Bethlehem, in Johnson County.

    Read more here.


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    From OK Magazine:

    Oh, what a night! Whether it was the Black Eyed Peas performing "Don't Stop the Party" or celebrity cameos of Brandy, Joey Lawrence and Sarah Palin, last night's finale of Dancing With the Stars did not disappoint! And oh, by the way, the winners were crowned, too! Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward and dancing partner Kym Johnson snagged the coveted prize, the ultimate win, the mirror ball trophy!

    After Hines and Kym performed the samba and he ran over to kiss his mom, perhaps that was an indication of the stellar night to come. Before earning a perfect 10, Carrie Ann Inaba said, "You learned how to lead in the dancing and you lead you partner out of an injury." Len Goodman added, "Dance is the product, what is so appealing about you is the packaging."

    Read more here.


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  • 05/25/11--04:44: Oh, Oprah ...

  • On the third-to-last episode of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' there seemed to be somewhat of a disconnect between the two parties that were always connected over the last 25 years: The host and her guests.
    The several thousand guests in Chicago's United Center appeared to be in an evangelical fervor, as if sitting in the very presence of the Holy Ghost. Or as though Harold Camping's end-time predictions might to come true when the final episode of Oprah's show airs today. These were Oprah devotees, the ones who may compare the experience of being in the studio audience for this countdown show with childbirth or a 50th birthday milestone and who will probably cry when they realize they'll have to find something else to watch weekdays at 4 p.m.

    Oprah, meanwhile, was poised for a send-off that perhaps she not only dreamed about having, but also, expected to have. She was not only the host, she was the guest of honor.

    This is the woman who once screamed at the top of her lungs, "You get a car! And you get a car!" Now, in front of an audience so large it could be mistaken for a crowd attending a Chicago Bulls playoff game, Oprah was somewhat subdued. She tried to act surprised when Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise came out to show love. When Madonna was introduced simply as a "mother of four from New York City," Oprah tried to act like her producers totally fooled her. However, just as she has made the famous more famous by inviting them on her show, Oprah knew it was time for everyone she invited to return the favor.

    Yes, she put on her best performance, trying to appear grateful at the outpouring of love, but the guest of honor was hardly shocked by anything. As she took her front row aisle seat with Cruise by her side, Oprah's eyes began to tear up. She was praised by past guests whose lives she positively affected and young girls who inspired her. There wasn't much waterworks, but enough for her to dab her eyes with the box of tissue stationed underneath her seat and supplied by Kleenex, one of the shows main sponsors.

    At least the performances were noteworthy. 'America's Got Talent' runner-up Jackie Evancho and Patti LaBelle performed a rousing rendition of 'Over The Rainbow' that floored the audience, if not Oprah. Later in the episode, Beyoncé took over and delivered a roof-raising rendition of her female-empowerment anthem, 'Run The World (Girls),'. The performance was the show's highlight with crisp choreography by the dozens of backup dancers she had in tow and some crowd participation in the form of glowing lights they raised in the air with their hands. Even Oprah seemed surprised by what she saw, even though she probably knew it was coming all along.

    And today, it all comes to an end with Oprah standing alone in the spotlight, because, while she already tapped all the celebrities that matter, the one that matters the most is her.


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    black model

    From The Huffington Post:

    A Zimbabwean-born, British-raised sixteen-year-old model has been chosen as one of the new faces of Louis Vuitton, starring in the maison's fall/winter advertising campaign.

    Discovered only last year, fresh-faced Nyasha Matonhodze has already starred in a handful of magazine editorials, including some big-name magazines such as Teen Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and has walked in dozens of runway shows.

    Upon learning that she had been selected as one of the stars of the upcoming Vuitton campaign, Nyasha told the Telegraph, "My eyes filled up with tears and I thought 'Lord you are lucky!' It didn't actually hit me until I was sat in a Rolls Royce sitting eye-to-eye with [famed fashion photographer Stephen] Meisel."

    Read the rest of the article here.


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    From Jezebel:

    On the Today show this morning, Matt Lauer reported that sixty percent of baby boomer parents are offering some kind of financial support to their adult children. The piece hit home for me, since, after 10+ years of living alone, I'm considering temporarily moving in with my mom.

    Whether you're young, just out of school and looking for work or older and suffering a financial setback, turning to your parents for help can be a complicated and emotional situation. Just because something makes perfect fiscal sense doesn't mean your heart, soul and ego are ready to accept it.

    After years of living autonomously, to ask your parents for a loan - or return to living with them - can be feel like failure, with a dash of embarrassment and defeat. If you've seen the movie, you know that returning home is considered hitting rock bottom in 'Bridesmaids.'

    Read more here.


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    Colbert King weighs in on Cornel West's barrage, Stanley Crouch gets his licks in, and Adam notes that Crouch has (thankfully) changed his tune.
    Meanwhile Eddie S. Glaude summons up a rhetorical army and, with considerable aplomb, plows through an enemy battalion of strawmen:

    Recently, Cornel West offered a strident critique of President Obama's relative silence on this matter. For him, the president has failed to address substantively the conditions of the poor and the most vulnerable in our society.

    Instead, West maintains, Obama has been too concerned with appeasing the robber barons on Wall Street. Many took offense, not only with the personal nature of the criticism but also with the fact that West dared to criticize the president at all.

    Some African Americans hold the view that this only contributes to right-wing attacks against Obama, making him vulnerable in 2012. Others believe that such criticisms betray an unreasonable expectation that Obama owes something to the black community because he is the first black president - a troublesome black identity politics, they might say.

    Worries about Democrats closing ranks for an upcoming election seem, to me, at least, to be a perennial (and uninteresting) concern. I am more interested in the underlying anxiety about black people criticizing Obama. It is as if we are being told to keep our mouths shut.

    And I am more interested in who - specifically - took offense "with the fact that West dared to criticize the president at all." Glaude never bothers to name these critics, preferring to debate his own paraphrasing. I share Glaude's faith that there are black people out there, somewhere, who do believe Obama shouldn't be criticized. I just think it'd be nice if he'd name them and quote their actual arguments.

    It also would be nice if Glaude quoted Cornel West's actual arguments. To be clear, their number include:

    --That Obama is a "black mascot" and a"black puppet" for Wall street and corporate America.

    --That Obama, whom West supported as a candidate to be Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military in the world, who throughout his candidacy repeatedly said he would kill Bin Laden if given the chance, has lately mutated into the proud "head of the American killing machine."

    --That West, a self-dubbed advocate of working people, is entitled to three inauguration tickets for every one ticket dispensed to mere baggage-handlers.

    --That West is an independent "free black man" who strikes terror in the heart of the rootless, deracinated, and culturally white Obama.

    --That Obama, who for decades has made a home on Chicago's South Side, "feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men," as opposed to West who through considerable time spent studying and teaching in the Ivy League has acquired the powers of blackness denominated in the previous point.

    I debated Glaude on twitter when this story initially broke. His defense at the time held that the worst aspects of West's tone "shouldn't detract from his criticism of Obama's policy choices." But I have searched West's argument repeatedly, and found only thin evidence of such criticism. West is disappointed with the tapping of Geithner and Summers. He also thinks it would be a good idea for Michelle Obama to abandon her childhood obesity campaign and tour America's prisons.

    Read more here.


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    Adding fuel to the fiery debate over immigration policy, a study released Tuesday shows that top science achievers in the U.S. are overwhelmingly the children of immigrants.

    The study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, found that 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition -- also known as the "Junior Nobel Prize" -- were the children of immigrants even though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.

    According to the report, children of immigrant parents have been increasingly dominant in the fields of math and science. In 2004, for example, researchers found that 60 percent of the top science students in the U.S. and 65 percent of the top math students were born to immigrant families. Findings were based upon data from the Intel Science Talent Search and the 2004 U.S. Math Olympiad.

    Based on these findings, the study concluded that "Liberalizing our nation's immigration laws will likely yield even greater rewards for America in the future."

    Read more here.


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    From the Huffington Post:

    When people ask Eugene Morris why he left a virtually all-white advertising firm in the early 1970s for an African-American one, he tells them about the time he asked a white higher-up for an overdue raise.

    "He started telling me about how well-dressed I was," Morris recalled. "He told me that I had a nice sports car, which I did, and he told me that he knew that I had a very nice apartment. He started naming all these things, these possessions of mine, and he said, 'Aren't you making enough money?' I thought the next thing he was going to say was, 'Well what more would a 'mmmm' want?'"

    Incidents like these added up, Morris said, and after a while he decided he'd had enough, as did many other young black executives who left the advertising world after an initial surge of racially progressive hiring in the late '60s and early '70s.

    Read more here.


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  • 05/25/11--09:26: Michelle Obama's UK Style
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    This week the Obamas visited Ireland and England, and along the way First Lady Michelle looked better and better each day. Check out some of her outfits during the last week.


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    From SnagFilms:

    Memorial Day honors the sacrifices of our nation's military. Before heading out to enjoy the long weekend, please support the men and women who served our country.

    'When I Came Home' documents Iraq War veteran Herold Noel's fight for survival after returning from Iraq. Noel, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and lives out of his car in Brooklyn, NY, is one of many who suffer from terrible living conditions. The film gives rise to a wider issue in America. More specifically, an issue of homeless U.S. military veterans who have to fight to receive the benefits promised to them by their government.

    We come away from this film with poignant insights that beg important questions about the expectations we level at the military, and how we pay them in return (or don't) for making good on those expectation. Although many take staunch positions for or against war -- regardless of whether or not we actually engage in war, the military still must be prepared to protect us.

    Click "Like" or "Tweet" via to share this film ['When I Came Home'] with your friends to donate $1 to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Or better yet, do both - use your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

    To donate click here.

    Watch more free documentaries


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    CNN's Don Lemon has penned a memoir titled "Transparent" that will come out in September. In writing his book, Lemon said "the decision to come out happened organically."
    One of the motivating reasons for Lemon, 45, now revealing his sexual orientation is because of the suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Clementi, if your remember, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after finding out that his college roommate and another classmate used a webcam to secretly broadcast his sexual encounters with another male, highlighting the dangers of "cyberbullying" -- teasing, harassing, or intimidating with pictures or words distributed online or via text message. Clementi's suicide along with the other eight lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and young adults went viral in September 2010 and they saturated the media.
    In this era of acceptance of LGBTQ people in news broadcasting like Lemon's colleague Anderson Cooper, ABC's Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and her colleague Thomas Roberts, to name a few, one would wonder about the source of the media brouhaha with Lemon's disclosure, especially since it was not secret at work about his sexual orientation.
    "It's quite different for an African-American male," Lemon told Joy Behar on her HLN show. "It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away."
    And Lemon is right. With homophobia running as rampant in historically black colleges and universities as it is in black communities, there are no safe places for GBTQ brothers of African descent to safely acknowledge their sexuality or to openly engage the subject of black GBTQ sexualities.
    "I was born gay, just as I was born black," Lemon told Behar.
    But black GBTQ sexualities within African American culture are perceived to further threaten not only black male heterosexuality, but also the ontology of blackness itself.
    With certain aspects of hip-hop culture displaying a hyper-masculinity, this male-dominated genre is aesthetically built on the most misogynistic and homophobic strains of Black Nationalism and afrocentricism.
    Lemon courageously goes on to explain to Behar another reason why it took him so long to come out.
    "And our community is steeped in religion, with the church preaching against homosexuality. I prayed a lot growing up that I would change, that I would be straight," he said. "But no matter how good I was, how much I prayed and denied what I was, it [being gay] was always there."
    According to the PEW Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, 87 percent of African Americans identify with a religious group and 79 percent say that religion is very important in their lives. The Pew report also showed that since 2008, African-American Protestants are less likely than other Protestant groups to believe that LGBTQ people should have equal rights. And since hot-button issues like gay adoption and marriage equality have become more prominent, support for LGBTQ rights among African-American Protestants has dipped as low as 40 percent.
    A groundbreaking study in July 2010 came out titled "Black Lesbians Matter" examining the unique experiences, perspectives, and priorities of the Black Lesbian Bisexual and Trans community. One of the key findings of the survey revealed that there is a pattern of higher suicide rates among black LBTs. Scholars have primarily associated these higher suicide rates with one's inability to deal with "coming out" and the Black Church's stance on homosexuality.
    With the "No Hope Baptist Church of God and Christ" and the "Apostolic Church of Hell" standing front and center in our black communities espousing religion-based bigotry as the word of God, these places of worship are the reasons why Lemon -- and we as an African American community -- can't tell the truth about our sexuality.
    It's because African Americans don't address the homophobic role the Black church plays in creating a "down-low" (DL) culture -- not only among its worshippers but also among its "down low" ministers who espouse damning messages about homosexuality -- that both Bishop Eddie Long and Pastor Donnie McClurkin can tell their truths.
    Pastor Donnie McClurkin, the poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries "testi-lies" that his homosexuality is from being raped; thus confusing same-gender sexual violence with homosexuality. Bishop Eddie Long, one of the Black Church's prominent pastors of "prosperity gospel" and "bling-bling" theology "testi-lies" that the pubescent boys he nurtured were "spiritual sons" rather than what many of us perceived as one of his many lies stashed in his stained-glass closet.
    Lemon resides in Atlanta, and it's not the old Atlanta of MLK days. It's the new black Mecca and the new "Black Hollywood" that it's fondly called "Hot-lanta." And African-American stars flocks to this entertainment Mecca-in-training as do black urban professionals (Buppies).
    But if you're LGBTQ in "Hot-lanta" you stay in the closet, as Lemon once did.


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    From the New York Times

    Back home in Gambia, Amadou Jallow was, at 22, a lover of reggae who had just finished college and had landed a job teaching science in a high school.

    But Europe beckoned.

    In his West African homeland, Mr. Jallow's salary was the equivalent of just 50 euros a month, barely enough for the necessities, he said. And everywhere in his neighborhood in Serekunda, Gambia's largest city, there was talk of easy money to be made in Europe.

    Now he laughs bitterly about all that talk. He lives in a patch of woods here in southern Spain, just outside the village of Palos de la Frontera, with hundreds of other immigrants. They have built their homes out of plastic sheeting and cardboard, unsure if the water they drink from an open pipe is safe. After six years on the continent, Mr. Jallow is rail thin, and his eyes have a yellow tinge.

    "We are not bush people," he said recently as he gathered twigs to start a fire. "You think you are civilized. But this is how we live here. We suffer here."

    Read more here.


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    From the Los Angeles Times: One year ago Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Mike Brown because they didn't think he was good enough to coach LeBron James.

    The Lakers celebrated that anniversary by hiring him to coach Kobe Bryant.

    When contacted by The Times' Broderick Turner about this development Wednesday afternoon, Bryant refused to comment

    I've got a few, the first being, "What the ...?"

    When I heard this week that the Lakers were going to offer basketball's most celebrated and coveted coaching job to a guy named Brown, my first thought was Larry Brown. My second thought was Hubie Brown.

    Not only did Mike Brown not seem to be the best available candidate, he didn't even seem to be the best available Brown.

    Read more here.


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    DeVon Franklin
    's father, like his father before him, was an alcoholic. His drinking cost him his job as a manager at UPS, the family's home, car and a tidy "All-American" lifestyle in the suburbs of San Francisco. He would go on benders, leaving Franklin's mother, him and his two brothers for long spells at a time, forcing them to fend for themselves.

    Donald Franklin, his father, died of a heart attack at the age of 36. Franklin, then 9, was a socially awkward, "bigheaded" boy of good spirit, but who suffered from a chronic case of middle child syndrome.

    "At a young age I had a lot of frustrations," said Franklin, now 33 and a Vice President at Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony, in the lobby of a posh hotel in New York City last week. "When you grow up in a family of alcoholics, I think that you can go either one of two ways - you go one way where you may go the same path or you overcompensate and go the other way."

    Franklin went the other way.

    He used a combination of religious faith, pent up frustrations and an intense feeling of displacement to fuel a rise to lofty spiritual and professional heights. Franklin is an emerging Hollywood powerhouse, a young hit-maker behind such films as 'The Pursuit of Happyness,' 'The Karate Kid (the 2010 version),' 'Hancock' and the recently released hit 'Jumping The Broom.' It's not a coincidence that many of the films he's worked on either star or are co-produced by Will Smith. Franklin got his start as an intern for Smith and partner James Lassiter's Overbrook Entertainment.

    Behind his easy laugh, the million-dollar smile and the hundreds of millions of dollars in movie profits to back it up, there is a much greater force at work: faith in God.

    More than an executive, Franklin is a Sabbath-observant Seventh Day Adventist preacher whose faith has guided him to the top of an industry often maligned as sleazy and sinful. He is also the author of the recently released book, 'Produced By Faith: Enjoying Real Success Without Losing Your True Self,' published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

    "God had given me the whole idea about the filmmaking process as a metaphor for the faith-making process," Franklin said of the book, which is part memoir, part faith-based self-help and part guide to breaking into the movie business. His Hollywood experience has been anything but the stuff of HBO's 'Entourage,' with its full-throttle debauchery.

    "There are more people of faith than you'd imagine and more people that are respectful of faith than you'd imagine," he said. "I've experienced a Hollywood that is filled with wonderful people, family-oriented people of integrity - people who want to do right in the world."

    Indeed, Franklin is part of a small but growing wave of players in Hollywood who have brought faith-themed films to the big screen, catering mostly to black Christian audiences, including Tyler Perry and friend T.D. Jakes, who produced 'Jumping The Broom' and 'Not Easily Broken.'

    Franklin, whose swagger offers a man cut more from the cloth of Ralph Lauren's Purple Label than that of a clergyman, seems as comfortable talking film as faith. He doesn't come off as particularly preachy, though his speech is laced with positive affirmations, the kind used by the perpetually hopeful set. His good looks are more popstar than preacher, but don't let it fool you.

    While many young men his age spend their Fridays and Saturdays looking for a party or thumbing through their little black books, he spends his thumbing through the good book. He observes the Sabbath, so from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, he unplugs his cell phone and disconnects from the world, breaking the fourth commandment of the movie business, "Thou shalt never turn off thy BlackBerry," as he says in his book.

    The book was a year in the making, but is the culmination of Franklin's professional walk that began during his time interning for Smith and Lassiter and his "spiritual walk" that began as a child.

    He and his family were regular churchgoers when his father died, and they continued to attend services every weekend after. When his mother couldn't take the boys, she'd send for someone to take them.

    Franklin was baptized at 11, and at 13 he had perhaps the most significant spiritual experience of his life.

    A popular evangelist was preaching at a weeklong event at the Oakland convention center. "It was a really big deal," Franklin recalled. His mother and brothers, aunts and cousins were all there.

    The preacher's voice filled the center, his words rising higher and higher until they bounced off the ceiling and the walls around them. Something began to rise within young DeVon Franklin, too. He can't explain what exactly, beyond a fire.

    "It was just powerful, really powerful," Franklin recalled. "It was very convicting. I remember feeling that urgency and that feeling of, OK, I have to live for God and do what he is calling me to do. It was very, very strong. Very compelling."

    The seeds of his faith had been planted years before that moment in the convention center, but it all came together that day: the Saturdays in church, the feelings of wanting to find a "peaceful" place, the preacher's words and the power in which he delivered them.

    He said that later, "I became aware that God had a plan for me, that it was a personal relationship and so much of it was my responsibility."

    Franklin said that he couldn't pull himself away from his church after that point. He'd be the one sweeping the floors, stacking and un-stacking chairs in the basement fellowship hall. He was an usher, a young deacon and the director of the youth choir.

    "I was sort of this rebel in reverse," said Franklin, of dealing first with the pain of his father's abandonment and then his death. "Instead of rebelling and going crazy, the way that I handled it was to submerge myself in everything that was going on in the church."

    During his school years, he threw himself further into church and his studies, student government and the leadership council. He camouflaged his internal struggles with an air of confidence, with strong handshakes and steady eye contact. He crafted an impeccable image and was even voted Most Likely to Succeed.

    "Mr. Perfect," is what his classmates called him. They just had no idea how imperfect his path had been.

    As a freshman at the University of Southern California, he had a "minor crisis of faith," he said, proof again of his personal imperfections. The newness of college, the parties, the college girls and the coming of age ruffled what had been his solid faith.

    "I started questioning everything that I had believed about God, and really had to relearn why I believe what I believe so that I could have ownership of it," he said, "not just doing it because that's the way I was raised."

    Part of that was redoubling his efforts to observe the Sabbath and learning to balance dating with his Christian values. He has since come to grips with the fact that a faithful walk is not an easy walk.

    His book is dedicated to the memory of his father, grandparents and great-grandparents, but also to "all of you who have struggled with holding on to your faith. This is one of life's most challenging pursuits."

    These days, he struggles more with managing his own ambition and not getting caught up with what "I want" and "when I want it," than pre-marital sex or partying.

    Through his faith and his success in the film industry, and doing so largely on his (and God's) terms, he is beginning to find his place.

    "I feel like in this moment in life, I'm finding more of myself than I probably have before, because I feel like who God has called me to be is beginning to manifest," he said. "In writing the book and hearing people respond to it, and talk to me about how it ministered to them, has been encouraging. A lot of people say, you know, I went through the same thing. So that helps me feel like, Wow, I'm not so alone as I thought I was."


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  • 05/26/11--05:58: One Color Four Ways
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    Summer's finally here! Why not infuse some of that sunshine into your home décor? Although orange isn't a color that people immediately jump to when they are decorating, it could be just the refreshing new touch that your house needs.

    Here are four fun ways to bring orange into your home.

    Don't these citrus colored walls make your mouth water? This approach to the dining room goes to show that oranges don't only belong on the table. While orange walls can sometimes get overwhelming, the white accents of the benches and window frame complement the color perfectly and give the shade just the right effect.

    orange paint

    Just as the citrus color can whet your appetite, a softer and toned down orange can easily get you into your zen. Stay away from boring neutrals that will make your mind go numb at your home office! A good shade of orange can stimulate and inspire. Bold orange vases, curtains or throw pillows go perfectly with the toned down shade on the wall.
    red paint


    Don't feel ready to go all the way (so to speak) with our new favorite hue? That's OK. You don't have to commit to a whole wall to experiment with orange. Start slow with some accent pieces. A burnt orange stair runner or bookcase interior is an unexpected way to spice up any room.
    living room

    bright living room

    But seasons and moods change. What if you don't want to be bright and sunny all the time? Is there a way to make orange elegant? Absolutely.

    A bright orange sofa goes perfectly with glamorous peacock blue walls, giving your living room an approachable but antique-y feel. Vintage chairs and tables make you feel like you stepped into the sophisticated old world, but the orange accent has the power to keep you grounded in the 21st century.


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    halle berry

    At the The Fragrance Foundation's 2011 Fifi Awards last night Halle Berry wore a revealing black dress that showed off her trim abs. The Oscar winner snagged the Fragrance Celebrity of the Year award for her latest perfume Reveal.


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    halle berry


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    We've all read the statistics; the drowning rates of black children far exceed those of their white peers. In addition, the swimming proficiency of black children, accordingly, also lacks in comparison to their white peers; purportedly nearly 70 percent of black teens and children possess little or no swimming skills. Thanks to organizations like USA Swimming (the governing body of competitive swimming in the United States), the Make A Splash Foundation and the YMCA, there have been sustained efforts to increase swimming instruction among black children.
    Yet in the backdrop of this seeming crisis, a generation of black swimmers have been making waves in competitive swimming and many of them will convene this Memorial Day weekend for the 9th Annual National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet, at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina.

    The Black Heritage Meet was founded in 2003 by Kathy Cooper who coaches the North Carolina Aquablazers. Cooper's daughter's Candace (now a swimmer at UNC-Chapel Hill) was a year-round competitive swimmer and Cooper was frustrated by the lack of diversity she witnessed at competitive meets. Blacks make up roughly 1 percent of all competitive swimmers, a number that only gets smaller among elite competitors.

    With the Black Heritage Meet, Cooper hoped to provide a forum where young black swimmers and their parents could network. That first meet, held in Charlotte, NC attracted 104 swimmers; this year's meet will feature 896 athletes of all races, from forty-seven teams and 12 states.

    The image of competitive swimming has been given a boost in black communities in recent years because of the success and visibility of Cullen Jones (pictured above), who won a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, as part of the US Men's 200M Freestyle Relay. Jones, who nearly drowned as a child and who was a collegiate swimmer at North Carolina State University, has used his relative celebrity to get the word out about swimming safety.

    Less well known are swimmers like Maritza Correia (pictured directly above), a 2004 Olympic Silver medalist and 16-year-old Lia Neal, who is the Junior National champion in the 100M Freestyle. In 2008 as a 13-year-old, Neal (along with Missy Franklin) became one of the youngest swimmers to ever qualify for the Olympic Trials.

    What makes the Black Heritage Meet such an experience is not simply the opportunity to come together with other black swimmers. Cooper describes the event as more of a family reunion, where extended family often travel hundreds of miles to see their kin compete against some of the best swimmers in the country. Indeed the sights and sounds of the meet, more resemble those found any Saturday afternoon in the autumn at an HBCU football game as opposed to most swim meet which can be dry events.

    As part of the weekend-long festivities, the organizers sponsor a community breakfast, which fetes black swimming pioneers, not just in competitive swimming and diving, but also in the military. Competitors are also given the chance to swim with some of their idols. Last year, both Jones and Correia were in attendance and held swim exhibitions with swimmers. This year, Sabir Muhammad (pictured below), who was a member of the U.S. National Team in the late 1990s, will be on hand.

    Competitive swimming also provides great discipline of black youth, while also providing other opportunities such as working as life guards and swimming instructors. As parent Joe Artis, whose children attended last year's National Black Heritage Championship observed, "It's another opportunity besides football and basketball that swimming gives us ... you're not gonna get rich swimming, but you can get a college degree."


    Mark Anthony Neal is a professor of African-American Studies at Duke University and the author of five books including the forthcoming 'Looking For Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities.' Neal is also a "Black Swim Parent," who resides in Durham, NC with his family, where his daughters swim for the YMCA of the Triangle Area (YOTA).


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    From BlackMediaSCOOP:

    Essence is under fire today and I must admit the article is intriguing. Is Essence losing focus or is Raynard Jackson too harsh on the publication?

    Essence Magazine used to be the preeminent magazine for Black women in the U.S. They, like many Black publications, have lost their relevance; and in the process become an embarrassment to the very group they claim to target.

    Essence was founded in 1968 by Ed Lewis, Clarence Smith, Cecil Hollingworth, Jonathan Blount, and Denise Clark. Their initial circulation began at around 50,000 per month and now is estimated to be over 1 million per month. It is a monthly publication focusing on Black women between the ages of 18 and 49. Essence was bought out by Time Inc. in 2005, thus no longer being a Black owned publication (similar to B.E.T.).

    The impetus behind the founding of Essence was to show a side of Black women that was never portrayed in the mainstream media. Images of Black women were controlled by white media outlets that had little to no knowledge of the Black community. Most of these images were very stereotypical and lacking substance.

    Read more here.


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