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

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    Currently on the big screen is Tanya Hamilton's debut film, 'Night Catches Us,' starring Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie.

    Set in a Philadelphia neighborhood around 1976, Kerry's character, Patricia, gets reacquainted with an old friend named Marcus (played by Mackie), who returns to town after a four-year absence and under a cloud of scrutiny from his family and friends. Both were involved with the Black Power movement.

    For Washington, 'Night,' which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, represents her third powerful role in 2010 following Tyler Perry's 'For Colored Girls,' and Rodrigo Garcia's 'Mother and Child.' She also finished her Broadway debut in David Mamet's 'Race,' which began at the tail end of 2009.

    Blackvoices.com caught up with the Bronx, NY native as she talks about her current film, reuniting with Mackie, and filming her latest film, the romantic comedy 'We The Peeples' in Connecticut with Craig Robinson.

    What drew you into doing this independent film?'

    Kerry Washington: It's important to me to go back and forth between independent and studio films, because I feel like both of those points are so important in filmmaking. I just really liked the script, that's where the magic has to begin. I loved this one, I loved that it took this period and culture that we tend to think of in stereotypical terms, the Black Panther movement. It forces you to think about the people behind the movement, the humanity of the people who devoted their lives to it. This film isn't about the movement, it's about 10 years after the movement and who are these people and how are they making sense of their lives.

    We probably have a tendency to complain that we don't see ourselves enough on the big screen, so I think it's important when a film like this comes along, an independent film that really tells who we are in terms of our history as black people, we really have to show up and support that. There's only one language that Hollywood understands and that's Box Office. It's just like voting. If you go to the box office or iTunes or Video-On-Demand. They'll continue to make movies for and about us if people see movies for and about us.

    How much did you know about the movement prior-to and after filming?

    KW: I knew a lot about it. I was lucky enough to go to a high school that had a class called 'Literature of the Civil Rights Movement.' I was talking about Malcolm vs. Martin in the 9th grade. I grew up in a kind of politically conscious household so the movement was not unknown to me. Tanya Hamilton really wanted me to listen to a lot of Angela Davis. There's a beautiful way Angela embodies her identity as a black American and combines it with this really worldly education and intellect. There was something about that she really wanted Patricia to have. I had read a lot of Angela but I hadn't listened to Angela, so it was really fun to listen to her, and not do it right on the nose and listen to the way she articulates, carries herself through language. The contained emotion and intellect.

    How was working with Mackie for the second time? It's been almost 8 years since the both of you worked on Spike Lee's 'She Hate Me.'

    KW: It was actually really fun because we realized we had been in similar situations to these two characters. We had never been involved personally in any way, but professionally we had been through this very intense process of making 'She Hate Me' together, and because of that film we had been, not at all personally, but professionally intimate by necessity because of what that film was. We hadn't worked together in 6 or 7 years so we realized we could use some of that. We didn't talk so much about the characters in the beginning because in those first few scenes where you see these two people reunited, checking each other out, taking stock of where the other person is and what they're thinking and doing. We were instantly really doing that because we didn't talk about it beforehand. We hadn't worked with each other in 6 or 7 years and it was like, " who are you, what are you doing now?"

    With the projects that you've had this year do you feel you're hitting your stride as an actress? These are three powerful roles...

    KW: I don't think that's true. I had a great year playing Mrs. Ray Charles, that's not a small role, neither was 'Last King of Scotland,' and I don't think those are small roles. I'm very grateful that I'm doing work that I've loved and that I'm proud of and working with people I respect and admire, but I've had that before. One of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to do 'Night Catches Us' was because I had such an amazing time working with Anthony Mackie on 'She Hate Me,' another incredible opportunity with an amazing director. That film was a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. I guess every year is different, but I wouldn't say hitting my stride because I see myself having a very long career as long as I want to do it. Every year is filled with gifts in its own unique ways.

    What I meant to say is that not that often do we see you in as many films or projects in one year, and this year you were on the screen almost every two or three months as well as doing a major play.

    KW: I'm really lucky because it's always a big commitment to do a play, and you're taking yourself off the market for about 8 months all-in-all between rehearsals and the performance. Right before the play started I was shooting 'Night Catches Us,' and right after the play...My first week on 'For Colored Girls' I was still doing the play. So I would shoot the movie all day long during our New York exteriors, and then do the play at night. My second week I had to fly to Atlanta on my one day off and shoot a scene then fly back for the Tuesday night show. It was a trip! On stage I was playing a kind of angry woman, bubbling with anger, and the opposite character was given to me on 'For Colored Girls.' It was really fun to go from someone who was very strong-willed, calculating, and angry to someone who was a walking open-heart of compassion.

    Are we ever gonna see 'A Thousand Words,' the film you shot with Eddie Murphy?

    KW: I don't know how to answer the question about 'A Thousand Words.' You probably have more information about that than I do.

    How's shooting your next film, 'We The Peeples,' in Connecticut with Craig Robinson?

    KW: It's great. It's really fun. They have been very kind to us. Actually, I can definitely say that it's the most fun I've ever had on a film set in my life. I feel like I have gained a second family. Working with Craig Robinson is a total inspiration because he is so funny and so smart. Tyler James Williams... He's stuck with me, he's going to be my little brother for the rest of his life whether he likes it or not. I feel like I'm learning so much from him just because he's been doing comedy a lot longer than I have. S. Epatha Merkerson plays my mother again but totally different, and we're so different from when we were in 'Mother and Child.' She's just talented.

    Besides playing in NYC, LA, Chicago, Philly, Detroit, and Washington D.C, 'Night Catches Us' is also available nationwide on VOD.

     

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    Mohamed Osman MohamudThe Somali-born Muslim teen who sought to kill thousands in a terrorist attack in Portland led a double life, according to investigators.

    While plotting a car bomb attack at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Mohamed Osman Mohamud wrote and read a Kwanzaa poem about peace and unity with two Christian college students, authorities said.

    The two lives of Mohamed Osman Mohamud might surprise some, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    As long as this nation remains a free and open society, welcoming immigrants from all around the world, terrorists will be able to evade suspicion by simply looking "normal."

    Go out and read peaceful poems and play video games and act as if you fit in to American society before your friends and family.

    When you get back home, though, lock the doors and draw the curtains. Then you can plan your terrorist attacks and author your anti-American rants against the "infidels." ."



    On Nov. 4th, undercover FBI agents who had won over Mohamud's trust took him to a remote site in Lincoln County, where he pressed a button on a cell phone and watched an explosion. This was a test for the planned bombing of a Christmas tree lighting Nov. 26th at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square.

    Luckily, Mohamud, like the "Shoe bomber" and the "Underwear bomber" before him, wasn't smart enough to pull off his murderous plot before alerting authorities.

    He will likely spend most of his life behind bars, but eventually, one of these terrorists will succeed and kill lots of innocent Americans.

    The only solution would be for America to become a closed society, a police state where armed security officers patrol every street corner, checking every backpack and pocketbook and baby stroller for explosives.

    But who would want to live in that America?

     

     

     

     

     

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    Food Fetish: No Saucy Sex For Wesley Snipes in Prison
    Wesley Snipes is headed to prison.

    It's been widely reported that the 'Blade' star will have to report this week to begin a three-year prison sentence for his conviction on tax evasion charges.

    (Read: 'Prison Bound: Wesley Snipes Will Serve Hard Time.')

    Snipes filed a request last week to begin his sentence on Jan. 6, 2011 instead of Dec. 9, 2010 because he has "four minor children" and didn't want to get locked up "in the middle of the holiday season."

    The judge denied the request citing that 48-year-old actor was originally sentenced over two-andWesley Snipes-a-half years ago and therefore had "all of that time to place his affairs in order."

    Now some are wondering if Snipes wanted to use the time home to have a few of his infamous sex romps.

    Back in 2006, it was reported in the UK's 'Sunday Times' that a former lap dancer named Fran Murphy had a six-day sex marathon with Snipes.

    The then-married actor was in the Welsh city of Cardiff to film his movie 'The Shooter' when he met Murphy and they had sex at the Cardiff Hilton.

    Murphy said Snipes bit her neck like he was a vampire and incorporated strawberries and chocolate sauce into the encounter.

    "I remember he had strawberries in the suite and a big jug of chocolate sauce. We eventually made love in the bed and then he brought the food in. I just ate mine but he got the sauce and poured it over me and then slowly licked it off," she told the paper. "Then he nibbled my neck and told me he was being a vampire. I didn't have a clue what he was on about - I know who he is but I haven't watched all his films. Then someone told me later he'd played a vampire in 'Blade.'"

    Additionally, famed Hollywood gossip columnist Janet Charlton also reported that year about Snipes kinky bedroom business as well.
    Wesley Snipes
    "Years ago we were told that Snipes was addicted to both barbecue sauce and women's feet," Charlton wrote on her Janet Charlton's Hollywood blog. "A high-priced Hollywood call girl told us that, allegedly, Wesley had a standing weekly appointment with her and their kinky sessions involved very little sex. He liked to sniff and fondle her high heeled shoes and topped off their dates by smothering her feet in barbecue sauce and licking it off."

    Snipes is currently married to Nikki Park, a 37-year-old Korean painter who is the mother of his four children.

    The actor, who has to turn himself into prison this week, has also been romantically linked to high profile women ranging from Halle Berry to Jennifer Lopez.


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    Since the start of a cholera outbreak in Haiti, there are reports of witch hunts taking place to stop those accused of using "black magic" to infect other people. So far, up to 12 people have been killed by mobs, according to police.

    The outbreak has led to widespread destabilization in a country that was already struggling. So far, over 1,900 Haitians have died from cholera, and another 84,000 have been infected. In the Grand Anse region, rumors began to spread that vodou practitioners had created a black magic powder to spread the disease. Since then, mobs with machetes have sought to kill those believed to be connected with the outbreak.

    The Haitian government has responded to the situation by issuing statements to the public that they hope will stop the panic from continuing: "Cholera is a microbe ... The only way to protect one's self against cholera is to observe the principles of hygiene."

    Officials have gone on to say:

    "There is no cholera powder, nor cholera zombie, nor cholera spirit" and Vodou priests "can neither treat cholera, nor make a powder that gives cholera."

    Officials remain confused over the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Some speculate that a group of UN Peace Keepers from Nepal may have had something to do with it, given that this particular strain originated in South Asia. The group from Nepal has been criticized in the past for having poor sanitation procedures.

    Media reports of abnormal events occurring in Haiti must be read with some degree of balance and skepticism. While I don't doubt that these murders have occurred, we must be leery of painting the Haitian people as a group of ignorant savages. I find myself deeply concerned that reports of violent behavior in Haiti are more likely to get news coverage than other more positive aspects of Haitian life.

    One can only hope that the situation in Haiti stabilizes at some point, given that the nation has become a living manifestation of the term "Hell on earth." Since the earthquake, the people of Haiti have endured one tragedy after another. This was in addition to the fact that Haiti was one of the poorest nations on earth long before the tragedy even began. There must be a long-term plan to reshape Haiti and to allow the nation to compete. Also, those of us in the United States who have compassion for the Haitian people must find it in our hearts to increase our donations. The struggle has not ended in Haiti, and it probably won't ameliorate itself any time soon.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Turns out the Haitians who started a fuss with UN peacekeepers over the cholera outbreak had it right.

    A leading disease expert has reported that UN peacekeepers from Nepal are responsible for transmitting the fatal disease to Haitians from their base camp at Mirebalais on the Artibonite River in the central part of the island-nation.

    The report says that fecal matter from the base camp likely went in to the river and caused the outbreak that killed more than 2,000 and sickened 90,000 people.

    Last month, anger at the UN peacekeepers spilled over in to violent riots by Haitians who said the Nepalese peacekeepers were responsible for the cholera, which had never been present in Haiti before.

    While the response of attacking people who were sent to help was totally wrong, it is understandable.

    The Haitian people have been through hell in the past year with the January earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people. The cholera outbreak, along with deadly storms, political instability and continuing poverty have the people stretched to their limits.

    So when they learned of the cholera outbreak and rumors surfaced that it was carried by foreigners and that the UN would protect them from prosecution, their anger boiled over.

    It wasn't the right response, but again, I can understand.

    The best outcome now would be for there to be a full investigation of the Nepalese camp to see if peacekeeper negligence was responsible.

    If they knew that their waste could make people sick and simply didn't care, they should pay a heavy price for endangering the public.

     



     

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    Obama Tax Deal


    When using his Congressional majority to push forward policies that angered Republicans like health care reform, President Barack Obama relished telling the GOP elections have consequences so grin and bear it.

    But now Republicans are giving Obama a taste of his own medicine - a painful lesson in power sharing that threatens Obama's relationship with progressive members of his own party.

    Forced to compromise with Republicans since the November elections handed the GOP control of the House, Obama was forced to extend tax cuts to the richest Americans as Republicans had sought.

    Obama and Democrats had sought the tax cuts to cover only middle-class Americans and to let the rich pay their fair share in order to dig the economy out of the gully. Instead, Republicans were able to get their rich friends covered by the tax cut plan.

    The people most angered by Obama's deal are liberal members of his own party.

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent and one of the most liberal lawmakers in Washington, summed up the anger of Obama supporters calling the tax cut for the rich plan "an absolute disaster." Sanders said he would work against the compromise.

    Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Congressional Black Caucus founder, called the compromise "legislative blackmail" and said he would also work against it.

    It's easy for liberals to squawk, but President Obama has few choices.

    Blocking the tax cuts for the rich would bring a swift and certain defeat in the House.

    Unfortunately for the president, this tax cut fight is just the first example of power sharing he will have to engage in with Republicans. Just watch. Over the next two years, President Obama will get a few more bitter lessons where he will have to compromise with Republicans and face criticism from his progressive supporters.

    Sanders, Conyers and other progressives would rather stand on principle and lose than get a partial victory in the tax cuts for the middle class.

    President Obama isn't giving in, as his liberal critics suggest, he is simply learning the painful political lesson that elections have consequences.



     

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    For Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife, Shaunie O'Neal, being a basketball wife has had its fair share of ups and downs. The 36-year-old mother of five decided to tell the untold stories of the women behind famous ball players on the hit VH1 reality show 'Basketball Wives,' which she executive produces.

    The second season will air later next week and this time around, O'Neal has decided to step from behind the camera and share more of her own story. She tellsus that she's single, happy and still optimistic that there are some basketball stars out there who don't cheat on their wives.

    BlackVoices.com talks 20 Questions with Shaunie O'Neal.

    BlackVoices.com: How do you feel about the success of the first season of 'Basketball Wives'?
    Shaunie O'Neal:
    I'm really proud of the first season. I had no idea it would have so much success. Of course, I knew it would be good. Season two, I already know. There's so much going on, and you get to learn the ladies much more with an hour. I am even more proud of season two.

    BV: Why did you feel this story was so important to share on television?
    SO:
    Just based on people asking me at games, "Do all the ladies hang out together?" and "Who's friends and who's not friends?" Even girlfriends of mine would be curious, so it was like reality shows are a big thing right now, and I think this is a good idea. It took me a minute. I had the idea awhile back.

    BV: Do you think basketball wives, in general, get a bad reputation?
    SO:
    I wouldn't have said that before all the blogs, Twitter and all that stuff that's been new over the past few years. Now people want to say, "Oh, they're gold diggers. They're groupies." There are some that are, but there are a lot of us who aren't. Shaquille was the very first athlete that I dated, and I grew up in L.A. It's not all of us, but I do think that we get put in that spot a lot of the time.

    BV: How'd you choose the women on the series?
    SO:
    I knew Evelyn Lozada for several years, and we were in Miami together. We decided on a city then we picked the ladies. At the time, I lived in Orlando, and it was easy to base the show out of Florida. Miami is just a hot city. I started with Evelyn because I knew her personality would be great from television. There were some ladies that didn't pop on camera, but we eventually got the cast that we ended up with.

    BV: Why'd you decide to be on the show more this season?
    SO:
    I was getting a lot of slack from people saying, "Why don't we see you?" When season one came around, I was going through some personal things, moving back home to L.A. with my kids, I just wanted to focus a lot more on my personal life and family. I was comfortable in the EP seat and not having to be on camera, but it was a constant talk with the network who asked me to be on more and I said "what the heck."

    BV: Generally speaking, do you think everybody is being more real this season?
    SO:
    I think they are. There were some times where I was like, "Ooh you might be keeping it too real. Do you realize what you just said and see these cameras around?" They let it all go this season, and it's real. I appreciate every one of them for being real. We've all discussed closing our Twitter accounts for a couple of weeks (laughs). No, we aren't going to do that.

    BV: We're so happy that cast member Jennifer Williams finally is getting a divorce. That was long overdue.
    SO: We wanted to say, "Get it together," but she comes to grips with things and everybody is like, "Finally, girl you get it."

    BV: What are your thoughts on cast member Evelyn Lozada and OchoCinco getting engaged?
    SO:
    I love Evelyn to death, and if Evelyn is happy, so am I. It's really none of my business or anybody else's. If she is happy then I'm happy.

    BV: But, do you think being with another athlete after Antoine Walker if a good fit for her?
    SO:
    I don't know. Again, I don't want to put all athletes in any category, but I don't know. She's happy and in a good place now.

    BV: Why'd you think former 'Real World' star Tami Roman was a good decision to join the cast?
    SO: I knew Tami from years ago. We were neighbors, and in talking to her, she had such of a different story from the rest of us, and I had no idea about the details of the story. I thought that this is nothing that anyone would think exists or know and that it needed to be told because it is so different from anyone else on the show. She was willing to hold nothing back, and I appreciated that and we rolled with it. She brought everything to the table.

    BV: Tami has been on the blogs talking about being a b***h and the real one on the show. We even see her getting in a fight and punching one of the other ladies. Was her personality unexpected and volatile to you?
    SO:
    It was very different and shocking at times because sometimes we didn't know where it was coming from or why, and there was crazy stuff going on. I think Tami is a reactor; she doesn't quite hear what you are saying and just misinterprets and it was shocking to all of us. We were like I don't know why she's angry, but we used to ask, "Is something wrong?" but we ended up loving her to death because she's a sweetheart.

    BV: Right now, a lot of people are speculating she's doing a lot of that for publicity.
    SO:
    I'm already hearing that and someone is always going to have something to say regardless, but there are some personal things Tami brings to the show, especially things she is sharing with her children. I appreciate her being honest and putting it out there on the table.

    BV: Do you think Miami is a big groupie city?
    SO
    : I do feel that way. I hate to put Miami in that spot because it is a beautiful city, but there are no rules or limitations [in Miami]. If you can have women walking down South Beach half-naked anything goes, and things are wilder with the women and what they will do. It's in your face, and they might wave at you while they are doing it.

    BV: Do you think it's possible for NBA players to be faithful, or do you believe that there is usually some infidelity on their part?
    SO:
    I hate to put them all in that category because I think there are men capable of being faithful. I can't imagine that every man in every league is unfaithful to his wife. There have to be a couple who do right, but it's absolutely almost impossible not to be because every day it's like, "Dang, him. I never would've thought him." I'm hoping that there are some that just love and cherish their wives and families so much, but I don't know.

    BV: You're a veteran basketball wife. Have you seen any faithful NBA players or are you just hopeful?
    SO:
    I'm hopeful. I think that I personally know one of them. My gut tells me that this guy is a good guy. I love his wife to death, and I think they have a good relationship. I keep my fingers crossed that there are more out there.

    BV: You've got a boyfriend now. How's it been dating again?
    SO:
    I'm having a ball. I'm happy. Things are good.

    BV: Do you let your kids watch the show? Are they aware of what's going on?
    SO:
    I don't think that it's a kid show. They are on there because that's a part of me, and I let them see themselves. Of course my 13-year-old knows everything, but my little ones they don't get it, and I like to protect them from that at this young age.

    BV: You're always so composed all the time, but on the first three episodes you're coming for Gloria. Watching the footage are you embarrassed or happy to show that side? Someone was bound to go off on her.
    SO:
    Sometimes I let my personal feelings get in the way of my business, but I've been wanting to go off on that girl since last year. I was so scared to watch it because I knew what was said and how it happened. It got edited down, but I was a nervous wreck. But, on the other hand, I feel like people look at me always as inhumane because I don't get mad or have any emotions and I'm not perfect at all. I get mad just like the next person. I'm glad that I was able to show that side of me. They looked at me as the Mother Goose who came in and solved all the problems. I think people can relate to it, and I'm sure I'll get slack from it, but that's life.

    BV: How'd you not put hands on her after some of those comments that she said to you?
    SO:
    Girl, I'm glad that I'm older and more mature now. Let's just say that because had she caught me a good 10 years ago, there would have been no words. But I know she's just young and she thinks she's so mature, but you just don't get it and she still doesn't and it's okay.

    BV: How do you balance being a mom with being with the show and keep them from being affected?
    SO:
    I'm a very hands-on mom and I'm very involved. I have my mom here at home in LA.., my dad and brother, and it's a big unit I have to help me. It just works, and I'm blessed with the situation I have.

    BV: What advice do you have for a new basketball wife?
    SO:
    Stay grounded. Don't forget you, because you forget yourself real easy with all the traveling and keeping your family and the kids held down. You forget your original dreams and goals. Wiggle that part of yourself in some way and stay focused on what's going on in your world and don't listen to all the stuff. Thank God the blogs and Facebook and Twitter were not going on when I got married because that right there can be the devil...hearing all the stuff people have to say, it's overwhelming and you find out things you didn't necessarily have to know or want to know.

    BV: What other shows do you want to produce or what other things are you working on?
    SO:
    I'm working on a self-help book and a shoe line. I do have show ideas going on in my head all the time, and slowly but surely we are getting that done. It's a non-stop thing with 'Basketball Wives' alone, and we also have 'Football Wives' and VH1 is happy with it. I'm shooting for the stars and hopefully will reach them one day.

    'Basketball Wives 2' premieres Dec.12 at 8 p.m. EST on VH1.

     

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    Cee-Lo Green: 'F--- You' Singer Says He Doesn't Get High
    He may look like he has the munchies, but singer/rapper Cee-Lo Green said despite what you may think, he doesn't get high!

    The 35-year-old entertainer shared in a recent interview that he suffered a weed-induced anxiety attack during the time in which he was performing with the rap group Goodie Mob.

    "I never got comfortable with it again," he confessed.

    Ironically enough, the 'Crazy' singer is currently featured on a song by rapper Slim Thug called 'Marijuana.'
    Cee-lo Green performs live
    "When that song came out, I was like, 'I've got a song with Slim Thug...?' I don't even understand what I'm saying," he laughed.

    Green, who also performs as one-half of the pop duo Gnarls Barkley, has a new solo record out called 'The Lady Killer.'

    The CD features the hit single 'F--- You,' which just got nominated for Grammy Awards for "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year."


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    Black Music Notes Mar. 19

      3/19/09: Rihanna / Chris Brown
      Contrary to previous claims that Rihanna and Chris Brown reunited in the studio last month to record a new duet, record producer Polow Da Don recently confirmed that the couple recorded the newly surfaced track last year. "The reports are inaccurate," Polow's publicist, Laura Wright, told US magazine. "The duet was recorded long before the incident." According to People, the track, reportedly titled 'Bad Girl,' was intended to be on the soundtrack for 'Confessions of a Shopaholic,' but the song was eventually recorded by the Pussycat Dolls.

      Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

      3/19/09: Kanye West / The Dream
      Seven years ago this month, music heavyweights R. Kelly and Jay-Z released their highly anticipated collaborative album 'The Best of Both Worlds.' Now it appears Kanye West and The Dream are vying to work on a similar project. "Everybody is trying to talk us into it," Dream told 'MTV News' of his and West's friends and business associates. "It was first thought of by me. I was in Miami at the time, and I gave Kanye a call and said, 'The best thing would be for me and you to do an album.'... Let's take the best of both worlds and put it on a CD and try to make something we can sell to the consumers. He says he's with it. We're gonna try to make it happen." For now, you can catch Kanye on Dream's potential third single 'Walking on the Moon,' which is featured on his newly released album 'Love vs. Money.'

      Getty Images

      3/19/09: The Miracles
      Legendary Motown group The Miracles is the latest musical act to receive a Hollywood star on the world-renowned Walk of Fame. The 'Ooo Baby, Baby' singers were presented with the 2,381st star on March 20 by Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Leron Gubler. Motown founder Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder were also on hand as guest speakers for the ceremony.

      Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

      3/19/09: Chester Gregory
      After several years of blowing audiences away on the 'Great White Way,' Broadway Star and R&B soul recording artist Chester Gregory is preparing the release of his debut album 'In Search of High Love.' The March 31 release finds the multitalented singer introducing himself as a thoughtful and sensitive songwriter blessed with a voice that captivates and demands attention. "While I've thoroughly enjoyed performing on Broadway -- eight shows a week and telling other people's amazing stories -- now it's time for me to share my own," explained Gregory. Highlights of 'In Search of High Love' include the poetic 'Clouds to the Ground,' the crossover-bound 'Say it's Over' and Jackie Wilson's soaring 1967 chart-topper 'Higher and Higher.'

      Jemal Countess, WireImage

      3/19/09: Sammy Davis Jr.
      Altovise Davis, the widow of Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. , recently died at the age of 65. Two days prior to her death, she was admitted to Los Angeles'Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a stroke. The couple, who met in 1967 on the set of the musical 'Golden Boy,' married in 1970 and remained together until Davis' untimely death of throat cancer in 1990.

      Evening Standard / Getty Images

      3/19/09: Earth, Wind & Fire
      Iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Earth, Wind & Fire is set to hit the road this summer for a 30-city tour beginning June 5 in Orange Beach, AL. In addition to Maurice White and company gracing the stage will be pop-rock band Chicago, which will perform a full show before joining for a final set together, according to Billboard. The tour will conclude on Aug. 1 in Lake Tahoe, NV.

      Santiago Llanquin / AP

      3/19/09: Kim Burrell
      Gospel vocalist Kim Burrell is on deck to release her first new album in nine years titled 'No Ways Tired.' The project's title is inspired by gospel pioneer James Cleveland's classic of the same name. In addition to covering Cleveland's hit, Burrell also tapped other timeless classics including 'My Faith Looks Up to Thee,' 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' 'O Lamb of God,' and 'I Surrender All.' There are also a few originals. 'No Ways Tired' is set to hit stores April 7 via Shanachie Records.

      Zomba

      3/19/09: Mike Jones
      Despite being on hiatus since the release of his debut album 'Who Is Mike Jones?' Houston's own Mike Jones is ready to make his mark on the charts once again with the release of 'The Voice.' Jones' sophomore effort is packed with some of the industry's most talented artist including, Lil' Wayne, T-Pain, Devin the Dude, Hurricane Chris and Twista. He's had recent success with his latest single 'Next To You,' which is currently number 16 on Radio and Records Rhythmic charts. "For the past four years, I have been doing a lot of restructuring, getting this record right, making sure my business is right and more," Jones said of his hiatus. "Now, I am ready to finish what I started. I'm hoping my fans will feel 'The Voice' was worth the wait." Mike Jones 'The Voice' is due in stores April 28.

      Gilbert Carrasquillo, FilmMagic

      3/19/09: Prince
      With the recent announcement that Michael Jackson will return to the stage this summer, another influential artist is also planning to make his return. Beginning March 25, Prince will be performing on the 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' for three consecutive nights. In addition, the 'Little Red Corvette' singer is also readying the Mar. 29 release of his two new albums 'LOtUSFLOW3R' and 'MPLSoUND.' Prince is the latest artist to promote a release through multiple late-night talk show performances. U2 also recently performed five nights in a row on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' in support of its new album 'No Line on the Horizon.'

      Kevin Winter, NCLR / Getty Images

     

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    Some clues on how President Obama's tax cut deal with congressional Republicans could fare will likely emerge later today when Vice President Biden tries to convince unhappy Democrats in Congress.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who votes with Democrats, told MSNBC last night that he'll filibuster the deal.

    "It is an absolute disaster and an insult to the vast majority of the American people to be talking about giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, driving up our deficit, and increasing the growing gap between the very rich and everybody else," Sanders said.

    For his part, Obama has said the deal is "not perfect" but he said it "is an essential step on the road to recovery."

    Liberal Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is quoted in AOL's Daily Politics that he will also try to do whatever he can to stop the compromise, which temporarily extends the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels while providing an extension of jobless benefits sought by Obama.

    Conyers called the deal "legislative blackmail."

    Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told USA TODAY's John Fritze last night that the deal "is bad economic policy."

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is among many Republicans who would rather extend all the Bush-era tax cuts permanently. He's calling on Democrats to "put away their partisanship."

    Source: USA TODAY



    Kevin Eason is a freelance editorial cartoonist and Illustrator from New Jersey. His brand of satire covers news events in politics, entertainment, sports and much more. Follow him on Facebook.

     

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    Party season is upon us, and besides the hassle of what to get your secret Santa, your biggest dilemma is what to wear. Maybe you're going to the company party and want to be appropriate, but still show your flare for style. Or maybe you want to go for full on glam for a night out with your girls. Whatever your style and whatever your budget, Black Voices has you covered with head to toe outfit ideas for every occasion.



    If your party consists of a night with friends and you want to go all out, glam it up in a bold pattern or color. An over the top dress means keeping the rest of your look simple and clean. Classic patent black pumps and dainty accessories are all you need.

    1) Desperately Sequin Susan Dress ($90, fredflare.com), 2) Hue Super-Opaque Control Top Tights ($12.50, dillards.com), 3) Sexy Patent Pumps ($24.80, forever21.com), 4) Tinley Road Cream Flower Stud Earring ($24, piperlime.com)


    A little black dress is always a classy option for a more toned down, elegant look (i.e. office party, meeting the parents, etc). Jazz up the outfit with a bold hued shoe and statement accessories. If cash is tight, one simple LBD can be reworked numerous ways to create a new look each time.

    1) One Shoulder Bra Top Dress ($48, victoriassecret.com), 2) Vince Camuto Rues Pumps ($68.60, macys.com), 3) Erica Lyons Frontal Statement Necklace ($45, dillards.com), 4) Hammered Metal Bangles ($19.90, express.com)


    If your style's more casual or the thought of braving the chilly temps in a skirt isn't your idea of fun, opt for a slim fit pant and festive blouse. The casual chic look is functional and each piece can easily be worked into your wardrobe long after the holiday season is over.

    1) Studio Stretch Seam-Back Skinny Leg Pant ($29.99, express.com), 2) Asos Gathered Sleeve Blouse ($33.62, asos.com), 3) Sam Edelman "Novato" Glitter Pump ($99, dillards.com), 4) Structured Rhinestone Earrings ($6.80, forever21.com), 5) Black Stone and Filigree Ring ($22, guess.com)

     

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    Wal-Mart Challenge of Class Action Suit Could Hurt Civil Rights Cases


    A lawyer for a group of women seeking to sue Wal-Mart for discriminating against them when it came to pay and promotions said the company's attempt to challenge the formation of a class action lawsuit could hurt civil rights cases going forward.

    The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which is the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation's history. Wal-Mart is arguing that there are too many plaintiffs for them to have similar claims. The class consists of anywhere from 500,000 to 1.6 million women.

    The New York Times reports:

    The question is not whether there was discrimination but rather whether the claims by the individual employees may be combined as a class action. The court's decision on that issue will almost certainly affect all sorts of class-action suits, including ones asserting antitrust, securities and product liability.

    Wal-Mart, which says its policies expressly bar discrimination and promote diversity, said the women in the potential class action - who worked in 3,400 stores in 170 job classifications - could not possibly have enough in common to make class-action treatment appropriate.

    "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has granted review in this important case," a Wal-Mart statement said. "The current confusion in class-action law is harmful for everyone - employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes and the civil justice system. These are exceedingly important issues that reach far beyond this particular case."

    But the lawyer for the plaintiffs says this decision could prevent other civil rights cases, which often use class action status, from going forward.



    "Wal-Mart has thrown up an extraordinarily broad number of issues, many of which, if the court seriously entertained, could very severely undermine many civil rights class actions," attorney Brad Seligman told the Times.

    Seligman and his team have argued that the class size is justified:

    "The class is large because Wal-Mart is the nation's largest employer," the brief said, "and manages its operations and employment practices in a highly uniform and centralized manner."

    The case pits the interests of businesses against the interests of civil rights groups. The Washington Post reports:

    Business groups say certification of a class action puts enormous pressure on a company to settle, regardless of whether the charges can be proved, because of the cost of the litigation and the potential award. For Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer, the sum could be billions of dollars.But civil rights groups say class-action suits are the most effective and cost-efficient way to make sure a business ends discriminatory practices and pays a price for its actions.

    Judges who dissented in the original decision that allowed the suit to go forward as a class action said the class was too vast and that Wal-Mart will not be able to present tailored defenses.

    "Maybe there'd be no difference between 500 employees and 500,000 employees if they all had similar jobs, worked at the same half-billion-square-foot store and were supervised by the same managers," wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. "But the half-million members of the majority's approved class held a multitude of jobs, at different levels of Wal-Mart's hierarchy, for variable lengths of time, in 3,400 stores, sprinkled across 50 states, with a kaleidoscope of supervisors (male and female)....They have little in common but their sex and this lawsuit."

    That's wrong. This is not a case about what happened to each individual but a culture of discrimination that affected many individuals.

    A culture of discrimination can exist across a vast body or structure. Take Jim Crow, for example. That discrimination may have looked different in New York City than the Deep South but it was hateful discrimination nonetheless that affected millions of Americans across vast areas.

    Given this country's history of discrimination against women and other groups, is it so hard to believe that Wal-Mart or any other large corporate entity has a culture where the ideas of women are not valued and they are not rewarded for their contributions?

    Go to any Wal-Mart in America and it appears basically the same. Large corporate entities in America value the idea that you can step into any store and have it be the same as any other. That's a product of a carefully defined corporate culture. Discrimination in a corporation can be cultivated in the same way.

    Finally, Wal-Mart will have an opportunity to show in court that they did not have a culture of discrimination as they claim. How many women managers do they have? Are women and men who do the same job paid the same? These are easy things for Wal-Mart to prove.

    The civil rights of individuals deserve to be protected.

     

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    LeBron James was in Miami, eating at a restaurant with his best friend, Maverick Carter. Inside the restaurant there were roughly 30 Cleveland Browns fans who decided to taunt James during dinner. The group started chanting the word "traitor" over and over again at James until they were asked to leave. After they left the restaurant, the group even waited outside for James to leave with his friend. Using wise judgment, James left out a side entrance to avoid a confrontation.

    I'm not sure why LeBron's case has stood out so readily for Cleveland sports fans. He's not the first player to leave a team to take another deal. He's also the guy who gave seven years of his heart to the city of Cleveland. To some extent, Cavs fans are reminding LeBron of his greatness when they cling onto him like a long lost parent. If he were a mediocre player, they wouldn't be nearly this emotional.

    LeBron going out of his way to put a 40-point butt-whooping on the Cavs was likely due to his own emotionality about this unfortunate situation. He also seemed to do a bit more trash talking and even did his famous "powder toss" to the dismay of the fans in the stadium. I interpret LeBron's uncharacteristic on-court arrogance to be a defense mechanism for the fact that deep down, he's hurting from all of the criticism. As my friend Terrie Williams (author of the book "Black Pain") likes to say: "Hurt people hurt people." What I think she means is that the pain from being hurt can cause us to lash out at others.

    Perhaps it's time for all of us to move on.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Elizabeth Edwards Died at 61
    Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former presidential hopeful John Edwards, died Tuesday of cancer. She was 61.

    In recent years, Elizabeth not only battled cancer and became a high-profile advocate for health care reform in America -- she also braved a sex scandal and separation from her husband after John Edwards, a former Democratic Senator and presidential contender, admitted having an affair.

    Consequently, Elizabeth's legacy will likely be seen in three distinct ways: politically, socially, and in terms of gender roles.

    On the political front, those who know her say that Elizabeth was a powerful political operative in her own right and a keen strategist when it came to steering her husband's political career over more than two decades. Indeed, even after John Edwards lost his Vice Presidential bid and later sought the presidency in the 2008 presidential race, it was Elizabeth who reportedly urged him to aspire to the nation's top office despite a diagnosis from doctors that her cancer had spread.

    Socially, Elizabeth Edwards was a strong proponent for health care in the U.S. and she often spoke out on the difficulties and economic challenges endured by people of less financial means than herself. She didn't just advocate for better access to health care for all Americans. She also spoke out about poverty in the U.S. in general. Elizabeth Edwards also talked a great deal about handling loss at so many levels. In her book, 'Resilience,' Elizabeth Edwards wrote of overcoming her first bout with breast cancer and surviving the death of her son, Wade, who had been killed in a car accident.
    Despite all these personal tragedies, what will perhaps most remain etched in many people's minds was how Elizabeth Edwards, as a woman and a politician's spouse, dealt with her husband's affair. Rightly or wrongly, the spouses of politicians are often judged by the public and these individuals (mainly women) are remembered for how they contend with their spouse's successes and shortcomings. And in a world of supermarket tabloids, 24-hour news/cable shows and reality TV -- not to mention the instant impact of social network sites like Twitter and Facebook -- each and every decision by a politician's spouse is often considered fair game for scrutiny.

    That was the case for Hillary Clinton when she and Bill Clinton went through the Monica Lewinsky saga. And it was certainly the case for Jenny Sanford, who famously left her husband, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, after he admitted to having an extra-marital affair with journalist Maria Belen Chapur. So Elizabeth Edwards' legacy will no doubt also be analyzed at least in part based on her decision to part ways from John Edwards, even as she battled cancer. Such scrutiny is likely if only for what her convictions, beliefs and choices say about the roles of women and political spouses.

    Initially, John and Elizabeth Edwards looked like they were overcoming the scandal, as John Edwards initially vehemently denied allegations he'd slept with a campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter. After denial upon denial, however, Edwards finally acknowledged not only the affair, but fathering a child by Hunter. Apparently, that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for Elizabeth Edwards, and the couple separated in January 2010. In an interview on Oprah, Elizabeth Edwards said that by the time John Edwards finally came clean about his infidelity, she didn't just throw a fit. She said she also got physically ill. "I threw up," she told Oprah. "That was a really tough night."

    Recently, Elizabeth Edwards had more tough nights. After taking a turn for the worst, doctors recently told her that medical treatment could no longer help her. It was only on Monday that Elizabeth made her last public statement -- on Facebook no less. She alluded to her days being numbered, but showed tremendous courage and faith. In her Facebook post, she said: "The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."

    Elizabeth Edwards was at her Chapel Hill, North Carolina home upon her passing. In recent days, she was surrounded by family and friends, including John Edwards. Her family issued a statement shortly after her death saying: "Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence, but she remains the heart of this family." The statement added: "We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life. On behalf of Elizabeth we want to express our gratitude to the thousands of kindred spirits who moved and inspired her along the way. Your support and prayers touched our entire family."

    It is known that Elizabeth Edwards had a will and specified that her minor children would live with John Edwards in the event of her death, according to ABCNews.com.

    Ironically, because of the timing of her death, Elizabeth Edwards's family will keep more of her wealth than it might otherwise have maintained had she died in 2011. There is no estate tax for 2010, so Elizabeth Edwards joins the ranks of several other well-known mulit-millionaires and billionaires (such as New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner), who passed away in 2010 and avoided estate taxes. In 2011, estate taxes are set to come back.

    What are your thoughts about Elizabeth Edwards and what will you most remember her for?



    Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, an award-winning financial news journalist and former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC, has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times, as well as magazines ranging from Essence and Redbook to Black Enterprise and Smart Money. Check out her New York Times best seller 'Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.'

     

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    The trial is about to begin for a 14-year old boy who was one of five suspects accused of beating Derrion Albert, a 16-year old honor student, to death last year. The beating occurred in September 2009 as Albert was on his way home from school. It was captured on cell phone video and seen around the world.

    The teen on trial isn't being identified because he is a juvenile. But there are four other suspects awaiting trial as adults. The prosecutor portrays the young men as part of a mob who attacked Albert and eventually killed him. The video shows the men kicking and punching Albert and eventually slamming a board onto his head. He died from the injuries to his skull.

    The defense attorney for the boy claims that the suspect was caught up in a fight that he didn't initiate. He did acknowledge that the boy hit Albert when he stood up, but says that his client didn't cause Albert's death.

    The death of Derrion Albert was nothing less than a senseless tragedy. His death was a symptom of growing violence throughout the nation, especially in the city of Chicago. Over 20 Chicago public school students were killed during that six month period, and the spiral of violence hasn't come to an end.

    If the boy is convicted of first degree murder, his attorney says that he could be sentenced up until the age of 21. If he violates the conditions of his release, he could get another 20 to 60 years in prison. After Albert's death, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposed the idea of deploying more police officers to work during school dismissal periods. He also plans to increase police presence at bus stops.

    After seeing the death of Derrion Albert in the news, I couldn't help but replay images of my own childhood. I remember being bullied at times, and not having anyone willing to help me. When the pressure got too tough, I would consider seriously hurting another person (i.e. a brick upside his head might end the problem) and I even thought about suicide. Those days were horrible for me, so I can feel Derrion Albert's pain as I write about his experience.

    If there were adults that Derrion could have spoken with about his situation, that might have made a difference. I also feel some degree of sympathy for the boys accused of killing him. Perhaps if there were adults directly involved with these boys when they were younger, they wouldn't possess the anger in their souls which led to this horrible incident.

    President Obama deserves credit for sending Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Chicago shortly after Albert's death. But I am hopeful that he and his advisors will also take note of the fact that black teen unemployment is 46 percent. This sad economic situation means that not only are these children being inadequately educated in the public school system, they also have nothing to do after school other than playing sports or committing crimes. These teens must be engaged in a different way, and the notion that most of Mayor Daley's response to this incident involved the police is a very telling statement about the way black men are managed in America.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Using common sense is one thing. Racially profiling people is another.

    After a livery cab driver was critically shot in New York City, the head of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, is urging his members to racially profile black and Latino passengers.

    "I don't care about racial profiling. You know, sometimes it is good we are racially profiled, because the God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics," said Fernando Mateo.

    Here's the kicker: Mateo is himself of black and Latino origin.

    So, basically, he's telling his drivers not to pick him up? How bright is that?

    "I'm asking black and Hispanic people to profile their own, so how the hell can this be racist?" Mateo told the Post. "It's our own committing these crimes against us. It's weeding out the criminal element."

    No, it's racist. Racial profiling does not work. It only leads to discrimination. And, it's illegal.

    Mateo's comments came after a livery driver, Trevor Bell, 53, in South Ozone Park, Queens, was shot during a robbery by a passenger who looked Hispanic.

    For those who don't live in New York, there are two types of taxis. There are the yellow cabs that you see mostly at the airport, downtown Manhattan and in the movies. And then there are livery cabs, the Lincoln Town Car-type vehicles that operate almost everywhere else in the five boroughs. Mateo represents those drivers. You are technically not suppossed to hail livery cabs but in the places where they operate, everyone does.

    Until recently, in places like Harlem, you couldn't get a yellow taxi. But since Harlem has begun gentrifying, yellow cabs are much more common. If you needed a cab in an area in Upper Manhattan, you'd most likely be in a livery. There aren't many of them downtown.

    Yellow cabs are notorious for not picking up black men. Actor Danny Glover filed a complaint with the New York City taxi commission a few years ago to highlight the problem.



    I can't tell you how many times I've had a yellow cab driver refuse to take me to my location or simply pass me on the street to pick up a white passenger. It didn't matter whether I was wearing a suit, where I was going or if I had a pocket full of singles to give a good tip. All the drivers saw was that I was black.

    It got to the point where I refused to take yellow cabs unless it was an emergency or I had no other choice, like at the airport.

    Once, I was out with friends and we needed a cab to make it downtown to an important event on time. My friend, a black architecht student at the time, put his hand out a proceeded to stand there as cab after cab passed him by. We were blocks from Columbia University where we both went to school.

    We were dressed well.

    We were able to pay.

    We were also black.

    "I told you you were wasting your time," I said after he stepped dejected back onto the sidewalk.

    Finally, his girlfriend at the time, who is Guyanese and looks Indian, stepped out into the street. She had barely finished lifiting her arm when a yellow taxi almost ran its tires into the ground screeching to a halt.

    You should have seen the look on the driver's face as me and my friend walked to the cab to join her. We still laugh about that incident today. And to be clear, I have had good yellow cab drivers who did not discriminate aginst me. I have just encountered many who did.

    Mateo's comments don't make sense because not every black or Latino person is a criminal. It's ridiculous to think that you can tell who is a criminal solely by looking at them. It is much better to look for other clues or behaviors that can tip you off to a potential problem.

    Using Mateo's logic, the driver would pass up the black guy in a business suit and pick up the white guy in a dirty hoodie who looks like he's on drugs.

    The New York Post reports that Mateo's comments were met with immediate backlash:

    "Choosing which passengers to serve on the basis of race is illegal, downright wrong and simply unacceptable," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.

    City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) added that Mateo was "just talking foolish out of . . . desperation because he doesn't know what to do about a very serious issue."

    The Rev. Al Sharpton called Mateo's remarks "absurd."

    Mateo also mentioned that drivers should use sucpicious activity as the measuring stick.

    "So if you see suspicious activity, you know what? Don't pick that person up," Mateo said.

    That is what he should be telling his drivers. They should learn to spot the signs of suspicious activity. They should be taught not to fight if someone attempts to rob them. Besides, if these Livery cabs stopped picking up black and Latino passengers, they would surely go out of business.

    It's sad what happened to this livery cab driver. Bell is a father of two who was pulling an extra shift so that he could give his family a nice Christmas. The gunman got $100 in the robbery. Bell got six bullets in his neck and legs.

    Too often, these hard-working men and-- a few women-- are the victims of robberies because they are easy targets. But sucpicious activity is not constitued solely by walking around with black skin or Latino features.

     

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    The last time Oprah Winfrey physically acted in a film, it was the 1998 film adaptation of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'Beloved.'

    After voicing several animated films, including 2009's 'The Princess and the Frog,' the media mogul is ready to step back in front of the camera as Deadline.com is reporting that Winfrey is in talks to star for HBO Films in 'Ruined,' an adaptation of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

    'Ruined,' which starred Saidah Arrika Ekulona and Phylicia Rashad's daughter, Condola Rashad, won a slew of awards during its 2009 off-Broadway run at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The play focuses on a brothel in war-torn Congo and the struggles of its madam, Mama Nadi, to keep herself and the women working for her from getting caught between the government and rebel armies.

    Through her production company Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte will be executive producers as Nottage will write the script.

     

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    Elizabeth Edwards, 61, Dies from Cancer, edwards dies


    CBS's Katie Couric had one concern for Elizabeth Edwards (pictured) after her husband, John Edwards, announced his bid for the White House in 2008. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 that had previously returned aggressively, Ms. Couric reminded her, "You're staring at possible death."

    Edwards' stoic reply? "Aren't we all, though?"

    That bold, relentless spirit defined every step of Elizabeth Edwards' life. With grace, poise and dignity, she fought a six-year battle with cancer, and according to her, she was victorious. After her death yesterday at 61 years old, a family friend said, "Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer. The battle was about living a good life and that she won."

    The Edwards family shared their grief in a statement:

    "Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence, but she remains the heart of this family. We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life."



    Born Mary Elizabeth Anania on July 3, 1949, she was a fierce health advocate who publicly decried the state of the U.S. health care system. She was extremely passionate about ensuring that people who did not have her wealth would still have access to quality health care. A self-described anti-Barbie, because of her intellect and "real-woman figure," she was not afraid to stand up to the likes of Republican pundit Ann Coulter, or even to her husband.

    While former presidential candidate Edwards was against allowing gay citizens to marry, preferring a "civil union" instead, Mrs. Edwards was not afraid to distance herself from what she thought was the discriminatory rhetoric of her husband while acknowledging that he was being honest in his beliefs:

    "I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me," she said. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

    "If he's pleasant to me on the street, if his children don't throw things in my yard, then I'm happy," she said. "It seems to me we're making issues of things that honestly ... don't matter."

    That respect for other people's relationships made the revelation that her husband had an affair with former campaign aide Rielle Hunter and fathered a child with her even more devastating.

    Quietly suffering with the knowledge that Edwards had what he described as a one night stand in 2006, Elizabeth chose to stand by him until she learned that the affair spanned months and the "love child" that Edwards previously denied was indeed his daughter.

    Publicly renewing their vows on their 30th anniversary, Elizabeth sat down with Oprah and explained the depth of John's betrayal, explaining how her father's adultery on her mother "undermined her in so many ways, just the thought of it ... it made her less than she could be. I just didn't want to see that happen to me."

    An accomplished lawyer in her own right and author of two best-selling books, "Resilience" and "Saving Graces," the one event that shaped her journey more than any other was the death of her 16-year-old son, Wade, in a car accident in 2006. Her despair and grief were always simmering beneath the surface, and she openly questioned her faith in God after his passing:

    "Some days I am nothing at all but a Mother who lost her son. If I had a God who would intervene but hadn't, I couldn't accept that God any longer," she says. "There is no heaven for me without my boy. I am not interested in a God who exiles my son."

    Mother, advocate and steel magnolia, the world has and will continue to benefit from the life, laughter and lessons of Elizabeth Edwards.

    In a statement, President and First Lady Obama said they were "deeply saddened" by her death:

    "In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends."

    On Monday, Edwards announced that she was discontinuing cancer treatment:

    "The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered," she wrote on her Facebook page. "We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called 'being human.' But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."

    Rest in love and peace, Elizabeth. Rest secure in the knowledge that your impact on the lives of those who love you, cheered for you and cried with you will live on.


     

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    Derrell Johnson-Koulianos arrested

    Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is the star wide receiver for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Well, he was the star receiver until this weekend. Iowa City police just arrested Johnson-Koulianos on a long list of drug charges, including possession of a controlled substance, keeping a drug house and unlawful possession of prescription drugs. Police allegedly found cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs in his home, along with $3,000 in cash.

    Johnson-Koulianos is currently in the Johnson County Jail in Iowa City, being held on $8,000 bail. His first court appearance was set to occur Wednesday morning. Clearly, the city and coaching staff are in shock over recent events.

    University of Iowa football Coach Kirk Ferentz issued the following statement in response to recent activities:

    "I am highly disappointed to learn of the charges. Derrell has been suspended from all team activities."

    One cannot begin to describe the depth of my personal disappointment in the actions of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. It seems that every single week, a story comes across my desk about a college athlete getting arrested, shot, shooting someone or doing something else to ruin his life. I keep wondering when the cycle is going to stop. The black community needs more Rhodes Scholars like Myron Rolle and fewer men like Johnson-Koulianos, who choose to fit the athlete-entertainer-criminal stereotype that continues to pollute the mind of the black athlete in America.

    Now, with that said and without condoning the actions of Johnson-Koulianos, I want to ask these questions: Was this player selling drugs because he simply wanted the thrill or is there a possibility that he also felt that selling drugs could be an important source of supplementary income? Also, do we think that the inability of Johnson-Koulianos to pay his basic expenses, in conjunction with any financial pressures he might have been feeling from home, played a role in his decision to risk everything by selling drugs after football practice? I don't know the specifics of this player's financial situation, but I do know that roughly half of all black college athletes in revenue-generating sports come from poverty.

    Coach Ferentz signed a contract last year paying him $3.675 million per year. He earns most of this money because players like Derrell Johnson-Koulianos are able to run and jump on television in front of millions of people. All the while, the NCAA has made it illegal for Johnson-Koulianos or his family to earn any piece of the billions in revenue generated by his brilliant play on the field.

    In fact, if players had access to the same free labor market given to the rest of us, Johnson-Koulianos would have a salary as high as his coach. So while it appears that Johnson-Koulianos may have certainly engaged in criminal activity, the NCAA has been nothing short of criminal in its own behavior as well.

    The NCAA's steadfast commitment to academic and athletic apartheid (where the majority of black men serve as field hands being deprived of both human capital and the opportunity for a real education, and the majority of coaches and athletic directors are white) serves as an incubator for situations where desperate, impoverished young athletes may make bad decisions in order to get a piece of what rightfully belongs to them in the first place.

    This is not Communist China or Socialist Cuba. This is the United States of America, where our values as a society are allegedly built upon individual liberties and capitalist ideologies. The NCAA's professional sports league gives it the right to run a government-sanctioned sweat shop in a country that claims to condemn this kind of activity.

    Had Johnson-Koulianos been granted even a semblance of his labor rights, he likely would never have committed this crime. Even being paid a fraction of the millions the University of Iowa earns from his stellar play on the field would have likely led him to pass up the risk of engaging in the drug trade and spending several years in prison. While we can never condone the stupidity of selling drugs on a college campus (unfortunately, nearly every campus has at least one drug dealer, including the Ivy Leagues), we also cannot condone the economic abuses that may lead some to engage in illegal activity in order to get what they need. The NCAA's racist and exploitative behavior makes them an accomplice in this terrible, terrible crime.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    I was up working one night when someone reached out to me on Facebook messenger.

    The brother was asking me why Bishop Eddie Long chose mediation in his sexual coercion suit, rather than aiming for a public trial. In case you've been buried under a rock, Bishop Eddie Long has been in the media quite a bit these days, after being accused of using his authority to coerce four young men in to having sex with him.

    Long has vowed to fight the charges, but he never really said much about whether he was guilty or innocent. Actually, he simply said that he is "not a perfect man." That could easily translate to Long admitting that there are a few things about his personal life that he wouldn't want to see on the 6 o'clock news.

    At any rate, I thought about the question being asked by my Facebook friend and realized that he had a point. Why is Eddie Long avoiding the public hearing that his followers at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church deserve? I then took to the Internet to see what others were saying.

    I saw a very interesting piece written by Morris Kelly at the Huffington Post. In his article, Kelly makes the clear point that Long's efforts to avoid a public trial practically scream that the man is guilty of something. Given the magnitude of these allegations, even the tiniest amount of guilt immediately paints him as a hypocrite of the worst proportions. It may even make him into a child molester, since these boys were teens when they allege that some of the sexual interactions took place.

    The stunning reality that an individual who's been granted so much of the public trust would go out of his way to hurt children might be a wake-up call for those in the black church who act as if their pastors can walk on water. Also, the extent to which Long is guilty of any of this leaves me disappointed that he spent so many years attacking, insulting and admonishing law-abiding members of the gay community who've never done him any harm.

    Bishop Eddie Long needs to explain clearly why he is avoiding a public trial.

    As Kelly correctly notes, an innocent man wants the trial to be public so that the world can see that his accusers are making false allegations. A person who asks to settle things behind closed doors may be hoping that he can salvage a small piece of his reputation and rely on the blind faith of those who've been convinced that he can do no wrong. Eddie Long is a smooth talker, as are many heads of the black church. The question is not whether he is an imperfect man. Instead, it is a question of just how deep those imperfections go.

    It must be noted that if the mediation doesn't work, a trial will then take place, but if the mediation is successful, then the plaintiff's attorney will get her money and Long may then get his privacy. While both parties may be satisfied with this particular outcome, they should realize that they aren't the only stakeholders in all of this. The thousands of members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and those who've trusted Bishop Long with their souls and their children need to know the truth.



    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Rapper Doug E. Fresh Owes Uncle Sam Big Time


    Legendary hip-hop "human beat box" Doug E. Fresh is rapping the blues this holiday to the tune of $2.27 million in back taxes that he owes the feds.
    Fresh, whose real name is Douglas E. Davis, has been down debtor's row before in the not-too-distant past when, back in 2008, he was hit with three foreclosure actions by banks who were looking to collect $3.5 million in unpaid mortgages from three Harlem, New York properties that he owned.

    The record producer and iconic pioneer of beatboxing now faces yet another New York City tax lien which was filed on October 20 with the New York City Register's Office.

    As the former frontman for the 80's group "The Get Fresh Crew," Fresh's extraordinary talent for imitating drums and using other unique sound effects with his mouth and just the use of a microphone shot to stardom when he performed his beat box talents throughout the duration of the record "La-Di-Da-Di" while Slick Rick rapped.

    Fresh remains renowned with contemporary artists. The devout Scientologist also recently opened "Doug E.'s", a chicken and waffles fast food-type of restaurant in Harlem after a three-year delay.



     

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