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

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    Rosario Dawson, New York native and costar of the box office hit 'Unstoppable,' looked ravishing on the red carpet for the premiere of the movie back in October. The lovely Latina rocked a fabulously feminine, one-shoulder, belted-bow dress by Stella McCartney, adding nude pumps, a delicate bracelet and sleek neck-grazing earrings.

    Aussie Naomi Watts also looked elegant and sleek in the dress at the Costume Gala, but the actress opted for a punchier pink version, which she paired with gold bracelets on both arms, metallic peep toes and a sassy bold red lip. We think both actresses looked like a perfectly wrapped holiday gift, but we want to know what you think. Who rocked this Stella McCartney dress best?

     

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    Dr. Boyce Watkins on AOL Black Voices: Entrepreneurs
    One of the things I consistently scream from the rooftops is the importance of African Americans embracing the art of black institution building. One type of structure we should focus on building in our community is the economic institution (which I discuss in my book, "Black American Money."). That means learning the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and making sure our kids learn the same thing. This doesn't imply that you should be a completely independent entrepreneur, but it does mean that you may want to figure out how to have a side hustle or two. In tough economic times like these, you have no job security if you've only got one job.

    To discuss these matters, I brought in my resident expert on entrepreneurship, Ms. Danielle Douglas. Danielle is the CEO of Inspire Enterprises, and knows quite a bit about starting and running a business. I love speaking with Danielle because she is also proficient in the area where people of color struggle the most: Finding money. I've always felt that economic freedom in a capitalist society is one of the primary keys to your spiritual, psychological and social freedom. Therefore, in order for black folk to become truly liberated, we must let go of our addiction to mass consumption and begin to embrace the power of economic upliftment. An understanding of conscientious capitalism (not money-grubbing behavior that pillages our community) is important for our advancement as a people. We must all invest in something.

    The interview is below, enjoy!
    PRODUCTION PLAYER! DO NOT DELETE.



    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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    Madison Square Garden
    will be jumping tonight for what many are calling the biggest regular-season Knicks game in at least a decade.

    Tickets for the matchup between the hometown ballers and the Miami Heat are sold out. But if you've got a spare $79,000, you can sit courtside near the likes of Knicks fanatic Spike Lee.

    "We're going to kick LeBron's ass," Lee confidently predicted to the Daily News during a book-signing in Brooklyn last night. "We're going to win them all. It's like the old days."

    The Heat-Knicks game, which features the Gotham-scorning LeBron James, attracted more buyers on StubHub.com than even their home playoff games in 2004 - the last year the team reached the postseason.

    This morning before the celebrated matchup, King James held court at Chelsea club 1Oak - where balloons spelled out James' name - with Amar'e Stoudemire and Heat teammate Dwyane Wade. Stoudemire showed up at the club with model Amber Rose, and Wade arrived with actress Gabrielle Union.

    The Knicks have won 13 of their last 15 games, losing a last-second heart-breaker to the Celtics Wednesday night. The question remains: Can they stop James?

    "Who needs LeBron? We don't!" said Bruce Dines, 49, of Queens. "I'm actually glad that LeBron's not here. Amar'e Stoudemire has a chance to shine. You can see he's a superstar."

    Source: NY Daily News


    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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    Anwar Robinson: Former 'American Idol' Star Takes the Buzz Blitz
    Season four 'American Idol' finalist Anwar Robinson won the hearts of television viewers with his smooth tone and soaring range.

    Since his days on 'Idol,' the Newark, New Jersey-bred vocalist starred in the national and international touring cast of the Broadway musical 'Rent; and played Jesus in a New York production of the show 'Godspell.'

    The 31-year-old talent made his movie debut in Maurice Jamal's 2008 independent film 'The Ski Trip 2: Friends and Lovers.'

    Having released several singles over the last several years, the former dreadlock-sporting Robinson is now gearing up to release his full-length independent CD, 'Everything' on Jan. 25, 2011.

    BlackVoices.com caught up with the singer - who continues to teach music education - and had him take our Buzz Blitz.
    Fantasia
    *****

    Which 'American Idol' winner is your favorite and why?

    I must say that I find myself relating to season three's Fantasia Barrino. Every single time she sings, it goes through my soul, especially live. When she came to visit our season four top 10, she sang 'If You Believe' and my hand flew up as if I were at a revival. Fantasia gave each of us pearls of wisdom. I waited to be the last one that she spoke to and she told me that I was special. I have held our interactions very sacred and took Tasia's words to heart.

    If you could cast yourself on a television show which one would you chose?

    Well, it'd be a toss-up between three shows: 'Glee,' 'The Sing Off' or 'The Game.' Practicality would have me choose the first two shows. The choice of my favorite dramedy would be the rationale of my third choice.

    If you had to chose between G. Garvin, Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse preparing dinner for you, who would you chose and why?

    I love this question! Out of these amazing culiEmeril LaGassenary phenoms, I'd have to say Emeril Lagasse. Aside from doing a couple of guest spots on his show, he really puts so much love into his cuisine. A kind soul, indeed. BAM!

    Best thing an 'American Idol' fan has ever said to you after recognizing you?

    Wow, okay, the best thing that many people could ever compliment me on is the content of my character either in relation to my time on 'Idol' or my being able to inspire others to further their lives through music education.

    If you could change something about the music industry, what would you fix?

    I used to want to change to music industry for what I thought in my myopic perception was better. Then, the industry actually changed and had its breakdown and then I came to realize that it was not as lucrative as it oAnwar Robinson's Everythingnce was - especially on the surface. Then, I decided to change myself and embrace those who wanted to hear from and help me make it work. Now, I have an album completed and unwavering support from my loved ones and a fan base that has abode with me from my times in bright lights and as a music teacher.

    Complete this sentence: "I'm my happiest when..."

    I am performing on stage!

    What's the one bad habit you can't seem to break?

    I used to have a habit of qualifying how I felt about most things. Now, I don't apologize for my thoughts and positions on thinAnwar Robinsongs anymore.

    If you could chose any singer to have a major resurgence in music, who would you pick and why?

    This is a very hard question because there are now so many different ways to measure success in music, especially with technology being at the helm of how music is created, distributed and perceived. I will share that it is extremely fulfilling to see El DeBarge getting a 'Second Chance' and furthermore to hear (vocally) and see (visually) that he is pretty much unscarred. I am quite content with most of the artists whom I look up to and their current standings.

    *****

    To follow Anwar Robinson on Twitter, go to twitter.com/AnwarRobinson.




    Related Articles





    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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    With the year coming to a close, there are some films that are starting to screen now, and one of them that I caught the other day was 'The Green Hornet.'

    I went in with low expectations, but I was actually surprised by how funny and action packed this film is. With the film's early January release date, I'm sure many are thinking that the studio is looking to dump this movie as many folks are still catching up with films that are Oscar potentials. But believe me, this could be one of the few breakouts of '11.

    Seth Rogen and Jay Chou will have you have laughing the minute the film starts.

    Directed by Michel Gondry, Rogen plays Britt Reid, who decides to be crime fighter after the death of his father, wealthy newspaper publisher James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). Joining him is his trusted servant Kato (Chou), and the two must go up against Russian criminal Benjamin Chudnofsk (Christoph Waltz).

    The cars, or rather the Black Beauty, looked amazing. Gondry has a flare for visuals, and the split camera scenes are his specialty.

    One of the few drawback is the casting of Cameron Diaz, who looked lost. This is beneath her. From 'Knight and Day' with Tom Cruise to 'TGH' with Seth Rogen. Time to switch agencies!! She should have done this when right after she did 'The Mask,' back in '94.

    Since it was an early cut of the film, it wasn't shown in 3-D. As a 2-D, you're not missing much of the effects. If the good vibes are strong, folks will come out. If 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' can do wonders at the box office, then this should do the same.

    Stay tuned next month for a full review.

     

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    The season for giving has dawned upon us once again -- and nothing gets us more in the holiday mood than some of our favorite yuletide tunes. From Mariah Carey's most modern day classic to Luther Vandross' chart-topping gem, this list should definitely inspire aural pleasure. We also have Brian McKnight, Wendy Moten, Patti LaBelle, Boyz II Men and a surprising few others who are not often celebrated in the mainstream. Check it out.


    BlackVoices.com presents 20 songs that are perfect for your holiday playlist.



     

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    The family of Aiyana Jones, the 7-year old in Detroit shot during a police raid, has sued A&E Networks for their filming of the TV show, "The First 48", claiming that the show's producers were responsible for causing the death of their daughter. When police barged into Jones' home seeking a murder suspect, Jones ended up being shot in the head by an officer's gun. A&E was filming as the incident took place.

    The family sued in U.S. District Court in Detroit and has an account of the facts that differs from that of police. Assistant Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee claims that Jones was shot in the neck after the gun discharged when Jones' grandmother struggled with officers. But an independent autopsy found that Jones was shot in the top of her head while sleeping.

    The suit is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages.

    "The defendants knew or should have known that by acting in concert with the Detroit Police and filming live...it would lead to tragedies such as the one in this case," as stated in the lawsuit.

    The shooting death of Aiyana Jones was a national tragedy of monumental proportions. The Detroit Police Department, which has endured massive budget cuts in a city with significant financial problems, may have likely cut some corners and made mistakes in the death of this young girl. After the end of the lawsuit, the financial problems may be even worse than they already are right now.

    Officials in the city of Detroit heightened hostilities by not responding to the incident in a timely manner. At the time that Aiyana was shot, both the mayor and police chief were nowhere to be found. The idea that officers may have worked to actually cover up the shooting is both unsurprising and quite disturbing.

    My father was in law enforcement for 25 years. Based on my perceptions of what happens on the job (I am not an officer, so I can only speculate from speaking to quite a few officers over the years), it is quite likely that some of the officers may have been encouraged to be "Hollywood cops," going above and beyond the call of duty in order to look good for the camera. But when human lives are at stake, there is no room for show business. A&E should never have been there in the first place.

    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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    Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted this week on even more corruption charges. These charges also implicated his father, Bernard Kilpatrick. Federal prosecutors argue that Kwame and his father engaged in a "pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud," leading to the 38-count indictment.

    U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade is at the forefront of the investigation. "This indictment alleges an audacious and far-reaching abuse of the public trust by a group of high-level city officials and their close associates," McQuade said during a press conference.

    McQuade even refers to the conspiracy as the "Kilpatrick Enterprise," claiming that the goal of the enterprise was to enrich Kwame Kilpatrick and his family members. They argue that Kilpatrick and his family used their positions of influence to coerce others into helping them achieve their objectives. Kilpatrick served as Mayor of Detroit from 2005 until 2008. He was removed from office upon pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. He is currently serving a prison term that relates to violating the conditions of his probation.

    The indictment came after a six-year investigation into the activities of the Kilpatrick family. The FBI and other federal authorities claim that they are continuing to gather evidence. They are also investigating other forms of corruption within Detroit government. They've already convicted Monica Conyers, the former president of the Detroit City Council, in addition to the former deputy mayor Kandia Milton and Milton's brother, DeDan.

    One of Kilpatrick's business associates, Bobby Ferguson, is accused of kicking back $424,000 in cash and other valuables in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in city contracts. Also, while Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor, his father Bernard deposited $600,00 into personal bank accounts. He is therefore being charged with making false tax filings for 2004, 2005 and 2007.

    The saying "Oh what a tangled web we weave" comes to mind when I think about the on-going challenges of Kwame Kilpatrick and his associates. Kwame is from a political family, with his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, serving as a Democratic Congresswoman from the state of Michigan. Politics runs in the blood of the Kilpatrick family, and quite a few relatives have decided to follow suit.

    When I see the ups and downs of this family, I wonder if they are reconsidering whether the spoils of political success are worth the stress that one experiences with father and son indictments, tremendous public humiliation, expensive legal battles and everything else that comes with a life of complex politics. Call me crazy, but I am not entirely sure if the Kilpatrick family is definitely less ethical than other political families. I'm sure that digging into the backgrounds of the Clintons, Bushes or anyone else would bring up far more dirt than the media could ever report. While we can't excuse any illegal behavior on the part of Kwame or his family, I wince at the difficulty of figuring out the line between business as usual and something that could send you to prison.

    With that said, I found Kwame to be disappointing as a political official and also as a human being. He seemed to approach his position of importance with the kind of arrogance that no man should have when being trusted with the public confidence. A mayor is not a rap star, celebrity or athlete. He is a humble public servant. That humility can serve as protection when the spoils and temptations of power start to take hold of a man's psyche.

    I addressed the National Black Law Student Association in 2008 along with my colleague Charles Ogletree of Harvard University. The mood was somber, since Kwame was supposed to attend the event. But he wasn't able to attend because just a few days earlier, he'd been accused of some very serious crimes. I had no idea that two years later, we'd still be addressing the mountain of legal mess that he has helped to create for himself and his family. In many ways, I feel sorry for him, and I hope that in the middle of all this, he can find peace. A final point is that his parents should never have opened doors for Kwame to get so much power at such an early age. The truth is that he was probably not mature enough to handle it.

    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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    One of my greatest weaknesses is that I am a "what you see is what you get" kind of person. I don't go out of my way to dress up for nearly anyone, and I focus on substance over hype. But my approach is problematic because while I might see myself as Dr. Boyce Watkins, there are people who may judge the book by its cover. So, one of the reasons I started working with a stylist was because I knew that to get where I wanted to go, I had to make some changes to my approach.

    The Dr. Boyce spotlight for today is Ernest Moore. Ernest is an expert on style and wardrobe and he is here exclusively on AOL Black Voices to give insights into how you can upgrade your game when it comes to style and fashion. The interview is below, enjoy!

    1) What is your name and what do you do?


    My name is Ernest Moore, and I am the Owner of EMI Wardrobe Consulting. I am an Image and Wardrobe Consultant, Personal Shopper/Stylist, and I also teach etiquette, with the result of making males into gentlemen.

    2) How can people benefit from the service you provide?

    In this era of everything in haste, we have forgotten to teach our young men the importance of their image and their wardrobe. We have also forgotten how important it is to treat others. The term, gentleman," has lost it's luster in our urban communities. Here at EMI, I will show that it is not only cool, but very important, to have these qualities, that most schools don't teach. It is said, "People will form an opinion of you, within the first 5 seconds of perceiving you. While you cannot judge a book by it's cover, it is important that people feel comfortable with our young men and categorize them at first sight.

    3) Why does image seem to matter so much in the business world and what are some common mistakes people make?

    Image" is the view of other people. It generally influences the way other people relate to us and the way we are perceived by the public. Simple things like smiling, a firm handshake, the right kind of wardrobe, proper table manners at a business lunch, the correct tie knot for the shirt, are just a few of the common mistakes most people make.

    4) What are some of the hurdles you've experienced as a businessman?

    One of the hurdles I have experienced as a businessman is that most men think they already know what they are doing. They are too proud to ask for assistance, unless they go into a store and ask a salesperson for their opinion. Another hurdle I have to encountered is the relaxed dress code, or no dress code at all, in most companies. They only dress, "business casual," when a client is arriving. Most companies do not have or even enforce a dress code, so staff comes to work in jeans, Tims, and jerseys, and then employers wonder why they are not achieving maximum results from their employees. Third, most men think they are gentleman, but they will do some of the things a gentleman would never do, for example, wear a hat inside of a building, don't know how to tie a bow tie, never drinks milk directly from the container, never drinks beer from a bottle at a restaurant, which fork to use, etc.

    5) What advice would you give others seeking to become entrepreneurs?

    Be passionate about your business, learn as much as you can, don't try to re-invent the wheel (usually someone else has already done what you're trying to do), and last but not least, "Never ever give up!

    6) What projects are you working on and what are your plans for the future? How can people reach out to use your service?

    Current projects include:
    a. custom clothing
    b. writing a book, but making so those with the least amount of knowledge can benefit
    c. Instructional DVD
    d. tapping into the professional athletes and entertainers (if they dress well, and have etiquette, those who view them will also)
    e. working with small to mid-size companies
    f. Creating the essence of the absolute male
    People can reach out to me on Face Book, LinkedIN, Twitter, email, website, by phone. I can travel to them, or even empower them by phone or video.

    7) Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

    There are many other Image & Wardrobe Consultants, Personal Shoppers/Stylist, and people who teach etiquette, but very few can get that all in one, not to mention for the value I provide. I bring passion, knowledge, and willingness to educate and empower our young men, to be the best man they can become. The sagging pants, poor manners, lack of confidence, in our daily routines, only makes for an even worse generation. As a people, we always talk about the wrongs in our communities, well this is my way of making the change. I am creating a movement, that hopefully will transcend, long after I've gone on to glory. Thank you for taking the time to review my answers, and I look forward to speaking with you, in the very near future.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Marie Evans grew up in a housing project in Boston. In those projects, the children in the neighborhood were given free samples of Newport cigarettes, which Marie first received at the age of 9. By the time she was 13, she was a regular smoker, and in 2002, she died of lung cancer.

    Marie's family decided to confront the maker of Newport cigarettes for their negligent behavior and won a stunning $152 million lawsuit against the company. The judgement consisted of $81 million in damages and another $71 million that had been awarded earlier this week. It took quite a few years to get there, but justice has been served. This is the largest judgement in history against anyone in the tobacco industry.

    "It was her wish to sort of bring this suit, and I've honored that wish. It's been my mission to see this to completion. I'm sure she feels vindicated. I'm sure she feels thankful for the 14 members of the jury that they ruled that they committed these offenses," said William Evan's, Marie's son.

    Lorillard is the company behind Newport cigarettes. As expected, they deny targeting cigarettes toward young people and plan to appeal the verdict. We can also expect that the drama is far from over, and it may be quite some time before Marie's family will see a penny of the money from this lawsuit.

    During my PhD program, I spent quite a bit of time studying the history of tobacco lawsuits. I found that tobacco companies have been ruthless through the years when it comes to defending themselves against these sorts of claims. Anyone who dared to take on the tobacco industry found himself/herself to be the subject of intense background checks, legal manipulation and significant amounts of intimidation. The excessive counter-attacks of the industry were due to the fact that they knew that if one of them lost a suit, then the entire industry could crumble.

    Tobacco companies even went as far as creating "think tanks" that did research claiming that cigarettes are actually healthy and that any claim of their being harmful was ultimately incorrect. It took decades to crack the shell of corporate irresponsibility, as the beast of capitalism made public health secondary to the pursuit of profitable outcomes.

    One of the greatest victims of capitalism gone wild are minorities and the poor. The atrocious decision of Lorillard to distribute cigarettes to poor kids in the projects is hardly something that would be allowed in a wealthier neighborhood. Similarly, entities like the prison industrial complex and the NCAA are also allowed to operate without any degree of government regulation, primarily because nobody cares about what companies are doing to poor people. African Americans must be intelligent about how capitalism works, and the fact that corporate systems are not designed to care much about people, their health or whether they live or die. That is one of the downsides of living in America.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    The heroic prison strike that took place in Georgia this month has finally come to an end. Other than the inmates who are still holding out, most of the others have been released from the massive lock down and agreed to go back to work. Progress was made during the strike, and negotiations are still underway.


    I was scheduled to meet with Elaine Brown, one of the leaders of the movement last night. For some reason, we weren't able to find her. But I'm sure that whatever she was doing was more important than talking to me. Tomorrow morning I'll be speaking with Rev. Jesse Jackson on the matter, and then Monday, I speak with Rev. Al Sharpton. In fact, I'll be speaking to everyone I know about this issue for as long as I possibly can.

    One of the things that I believe, and I'm sure Elaine agrees, is that the strike was a significant step in getting the public to recognize the urgent need to reform our criminal justice system. It's important for people to realize that supporting the human rights of prison inmates is not a matter of being soft on crime. Instead, it's a matter of being intelligent about how systems operate so that those who are willing to rehabilitate themselves can return to their communities in a productive capacity. We cannot afford to keep throwing away every black child who makes a mistake.

    Even though reports are stating that the strike is effectively over, the momentum created by the activities of these inmates cannot be understated. By coming together in such an amazing way, the individuals in the Georgia State correctional system have made a strong statement for human rights around the world. They have also taught us a few things about America, the prison system and ourselves. Here are a few lessons to ponder:

    1) Prison inmates are not dumb and worthless human beings: The same brilliance that it took for the Georgia inmates to coordinate their protest, write public statements and become conscious of their human rights can be applied to nearly anything they try to do. Our society has been trained to believe that anyone who breaks the law is somehow worthless to society, but if that's the case, then we can say the same thing about Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Martin Luther King and even Jesus. The truth is that while there are certainly inmates who deserve to be punished, the punishment should not be for life for most of the individuals who are convicted. By marginalizing prison inmates and not creating opportunities for them to add to our society, we are only throwing away potentially productive human capital and destroying families, making the problem worse and more expensive over time.

    2) Prisons should be used to rehabilitate, not to make our society worse than it is: I've never understood the mindset of those who don't feel that prison inmates deserve access to an education. Do you really want an uneducated, unemployed ex-convict living in your neighborhood or raising children who attend school with your child? I thought not. Giving inmates access to quality education gives them a choice of returning to a life of crime or doing something better. I can tell you with all sincerity that if I had no education, no job and no way of providing for my family, I'd be willing to consider all alternatives to get my children what they need. Instead, a little opportunity and divine intervention turned me into a college professor instead of a menace to society.

    3) There should be additional oversight in the prison system: Prisons are like universities in that they are given the ability to operate without sufficient checks and balances on their behavior. As a result, many universities are among the last bastions of serious segregation in our society (my business school at Syracuse didn't grant tenure to an African American in any department in over 100 years of existence), and prisons are also allowed to consistently violate the human rights of their inmates. As much as the United States criticizes nations like China for their human rights violations, consider this: China has only 3/4 as many of its citizens in prison relative to the United States (2.1 million to 1.6 million), and they have a population that is four times greater than our own. When it comes to violating the human rights of minorities and the poor, the United States has become a global leader.

    4) The black community is being destroyed by our prisons: Nearly every black person I know has been affected by the prison system in one way or the other. If you haven't been in the criminal justice system, you probably have a parent, brother or cousin who has. If that's not the case, then you've possibly mentored or helped raise a child whose parent was incarcerated. Out of the 1.8 million African American men that live in the United States, nearly 200,000 of them are in state or federal prison, or in a local jail. According to a 2003 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 32 percent of black males born in the year 2001 can expect to spend time in state or federal prison during their lifetime. This means that the little boy you're raising right now has a prison bed already made out for him. Your daughter is going to try to find a husband and end up meeting several men who have interacted with this system. Therefore, it is not only in our incentive to teach our kids how to avoid these systems, we must also confront the systems themselves so that making a mistake at an early age does not lead to a death sentence on an individual's entire future.

    5) Black politicians and public figures must get involved: I wrote an article recently about how the Congressional Black Caucus was as quiet as a church mouse during the Georgia prison strike. While I get quite a few statements about the fabulous work they are doing for the Hispanic community (i.e. the DREAM Act), the war in Afghanistan, and much more, I don't see much in terms of fighting for the human rights of prison inmates. I'd love to see black politicians stop acting as if ex-convicts are sub-human individuals who deserve to be raped and beaten, and start realizing that many of them (not all) are fractured souls who made bad choices at an early age. Also, as much as rappers love to bust rhymes about selling dope, going to prison and getting shot, leading hip hop artists should be issuing statements in support of the Georgia prison protest and offering to help.

    One of the reasons that the Nazis were able to execute so many Jews was because the good-hearted members of society were convinced that those being exterminated deserved their fates. By separating people into the "us" and "them" groups, the powers that be are able to slowly but surely eat away at civil liberties for us all. When Jesus was thrust upon the cross, many mistook legality for morality to believe that he must have been doing something wrong because he was being punished. But we must understand that applying the arbitrary label of "convict" onto someone does not imply that we have the right to disrespect ourselves, our society and our freedom by making that person into a slave. In fact, most of us are not as far away from this system as we'd like to believe, just ask Wesley Snipes.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    BlackVoices.com
    wants you to help us count down the days until Christmas. We are looking to bless some of our lucky readers with the opportunity to win holiday gifts each day leading up to Christmas Day. Each day, we will highlight a new contest product of the day for our avid readers. So be sure to check back daily to see what we are giving away!

    GIFTS OF THE DAY
    Total Value ($58.99)

    In addition to a 30 Days At 100 Percent (Crystal Wright audio and motivational book) and Mariah Carey's Christmas CD, one lucky winner will also receive (1) 'West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology'; (1) 'Christmas with The O'Jays' CD; (1) Soul Train 3-DVD set; (1) Steve Harvey's new book 'Straight Talk, No Chaser'; and (1) Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 3-DVD concert package. The total value of the package is $272.91.



    "How do I win?" you ask?

    All you have to do is follow @blackvoices on Twitter and tweet the hashtag #BV12Days to us today by 11:59 p.m. PST for your chance to win. Winners will be selected at random. One winner will be announced via our social network platforms each day at 3 p.m. EST. Check out more contest details below.


    -Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
    -Enter to win by simply following the contest instructions for that specific day. Only winners who follow the contest instructions in full will be selected.
    -All winners will be announced on BlackVoices.com and via our social networks on Monday, Dec. 27.
    -Winners will be selected in a random drawing. A team member from BlackVoices.com will contact you for detailed contact information.
    -The giveaways will be sent to the winners before Dec. 31, 2010.

     

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    BlackVoices.com
    wants you to help us finish counting down the days until Christmas. We've been blessing some of our lucky readers with the opportunity to win holiday gifts each day leading up to Christmas Day. Each day, we will highlight a new contest product of the day for our avid readers. So be sure to check back daily to see what we are giving away!

    GIFT OF THE DAY
    USD Value ($47)
    In addition to a Lab Series Skincare for Men Shave Kit, one lucky winner will also receive (1) 'West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology'; (1) 'Christmas with The O'Jays' CD; (1) Soul Train 3-DVD set; (1) Steve Harvey's new book 'Straight Talk, No Chaser'; and (1) Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 3-DVD concert package. The total value of the package is $260.92.



    "How do I win?" you ask?

    All you have to do is follow @blackvoices on Twitter and tweet the hashtag #BV12Days to us today by 11:59 p.m. PST for your chance to win. Winners will be selected at random. One winner will be announced via our social network platforms each day at 3 p.m. EST. Check out more contest details below.
    -Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
    -Enter to win by simply following the contest instructions for that specific day. Only winners who follow the contest instructions in full will be selected.
    -All winners will be announced on BlackVoices.com and via our social networks on Monday, Dec. 27.
    -Winners will be selected in a random drawing. A team member from BlackVoices.com will contact you for detailed contact information.
    -The giveaways will be sent to the winners before Dec. 31, 2010.

     

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    Top 5 Financial Things to do in the Year 2011
    Remember the days when people wondered what it would be like to party like it's 1999? If you are 35 or older, you are probably wondering how we ever got to the day where 1999 would be a distant memory. Here we are, approaching the year 2011, the day that once seemed far off into the future. There are no flying cars, no robots taking us to work, and nobody has a condo on the moon. In fact, many of us are as broke as we were back in the early 1990s.

    I came up with a list of five financial things that black folks can do during the year 2011 to improve our collective economic plight. We've struggled our way through one of the greatest monetary crises in American history, and we are the only ones willing to take a stand against economic inequality (none of our politicians are even talking about it). None of us is perfect when it comes to how we manage our money and reach our goals, but we should all be striving for something better. Here are five things you can do this year:

    1) Find an alternative stream of income: Count the number of sources of income coming into your household. If the number is just one or two, you are in serious trouble. Try to find something on the side that allows you to add one to that number: it might be a part-time job, selling some kind of product, or allowing someone else in the household to get a job so they can contribute (only children under the age of 14 were allowed to be freeloaders in my mama's house). The new stream might be a trickle at first, but with consistent effort, the stream will grow. Having extra ways to pay the bills gives you more security than you would have by getting everything you need from one place.


    2) Save at least 10 percent of what you earn: Many black folks will give 10 percent of their income to their pastor, but won't put 10 percent of their income aside for their own family. You must save your money so your money can save you when times get rough. Have an automatic deduction of 10 percent of your income pulled out of your paycheck before you even get a dime. This will make a world of difference on your path to financial independence.

    3) Do research on how to start your own business: This doesn't mean you need to quit your job today and go for it on your own. It only means expanding your skill set and slowly teaching yourself how to create a job instead of going out and getting a job. Think of it like learning how to plant a small garden in the event that there is a disaster and the grocery stores are all closed. You may never need to plant a real garden, but it doesn't hurt to learn how to do so.

    4) Check on your retirement plan: According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the average American between the ages of 55 and 64 has less than $70,000 saved for retirement. In case you're wondering, that's not enough money to last for the 15 - 20 years you would expect to live beyond the age of 65. For black folks, who have far less wealth and income, the number is much lower. Social security and the federal government are struggling, so they aren't going to be interested in taking care of you at retirement either. I recommend checking to see how much money you have in your retirement account and finding out how much more you need to save in order to be ready for your golden years. If you don't have a retirement account in place already, go to your bank or employer and ask them to help you open one.

    5) Prepare for the day you die: Many of us have seen people die without making proper plans for their departure. They don't have life insurance paid up, there is no will in place to distribute their assets, and their children have no idea where important documents are located. This only adds to the drama and misery people are already feeling after the death of a loved one. Sorry to tell you this, but you're going to die. Also, there is a good chance that you're going to die without warning. Therefore, it is a matter of urgency that you reduce the trauma by planning carefully for your death. Make sure you have an updated will, life insurance and all the things your family will need to bury you and keep it moving after you're gone. It's just too important to ignore, especially if you have dependents.

    These are just a few things we can all do to make 2011 the best year ever. Remember: YOU are the one who gets to decide if this is going to be the greatest year of your life. Every year should be better, stronger and more productive than the last. Just take it one day at a time and ensure that you step your game up to the level that you expect. Life is too short to be mediocre.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

     

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    Singer Ciara is back with her fourth CD, 'Basic Instinct,' a project exclusively produced by The Dream and Tricky Stewart that the singer said she made specifically for her fans.

    "It's important to make sure I think of my fans and to make sure that I cover them. With this record, they will be covered all over and that's really exciting," she told BlackVoices.com, during a recent interview in New York City. "Out of all my albums, this is the one that's most dedicated to my fans and I made this album with my fans in mind. I wanted to them to feel like, 'Yo, CiCi is really holding us down!'"

    Called by many her "make or break" CD because of the lackluster performance of her 2009 release 'Fantasy Ride,' Ciara declared 'Basic Instinct' is a return to the sound that made her a star, while yet incorporating her growth as woman.

    "'Basic Instinct,' the title, is basically me taking it back to the basCiara Basic Instinctics of where I started. Taking it back to the base. Giving you the attitude, the aggression and the energy while still giving you the new me and the place where I am right now. It's definitely going to give you the place where I'm at as a woman," she explained.

    Part of Ciara's maturity has been realizing that she can't obsess over the tabloid stories and paparazzi pictures that once stressed her out.

    "Let me be honest with you, it can be if you let it," she acknowledged.

    A media magnet who is often photographed while out with her friends Kim Kardashian and LaLa Vazquez, Ciara confessed that she's now better at coping with the media scrutiny.

    "There were points where I use to think so much about what they say," she continued. "I'm honestly in a place where I've decided to have fun. They're going to say something regardless of what you do, so you might as well let go and really enjoy yourself. I plan to be here for a long time - that's my goal - so I don't think it ever stops. Its one of those things where you have to build a thick skin, have fun and be like, 'whatever!'"

    Kim Kardashian & Ciara
    Tired of ongoing gossip stories about an alleged rivalry with fellow R&B star Keri Hilson, the 25-year-old singer opted to reach out to Hilson and squash the rumors by appearing on a live Ustream video together.

    "There never was really a beef," she offered. "No one should be in the space of talking about stuff like that, not as women at least. I feel like we all should be reaching for the top and there should be nothing but love amongst us. It was important for that to be in the universe and to kind of end it because that really does not matter. That was the goal. It was all about spreading love."

    Though music is her passion, the Austin-born, Atlanta-bred singer has branched out and done some acting. The singer starred opposite Adrienne Bailon ('The Cheetah Girls') in the 2006 MTV film, 'All YKeri Hilson & Ciaraou've Got.'

    In the summer of 2007, Ciara shot the film 'Mama I Want To Sing' where she played the lead character Amara Winter.

    More than three years later, the movie has yet to be released.

    "Well, it's funny because at this point, I couldn't tell you all the details to be honest with you," the 'Goodies' singer said about the delay. "I'm sure it'll definitely come out whenever everything is finalized and when it's supposed to."

    Ciara said she enjoyed her time on the production and anticipates fans seeing the film.

    "It definitely was a fun experience. I worked with Hill Harper ('C.S.I.: NY') and Charles Randolph-Wright ('Preaching to the Choir') - he was really sweet. Patti LaBelle - who is so down to earth - is also in it. I also worked with Billy Zane ('The Deep End') - he was really nice. It was a really fun experience and maybe when the time is right, it'll come out."

    The Codeblack Entertainment feature also stars Lynn Whitfield ('Madea's Family Reunion').



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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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    DREAM Act Fails in the Senate


    "Our friends and our family are always telling us not to do it," said Francisco Gutierrez, 18, a Georgetown University student who moved to the United States from Mexico when he was 3 and recently revealed his illegal status while advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act. "I tell them we can't be fearful anymore. We can't live our lives afraid that there's always something going to happen to us just because we are undocumented."

    Unfortunately, Mr. Gutierrez and dozens of other students who bravely revealed their status now face being found and deported, after the controversial bill buckled under the weight of a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

    Introduced, but later denounced by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in 2001, the DREAM Act would allow students who entered the United States illegally before the age of 16 to apply for Legal Permanent Residency, after meeting several qualifications such as having a clean criminal record and completing either two years of college or military service.

    In the current volatile political landscape that includes the passage of Arizona's strict immigration law, SB 1070, though, Hatch is now suddenly concerned with what the voters might think:

    "The American people want the government to secure our borders, create jobs and reduce the deficit." Hatch said. "Instead, Senate leadership is insisting on ignoring the will of the people and holding our troops hostage by cynically pushing a defense bill chock-full of controversial measures to score cheap political points with its liberal base."

    The other "cheap" issue Hatch is referring to is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which after 17 years of forcing gay and lesbian troops to hide their sexual orientation, has been repealed by a vote of 65-31 in the Senate.

    It is gravely ironic that the historic moment came on the day that thousands of undocumented youth's dreams were shattered.

    Approved by a slight majority of 216-198 in the U.S. House last December 8th, the Dream Act was supported by a broad array of national organizations and individuals, including President Barack Obama, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

    Such strong support, though, did not weaken the convictions of Republicans who have referred to the bill as a "bail-out for illegal children" and "the gateway to amnesty."

    Immigrant rights groups said they planned to turn up the pressure on the Obama administration to slow deportations and end local police enforcement of immigration laws. Students also said they planned to fight for immigrant benefits - though it's not legalization - locally as they've seen anti-illegal immigration activists do to pass tougher enforcement measures in states like Arizona.

    "This is a movement," said Nancy Meza, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant and college graduate who wore a University of California, Los Angeles sweatshirt as she watched the televised vote. "We don't have lobbyists and paid staff. It's a movement by students."

    President Obama said after the vote that he would continue pushing for the DREAM Act and other steps toward immigration reform:

    "It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today," he said in a statement. "But my administration will not give up on the DREAM Act or on the important business of fixing our broken immigration system."

    I emphatically believe that if someone has the courage to make it to this country seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children, they should be allowed to become citizens after the legalization process. They should be afforded the full protection of the United States of America throughout this process, and at its conclusion, have the identical rights and responsibilities as U.S.-born citizens.

    This situation, however, needs to be addressed honestly.

    There is crime sneaking over the border, there are illegal immigrants abusing our tax system and the Hispanic/Latino community needs to speak out as passionately on these issues as they do about the DREAM Act.

    For example, Arizona taxpayers pay out $1.3 billion annually to cover the education, health care and incarceration costs of illegal immigrants, and that does not include the cost of burying those individuals who die attempting to cross the border or the exorbitant cost of investigating and determining their identities.

    With our economy in the shambles that it's in, I can understand the need to grasp at something, anything that could possibly reduce our deficit. In Los Angeles it is easier for a Hispanic person to find employment because they speak Spanish, which leaves the probability of other minorities finding employment extremely slim. This development has escalated tension and created animosity towards the Hispanic community, and threatens the tenuous peace that is never far from shattering.

    There is encouraging diversity, but there is also pandering for votes, and the political powers that be are veering dangerously close to the latter. While it is true that the parents of these students must ultimately be held accountable for placing their children in a percarious situation, threatening to deport students to countries that they don't remember, to a way of life they have never known, is unnecessarily cruel.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and African-Americans must rally around this issue as well. We, as a people, have also faced persecution and marginalization in this country after being brought here illegally, and Malcolm X's words on April 3, 1964 in his legendary speech "Ballot or the Bullet" still hold true today.

    Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn't need any legislation; you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn't be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now.

    As Dreamers take to the streets chanting and crying, threatening continued sit-ins and hunger strikes, the failure of the DREAM Act has forced us once again to re-examine our core values. It is also forcing us to re-define what exactly "Home of the Free" means and how much that freedom costs taxpayers.

     

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    Teen Boy Kills 7-Year-Old Then Pulls Trigger on Himself

    A Macon, Ga., teen shot to death a 7-year-old boy his mother had been babysitting before turning the gun on himself.


    Vonn Gibbons Jr., 19, was at his mother's home as she cared for Jalen Griffin. Gibbons, for no apparent reason, decided to fatally shoot Griffin in the head, then shoot himself in the chest.

    Both boys were killed instantly.

    Gibbon's mother, Cheryl Cole (pictured above, center), told police she was asleep and didn't hear the gunshots. The distraught mom also claimed she was totally unaware that her son even kept a gun in her home.

    Investigators are speculating why Gibbons shot the young boy intentionally, but so far there is no motive. Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones told WMAZ-TV:

    "We have no idea as to why. We probably will never get the answers, the truth about this. We just don't know."

    Reportedly, Gibbons and the boy were close friends despite the age difference, they played together all the time. Gibbons attended Macon State College and managed to maintain good grades.

    Meanwhile, Cole, too, is puzzled about the killings and struggling to come to grips with what happened. She was questioned by police for more than two hours before being allowed to return to her home. "I just want my baby back," said the inconsolable mother.

    Autopsies are being conducted on both bodies. Macon police will continue to investigate the shootings.

    Watch the tragedy here:


     

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    Crystal Mangum, Duke Lacrosse Accuser Convicted of Child Abuse


    Crystal Mangum (pictured), who authorities claimed falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of rape four years ago, has been found guilty by a North Carolina jury of misdemeanor child abuse and damaging property.




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    Officers at the scene said Mangum gave them a fake name and age when they responded to a domestic violence call from her 9-year-old who lived in the house.




    Two officers reported that while they were in the house, Mangum threatened her boyfriend and then went into a bathroom and set his clothes on fire.

    Yes, you read that right: She started a fire while the police were IN the house.

    Police called the fire department and the fire was put out. Fortunately, no one was injured.

    Mangum was booked on assault charges, arson and attempted murder; she's been on house arrest since February.

    With the felony arson charge, the jury deadlocked, so the Superior Court Judge Abraham Jones declared a mistrial.

    It's obvious that more than anything, Mangum is seriously mentally ill and needs to be treated, particularly for the well being of her children.

     

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    R&B Singer Chrisette Michele Slapped with $20 Million Lawsuit

    A production company is suing R&B songstress Chrisette Michele and her Island Def Jam label for $20 million. The company is claiming that Michele, along with family members and other record company execs, engaged in unlawful business practices with the intent of getting her out of her contract with the producers.


    Douglas "Biggs" Ellison, CEO of Four Kings Productions Inc., filed the lawsuit against Island Def Jam Music Group, Shalik Berry (A&R) and Michele's parents (Lynette and Lemuel Payne) in June of 2008. He alleges that the defendants conspired to break the Grammy-nominated artist's exclusive contract with his Queens, N.Y.-based company.

    Michele filed a lawsuit against Four Kings in 2007 but later decided not to pursue it. The singer originally claimed that Ellison not only embezzled money from her Def Jam contract but harassed her as well. Ellison claimed that Michele's allegations were unfounded and defamatory, and when they went public, besmirched his reputation.

    Ellison stated the following in his lawsuit:

    "As soon as the artist's mother saw that Chrisette was receiving money, all a direct result of the efforts of the production company under its contracts with the artist, Lynette Payne quit her job as a teacher and, in willful disregard of the artist's contractual obligations to Four Kings, usurped management functions regarding her daughter's newly found success in an effort to keep the money in the family."

    Michele's publicist, Rochelle Brown, told All Hip Hop back in 2008 that her client and Ellison were lovers who met at a Long Island college:

    "This is just a case of the jilted lover and gold-digging manager getting caught. The Payne's and Mr. Berry did not unlawfully try to get Chrisette out of her contract with Four Kings. Mr. Ellison's devious plot to exploit and rip Chrisette off began to be revealed."

    Mixing business with pleasure is a formula that rarely works!



     

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    Dr. Boyce Watkins on AOL Black Voices: For Colored Girls
    I've never had the chance to meet Tyler Perry, but I'm sure he wouldn't want to know me. Like President Obama, I've applauded and defended Perry when Spike Lee attacked him, but I've also criticized him when I thought his films were a little off-base. One of the films that I'm still trying to process is 'For Colored Girls,' where Perry adapts a stage play into a cinematic adventure exploring the lives of several women and the countless traumas they experience at the hands of men.

    On one hand, it's important to understand the significance of the film. There is something that black women love about Tyler Perry, and we must acknowledge that fact. His films almost seem to be required viewing for the bulk of black women across America, and I can't tell you how many times I had a friend say to me that she was getting together with her girlfriends to see the new Tyler Perry movie.

    The stories that Tyler tells need to be shared. Also, the fact that he is from the south certainly puts him at odds with more progressive filmmakers like Spike Lee in New York City. Tyler must also be given credit for allowing African American actors, producers and directors the opportunity to do work in an industry that has consistently abandoned them. This does not, however, mean that we can allow his films to be released without providing intelligent analysis and scrutiny.

    In the video below, I speak with Jozen Cummings, a writer in Harlem with a popular blog on relationships and Rashida Maples, an attorney who also mentors young women in New York City. I wanted to get their take on this film because Jozen interviewed Felicia Rashad, who played a role in the film. Rashida's job of mentoring young girls made me wonder what young women can learn from a film like this when it comes to managing their relationships and personal choices.

    The interview is below, enjoy!

    PRODUCTION PLAYER! DO NOT DELETE.


    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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