Fearless Amputee Mama Cax Encourages Others to Face Anything

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Mama Cax walks walks with crutches on runway after having right leg amputated

By Hiliary Innerbichler

Mama Cax, born Cacsmy Brutus, was given only three weeks to live when she was diagnosed with bone (osteosarcoma) and lung cancer at 14 years old.

Now in her late 20s—and after having her right leg amputated due to an unsuccessful hip replacement following chemotherapy—the Haitian-American is an advocate who utilizes social media as a platform to talk about body positivity and to dismantle the image of what people with disabilities should look like.

“When I first started blogging, a lot of women amputees were messaging me about how they’d never seen an amputee on social media or anywhere showing their prosthetics,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “I think it’s so important to show people who have physical disabilities because there are people out there who buy products and never see themselves represented in any way, shape, or form.”

In 2016, the blogger, advocate, motivational speaker and model was invited to the White House to walk in the first ever White House Fashion Show to celebrate inclusive design, assistive technology, and prosthetics.

Soon after, Cax was made one of the faces of Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive line, and since then has made her debut walking the runway at New York Fashion week in designer Becca McCharen-Tran’s Spring 2019 show.

Mama Cax has now partnered with Olay in their new campaign #FaceAnything to encourage women to live fearlessly and to have the confidence to be unapologetically bold and true to themselves, according to health.com.

Source: Vogue.com, boredpanda.com, mamacax.com, health.com

Black Americans And The Coronavirus Vaccine – Some Perspective

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Black Americans are disproportionately vulnerable to the coronavirus. According to the National Urban League, Black Americans are 3 times more likely than White Americans to get the coronavirus, and twice as likely to die from it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers in the table below show slightly different numbers, but they are just as concerning. From my lens, I have seen responses in different communities that reflect this disparate reality. For example, most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) shuttered their fall    (Photo Credit – AP PHOTO/LYNNE SLADKY)                            sports, including football, while other institutions continued to play.

As vulnerable as our community is to the virus, there is also a strong thread of skepticism about the emerging vaccines. As a scientist, I have continually argued that science and technology would dig us out of this crisis. With the first round of vaccines being administered, I truly believe that “normalcy at the end of the virus tunnel is within sight.” I would take the vaccine if offered it, but a Pew Research Center poll taken in September (2020) tells a different story. While there is some skepticism irrespective of race, there are stark differences. Only 32% of Black adults responded that they would likely get a Covid-19 vaccine shot. This is about 20 percentage points lower than White and Hispanic adults. According to The Guardian, a study by the NAACP, Covid Collaborative, and UnidosUS found that only 14% of Black Americans think the vaccine will be safe.

Read the full article at Forbes.

Experts warn of low Covid vaccine trust among Black Americans

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Distrust over the Covid-19 vaccine runs high among Black Americans, but Black doctors are waging a battle to get the community informed — and vaccinated.

The patients who stream into her clinic in a low-income and predominantly Black section of Chicago’s South Side have been terrified by the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Brittani James, stressed out by its harmful effects on the community and frustrated by mixed messages from government officials.

 

(Image credit – Jordan Mitchell for NBC News)

But now, just as possible solution to the virus’s spread is onthe horizon, she is particularly worried about what she is hearing from her patients. Many of them fear that the vaccines aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 will be harmful to Black Americans.

Concerns about vaccines have left some Black people entirely unwilling to take a vaccine, while others have said that they want to wait and see how the first wave of vaccine distribution is handled.

When those concerns come up, “I look my patients in the eye and I say that I understand, I’ve read the studies myself, and my job is to protect you and I will not do you wrong,” said James, a family physician who is also an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “I don’t respond with writing them off as irrational and ignorant.”

Read the full article at NBC NEWS.

A Lifetime of Service

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Montel Williams has served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

By Brady Rhoades

Montel Williams served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces.

Through Military Makeover, which he produces and hosts, the Emmy-award winning TV icon has transformed the homes and lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. The show, which airs on Lifetime TV and AFN, has produced some of the most memorable moments in TV history.

In a February, 2020 episode, Montel and the Military Makeover crew helped Debi, the Gold Star widow of Operation Desert Storm veteran Chris Hixon, who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman High School in Florida while rushing in and trying to disarm the killer.

They stepped in two years after the school shooting that killed Chris and 16 others and made Debi and her two children’s lives a little brighter by, among other things, renovating her kitchen and installing long, floating shelves in several rooms. Debi placed photographs of Chris on those shelves.

Montel — no last name necessary for most people — lives by a simple creed that he learned in boot camp: “We leave no Marine behind,” he says. “I bought into the fact that once a Marine, always a Marine.”

TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City.
TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Montel was the first Black Marine selected to the Naval Academy Prep School to then go on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

“In the nearly three decades since I retired from the Navy, I’ve never really taken the uniform off because standing up for those who are serving now—and those who have served—has been the greatest honor of my professional career,” he says,

Most recently, the husband and father of four joined The Balancing Act, also on Lifetime TV, as a co-host. Before that, he shot to stardom on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 to 2008, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Military Roots
There’s a lot of tinsel that goes with Hollywood fame, but beneath it are roots, and Montel’s are deep and resilient. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1974. He then graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980 with a degree in engineering and a minor in international security affairs.

Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

He completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training, and spent 18 months in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence. He was later a supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. He left the Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

As part of his work in cryptology, Montel teamed with the National Security Agency and was involved in the victory in Grenada in 1983. On several occasions, Montel has worked to get United States citizens — usually military personnel who have been captured in foreign lands — returned to America.

In the 1990s and early part of the 2000s, The Montel Williams Show was synonymous with excellence, empathy and intelligence. Some argue Montel is on the “Mt. Rushmore” of day-time talk show legends, alongside Oprah and others.

In 1999, after years of excruciating pain that, at times, had him crying during commercial breaks, Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was bad and good news all at once — bad because MS is painful and debilitating; good because he finally knew what was ailing him and could move forward with treatment.

More than two decades after his diagnosis, Montel lives an active, purposeful life. A fun one, too. One of his favorite activities is snowboarding, which he says helps his balance in day-to-day living.

A Healthy Balance

Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.
From left: Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.

Balance is what makes him a perfect fit for The Balancing Act, a morning show that empowers viewers to live balanced, healthy lives. Montel, who suffered a stroke in 2018, and just keeps going like the Eveready Battery, knows a thing or two about balance. If success is measured by how many people you’ve helped, Montel is rich beyond his monetary millions and accomplished far beyond his worldwide fame.
He goes back again and again to those values he learned in boot camp. Take the following episode of Military Makeover:

After Aaron and Holly Middleton met at a Columbus bar after graduating Ohio State University, it was love at first sight. Though unfamiliar with the rigors of military family life, Holly went all in, giving up her own career to find fulfillment as a mother. Aaron is now a major and senior communications officer serving at USMC Forces Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The family has faced overwhelming adversity. First, their newborn son, Kelvin, was diagnosed with holes in his lungs, requiring immediate surgeries. Then, unspeakable tragedy struck the family when the Middleton’s’ 5-year-old daughter Scarlett died from an undiagnosed illness.

Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”
From left: Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”

The shock and trauma of Scarlett’s passing has shaken the family to its core. Scarlett loved picking and giving away flowers, and her favorite song was, “You Are My Sunshine.” Through pain and inspiration, Holly promised to keep alive the joy Scarlett brought to everybody who knew her. The grieving mother created a charity called Scarlett’s Sunshine, using random acts of kindness with flowers to induce spontaneous smiles.

“Little did I know that when I gave people the flowers, and I saw the gratitude on their faces light up, that I would see Scarlett’s light again,” Holly says. “I found her light.” The Middletons’ home in St. Petersburg— the first they’ve owned since Aaron joined the Corps— needed a lot of help. Military Makeover worked to make it a place of healing and solace for this deserving military family.

As the cherry on top, the show donated a year’s worth of flowers to Scarlett’s Sunshine. “It feels like a miracle,” Holly said, when presented with the flowers. Which brought a smile to Montel’s face.

That’s the miracle of Montel’s life, which mirrors the lives of all U.S. veterans.

How We’re Surviving through the Pandemic

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A man working on his computer in an office while wearing a mask

By Connie Russell | C. L. Russell Group, LLC

L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG) is a woman-owned small business full-service workforce training company. Specializing in workforce training, content development, performance assessment and quality assurance. CLRG, like many other small businesses, is learning to persevere in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, the founder and CEO, Connie Russell, shares her inspiring story of how using creativity, connection, and a lot of driven faith to navigate her business survival in the face of adversity.

Initial Impact

Although the services we offered were adaptable for COVID-19, we still had a few challenges. Training is not a new industry, and it is very competitive. We discovered many businesses who were in other industries and trying to survive like CLRG also tapped into the training industry to save their company during this turmoil. We found ourselves not only a small company competing with other training businesses (large and small), we are now competing with businesses from other industries taking advantage of the training industry opportunities as well.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact

Undeniably, this has been the most difficult moment CLRG has faced since our five-year tenure. Our sales decreased more than 80 percent, and that was just the beginning. The severity of the Covid-19 crisis put our business, the community and many families in what some would consider uncharted territory. Even though our services initially included virtual training among other services, we were still majorly affected.

Many of our clients who valued the professional training services we provided for their employees, had to step back and reassess their organization’s essential needs during the pandemic. Unfortunately, professional training services were no longer an immediate essential service for many businesses. Many of our clients had to redirect their training funds to meet essential needs aligned with health, safety, and government regulations. Increasing our virtual and on-demand training services kept us optimistic—a high percentage of our sales came from instructor-led training. This required face-to-face training, and lack of social distancing. So, when employees began to quarantine at home, we immediately lost 100 percent of our instructor-led training services for the second quarter and counting.

Since health concerns and government pandemic policies directly impacted how people can gather for the unpredictable future, I knew CLRG had to quickly reassess our existing services as well as pivot our business model. It was time to seriously bootup.

CLRG shared a few tips that helped them pivot their business during the pandemic below.

Pandemic Pivoting

As our team brainstormed over innovative marketing tactics, we decided to focus on utilizing two (2) Cs of marketing: Customer Solutions and Convenience. The two Cs of marketing put the customer’s interests (the buyer, our clients) ahead of the marketer’s interests (the seller, CLRG).

 

  • Customer Solutions, Not Products: Understand your client’s needs as well as find solutions to their problems. Customers want to buy value or a solution to their problems. CLRG collaborated with other small businesses as well as community organizations to help identify essential needs. This allowed us to broaden our services not only from a business perspective but from a community professional trainer provider. CLRG also identified the trending industries affected by COVID-19 and aligned essential training services to meet those needs as well.

 

  • Outcome: Focusing on customer solutions allowed CLRG to expand in new industries such as the Health Industry. This industry was one of CLRG’s goals for our 2020 opportunity list! Connecting with the community allowed us the opportunity to offer complimentary virtual skills training courses to individuals who were unemployed during the pandemic or simply wanted to use this time to enhance their skills. We discovered possible ways to be a part of the solution, not just for businesses, but the community as well. This was a healing process for everyone.

 

  • Convenience, Not Place: Customers want products and services to be as convenient to purchase as possible. Design your products/services so the customer feels confident when utilizing your services. Customers do not want to embark on additional work to use your products/services. Putting yourself in the place of the customer when trying to decide how to design a more efficient service isn’t always the best route. You already know your products/services so it can be challenging to discover new innovative designs. Try ideation sessions with external stakeholders to discover innovative ways to serve your customers. CLRG wanted to ensure the experience during this sensitive time was beneficial to our customers. Since this was a very unpredictable time, CLRG designed a service that was convenient based on our client needs, with the option of flexibility.

 

  • Outcome: By initially inquiring with our clients about their ‘current’ needs, and not focusing on what we had to offer; CLRG was able to design services that were timely, convenient and flexible during the pandemic. When you demonstrate to clients that you are flexible when meeting their needs (especially during a pandemic), this is when true customer relationships are developed.

Remaining Optimistic into the Future

Ridiculous faith has become my mantra during this pandemic. I refused to believe the pandemic would be the reason CLRG closed its doors. I must admit, I have been truly blessed with an amazing team. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ We truly discovered what a real shoestring budget feels like, but it has also shown us our true colors of perseverance. There were times my team members would ask why I continued to go into the office. Although my verbal response was ‘because we’re still paying rent’ I was actually thinking of the words my mother would often say to me: ‘continue to move forward as if it is.’ We will continue to strive for excellence, seek innovative solutions and humbly serve. CLRG will continue to believe we have a purpose here and will continue to positively impact the workforce industry for businesses, the community, and families.

Lessons Learned

As a professional development training company, we found ourselves receiving just as much training as our customers during this pandemic. There were so many lessons learned thus far during the pandemic, and I’m sure more to come. But if I had to think of two it would be leadership and relationships. True leadership is demonstrated during trials. On many occasions, I found myself serving in several roles. But it was through this experience I was able to discover new ideas and see my business from different perspectives. When you’re always serving as the leader, sometimes you miss these opportunities to get your hands dirty…literally.

Relationships are key, period. During challenging times, it was very important to stay connected with our customers and associates. Simply sending a hello to let them know you’re thinking about them and hoping they’re doing well says a lot. It demonstrates your sensitivity to the situation at hand and acknowledges that you’re authentic about your relationship. Our customers appreciated this. We will continue to stay optimistic and believe a silver lining is on the way. Until then, we are preparing for the new norm.”

 Click here to view the source: CL Russell Group.

Why Black women face disproportionate rates of breast cancer

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Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awarness Month

By Maura Hohman

The day before she turned 30 and had planned to leave for a celebratory vacation, Sharonda Vincent felt a lump on her left breast while in the shower.

She scheduled a last-minute appointment with a doctor at Planned Parenthood, who told her to enjoy her trip because she doubted it was cancerous.

After Vincent returned home to Philadelphia, the mother of one decided to see her primary care provider, just in case. This led to a series of tests, including a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. In the summer of 2005, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

“I was numb, hurt, confused, upset, questioning God,” she told TODAY. “It was a complete shock.”

Vincent, now 45, has been cancer-free for 15 years, thanks to the surgery, chemo and radiation she underwent that summer. She’s among the millions of Black women who’ve survived breast cancer, even though the odds are unjustly stacked against them.

Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage or at a younger age. Death rates for white women with breast cancer are improving more rapidly than for Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research into the reason for these disparities is ongoing, but it’s likely “multifactorial,” Dr. Vivian Bea, chief of breast surgical oncology at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, told TODAY.

What’s more, Bea expects breast cancer outcomes for Black women to only get worse due to COVID-19. A recent survey, conducted by the cancer information platform SurvivorNet, found that 1 in 3 women has delayed getting a mammogram because of the coronavirus.

A doctor who looks like you

As a physician and Black woman, Bea believes that a main inhibitor for the Black community to seeking health care is the absence of doctors who can relate to their life experiences. Only 5 percent of U.S. doctors are Black, and even fewer are Black women, per 2018 data.

“When I take care of my Black patients … I can’t tell you how often I hear, ‘I trust you because you look like me,” she said. “I hear stories of, ‘I talked to this doctor, and I told them I had a mass, and they told me it was nothing,’ or ‘I had a pain, and they said it was in my head.’ Unfortunately (Black) women are sometimes not taken seriously.”

While Vincent doesn’t feel her care team approached her differently because of her race, she said she leaned heavily on the only Black medical professional she encountered during her treatment.

In Vincent’s initial appointments, she recalled, staff struggled to draw her blood, and she had to be pricked by multiple techs each time, especially uncomfortable given her fear of needles. So the Black medical assistant planned her future visits so the one tech who could draw Vincent’s blood on the first try was always available.

“She made it a point to really get close to me,” Vincent said. “It was almost like she rode this journey with me. She wanted to make sure I felt comfortable in the office. … It made a big difference.”

Suffering in silence

Shortly after Vincent was diagnosed, she found out her grandmother was going through radiation, the last leg of her own breast cancer treatment, but had never told anyone before.

“As close as we are, my grandmother didn’t want to make it too known, so when she learned of my diagnosis, she felt she needed to be that shoulder for me,” Vincent recalled. “We shared stories, and I actually used her surgeon.”

Vincent suspects that her grandmother’s approach is common among Black women. “People in Black families probably feel like, ‘We have so much other stuff to worry about, let’s not bog the family down with this news,'” she said.

Bea pointed out that she often hears Black women say, “I never had cancer in my family, so I’ll never get breast cancer,” but that’s “totally not true,” she stressed.

Tracy Tomer, diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer in January, told TODAY that hearing from other Black women in her Brooklyn neighborhood that they had breast cancer was a revelation of sorts.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

This story originally ran on Today.com.

Supporting Mental Health During These Times

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The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful—it can be difficult to cope with fear and anxiety, changing daily routines, and a general sense of uncertainty.

Although people respond to stressful situations in different ways, taking steps to care for yourself and your family can help you manage stress.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Things You Can Do to Support Yourself

Take breaks from the news. Set aside periods of time each day during which you close your news and social media feeds and turn off the TV. Give yourself some time and space to think about and focus on other things.

Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat regular, well-balanced meals; get some physical activity every day; give yourself time to get a full night’s sleep; and avoid alcohol and drugs.

Make time to unwind. Try to engage in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Engaging in these activities offers an important outlet for pleasure, fun, and creativity.

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Digital tools can help keep you stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors when you aren’t able to see them in person.

Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done today and what can wait. Priorities may shift to reflect changes in schedules and routines, and that is okay. Recognize what you have accomplished at the end of the day.

Focus on the facts. Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Source: nimh.nih.gov

NAACP President Helps Black Communities Enduring COVID-19

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Derrick Johnson President NAACP wearing a suit and tie pictured sitting behind desk

Derrick Johnson is the President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Johnson previously served as the vice chairman of the NAACP’s national board of directors, as well as the president of the Mississippi state chapter of the NAACP.

Johnson is a veteran activist who has dedicated his career to defending the rights and improving the lives of Mississippians. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. He successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, MS that brought $150 million in school building improvements and $65 million towards the construction of a new convention center, respectively. As a regional organizer at the Jackson-based non-profit, Southern Echo, Inc., Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical, and training support for communities across the South.

Black EOE Journal had the chance to talk with Johnson about his views on COVID-19 and its effects on African-American communities.

BEOEJ: In your opinion, how is the black community handling the pandemic? Have you seen that more African Americans are seeing more underlying conditions from the effects of COVID-19?

Johnson: The Black community is facing the brunt of this pandemic. When we get infected with the COVID-19 virus, we are more likely to die from it due to underlying conditions. Unfortunately, African Americans have higher rates and earlier onset of both chronic conditions and disability than white Americans, as well as less access to high-quality health care for those conditions.

BEOEJ: How have you been helping African Americans facing the brunt of this pandemic?

Johnson: What we’ve heard from many of the people we’ve spoken with or assisted during this time is the lack of clear, concise, reliable information has caused confusion and fear. Information during times of crisis can be the saving grace for so many people. The NAACP has provided countless individuals with access to information through our Virtual Town Halls series in conjunction with BET. We invited congressional leaders, policy and health experts, as well as wellness leaders, who presented a great deal of comfort, support and answers to pressing questions regarding COVID-19.

BEOEJ: Are there areas that are harder hit with the virus? Are you seeing any improvement in other areas?

Johnson: The areas hit the hardest with the virus are counties in places like Michigan, New York, California, with predominantly people of color and Black populations. While we see a flattening of the curve in places like New York, we must recognize that we have not eradicated the virus, nor have we created a cure for it. With that in mind, operating with caution should still be a priority for all people, particularly Black Americans. We can’t afford to prolong recovery efforts by going about business as usual.

BEOEJ: What other issues is this pandemic causing, i.e., unemployment. Is this worse for the African-American community than others?

Johnson: Aside from the health crisis COVID-19 is causing, we are also witnessing a calamitous disaster across the economy, and subsequently, unemployment rates are skyrocketing. We know that Black unemployment has always been as twice as high as White unemployment. This virus is creating a compounding effect and raising unemployment for our community even higher.

BEOEJ: Are there efforts being put in place specifically for African Americans?

Johnson: The stimulus packages are providing relief for some, not all. However, we need a stimulus geared directly toward the Black community hit the hardest by this pandemic. This pandemic has only worked to stifle our community’s social and economic progress. We need a stimulus package that provides self-employed and gig workers access to benefits as well.

World Leaders, Stars Raise $7 Billion at Event Aimed at Fighting Virus

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The Rock pictured smiling wearing a suit at a premiere event

The event included a Dwayne Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle

A summit that included a star-studded virtual concert hosted by Dwayne Johnson has raised nearly $7 billion in cash and loan guarantees to assist the poor around the globe whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Citizen said its summit with world leaders had raised $1.5 billion to help COVID-19 efforts in poor countries, along with a promise of 250 million doses of a vaccine for those nations if one is successfully developed.

The group said it had secured $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support fragile economies worldwide.

The event included a Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle. Cyrus performed The Beatles’ “Help!” in an empty stadium and Hudson performed “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” from a boat in Chicago.

“The $6.9 billion that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the COVID-19 era, but there is more still to be done, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, said after the event Saturday.

“As we fight this virus, we also need to take care of the most vulnerable people and address the challenges they’re facing right now,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the event.

Speakers also included the leaders of New Zealand, El Salvador, Sweden, South Africa and Barbados.

Organizers said the show was not just a fundraiser, but aimed to draw awareness to the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on marginalized communities.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

This Rapper is Joining the Fight for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention

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Waka Flocka posing at a press event

On the evening of May 25, near the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, rapper Waka Flocka tweeted that he was going to dedicate his life to suicide prevention and mental illness. This tweet likely stemmed from the reminder of his deceased brother’s upcoming birthday, which would happen less than a week later.

The rapper tweeted his support by saying, “I’m officially dedicating my life to suicide prevention and mental illness!!! Y’all not alone Waka Flocka Flame is with y’all now!!!!”

In 2017, Waka Flocka revealed in an interview with the show The Therapist that his younger brother committed suicide in 2013. In this interview, he stated that his brother, Coades, tried to call him before taking his life, leaving Waka Flocka to wonder what would have happened if he picked up the phone.

While the specifics of what the renowned rapper will do is unknown at the moment, Waka Flocka has made his goals clear, stating in a follow-up tweet that he has officially accepted his brother’s passing and believes he is now in a better place.

Waka Flocka stated, “You have no idea how it feel to wanna take your own life man…my little brother took his own life…This year I’m officially accepting the fact that he’s in a better place.”

Unique Ways to Thank your Essential Workers

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Thank You to Essential Workers in Fight Against Covid-19

From doctors and nurses to grocery store clerks and pharmacists, our essential workers are showing up every day to keep us safe and healthy during this time.

We are so thankful for each and every one of these workers, but how can we better show our gratitude and encourage them along the way? Here are four unique ways you can thank our essential workers.

1) Make a Sign

This is a relatively easy one that can be done by the whole family. Create a sign to hang from your window, car, or front yard that can be easily seen by essential workers driving or walking by your home. This little sign of encouragement shows they are being appreciated, even when we cannot personally thank every single one of them.

2) Support Their Families

During this time, essential workers are often working longer hours, and many are unable to be fully present for their families during this time. Check up on the families of essential workers in your life, and see what you can do to help. Delivering groceries, making a meal, or simply being a good listener can help ease the stress of the families who are struggling with the new lifestyle of their essential loved one.

3) Feed the Frontlines

Especially for medical professionals working long hours, getting a proper meal may be the last thing on their mind while trying to help others. Ordering food to be delivered to local hospitals, firehouses, grocery stores, and other essential businesses will not only show them your appreciation but could also ease their especially stressful work day. Ordering food will also help restaurants stay in business!

4) Stay at Home

The best way to show respect for those who are working so hard to keep us safe is to adhere to their wishes and stay inside. Washing our hands, keeping ourselves healthy, and social distancing are just a few of the ways that we can all slow the spread of the virus and speed up the process of bringing our essential workers home sooner.

On Being Black and ‘Disabled but Not Really’

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Smiling multiracial friends talk using sign language

Despite the criticism of the episode, Hamilton’s appearance on Queer Eye felt like a step in the right direction for better representation of the diversity of disabled people.

By Imani Barbarin

I’m in a car with my cousin, who is driving but sitting with a rolling pin from my kitchen directly beneath their hip. “Please see a doctor,” I say for the second, or maybe third, time. “It could be something serious. It’s OK to be disabled and need help,” I add.

“I don’t claim that,” my cousin replies.

My cousin is like other Black people who couch their disability (or ignore it entirely) for one reason: survival.

I was reminded of this exchange after watching a new episode of Netflix’s Queer Eye, called “Disabled but Not Really.” The season 4 episode, which features a 30-year-old Black man in a wheelchair as one of the Fab Five’s clients, has become a topic of much contention in the disability community. Yet many critical perspectives lack insight from disabled Black people. For example, many white disabled people feel like the title of the episode—derived from the name of the nonprofit organization founded by Wesley Hamilton, the man featured in the episode—is spreading internalized ableism and perpetuating a culture of shame around the disabled identity. But Black people have a long history of hiding ailments for fear of dire consequences.

Often disability is kept as a side note to a Black person’s identity for fear that references to any impairment might be taken as weakness. Harriet Tubman suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a slave overseer. Fannie Lou Hamer had polio as a child. Maya Angelou had selective mutism. Yet, when we talk about our heroes as Black people, we rarely, if ever, mention the disabilities they lived with. Many current Black celebrities and leaders with disabilities feel they can only become successful by ignoring or showing they can overcome their diagnoses. It is still a shock to some that Stevie Wonder reads braille.

In his episode with the Fab Five, we learn that Hamilton’s organization is focused on getting disabled people into CrossFit and bodybuilding. Remarkably, we learn this in a scene in which he is surrounded by disabled Black men. It is rare that spaces for disabled Black people exist at all; I was in my 20s before I came across one, and I was so overwhelmed, I spent most of the time there trying not to cry.

The Disabled but Not Really website explains that its mission is to empower people to embrace a “limitless mindset,” one in which people with disabilities “know they are more than their circumstances.” The organization supports personal development with programs like the #HelpMeFit challenge, which pairs coaches with disabled people to enhance their fitness and nutrition beyond what the participants believe is possible.

Considering the ways in which ableism is used to perpetuate racism, the concept of “disabled but not really” is necessary for Hamilton to encourage other disabled Black people to access the support they need. For many people of color, claiming a disabled body and existence can feel like just another piece of their identity that can be used to marginalize them. And though it seems like internalized ableism or self-hatred to many white people with disabilities when people of color don’t claim the “disabled” label, Black, indigenous, and people of color are right to feel that way.

Black disabled people, for example, experience a unique form of racist micro- and macro-aggressions that sway into the realm of ableism. People who need supports like Medicare, Medicaid, or food stamps are “welfare queens.” Disabled Black people hear speculation as to whether they’re “crack babies,” a misleading and deeply problematic concept. Black people in search of medical care are “just looking for drugs.” Even run-of-the mill racism is steeped in ableist language: “Black people cannot think or vote for themselves” or “Black people don’t have the intelligence to have built pyramids; it has to have been aliens.”

What Hamilton seems to understand is that in order to reach the disabled people in the community that he wants to serve, he must wheel a very fine line: He needs to talk about disability in such a way that Black people don’t feel further disenfranchised by recognizing it within themselves. Because of factors like environmental, structural, and implicit racism, as well as violent acts and poverty, Black people are one of the most likely demographics to develop disabilities. Just getting them to a supportive space can be a hurdle.

As a proud disabled Black advocate, I come across many people who try to erase my disability and think that by talking about it I am alienating the very people I need. This hurts most when it comes from my own community: Black people. From them I am told that I am already Black: “Why give them another reason to shut the door in your face.”

Black people are raised to acknowledge that every system they encounter is stacked against them. “You have to try twice as hard to get half as far,” “they are all waiting for you to fail,” and “you don’t get second chances” are shared by parents and community elders along with bedtime stories and warm milk. Any sense of vulnerability feels like a weapon that can be turned against oneself, rather than a source of strength or power.

Given Hamilton’s background—his time spent in a gang and how it led to disability—he is well aware of the racism disabled Black people face and the desire to have one less “ism” to contend with. But what’s especially powerful in his Queer Eye episode is the way Hamilton celebrates himself and his body. Never once in the episode did he begrudge his disability. Instead, he actively honored where he was mentally, as his organization encourages its participants to do.

In the episode, Hamilton also recognizes his mother, Dawn, unmasking the role parents can play in the lives of their loved ones with disabilities. Dawn was his caretaker and support system after the altercation that paralyzed him from the waist down at age 24. Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown talked with her about the sacrifices she made to care for her son. Disabled people never appreciate feeling like the burden in their loved ones’ lives. It is a stereotype that we are actively fighting against because so often, it can lead to harmful and dangerous behaviors. But, given the way many Black women and femmes so readily step in as caretakers and providers (not just for family members, but for entire communities), it makes sense why Brown would want Hamilton to actively “release” his mom with a “thank you.”

In a quintessential Karamo moment, he takes Dawn aside and discusses what her life has been like since her son’s injury. Acknowledging the difficulty they both have faced, Dawn breaks down into tears and admits they’re ready for a new chapter to begin.

Admittedly, this moment is uncomfortable for me to contend with. On the one hand, as a disabled Black woman I recognize the magnitude of responsibility that is placed upon Black women and femmes. But as a disabled person, it is insulting to be so inundated with the message that we decrease quality of life for the people around us. Even after watching the episode several times, I have no idea how I feel about that moment.

Hamilton’s role as a single father is also on full display in this episode. Given reports that parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities have their children removed from their care at rates as high as 80 percent, and knowing the stereotypes of Black fathers as “deadbeats,” Hamilton being seen as a father was critical to breaking down biases regarding the capability of Black disabled people. In watching his story, we see his daughter, Nevaeh, a chipper child of about 10 years old, marvel at the changes her father is going through with the aid of the Fab Five. She lovingly encourages her dad, and he is shown as an active figure in her life.

Despite the criticism of the episode, Hamilton’s appearance on Queer Eye felt like a step in the right direction for better representations of the diversity of disabled people. He may not have shouted loudly about his disability status, but he was still able to highlight an experience the disabled Black community needs to see acknowledged in mainstream television. He was proud of who he was and felt that his disability had saved his life. Rather than mourn his abled body for a national audience, he claimed it and gave thanks for it.

Importantly, the episode is an open invitation to Black disabled people to accept themselves as they are and seek joy in their disabled bodies. Hamilton’s language regarding his experiences should not be policed for the comfort of white disabled people or anyone else. Hamilton is just trying to get the Black disabled community through the door because, while many of them refuse to “claim disability,” disability so often claims them.

Source: Rewire.News

‘Atlanta Angel’ Tyler Perry Paid For Seniors’ Groceries At More Than 70 Stores

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The actor, writer and director purchased goods for elderly shoppers at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta and 29 Winn-Dixie stores in Louisiana.

Tyler Perry just made the lives of a lot of people in Georgia and Louisiana easier during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 50-year-old movie mogul purchased the groceries for certain shoppers at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta and 29 Winn-Dixie stores in Louisiana. Perry’s generosity covered the hauls of elderly people shopping during the hour reserved for them amid the global health crisis.

Perry currently lives in Atlanta and grew up in New Orleans. The receipts for those whose groceries were paid for were reportedly signed “Atlanta Angel.”

Elderly and immunocompromised people are at high risk for serious complications from the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so many grocery stores have announced in the last few weeks that they’d be blocking off the first hour or two of the business day for people 60 and older to shop.

Felix Turner, manager of corporate affairs for Kroger’s Atlanta division, said in a statement to HuffPost: “We would like to join our customers in thanking Mr. Perry for his kindness and generosity during this unprecedented pandemic. It was truly a pleasure to see our customers fill with joy and gratitude as the news spread throughout 44 stores across Metro Atlanta.”

Winn-Dixie tweeted a statement on Wednesday thanking Perry for “paying it forward by purchasing groceries for elderly and high-risk [Winn-Dixie] customers shopping at Louisiana stores this morning.”

Continue on to Huffington Post to read the complete article.

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