Kendrick Carmouche to be first Black jockey in Kentucky Derby since 2013

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Kendrick Carmouche pictures in a blue jockey helmet while smiling away from the camera with joy

By the Associated Press, ESPN

Long before Kendrick Carmouche started riding horses growing up in Louisiana, Black jockeys were synonymous with the sport.

Black riders were atop 13 of the 15 horses in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 and won 15 of the first 28 editions of the race. Everything has changed since: Carmouche on Saturday will be the first Black jockey in the Kentucky Derby since 2013 and is just one of a handful over the past century.

Carmouche is one of the few remaining Black jockeys in the United States. Much like Marlon St. Julien in 2000, Patrick Husbands in 2006 and Kevin Krigger in 2013, his presence in horse racing’s biggest event is a reminder of how the industry marginalized Black jockeys to the point they all but disappeared from the sport.

“As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,” Carmouche said. “What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about color. It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point.”

Carmouche is the son of a jockey, and he has won more than 3,400 races and earned $118 million since beginning to ride professionally in 2000. He came back from a broken leg three years ago and set himself up for his first Kentucky Derby mount by riding 72-1 long shot Bourbonic to victory in the Wood Memorial on April 3. Bourbonic will leave from the 20th post in Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs.

He is also a rarity in a sport now dominated by jockeys from Latin America.

“Obviously there haven’t been many in recent decades, but if you go back to the early years of the Derby, the late 1800s, early 1900s, Black jockeys dominated the Kentucky Derby,” NBC Sports analyst Randy Moss said. “Guys like Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield.”

Carmouche joins St. Julien as the only U.S.-born Black jockeys in the Derby since 1921, which even then was long after the era dominated by Murphy, Winkfield and others.

Chris Goodlett, a historian at the Kentucky Derby Museum, cited a combination of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the United States, intimidation by white riders, and decisions by racing officials, owners and trainers for the decline of Black jockeys in the early 20th century. One example was white counterparts riding Winkfield into the rail at Harlem Race Track outside Chicago and injuring him and his horse.

“Consequently, white trainers and owners would be [more] reluctant to ride Black jockeys on their horses due to instances like that,” Goodlett said. “We see it also just from an administrative point of view, as well: fewer licenses being issued to Black jockeys, sometimes not issued at all.”

Brien Bouyea, communications director for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, said many Black jockeys left for Europe because of better working conditions and never returned. Manny Ycaza came from Panama and blazed a trail for Latin American jockeys, who used riding schools and other factors that changed on-track demographics.

Along the way, participation by Black people in the Kentucky Derby ebbed and flowed with significant contributions along the way, including grooms Will Harbut with Man O’War in 1920 and Eddie Sweat with Secretariat in 1973 and trainer Hank Allen with Northern Wolf in 1989. Harbut’s great-grandson, Greg Harbut, co-owned 2020 Derby runner Necker Island and helped found the Ed Brown Society, named after the 19th-century Black jockey and trainer, to further diversify racing.

Husbands was well aware of his place in history when he rode Seaside Retreat in the 2006 Derby and said he feels a connection to Carmouche this year because “the steppingstone that he’s doing for his culture is the same stuff I was trying to do for my culture.”

He said Carmouche becoming the first Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902 “would be a blessing. It would bring tears to a lot of people’s eyes.”

Click here to read the full article on ESPN.

A new generation of Black male teachers starts its journey in partnership with Apple

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man sitting on a couch in a home while video chatting on his laptop

By Apple Newsroom

For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family.

Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.

By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.

This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.

At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty.

“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.”

Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.

Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.

“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.”

It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative and sought out a partner in Apple.

Click here to read the full article on Apple Newsroom.

Ask a Black therapist: 4 ways to support Black people’s mental health

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A young man cries while being consoled by female friends during a group therapy meeting.

By Ashley Vaughan, CNN

“There is a difference between being informed and getting retraumatized.”

That’s what clinical therapist Paul Bashea Williams tells himself and his clients as they struggle with the distressing images that resurfaced during the Derek Chauvin trial.

The proceeding churned up a persistent trauma. The frequent replay of George Floyd’s final moments may have left many feeling raw, vulnerable and without relief.

While the evidence surrounding Floyd’s death is distressing for most people, it is overwhelming for African Americans — and especially excruciating for Black men who see their very humanity reflected in him.

“Sometimes you are visualizing you,” says Williams, lead clinician and owner of Hearts in Mind Counseling in Prince George and Montgomery counties in Maryland. Ninety percent of his clients identify as Black.

In the aftermath of Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s trial, African Americans are fighting harder than ever to protect and prioritize their mental health.

Caught between hope and hopelessness
According to Williams, his clients are continuously cycling through feelings of hope and hopelessness. While many hope for justice, they are also bracing for disappointment, one that feels familiar when unarmed Black men and women are killed by police officers.

Williams also points out the secondary trauma African Americans experience from the images and video surrounding Floyd’s death.
“It is the emotional and psychological effects experienced through vicarious exposure to the details of traumatic experiences of others,” he says.

Among the private concerns Black men have shared with Williams are “feeling anxiety around leaving the house” and “depression over not having control over one’s life.”

Tip 1: Acknowledge your feelings

Take a moment to be present with yourself and to name the feelings and experiences you may be having, Williams suggests. To begin, you can start with this question, “What am I experiencing now?”
The answer to that question may be fatigue, headaches, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, irritability, and anxiety. Emotional and physiological responses can be helpful gauges of knowing when enough is enough.
“If I know what is happening in my environment, I can allow myself to make shifts,” he says.

Tip 2: Create community

A trusted support team is helpful in gently identifying changes you may not readily see in your mood or behavior. The therapist is clear that one’s self-care community must be grounded in relationships they can trust.
Helpful communities can flourish online through group texts and at socially distanced meetings.

Tip 3: Prioritize self-care with boundaries

In his practice, Williams helps his clients identify ways to care for their mental health in their everyday lives. One way to do this individually is to take an internal inventory of moments when you historically experienced joy.
Williams mentions that, culturally, Black individuals are often taught to care for others ahead of themselves, while balancing the pressures that come with daily life.
“We have to have self-advocacy. We have to prioritize ourselves,” he says. “And it is not selfish.”
To begin this process, Williams suggests asking yourself, “What are the things I liked growing up?” and “What are the things I like now?”
Williams says this step is often unfamiliar for men.
When asking male clients “What does your self-care look like?” he’s often met with blank stares and hesitation.
“They were like, ‘Man, I don’t know what that is,'” he says.
Seeing this need among his clients and social media following, Williams created a men’s self-care calendar to help men rediscover their own individual needs.
The next step is to create boundaries to prioritize needs. For example, Williams says using the “do not disturb” option on a phone is one way of “putting the responsibility on the boundary.”
“Boundaries allow you to protect yourself,” he says. “Boundaries are like a set of rules that you have in order to function, and to have healthier experiences with people, places and things.”

Tip 4: Seek therapy

“It is important for the Black community to get into therapy,” Williams says.
He recommends finding a therapist whom you trust and who fits with you.
“Your first therapist might not fit,” he cautions.
When seeking a clinician, he encourages individuals to try out therapists. He also recommends pushing back if you feel you aren’t getting enough in sessions.
“Be empowered to find another therapist.” He says. “Say, ‘Hey, I don’t feel like I am getting what I need. Can we try something else?'”
And, if your therapist isn’t working out, Williams recommends acknowledging it and finding someone who may be a better fit.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Long Marred By Racism, St. Louis Elects 1st Black Female Mayor

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Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones speaking away from the camera with a mask hanging off her left ear

By , NPR

Voters in St. Louis last week delivered a historic victory for Tishaura Jones, the first Black woman elected mayor and the latest triumph for progressive candidates in the St. Louis region.

Amid unrest at local jails, surging gun violence, and a pandemic that has disproportionately hurt people of color, Jones said the race will no longer be an afterthought in the mayor’s office.

“We are done avoiding race and how it holds this region back,” she told NPR’s All Things Considered.

The current city treasurer, Jones ran on a progressive platform — calling for a “reimagining” of public safety and promising to close the Workhouse, one of the city’s pretrial detention centers that has come under fierce scrutiny for inhumane conditions. After being sworn in on April 20, she intends to shut down the Workhouse within 100 days.

Voters on Tuesday also fueled a progressive flip of the Board of Aldermen, and recent years have brought a wave of progressive candidates into office, including St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush and Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones.

In discussing her second run for mayor (Jones ran unsuccessfully in the 2017 mayoral election), she brought up her 13-year-old son. Jones recalled the two talking about what, exactly, the mayor does.

“I said, ‘The mayor is over the police and trash and firefighters,’ and named all the departments,” Jones said. “And he said, ‘Oh, you’ll be over the police? That means I’ll be safe.’ And that statement just hit me like a ton of bricks because I shouldn’t have to run for mayor in order for my son to feel safe.”

After a campaign that did not shy from conversations about race and policing, Jones is determined to bring that focus to the mayor’s office: “We have not had the opportunity to have those difficult and tough conversations about the systemic racism that permeates every policymaking decision in our region and in our city.”

In the interview, Jones was critical of the city’s police union. Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, responded to Jones’ comments by directing NPR to a statement made after last week’s election: “We congratulate all of yesterday’s winners and we commit to continue to partner with them or anyone else willing to do the hard work of making this city a better, safer place to live.”

The following excerpts from the interview have been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to read the full article and interview on NPR.

Actor Hill Harper launches The Black Wall Street platform aimed at empowering investors of color

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Hill Harper wearing a blue coat jacket and smiling at the camera while he attends the Netflix Golden Globe Weekend Cocktail Party at Cecconi’s Restaurant

By Frank Holland, CNBC

Nearly a century after Black Wall Street — a center of Black business in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was destroyed in a racial attack — “The Good Doctor” actor Hill Harper is launching a fintech app of the same name to empower investors of color.

The Black Wall Street app goes live on June 1 and will offer a digital wallet for peer-to-peer payment and the ability to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.

“What the Black Wall Street was in Tulsa and the Greenwood district is just very empowering,” Harper told CNBC about the once thriving Black business district.

“There were three pillars that created the wealth that was created in the Black Wall Street [in Tulsa],” he said, with the first two being institutional ownership and institutional trust by the community. “Pillar number three was the movement of money or capital within the ecosystem where dollars changed hands 60 to 100 times within a year before it left that Black community.”

Harper, who plays Dr. Marcus Andrews on the ABC medical show, said that dollars now leave the Black community within about seven hours. “I truly believe that unless we start owning our own fintech platforms, our own digital wallets, the dollar will leave within six to seven seconds.” said Harper, who also played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CBS’ “CSI: NY.”

The goal of The Black Wall Street app is to give Black and Latinx investors a gateway into the digital transformation of investing and provide financial education to customers on cryptocurrency.

Harper, a Harvard Law School graduate, said he began working with Black web developers last year before the Covid pandemic to build the app, which aims to capitalize on mobile device trends in communities of color.

According to a 2019 report from Pew Research Center, 23% of Black Americans and 25% of Latinx Americans are “smart phone only” internet users compared with 12% of white Americans. The Pew study also showed Black Americans use a smartphone for mobile banking more than any other group.

Harper said he’s hoping to attract “unbanked” consumers and more sophisticated investors looking for a Black-owned site for cryptocurrency purchasing. “It’s not just about transferring money to folks, it’s about transferring information, ideas, and building community, and we see that that is the real value and the real differentiator.”

Najah Roberts, a cryptocurrency expert and owner of Crypto Blockchain Plug — a brick-and-mortar location in Inglewood, California, for cryptocurrency education and purchasing — will serve as the chief visionary officer for the app. As part of the launch, The Black Wall Street is planning a 30-city financial literacy tour that begins on April 30 in Los Angeles, with stops in Tulsa on May 31, a century since the original Black Wall Street was destroyed in a riot by white residents. Roberts will lead the tour and give fractional bitcoin shares to people who sign up.

The Black Wall Street offering enters a growing industry of fintech apps that allow peer-to-peer transfers including Square’s Cash App from PayPal’s Venmo. Visa estimates there is $4 trillion market for apps that replace the use of cash and checks in the United States. Rapper Killer Mike also launched this year the Greenwood app, another digital platform for investors of color.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

In ‘Them,’ a Black Family Is Haunted by Real-Life Monsters

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From left, Deborah Ayorinde, Melody Hurd, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Ashley Thomas in “Them,” a new horror series from Amazon. The malevolent force at work here is racism.Credit...

Want to hear a scary story? Here’s one: A family reckoning with a senseless, pervasive horror flees home to what they hope will be a place of safety and prosperity, only to find themselves pursued by that same demented presence.

Evil forces gather — their new home is haunted, too. Bloody visions terrorize them day and night. The dog is poisoned. It’s only a matter of time before the bodies start mounting.

PHOTO: NYTIMES

But in the 10-part Amazon series “Them,” as in any good horror story, there is a twist: The victims are simply a middle-class Black family in the 1950s, seeking a better life in a Los Angeles suburb; the senseless horror is the racism of their white neighbors, who want them out. As the situation devolves, certain terrifying events may be supernatural, or they may be psychological.

And yet, as the series, the first season of which drops on Friday, asks: Does that distinction matter when the danger is ever-present?

“As the sinister elements outside the home ratchet up, that obviously allows for the cracks and fissures within each of them to be infiltrated by something malevolent,” the series’s creator, Little Marvin, said of the Black family at the center of “Them.” “But that malevolent thing, as sure as there is a supernatural component to our story, is deeply rooted in the emotional and psychological lives of these characters.”

It must get hard to believe your own eyes when your senses are being shocked over and over by cruelty, I said.

“Welcome to being Black,” Little Marvin replied.

Welcome, also, to the legacy of codified racism in America, which provided Little Marvin with a conceptual starting point for “Them.” Like the Jordan Peele film “Get Out” or last summer’s HBO hit “Lovecraft Country,” “Them,” which counts Lena Waithe as an executive producer, uses horror-genre conventions as allegorical octane for racist machinery that is all too real. And as “Watchmen” did for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the show is likely to educate many viewers on an ugly relic of American history that is not widely acknowledged: racially restrictive housing covenants.

If real estate legalese doesn’t sound like fodder for an edge-of-your-seat horror story, consider the implications. Just as government redlining helped create and reinforce segregation by determining who was eligible for mortgages, racial covenants did the same by restricting who was allowed to buy a property at all, finances be damned. A deed might explicitly forbid all owners, present and future, from selling the home to anyone of African or Asian descent. Many older deeds still bear such language

“Any house that was built between 1938 and 1948, in a subdivision, I would be surprised for it not to have racial restrictions in them,” said Carol M. Rose, a professor emeritus at Yale Law School who has studied racial covenants extensively. Those restrictions, Rose explained, which first appeared in the late 19th century, exploded in the early 20th century as farmlands were subdivided for large swaths of new housing

Racial covenants were notoriously common around northern cities like Detroit and Chicago — the Midwest didn’t mandate separate drinking fountains, but segregation and violence were just as real. And California was no different. A Supreme Court decision in 1948, Shelley v. Kraemer, made racial covenants no longer enforceable, creating opportunities for nonwhite families in places like Compton, Calif., where “Them” is set.

Deprived of a legal means of keeping their neighborhoods white, some racists resorted to extralegal methods, which is where the horror really begins. Sometimes the method was vandalism. Others, a Molotov cocktail.

“California is part of the story because people think that California is this sort of easy, breezy racial space, and no, it’s terrible,” said Jeannine Bell, a law professor at Indiana University who wrote “Hate Thy Neighbor,” a book about the violence faced by people in integrating neighborhoods. “It’s terrible for precisely the reasons that this series explores. The methods used in the Midwest were also used in California.”

The Emory family of “Them” flees the South as part of the Great Migration, in which, from 1916 to 1970, an estimated 6 million Black people left the region for cities of the North and West. Like them, the Emorys seek economic opportunity; the father, Henry (Ashley Thomas), is a college-educated engineer and World War II veteran, and he has relatives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. When he lands a job out West, the family hits the road.

Read the full article at NYtimes.com

Target says it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025

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People stand in line at Target in Kips Bay during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14, 2020 in New York City.

By Melissa Repko, CNBC

Target said it will hire more Black-owned companies, launch a program to identify and support promising minority entrepreneurs and add products from more than 500 Black-owned brands to its shelves or website.

Altogether, the discounter said Wednesday, it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025.

“We have a rich history of working with diverse businesses, but there’s more we can do to spark change across the retail industry, support the Black community and ensure Black guests feel welcomed and represented when they shop at Target,” chief growth officer Christina Hennington said in a news release.

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and protests across the country have ratcheted up pressure on corporate leaders to advance racial equity and do more than simply cut a check — or risk losing business. The uneven death toll of the coronavirus pandemic and financial toll of the recession also spotlighted the country’s sharp racial disparities with health care and economic opportunity.

Floyd was killed in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis, now the site of the murder trial for the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. One Target store, located near the site of Floyd’s death, had to be completely rebuilt and some of its other stores were damaged during rioting.

Companies have spoken out about diversity and inclusion as consumers pay attention and some direct their dollars toward businesses that align with their values. Generation Z — the group of teens and early 20-somethings who are aging into shopping and establishing relationships with brands — care more about social justice compared with former generations, according to an annual survey of teens by Piper Sandler released Wednesday. Teens surveyed by the firm ranked racial equity as their most important political and social issue, followed by the environment and Black Lives Matter.

Over the past year, major retailers like Nike, Walmart and Ulta Beauty have rolled out their own pledges, such as devoting more shelf space to Black-owned products, evaluating how they hire and promote employees, featuring more Black people in their ads and reducing the number of police or security in stores to prevent racial profiling. A growing number of retailers, including Macy’s, Sephora and Gap, have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge, which aims to make Black-owned products on store shelves proportional to the country’s Black population.

Among Target’s changes, the retailer said it will more actively seek out advertising firms, suppliers, construction companies and other kinds of businesses that are Black-owned. It said it will create a program called Forward Founders for early-stage start-ups led by Black entrepreneurs to help them develop, test and scale products to sell at mass retailers like Target. It will be modeled off of Target Accelerators, a program for start-ups that the retailer uses to foster up-and-coming brands and ultimately, to sell fresh and exclusive products that attract customers and help it differentiate from competitors.

In some categories, such as beauty, Target said it already has 50 Black-owned and Black-founded brands — but would like to add more for other kinds of merchandise.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Just 3% of L.A. landmarks are linked to Black history. One project aims to change that

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St. Elmo Village, an artists’ enclave occupying a compound of 10 Craftsman bungalows, was founded in 1969 by artists Roderick and Rozzell Sykes as a place where children and adults could explore their creativity. The site is one of L.A.'s few designated landmarks linked to Black heritage.

MAKEDA EASTER, Los Angeles Times

Getty and the city of Los Angeles are expected to announce Tuesday the launch of the African American Historic Places Project, a three-year initiative to identify and preserve landmarks that represent Black heritage across L.A.

Led by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Office of Historic Resources within L.A.’s Department of City Planning, the project will address a disparity in local landmark designations: Only about 3% are connected to African American heritage. The goal of the project is to more accurately reflect the history of the city.

The Office of Historic Resources knows that its landmark designation programs do not yet reflect “the diversity and richness of the African American experience in Los Angeles,” said Ken Bernstein, principal city planner and manager of the office. “There’s much work to be done to rectify that disparity and ensure that the heritage of African Americans in Los Angeles is fully woven into our historic designation, and recognition of historic places in Los Angeles.”

The project is a continuation of a nearly 20-year partnership between the Getty Conservation Institute and the city on local heritage projects.

In 2005, a city-matched grant of $2.5 million from the GCI launched a program to identify and map places of social importance, including historic districts, bridges, parks and streetscapes.

Data from surveys conducted between 2010 and 2017 led to the creation of HistoricPlacesLA, a digital portal designed to inventory, map and contextualize the city’s cultural heritage sites. In 2018, the Office of Historic Resources developed a model to guide preservation work in Black communities, using themes including civil rights, religion and spirituality and visual arts.

Click here to read the full article on Los Angeles Times.

THE WEEKND DONATES $1 MIL FOR 2 MILLION MEALS … To Help Ethiopians

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A headshot of the weeknd from a concert of his with the WFP logo next to him

By TMZ

The Weeknd is getting involved with the military conflict in Ethiopia — donating a million dollars, which will provide food for people who need it there.

The singer, who is of Ethiopian descent himself, partnered with World Food Program USA — a UN World Food Programme affiliate — to send over a million bucks toward relief efforts in the North African country … which has been mired with bloodshed and chaos for months. Specifically, Abel’s money will provide the equivalent of 2 million meals for citizens there who have been caught in the middle of the feuding factions … many of whom are running out of resources, like food.

TW says, “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction.” He goes on to encourage others who can to donate as well.

If you haven’t heard, Ethiopia has been embroiled in a bitter battle with its own people since November — when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an attack on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — the ruling party in the northern part of the region.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ!

Two Black women will be head coaches in the same NCAA women’s Final Four for the first time

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South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley celebrates after cutting the last piece of the net during the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

By Matias Grez and Jill Martin

This year’s March Madness might have exposed gaps in gender equity in college sports, but for two Black women, the 2021 NCAA women’s tournament will always represent a moment when history was made.

For the first time in NCAA women’s tournament history, two Black women will be head coaches in the same Final Four.
South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will be appearing in her third Final Four, winning the title back in 2017, while Adia Barnes and her Arizona team will make their debut appearance.
March Madness is the pinnacle of college basketball, where 64 teams — full of the next generation of WNBA and NBA players — duke it out in a single-elimination tournament over two weeks to crown the best team. The event is known for big moments, upsets and great action.
Photo: CNN
Speaking to reporters about the historic feat following South Carolina’s win over Texas, Staley said she was “super proud of Adia” and was “cheering for her to get it done.”
“It was not for any other reason besides us being represented at the biggest stage of women’s college basketball,” she said.
“And that’s because there are so many Black coaches out there that don’t get opportunity because when ADs [Athletics Directors] don’t see it, they don’t see it — and they’re going to see it on the biggest stage of a Friday night, that two Black women are representing two programs in the Final Four, something that has never been done before.
“You know, our history here in women’s basketball is so filled with so many Black bodies that for this to be happening in 2021, to me, is long overdue, but we’re proud. We’re happy.
“I know my phone is probably full of text messages of Black coaches all across the country, just congratulating us on doing that, on being present, being in the moment, being able to take our programs to this place.”
Both Staley and Barnes are former WNBA players — the latter winning a title with the Seattle Storm in 2004 — and Barnes revealed she has been inundated with messages from former teammates.
On Friday, South Carolina will face Stanford, while Arizona will meet UConn.
The two women have guided their respective teams to the Final Four in impressive fashion, with Staley’s South Carolina comfortably swatting Texas aside in a 62-34 win, while Barnes’ Arizona powered past Indiana in a bruising 66-53 victory.
It also means Staley and Barnes are the only former WNBA players to have led teams to the Final Four as head coaches.
“I know Adia utilizes all of her basketball knowledge as a player and she’s been a coach long enough that she’s not just a suit,” Staley said.
“It’s always going to be part player in us and that’s why our players … we are so relatable to them. They understand it because it’s coming from a place of ‘we’ve done that. We’re trying to help you get to that place where we can have longevity in our league.’
“Representation matters. It’s nothing against anybody else that lost to us, but when you see two Black women representing in this way, I hope the decision makers who — because there are a lot of jobs out there that you give Black women an opportunity — not just give them the job.
Read the full article at CNN. 

Venus Williams Pens Powerful Essay on Gender Equality, Announces Campaign to Advocate for Equal Pay

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Venus williams wearing a gray suit jacket smiling at the camera

By Katie Campione, People

Venus Williams is once again lending her voice to the movement for gender equality.

The five-time Wimbledon champion penned a moving essay for British Vogue on Monday about using her platform to advocate for equal pay.

In 2007, Williams became the first woman to receive equal prize money to her male counterparts. While men and women now get equal prize money at the majors and combined events, Williams said there is still a long way to go in the sport and across all industries to make sure women are valued in their fields.

“There is still a mindset that women’s tennis isn’t as valuable as men’s,” she wrote. As four-time Olympic gold medalist, Williams said “we must not allow [that mindset] to dictate society’s progress.”

“I firmly believe that sport mirrors life and life mirrors sport,” Williams wrote. “The lack of equality and equal opportunities in tennis is a symptom of the obstacles women face around the world.”

The tennis player added that, in the United States, women made 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019. Inspired by that “shocking” statistic, Williams said she is initiating a campaign called #PrivilegeTax.

Ahead of Equal Pay Day on March 24, customers at participating brands can donate 19 cents at checkout to benefit the Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles organization. Brands partnering with Williams for the campaign include Nordstrom, Tracy Anderson, Tom Brady’s TB12, Carbon38, Credo Beauty and Happy Viking.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Miko Marks is blazing trail again as Black women find place in country music

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Singer Miko Marks poses for a portrait outside a studio

By Andrew Gilbert, Datebook

Nashville can be a lonely place for a Black woman breaking into the country music scene. And Miko Marks knows this firsthand.

The Oakland singer, who recorded two well-regarded albums during a Tennessee sojourn in the mid-aughts, said she found a warm welcome just about everywhere she performed except for the home of country music itself.

“I was always open to wherever my path would lead, but things did not work out in Nashville,” Marks said, noting that she felt fitting in required tamping down her identity.

Music City may not have been ready for Marks, but she helped clear a country music trail for other Black women, and now she’s getting back on the horse with her first new album in 14 years. Working closely with the creative team at the recently launched East Palo Alto label Redtone Records, Marks recorded “Our Country,” a rollicking, gospel music-infused session that thrums to the justice-seeking frequency of Black Lives Matter.

“These songs were made out of the experience we’re going through right now,” said Marks, who celebrates the album’s Friday, March 26, release with an acoustic performance that will be live-streamed on her YouTube channel and Facebook page. “The music is there to speak to the times.”

Miko Marks sins autographs in front of a wall of her album covers
Miko Marks is blazing trail again as Black women find place in country music. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle 2008

The album grew out of a vivid dream Marks had, but not in the sense of fulfilling a long-held ambition. Rather, late in the summer of 2019, she literally dreamed about musicians she hadn’t worked with for more than a decade. A quick phone call put her back in touch with Justin Phipps and Steve Wyreman, the Redtone Records founders who perform together as the Resurrectors.

Phipps and Wyreman were excited to get back in touch with Marks and realized a song they’d recently written, “Goodnight America,” would be ideal for her rich contralto. An elegy for a country headed in the wrong direction, “it didn’t fit anyone we were currently working with,” Phipps said. “When Miko reached out, we sent it to her and she sat with it for a while. Ultimately, she felt it resonated with where she was and where she wanted to be going.”

When Marks released the song as a video last year, a few weeks before the pandemic lockdown, it was definitely a departure from where she’d been. Before “Goodnight America,” she’d always avoided taking a political stance in her music, preferring to focus on personal themes. With “Our Country,” she’s jumped into the fray.

“I definitely feel like there’s a conversation being had that’s long overdue,” Marks said. “I am hopeful. I feel that the times are different than when I started out.”

Marks grew up with gospel music, singing in church in Flint, Mich., “but I was always drawn to country music,” she said. “Loretta and Patsy, Kenny Rogers and ‘Hee Haw’ were huge in my household. It was a normal thing. It wasn’t until I was older that there was this line clearly drawn, but country music has its roots in Black music. Even the banjo is from Africa.”

She met her San Francisco-raised husband David Hawkins when they were students at Grambling State University in Louisiana, and by 1996 the couple settled in the Bay Area. Though she loved singing, Marks said she wouldn’t have pursued a career in music without Hawkins’ encouragement, and after recording a Jeffrey Wood-produced demo at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, she decided to give up her day job in San Francisco as a legal secretary and try her luck in Nashville.

Working with producer Ron Cornelius at Mirrome Records, she released her debut album, “Freeway Bound,” in 2005 and followed it up with 2007’s “It Feels Good.” Both albums featured first-call studio talent that caught the attention of mainstream country music audiences. And yet, while the sessions were well received, the indie label couldn’t break Marks into country radio and it became clear that Nashville didn’t really know what to do with her.

In 2006, the Bay Area welcomed her back. Marks became one of the region’s most visible country music singers, performing everywhere from the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and San Francisco’s Pier 23 to the Saddle Rack in Fremont and Oakland’s Overland (the latter two permanently shuttered during the pandemic).

Click here to read the full article on Datebook.

Master P Changes Focus from Owning NBA Team to Owning an HBCU

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Master P posing with his hand over his mouth, wearing a suit and glasses

By Will Moss, HBCU Connect

The recent highlighting of Historically Black Colleges and Universities has led many to learn that most of these schools were founded on land grants provided by the government during the Reconstruction Era. Realizing this has motivated Master P to take matters into his own hands to change the future.

Master P took to Instagram where he revealed his life goal has now changed.

“I used to want to own an NBA team but now I want to own a HBCU,” opens his video’s caption.

“This message is all about educating our people,” Master P said in the video. “Anybody that’s listening to this and has a business, I want y’all to join this movement with me. We need to make sure our kids get educated the way other the cultures are educated.”

The spotlight has been refocused on HBCUs in recent years. Michael B. Jordan created a basketball invitational to showcase talent at the institutions and the NBA has put an emphasis on supporting them. During the NBA All-Star Game, the league generated $3 million that will be used to promote these colleges and universities.

“It was part of the reason why we’re here in Atlanta,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, per CNN. Atlanta is home to a host of HBCUs including the acclaimed Atlanta University Center (AUC) which consists of legendary schools Morehouse College, Spellman College, and Clark Atlanta University. “This was an opportunity to focus on the HBCUs,” Silver added.

Master P wanted to extend this goal on his own. He explained in his IG caption that HBCUs graduate more women than any other league of higher education. This includes the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full article on HBCU Connect

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