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.

J.P. Morgan Creates Scholarship Program for Black College Students

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Jp Morgan building with sign. JP morgan is creating scholarships for black college students.

By Jeff Berman, Think Advisor

In the latest J.P. Morgan diversity and equity initiative, the firm has teamed with the United Negro College Fund to create the J.P. Morgan Wealth Management HBCU Scholarship Program. The initiative is part of the $30 billion Path Forward commitment to advance racial equity that JPMorgan Chase announced Oct. 8. Building on that commitment, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management said in March it set a goal to hire 300 more Black and Latino advisors by 2025.

The new scholarship program invests in students at historically Black colleges and universities who are interested in careers in financial planning “early on and creates a path for their long-term career success, strengthening the pipeline of diverse talent” for JPMWM, the firm and UNCF said in a joint announcement Monday. The program will provide scholarships and mentorships to students attending one of 11 HBCUs across the U.S. and help them develop the skills they need to grow a career as a financial advisor, they said.

JPMWM will award 75 scholarships annually over the next five years. Students receiving the scholarships will have the opportunity to participate in two summer experiences: the Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program and the first-of-its-kind J.P. Morgan Wealth Management Service Center Internship. After completing the internship program, students will also be eligible for another scholarship to be applied to their senior year.

“We’re committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, and that begins by investing in students early on and creating a path for their long-term career success,” according to Christopher Thompson, head of Diverse Advisor Experiences at JPMWM. “We look forward to unlocking an enormous talent potential while boosting interest in a career as a financial advisor, which has excellent growth potential,” he said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article on Think Advisor.

Rihanna releases first Savage X Fenty Pride collection

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Rihanna attends a Fenty event in February 2020 in an orange turtle neck

By Melissa Minton, Page Six

Rihanna is starting off Pride Month with a bang. The pop star’s Savage X Fenty lingerie brand launched its first-ever Pride collection on Tuesday, along with an accompanying campaign. “Pride is all about appreciating your authentic self,” Rihanna, 33, said in a statement. “I am very excited about this collection and showing love and support to the LGBTQIA+ community, which includes so many of our customers, team members and fans.”

Just last September, Savage X Fenty — which is now valued at more than $1 billion — announced an expansion into styles for men. The brand’s star-studded Pride campaign features model couple Ahmad Kanu and Rahquise Bowen, artist Aya Brown, plus-size model and dancer Dexter Mayfield, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Gigi Goode, transgender influencer Jaslene Whiterose, Fenty Skin model Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Rihanna’s personal hairstylist Yusef Williams and more.

Available in sizes from 30A to 42H and XS to 3X, the collection includes smoking jackets, jock straps, crop tops, hosiery, boxer briefs and even a whip. Prices range from $16.95 to $69.95, with purchases from the line supporting LGBTQ+ organizations including GLAAD, the Audre Lorde Project, The Caribbean Equality Project, INC., Trans Latin@ Coalition and the Trans Wellness Center.

Click here to read the full article on Page Six.

George Floyd’s friends have turned their pain into action in the year since his murder

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George Floyd painted mural and speakers talking to news stations on a podium

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

The day after George Floyd’s funeral, Jonathan Veal drove from Houston and back to his Oklahoma City home still grappling with what had happened: his close friend — a brother, really — was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and the brutal video of his last moments had been viewed by millions.

The last time the two had spoken was just several months earlier, in January, when Floyd reached out to say happy birthday. They reminisced over their time playing basketball and football for Houston’s Jack Yates High School. Floyd told Veal about the new life he was setting up in Minneapolis, his efforts to become economically stable and provide for his family and shared that his faith had grown stronger.

At the end of the conversation, Floyd signed off: “With love from 88 to 42” — their old jersey numbers.Veal and Floyd had been a lot more than teammates. They had become family. Alongside their other good friends Vaughn

Dickerson, Jerald Moore and Herbert Mouton, they had spent most of every day together growing up and never lost touch. And now Floyd was gone. Knowing they shared his pain, Veal reached out to his three friends and they began communicating every day — texting, calling, supporting each other, sharing pictures.

“But then, we were like, ‘OK, what do we do?’ We could find a level of closure but also, we could keep the legacy of our friend,” Veal said. “So that’s how 88 C.H.U.M.P. came about.”
The four men say they created the 88 C.H.U.M.P. nonprofit organization — Floyd’s jersey number and an acronym which stands for ‘Communities Helping Underprivileged Minorities Progress’ — as a way to keep Floyd’s legacy alive and address some of the challenges that the community they grew up in, Houston’s Third Ward, has faced for decades. They’ve launched initiatives to tackle systemic inequities, police brutality and opportunities for the inner city youth, among other efforts.
“We understand this is going to be a daunting task,” Veal said. “But we’re committed to it because Floyd gave that much to us.”
But the four weren’t the only ones galvanized by their friend’s killing. Across Houston, others who say they were lucky to know Floyd, the neighborhood’s “gentle giant,” have taken on new efforts in the past year pushing for change in his honor.

‘Blood brothers’
Dickerson, who still lives in Houston, said he had been thinking about creating an organization like 88 C.H.U.M.P. for nearly two decades. He finally shared it with Veal, Moore and Mouton after Floyd’s killing.
“We refuse to let one of our blood brothers from a different mother go out like that,” Dickerson said. “I know he’d be doing it for us, without a doubt.”

Immediately, the four hit the ground running, focusing initially on the November 2020 elections by conducting voter education and registration drives, including events in partnership with the Houston Texans — and helping residents of Houston’s Third Ward community make it to the polls on Election Day.

They set up conversations between the Third Ward community and the local police department. Over the summer, Veal said, 88 C.H.U.M.P. facilitated several dialogues in partnership with Houston police and the group plan to start another round of those conversations this summer.

But perhaps one of their biggest focal points has been the youth.

“We’re trying to actively get more kids involved with after-school programs such as computer literacy, teaching them how to write essays, math, social studies, science,” Dickerson said. “This is what’s needed for these inner-city youths to keep them active. If they don’t have no parks to go to, no boys and girls clubs, no after-school activities, what do you expect, they’re going to get in trouble.”

The group told CNN they’re hoping to set up scholarships for local high school students in Floyd’s honor and create programs that would introduce young adults to professionals and opportunities across different fields.
“It’s just something that we feel like we have to do,” Mouton said. “We have to keep (Floyd’s) name alive and we have to push these initiatives in his honor.”

Finally, 88 C.H.U.M.P. plans to kick off a fundraiser this month for a new football field in the high school they used to play for, a field they say hasn’t changed much in the past three decades.
Ultimately, the organization exists to help level the playing field for underserved communities, Veal said. It’s a long road ahead, he says, but one they’re willing to walk.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotions that come along with that, good, bad, ugly,” he said. “It’s worth it. It’s going to be difficult work, but it’s going to be worthwhile work, rewarding work.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Billy Porter Breaks a 14-Year Silence: “This Is What HIV-Positive Looks Like Now”

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Billy Porter in a black and white photo posed to the side looking at his right hand

BY BILLY PORTER, AS TOLD TO LACEY ROSE, The Hollywood Reporter

Billy Porter takes a long deep breath. “I have to start in 2007,” he says, having settled in across the table. He’s here, at Little Owl in the West Village, to get something off his chest — something that’s been shrouded in secrecy so long, he can barely remember life before.

“In June of that year,” he continues, a ball of nerves, even if the performer in him refuses to let on, “I was diagnosed HIV-positive.” In the 14 years since, the Emmy-winning star of Pose has told next to no one, fearing marginalization and retaliation in an industry that hasn’t always been kind to him. Instead, the 51-year-old, who has cultivated a fervent fan base in recent years on the basis of his talent and authenticity, says he’s been using Pray Tell, his HIV-positive character on the FX series, as his proxy. “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate,” he reveals, acknowledging that nobody involved with the show had any idea he was drawing from his own life.

Now, as the Peabody Award-winning series, a ball-scene drama set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, concludes its third and final season, Porter is preparing for what’s next. There’s a memoir, over which he’s agonized and blown deadlines, set for later this year; a Netflix documentary about his life, which will keep him in business with Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy; a 2021 take on Cinderella, in which he’ll play the fairy godmother; a directorial debut; a host of new music; and much, much more.

But the Broadway-trained actor, who is an Oscar shy of an EGOT, isn’t interested in entering the next phase of his life and career with the shame that’s trailed him for more than a decade. So, with Murphy by his side for support, and a cadre of documentary cameras hovering above, Porter tells his story. An edited version follows.

Having lived through the plague, my question was always, “Why was I spared? Why am I living?”

Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.

Click here to read the full article on the Hollywood Reporter.

The Underground Railroad Team Talks Aaron Pierre’s Distracting Beauty as Caesar — and That Episode 2 Shocker

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Underground railroad actor wearing vintage clothing from the time

By , TV Line

To be clear, The Underground Railroad is a serious and thought-provoking work of art. The 10-part limited series, which Oscar winner Barry Jenkins adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is in many ways a visually rich conversation starter on American slavery and race relations. But part of that visual is Krypton‘s Aaron Pierre as Caesar — who, within five minutes of watching Episode 1, has the ability to make viewers focus on little else but him. Or, as one fan on Twitter phrased it, “he reminds me of Javier Bardem — a face that just wants to be looked at. Powerful looking dude.”

Thankfully, Pierre is a wonderful actor, and his ability to convey great depth with just a slow-boiling sidelong glance is in and of itself a reason to pay attention to him opposite star Thuso Mbedu, TVLine’s most recent Performer of the Week.

Speaking of which, Mbedu says she noticed the London native’s charms as much as viewers have and will — but only as herself. As Cora, who initially and quizzically tells Caesar she won’t run away with him to freedom, she can’t see his handsome face and broad shoulders or hear his seductive baritone voice.

“Caesar was friends with the group who called Cora names at every single turn,” Mbedu recalls. “He was part of that crew. So she’s not seeing him for the god that he is. She’s seeing all the ugly. But that’s Cora. As Thuso, I was like, ‘Hey, Aaron!’”

Jenkins agrees and says Cora’s other hurdles as an enslaved Black woman eclipse Caesar’s pretty blue eyes.

“Cora absolutely would question running away with Caesar because I think in that moment, Cora can’t see anything and she cannot see how beautiful he is,” Jenkins contends. “The only thing she can see is that the person who should want her the most, her mother, abandoned her at this plantation. That’s all she can see. Caesar’s job, as handsome as he is, is to very slowly and subtly remind her that ‘I see you. I need you. I want you. You are special.’ I think that’s the role he plays in her life.”

Click here to read the full article on TV Line.

Damian Lillard Encourages Others to ‘Be Good Allies’ in NBA’s AAPI Month PSA: ‘Stand Up, Speak Out’

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Damian Lillard wearing an oregon basketball jersey during a game

By Lindsay Kimble, People

Damian Lillard is helping the NBA advocate for change in America. In a new PSA launched in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, Lillard — who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers — decries the recent rise in violence against the AAPI community.

“May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” Lillard says. “As we celebrate, we must also acknowledge the troubling rise in violence and discrimination towards Asian Americans this year. Hate and bigotry against anyone have no place in our game — or in our communities.”

RELATED: 14 Brands to Support for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — and Always

Lillard, 30, adds, “Now is the time to stand up, speak out, and be good allies. We must continue our fight to stop discrimination and xenophobia, together. To find out how you can get engaged, visit StandAgainstHatred.org.”

The findings of a study released in March of police department statistics shows that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by nearly 150 percent in 2020 amid the coronaviurs pandemic, despite hate crimes overall dropping by 7 percent.

Click here to read the full article on People.

PNC Announces $88 Billion Community Benefits Plan

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black businessman working from home during pandemic on laptop wearing a suit smiling

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC) recently announced a Community Benefits Plan to provide $88 billion in loans, investments, and other financial support to bolster economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals and communities, people and communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities over a four-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

The Plan – developed in connection with the anticipated regulatory approval and closing of PNC’s pending acquisition of BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA – covers the geographies currently served by PNC and the new geographies PNC will expand into through the BBVA USA acquisition.

The Plan incorporates, builds on and expands the pledges and plans previously announced by PNC and BBVA USA to help meet community needs, advance economic empowerment and address systemic racism.

Specifically, over the Plan period, PNC expects to:

  • Originate at least $47 billion in residential mortgage and home equity loans to LMI and minority borrowers and in LMI and majority-minority census tracts.
  • Originate at least $26.5 billion in loans to small businesses in LMI communities, majority-minority census tracts, businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and small farms.
  • Provide at least $14.5 billion in community development loans and investments across all markets, including at least $400 million for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that help meet the banking and financial service needs of traditionally underserved communities.
  • Increase to at least $500 million PNC’s charitable giving, including sponsorships and philanthropic grants. This includes the continuation of BBVA USA’s existing multi-year grant and charitable sponsorship commitments with nonprofit organizations, and a commitment to maintain or increase the current levels of philanthropic support provided to community groups in Birmingham in recognition of the history of the city as the headquarters city of BBVA USA and its predecessor bank.

“As a Main Street bank, we believe that our success will be proportional to the prosperity we help create for our stakeholders,” said PNC Chairman, President and CEO William S. Demchak. “This plan reflects that belief and builds on our longstanding commitment to provide economic opportunity for all individuals and communities we serve, as reflected in PNC Bank’s and BBVA USA’s overall ‘Outstanding’ Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) ratings in each of our organizations’ most recent evaluations.” PNC Bank has consistently earned an ‘Outstanding’ CRA rating in every performance evaluation issued since enactment of the CRA more than 40 years ago.

PNC’s Community Benefits Plan was developed by PNC, in consultation with BBVA USA, and was informed by numerous community listening sessions that PNC held with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) that included representatives from more than 150 NCRC member organizations from across the combined PNC and BBVA USA footprint. PNC also held listening sessions with the National Diversity Coalition, the Greenlining Coalition, the California Reinvestment Coalition, Faith and Community Empowerment, and members of their respective organizations.

“We appreciate the leadership and commitment of PNC Bank to collaborate with us and our members to develop the largest-to-date community benefits plan,” said NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol. “This plan is a significant commitment by one of the largest banks in the nation to increase investments, services and loans for low- and moderate-income communities and neighborhoods of color. It’s rewarding and makes me hopeful when institutions and communities can come together like this to make a meaningful commitment that’s intended to have a lasting impact on lives, families and neighborhoods.”

PNC’s Regional President and Community Development Banking teams will serve as key points of engagement in their local communities for identifying impactful local community development initiatives and acting as liaisons with local organizations. PNC will extend this model to the new markets it enters through its pending acquisition of BBVA USA.

“As we consulted with numerous groups across the country, we learned the concerns that are top of mind to our communities: focusing on home ownership as a foundation of wealth creation for current and future generations; finding solutions to help the unbanked and underbanked who have suffered disproportionately during this pandemic; and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and credit on par with the access enjoyed by more affluent segments of our society,” said Richard Bynum, chief corporate responsibility officer for PNC. “We believe that our strategic focus on fostering economic empowerment, education and entrepreneurism in traditionally underserved populations and communities truly reflects the concerns of our communities and addresses each of these areas.”

“For over three decades, I have been fond of saying, ‘Banks are our neighborhoods’ best hope.’ The PNC plan directly responds to that hope,” said NCRC President and Founder John Taylor. “It will provide a much-needed influx of investment into critical programs that improve affordable housing, mortgage lending, small business development and economic development projects for low- and moderate-income people and neighborhoods coast-to-coast. This plan would have been impossible without the clear and unwavering commitment of PNC CEO Bill Demchak and other executive leadership at the bank, as well as the critical role our local community members played in our discussions with the bank.”

The Community Benefits Plan builds on PNC’s commitment to providing economic opportunity for all individuals and communities, including LMI and minority individuals and communities, as well as women, veterans and LGBTQ+ individuals and businesses. In addition, the Plan reflects PNC’s commitment to addressing systemic racism, promoting social justice and advancing diversity and inclusion, not just within PNC, but within the broader financial system and its communities.

In 2020 the PNC Board of Directors formed a Special Committee on Equity and Inclusion in order to provide oversight of these important issues. The Board’s Special Committee will also be responsible for oversight of PNC’s execution of the Plan.

PNC’s plan to better meet the needs of the unbanked and underbanked includes the addition of 20 new branches and 25 remote automated teller machines in LMI communities across PNC’s expanded footprint, and 10 mobile banking units primarily dedicated to servicing LMI communities. PNC also expects to increase its spending with diverse suppliers by at least 20% over the plan period.

PNC also plans to expand the reach of its innovative banking products and initiatives designed to meet the needs of LMI individuals, underserved communities and the elderly. This includes the company’s recent announcement of its groundbreaking Low Cash Mode℠ digital offering, which addresses the $17 billion that some studies estimate U.S. consumers pay each year in overdraft fees. Low Cash Mode℠ helps PNC’s Virtual Wallet® customers avoid overdraft fees and remain in the banking system through unprecedented account transparency and control to manage through low-cash moments or mis-timed payments. Low Cash Mode℠ launches nationwide in June and July. Pending regulatory approval and the anticipated close and conversion of BBVA USA customers to PNC’s systems later this year, it will be available to BBVA USA customers with Virtual Wallet accounts.

In addition, PNC will expand into its new BBVA USA geographies its SmartAccess and Foundation Checking accounts—two products that meet the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s Bank On national certification. Bank On’s 2021-2022 Standards require low cost, no overdraft, and full-functioning features. PNC is the only bank with two Bank On certified products.

“PNC is committed to continuing to reduce barriers to banking, increasing access to financial services and capital, and implementing financial solutions that position LMI and minority-owned businesses for effective growth, development, and sustainability,” Bynum said.

Under the Community Benefits Plan, PNC also will create a Community Advisory Council that will meet semi-annually to discuss the bank’s progress toward the goals and objectives of the plan, as well as emerging areas of community need. In addition, PNC will host an annual Community Leadership Symposium for members of the Council, key representatives of its member organizations and other invited guests to discuss broader developments affecting community development needs and how financial institutions, like PNC, can best help to meet those needs.

Finally, under the Plan, PNC will increase recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities while also exploring opportunities to increase its recruitment from higher education institutions primarily serving Latinx students.

PNC will use its best efforts to meet and, where possible, exceed the goals included in the Plan, assuming regulatory approval and consummation of the planned acquisition of BBVA USA.

In Nov. 2020, PNC and the Spanish financial group, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (NYSE and MAD: BBVA) announced a definitive agreement for PNC to acquire BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA, headquartered in Houston, Texas, that operates 637 branches in Texas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Colorado and New Mexico. When combined with PNC’s existing footprint, the company will have a coast-to-coast franchise with a presence in 29 of the 30 largest markets in the U.S.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as “believe,” “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “see,” “look,” “intend,” “outlook,” “project,” “forecast,” “estimate,” “goal,” “will,” “should” and other similar words and expressions, including, but not limited to, statements regarding the outlook for our future business and financial performance. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We do not assume any duty and do not undertake to update forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements, including those under the Community Benefits Plan, to differ materially from the results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this press release, including, but not limited to, future changes to our business strategy, performance of the U.S. economy, or changes to the laws and regulations affecting us, our customers and the U.S. economy (including, but not limited to, tax laws and regulations), risks and uncertainties related to the acquisition of BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA, and the integration of the acquired business into PNC after closing, as well as the risks described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020 and in our subsequent Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Thus, there can be no assurance that the Community Benefits Plan will achieve the results or outcome originally expected or anticipated by us. As a result, we caution against placing undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.

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.

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.

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.

The number of Black women mayors leading major cities to reach historic high. Here is why they are winning

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Kim Janey and Tishaura Jones giving speeches while looking off camera

By Nicquel Terry Ellis, CNN

A new wave of Black women are breaking barriers as they ascend to mayoral seats in cities with deeply rooted histories of racism and inequality.

On Tuesday, Tishaura Jones will be sworn in as the first Black female mayor of St. Louis after winning the election earlier this month.

Her victory came just two weeks after Kim Janey was appointed Boston’s first Black female mayor following the resignation of Marty Walsh, who is now the US Labor Secretary. Janey recently announced she would run for a full term in this year’s mayoral election.

With the ascension of Jones and Janey, there will be a historic high of nine Black women serving as mayors of the nation’s 100 largest cities. Other major cities led by Black women include Atlanta, San Francisco; Chicago; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; New Orleans; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Political observers say the growing number of Black female mayors signals they are gaining electoral strength and appealing to voters in races that have been historically won by White men. They say Black women have proven they are relatable with an ability to lead, organize and engage new voters. Black women are also speaking out against the racial disparities in their communities at a time when the nation is having to reckon with systemic racism and police violence against Black people.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, said as more Black women rise to political power, the electorate is seeing the importance of having diverse voices making decisions.

“Black and brown women are running with a message that is a totality of their life experiences, which transcends race or gender,” Peeler-Allen said. “And there are people who are saying ‘she may not look like me but I know we share the same experience, because she is wrestling with credit card debt, or she has a family member with addiction or she’s a small business owner, she’s a veteran.'”
Peeler-Allen said she believes the advancement of Black women in all levels of government could also be inspiring more to run for office.
In the last few years, Kamala Harris became the first Black female vice president, Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first Black woman elected to Congress, and Tish James was elected New York’s first Black female attorney general.

Stacey Abrams narrowly lost her bid to become the nation’s first Black woman governor in 2018, but is now a powerful advocate for voting rights for people of color. Some political analysts view Abrams as a viable candidate for Georgia’s gubernatorial election in 2022.

Creating equity in St. Louis

Both Jones and Janey have vowed to make racial equity a priority while reflecting on their own lived experiences as Black women.

Jones said during her victory speech that she would not stay silent or ignore the racism that has held St. Louis back.
She told CNN she wants to address the exodus of Black residents in recent years and why they don’t feel welcome in St. Louis. The city’s Black population dropped from 51% to 45% in the last 10 years.

Jones said she wants to revitalize the northern part of the city where she grew up because the neighborhoods have been neglected.

“I am ready for St. Louis to thrive instead of just survive,” Jones said on CNN “New Day” earlier this month. “We need to provide opportunities for everyone to succeed, no matter their zip code, the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship.”

Kayla Reed, executive director of the grassroots racial justice group St. Louis Action, said she believes Jones can relate to the plight of Black people in St. Louis because of her lived experience as a single mother from a marginalized neighborhood.
The city, Reed said, struggles with segregation, disparities in education, employment and housing, overpolicing and violence in the Black community.

Reed said Jones has embraced the demands of a racial justice movement that started in 2014 when unrest broke out in nearby Ferguson following the police killing of Michael Brown. Ferguson elected its first Black woman mayor Ella Jones last year.

Jones is listening to the concerns of organizers and giving them a seat at the table, Reed said.
“She understands the unique inequality that our communities face,” said Reed, who campaigned for Jones and sits on her transition team. “And it gives her an advantage to think through creative, innovative solutions to shift outcomes and conditions.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Kimberly Godwin Named President of ABC News

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Headshot of Kimberly Godwin

The Walt Disney Co. has named Kimberly Godwin president of ABC News.

Godwin, a longtime producer and executive at CBS News, will become the first Black woman to lead a broadcast news division. She succeeds James Goldston, who stepped down as president of ABC News earlier this year.

Godwin will start at ABC in early May and report to Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content.

A top deputy to CBS News president Susan Zirinsky, Godwin was most recently executive vp news at CBS, overseeing all newsgathering worldwide for the venerable broadcast news division. She also had oversight of newsrooms at all the CBS-owned and operated TV stations.

Godwin also stepped in as ep of the CBS Evening News, helping to launch the revamped newscast under anchor Norah O’Donnell. She also served as executive director for development and diversity at CBS News, and as a senior broadcast producer for the Evening News. Before joining CBS News in 2007, she spent more than 20 years working in local TV newsrooms across the country, including leadership roles at WCBS New York, KNBC Los Angeles and KXAS in Dallas.

“Kim is an instinctive and admired executive whose unique experiences, strengths and strategic vision made her the ideal choice to lead the outstanding team at ABC News and build on their incredible success,” said Rice in a statement announcing the hire. “Throughout Kim’s career in global news organizations and local newsrooms, she has distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for excellence, collaboration, inclusion and the vital role of accurate and transparent news reporting.”

“I have immense respect and admiration for ABC News,” added Godwin in a statement. “As the most trusted brand in news, they are to be commended for the extraordinary work and dedication of the journalists, producers, executives and their teams across the organization. I am honored to take on this stewardship and excited for what we will achieve together.”

Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter via ABC/ Heidi Gutman

Continue reading the full article at The Hollywood Reporter

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