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.

Michael Jordan, Jordan Brand donating $1M to help diversify newsrooms

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Basketball legend Michael Jordan announced that he will donate $1 million to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting to help diversify newsrooms.

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN, The Hill

Basketball legend Michael Jordan announced that he will donate $1 million to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting to help diversify newsrooms.

The Jordan Brand grant will enable the society to expand its college internship program, create a summer journalism program at a historically black college or university in North Carolina, and launch a high school journalism project with a majority Black and Latino school in the state.

The Ida B. Wells Society, created in 2016 to help train and support minority investigative journalists, is housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Media.

“Investigative reporting is the most important reporting in our democracy,” society co-founder and 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones said in a statement.

“It’s the reporting that holds power accountable, that unearths the way it’s wielded, that tells the stories that people don’t want told. Our democracy is in crisis as politicians are advancing a wave of voter suppression laws across the country and journalists must step up to be the firewall for our democracy,” she added. “That makes the work we do as a Society and the substantial support of Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand so critical in this moment.”

Jordan, who was the main subject of the Netflix documentary series “The Last Dance,” pledged in 2020 to donate $100 million to organizations that are dedicated to racial equality, social justice and education access over the next decade, Black Enterprise reported.

Click here to read the full article on The Hill.

Michael B. Jordan-Backed HBCU Basketball Showcase Partners With Turner Sports and Invesco

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Michael B. Jordan smiling at camera

By Angelique Jackson, Yahoo! Entertainment

Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming college basketball showcase, spotlighting men’s teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) added Turner Sports and Invesco QQQ as partners.

The newly named Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. TNT will televise the doubleheader competition between Hampton University and North Carolina Central University, plus Howard University versus North Carolina A&T University.

The event — presented with WME Sports (the sports division of WME, an Endeavor company), Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media) — was previously announced as the Hoop Dreams Classic.

“I am thrilled to finally announce the four HBCUs that will be competing in the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Jordan said, announcing the latest updates.

“Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports have been amazing partners in helping bring this experience to life,” he continued. “I grew up watching basketball games on TNT, so I am confident they will deliver this set of games to a true audience of basketball fans and their families in an exciting way.”

In addition to the basketball game, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic is also set to feature an immersive cultural experience that highlights elements of HBCU life and culture, including a band showcase, a live musical performance, college and career opportunities and more.

“We are excited for this partnership with Michael B. Jordan and all of the event organizers as we present the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Tina Shah, Turner Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, added. “We’re looking forward to having this unique opportunity to showcase these four college basketball programs, while highlighting HBCUs both leading up to and during the event.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment

Beyoncé Just Became The First Black Woman To Wear The Iconic Tiffany Diamond

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Beyonce wearing the Tiffany Diamond

By , NPR

Singer Beyoncé and her rapper husband Jay-Z are once again turning heads. And this time, they’re making history too.

The powerhouse couple is the new face of a Tiffany & Co. ad campaign “celebrating modern love,” the luxury jeweler announced Monday.

Photos from the ABOUT LOVE campaign — including several shared on Beyoncé’s Instagram account — are drawing admiration across social media, both for the stunning images and for the historic firsts they represent.

Beyoncé can be seen wearing a large yellow diamond necklace in the photos. That’s the iconic 128-carat Tiffany Diamond, which the company acquired in 1878 and rarely puts on display. (Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Lady Gaga wore it to the 2019 Academy Awards.)

Beyoncé is only the fourth woman, and the first Black woman, to wear the diamond in more than a century.

That’s not the only milestone. Some of the photos show the couple posed in front of a large turquoise painting — Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Equals Pi. The 1982 work came from a private collection and has never been seen before in public, according to Tiffany.

This is also a personal first for the Carters. It’s the first campaign they’ve appeared in together, and Tiffany describes it as “an exploration of connection and vulnerability.” Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who got married in 2008, have a well-documented history of ups and downs, which NPR Music’s Rodney Carmichael walks us through here.

“Ushering in a new brand identity, this campaign embodies the beauty of love through time and all its diverse facets, forging a new vision of love today,” the company said.

Tiffany & Co. is also pledging $2 million toward scholarship and internship programs for historically Black colleges and universities, with more details on the initiative to come.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Black women are finally shattering the glass ceiling in dance

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Dionne Figgins, artistic director of Ballet Tech, is one of several Black women named recently to leadership posts in dance. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

By Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.

“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”

Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.

Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.

Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.

Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

U.S. Women Win 4×400, And Allyson Felix Becomes The Most Decorated U.S. Track Athlete

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The gold medal for U.S. star Allyson Felix brings her Olympic medal total up to 11, making her the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history.

By , NPR

TOKYO — It wasn’t even close.

The U.S. women’s 4×400 meter relay team won gold, beating the closest competition, Poland, by more than three and a half seconds.

The gold medal for U.S. star Allyson Felix brings her Olympic medal total up to 11, making her the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history. With this medal, she surpassed the record of U.S. track legend Carl Lewis. Tokyo is her fifth Olympics.

“For me, I just came out really at peace and wanting to soak it all in,” Felix said. “I think this is a really special team because we’re not 400-meter runners — I don’t consider myself a 400-meter specialist. We all do different things, and it was really cool to come together to get to close out the Olympic Games and for me, my Olympic career in this way.”

The U.S. was in the lead the entire race, starting out fast with 400-meter hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin. Felix followed, maintaining the lead. Hurdles silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad opened it up, and 800-meter gold medalist Athing Mu closed out the race.

Muhammed said she has been inspired by Felix her entire career. “I’m truly just honored to be part of this team with her, on her last Olympics. We’re going to look back at this and think about how special this moment really was.”

Poland took silver and Jamaica won bronze.

Felix has been an outspoken advocate for better support for athletes who are moms.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Olympic gold medalist shares USA pride following historic win

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gold medalist holding up the american flag in wrestling uniform

By Gabrielle Fonrouge, New York Post

US wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock could barely contain her pride in country after her historic gold medal win in the women’s 68-kilogram freestyle division — winning a new legion of fans for her unabashed patriotism.

“I love representing the USA. I love living there. I love it, and I’m so happy I get to represent USA!” said the exuberant 28-year-old Texas raised grappler, who is the first black woman and the second woman ever to claim a wrestling gold for the US after her win Tuesday over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu.

“It feels amazing,” Mensah-Stock, wearing an American flag draped around her shoulders, told reporters following the match, curling her hands into a heart shape.

Fans cheered Mensah-Stock’s win — and her joyous celebration of the Red, White and Blue — which came after US hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the National Anthem during Olympic trials and Raven Saunders made a symbol of protest after winning silver in the shot put.

“Wrestles like a badass, but has a heart as gold as that medal! Her enthusiasm & joy for life are infectious,” Amy Burchard wrote.

“Who is cutting onions around me,” added Eric Nhilnwe.

“Finally some authentic response from a real human being for once,” another tweeted.

Mensah-Stock has been wrestling since she was in the 10th grade and told reporters she always “knew” she “could do it.”

“When I first started wrestling I felt like I could be an olympic champ and I kept going,” the wrestler sobbed as she answered the question.

The athlete was asked about her father and how he died when she was in high school and she broke down a bit further, saying he “would’ve been the loudest one here.”

“He would be so happy,” Mensah-Stock said of her Ghana-born dad.

Click here to read the full article on New York Post.

Building a Better Tomorrow — Letter From the Editor

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Michael B. Jordan on the cover of the summer issue of the Black EOE Journal

‘Normalcy’ is the buzzword of the hour as families and businesses across the country begin the shift into a post-pandemic world. This summer, more than any other, feels like it’s full of the current zeitgeist of ‘transition.’

A spirit of change is taking place, and while there are those who want to hold on to the past, we at the Black EOE Journal want to celebrate the tenacity of people who are focused on the next generation and committed to building a better future.

That’s why it was an honor to hear the heart of our cover story, award-winning actor and producer Michael B. Jordan.

It should come as no surprise that Jordan holds the education and uplift of youth from underserved communities in high regard, thus he uses his voice as an influencer as well as his position as the founder of the production company Outlier Society to give back as much as he can.

According to him, “I love mentorship. The next generation, they’re the future.

They’re the key to everything. They’re supposed to be better than us.” Read more about Jordan’s impact in the media and entertainment industry as an advocate, organizer as well as an activist on page 98.

As part of our LGBTQ+ Special, check out the impact to future generations of the queer community from the House passage of the Equality Act on page 139.

Furthermore, read about how CURLS haircare brand founder, Mahisha Dellinger, is committing to invest in creating a new generation of Black women millionaires on page 64 and how black celebrities are using their platforms to endorse and generate resources for Black- and minority-owned businesses on page 78.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

On the heels of celebrating our first federally recognized Juneteenth National Independence Day, many are excited to take back the freedoms and opportunities they felt were lost last year while others are determined to maintain the new lifestyles and mindsets they’ve gained. At BEOEJ, we’re focused on how we can best impart transformational change in the communities we serve, and we look forward to continuing that mission with you going forward into the future.

~Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

Editor, Black EOE Journal

WNBA’s Candace Parker will be first female basketball player on cover of NBA 2K

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Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker will be the first female basketball player to grace the cover of the newest edition of popular video game NBA 2K

By Joseph Guzman, The Hill

Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker will be the first female basketball player to grace the cover of the newest edition of popular video game NBA 2K when it hits shelves Sept. 10, the company announced Wednesday.

The six-time All-Star will be featured on a special edition of NBA 2K22 — in honor of the WNBA’s 25th season — that will be sold exclusively at video game retailer GameStop.

The cover shows the Chicago Sky star shooting a layup over a background of her team’s colors.

“The cover of NBA 2K is such a pivotal platform to inspire young ballers, and I wanted future WNBA stars to know that they can be cover athletes too,” Parker said in a statement.

“Representation matters, so this is a special moment of progress for the sport and the series. To be part of this historic cover is a testament to the growth and rising popularity of the women’s game, and I’m proud to be the first female cover athlete to be the face of NBA 2K,” she added.

Parker, 35, has played in the WNBA since 2008 and is currently in her first season with the Chicago Sky after spending most of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks, where she won a championship in 2016.

Click here to read the full article on The Hill.

Zendaya Responds to Space Jam 2 Lola Bunny Redesign Controversy

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Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny

BY Michelle Mehrtens, Screen Rant

Space Jam: A New Legacy star, Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny. The original 1996 comedy was a live-action/animated hybrid that starred basketball icon, Michael Jordan. In the film, he joins a basketball team led by the Looney Tunes in order to help them win a game against a group of nefarious aliens. It was a blockbuster hit, earning over $250 million worldwide and spawning a beloved following that has endured since its initial release. The highly anticipated upcoming sequel follows basketball champion, LeBron James, as he tries to save his son, Dom (Cedric Joe), from the Warner 3000 Server-Verse. To do this, he teams up with Looney Tunes favorites, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Lola Bunny, who has become a member of the Amazons.

During production of Space Jam 2, director Malcolm D. Lee decided to rework the character design of Lola Bunny after finalizing the ensemble cast. In prior interviews, he shared his surprise when he first watched Space Jam, explaining his unease when he witnessed the sexual objectification of Lola Bunny. As a result, Lee focused on adding greater depth to her character by emphasizing her skills as an athlete and leader. He also sought to remove any type of unnecessary sexualization when it came to her animation design. However, when EW released its first look cover of the Space Jam 2 cast a few months ago, many online commenters reacted negatively to the change in Lola Bunny’s appearance.

While speaking to EW, Zendaya responded to the online disputes regarding Lola Bunny’s redesign. Acknowledging her personal admiration of the character, she recognized the ways in which Lola has left her mark on the Space Jam universe. Read what Zendaya said below:

“I didn’t know that was going to happen either! I definitely know we love her, but I didn’t know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was. But I understand, because she’s a lovable character. She’s very important, so I get it.”

In his own interview with EW, Lee described his disbelief when he saw the online fervor about Lola Bunny. He added, “I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs.” As Lee noted, it was important for him that Space Jam 2 highlighted Lola’s personal and professional evolution without reducing her to an object. He explained that he hoped young female viewers would admire Lola and her abilities as a basketball player. Moreover, the director reached out to Zendaya for the role because he respected her business acumen and confidence, which he believed were similar attributes embodied by Lola.

Click here to read the full article on Screen Rant.

Will Smith Pays for July 4 Fireworks in New Orleans After Learning City Didn’t Plan a Show (Report)

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Will Smith pictured in front of a purple backdrop while smiling away from the camera

By Ale Russian, People Magazine

Will Smith made sure the city of New Orleans could celebrate Independence Day in style. The actor reportedly paid $100,000 for the Louisiana city to have a fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. City officials told the AP that Smith decided to pay for the pyrotechnics after learning New Orleans didn’t plan a 2021 show.

The show comes after New Orleans was forced to cancel last year’s display due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Smith gave back to the city where he’s recently been filming Emancipation, a gripping drama about the real-life story of of runaway slave Peter. The actor, 52, is starring in the film Emancipation as Peter, a real-life runaway slave who fought to evade his hunters through the Louisiana swamp in his journey to join the Union army. Peter is known for the picture of his heavily scarred back.

Emancipation counts on Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as director with William N. Collage writing the script.Apple TV+ acquired the movie last year in a reported $120 Million deal. When the movie was announced, Fuqua spoke to Deadline about Peter’s enduring legacy.

Click here to read the full article on People Magazine.

Tennis-Wimbledon ends in tears for injured Serena

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Tennis- Wimbledon ends in tears for injured Serena as she is cheered on by the crowd

By Alan Baldwin, Yahoo! Sports

Tennis great Serena Williams limped out of Wimbledon in tears on Tuesday after her latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles crown ended in injury. The American sixth seed and seven-times Wimbledon winner was clearly in pain on a slippery Centre Court and sought treatment while 3-2 up in her first-round match against unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Williams returned after a lengthy break but the distress was evident. She grimaced and wiped away tears before preparing to serve at 3-3 after Sasnovich had pulled back from 3-1 down. The 39-year-old, who had started the match with strapping on her right thigh, then let out a shriek and sank kneeling to the grass sobbing, before being helped off the court.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me.”

GREAT CHAMPION

Sasnovich, who practised her serve while Williams was getting treatment, commiserated with an opponent who had never gone out in the first round at Wimbledon in her previous 19 visits.

“I’m so sad for Serena, she’s a great champion,” said the world number 100. “It happens sometimes.”

Eight-times men’s singles champion Roger Federer expressed shock at Williams’ departure and voiced concern about the surface, with the roof closed on Centre Court on a rainy afternoon.

His first-round opponent Adrian Mannarino of France also retired with a knee injury after a slip in the match immediately before Williams’.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof. I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down,” Federer said.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Sports.

Gabby Thomas wins women’s 200 meters at U.S. Olympic trials with second-fastest time ever, Allyson Felix fails to qualify

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Gabby Thomas running before the olympics

By Tyler Dragon, USA TODAY

Gabby Thomas ran a world-leading 21.94 seconds in the semifinals of the women’s 200 meters on Friday — and her momentum carried over to Saturday. Thomas eclipsed her previous career-best as she crossed the finish line in 21.61 to win the women’s 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials. Her time is the second-fastest in the history of the women’s 200 meters and puts her in illustrious company. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world-record 21.34 seconds from 1988 is faster. “I’ve been working so hard,” Thomas said. “I moved to Austin, Texas to train for this. I still just cannot believe it. I’m so, so happy. I’ve been working so hard. I’m really grateful.” Jenna Prandini ran a personal-best 21.89 to finish second, and Anavia Battle crossed the line in 21.95 to finish third.

Thomas, a Harvard graduate, has propelled herself to a serious gold-medal contender in Tokyo after speeding through the preliminary rounds and running one of the best times ever. “Since coming here my expectations for myself have gotten even higher,” Thomas said. “Now when I step on the track, I do expect to run sub-22, which is something I love for myself and I’m really excited about.”

Thomas has valid reasons to be excited after her performance in Eugene. She ran sub-22 seconds in the opening round, semifinal and final of the 200 meters. Leading up to the trials, though, Thomas had a harrowing experience. After winning the 200 meters at the Golden Games on May 9, Thomas underwent an MRI to diagnose what had seemed to be a nagging hamstring injury. The results of the MRI revealed a tumor on her liver.

“The more and more I spoke to people, the more the word ‘cancer’ was used. I was scared,” Thomas said on social media on June 7.

Thankfully, though, Thomas received news from doctors that the tumor is benign and won’t need to be operated on.

“I am so excited to compete – feeling much lighter with this weight off of my shoulders! One of the greatest gifts in life is our health,” Thomas said prior to the trials on social media.

“I remember telling God, ‘If I am healthy, I’m gonna go out and win trials,’ ” she said.

Thomas did in emphatic fashion. Now she is off to Tokyo healthy and running better than she ever has.

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

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