Rihanna takes time with album while unveiling lingerie line

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Rihanna takes time with album while unveiling lingerie line

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., AP News

Rihanna might be extremely consumed with rolling out her popular lingerie line, but finishing her forthcoming album is still a priority.

The multi-Grammy winner is just taking her time to “experiment.” She suggests her new music will sound much different than her previous projects.

“You’re not going to expect what you hear. Just put that in your mind,” Rihanna said recently before the taping of her “Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3” event, which will air Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

It’s been five years since the pop star released her critically acclaimed eighth album “ANTI,” which included hits such as “Work,” “Love on the Brain” and “Needed.” Last year, Rihanna said she had started recording new music, holding “ tons of writing camps.”

“Whatever you know of Rihanna is not going to be what you hear,” said the singer, who has won nine Grammys in multiple categories including R&B, dance and rap. “I’m really experimenting. Music is like fashion. You should be able to play. I should be able to wear whatever I want. I treat music the same way. So I’m having fun and it’s going to be completely different.”

Rihanna hasn’t announced a release date yet for her new album, but music plays a major role in her Savage X Fenty event. It returns for a third straight year and will highlight her fashion line’s newest assortment of styles featuring an all-star lineup of models, actors and performers.

The show — recorded in downtown Los Angeles — will include performances by Nas, Ricky Martin, Jasmine Sullivan, Daddy Yankee and Normani. Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, Vanessa Hudgens, Erykah Badu and Alek Wek and Jeremy Pope make special appearances.

Rihanna said she’s looking forward to unveiling some of her favorite styles from the new collection.

“The cat suits, the crotchless,” she said, blushing and then moving on. “All the bras that make my boobies sit up, because, you know, I’m 33 now. They’re not where they used to be. I’m just looking forward to actually seeing my pieces on the talent, seeing it on so many different body shapes and silhouettes, because that’s what brings the pieces to life.”

In past shows, Rihanna has taken the initiative to become a champion of inclusion with her fashion line. She wants to continue to highlight men of all shapes, color and sizes in a manner similar to how she’s uplifted women with her line.

Click here to read the full article on AP News.

October Is Black Professionals Month, A Push To Make Corporate Leadership More Diverse

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black professionals month logo

The first day of October is the first day of a month-long push to help make corporate leadership more diverse. It’s the brain-child of two black executives who say it’s time to have more diversity at the top, so they are trying something new.

It’s called Black Professionals Month, 31 days of events, recognitions and celebrations.

Denise Kaigler is one of the co-founders. She told WBZ-TV it’s time to work together. Watch video here.

“There is a such a great opportunity for us to come together, black professionals to come together, to work together, to increase our presence, black professionals’ presence in leadership roles around the world,” Kaigler said.

October 1st starts a month-long series of virtual events and speakers, all with the goal of inspiring and coaching black talent.

“We are also going to be bringing speakers together to host sessions that cover a wide range of topics that impact the ability of black professionals to climb up that corporate ladder, personal branding, career advancement sessions,” Kaigler told WBZ.

Right now, she says, the numbers are bad. Black professionals hold only 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles in America, a change she knows can’t happen by the end 31 days, but one they plan to push for years to come.

Read the complete article on CBS local.

‘Shark Tank’ Hires Emma Grede To Be First Black Woman On Panel

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On Shark Tank Emma Grede To Be First Black Woman On Panel

By Alexis Reese, BET

There’s a new shark in town!

For the newest season of Shark Tank, the series will have its first Black woman shark on the panel. Good American CEO and SKIMS founding partner Emma Grede, will be one of this season’s guest panelists. She will join recurring sharks, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran.

Grede, an entrepreneur from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by way of London, will make her grand appearance during the season premiere on Oct. 8, according to Shadow And Act.

Grede graduated with a business degree in business studies at The London College of Fashion and has worked with brands like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Zac Posen, Christopher Kane, Chivas, Mercedes-Benz, and Sky.

She currently is the chairman of entertainment brand ITB with clients like Calvin Klein, Net-a-Porter and H&M.

‘I’ve been doing celebrity partnerships for a long time, and I started to realize that a lot of what I was being asked to do was to put together very ‘diverse’ campaigns,” she told ELLE UK. “Oftentimes, I would cast women [in a campaign] for a brand that didn’t make clothes that would fit them. ‘I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we created a company where we made clothes for every woman, and the company looked exactly like the ‘diverse’ campaign, with me at the helm, a Black woman?’, and it worked.”

Click here to read the full article on BET.

Meet The Woman Behind Google’s Multi-Million Dollar Partnerships With Black Founders Around The Globe

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Rachael Palmer, the Woman Behind Google’s Multi-Million Dollar Partnerships With Black Founders Around The Globe

By Alexa Imani Spencer, Yahoo! Finance

Rachael Palmer is behind Google’s partnership strategy with venture capitalists and startups throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Her track record includes the launch of a $2 million fund for Black founders in Europe and a $3 million scheme in Africa, Business Insider reported.

“My role focuses on driving partnerships with the region’s top VCs and startup but also working on initiatives to transform the ecosystem for the better,” Palmer told Insider.

Before she joined Google, she worked at Microsoft and American Express. She spent plenty of time working with small businesses at the latter. As an internal consultant at Google, she “quickly found my back to working within the startup ecosystem”

Every day is different and far from typical, she told Insider.

“I spend some days working closely with founders to understand their business and how we can help them, or with internal product teams discussing opportunities to engage the VC and startup ecosystem,” she said. “Another day might be spent with a VC learning more about their portfolio companies, how we can partner and also what they look for in investments.”

Palmer shared her top five tips for businesses seeking to work with Google.

Keep Google’s users in mind

For startup founders hoping to secure an investment from Google, Palmer’s main tip is to ensure you have something to offer the company’s users.

“I meet many startups that want to get their content or product built into Search,” she said. “However, they often fail to step back and think about what’s in it for our users and how it enhances the product. For a partnership to work, it has to be mutually beneficial to both sides.”

2. Do your company values align with Google’s?

For Palmer, it’s important for her to get to know what’s in “the DNA of a company.”

“I really care about its values and how closely it meshes with Google,” she said. “In a pre-COVID world, I used to enjoy a visit to the offices as you can tell a lot about a company through seeing where and how they work.”

3. Think seriously about diversity

Palmer said about picking venture capitalist business partners, “I obviously care deeply about their ability to pick winners but I also care about their perspective on diversity.”

4. Think locally and globally

Palmer said she’s always been impressed by the go-to market strategies of EMEA-based startups.

“They often establish themselves in their home country then quickly create the blueprint for expansion by becoming really good at localization, developing local partnerships and navigating regulatory situations in different markets.”

5. Expect competition

Large companies like Google have rival founders and interested venture capitalists in numbers. This year’s Black founder initiative is one example.

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

Denzel Washington’s New Movie Has A 100% Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Black and white close up of Denzel Washington's Face

By We Got This Covered

The verdict is in and the consensus is that Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is stellar, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Denzel Washington’s latest turn in a Shakespearian adaptation boasts an impressive 100% score on the review aggregate site, with critics lauding the performances of Washington’s titular character and the conniving Lady Macbeth, played by Francis McDormand.

The film takes on a stripped down approach to the classic story, mostly preserving its iambic pentameter-laden dialogue and reducing its visuals to simplistic, modern black and white photography in a tall 1.37:1 aspect ratio.

The film co-stars Corey Hawkins as Macduff, Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Kathryn Hunter as the witches.

Critics are hailing Coen’s take as breathing new life into the half-a-millennium-old story, its dream-like cinematography and McDormand’s turn as Lady Macbeth as being up there as one of her very best performances to date, a tall order for a three-time Academy Award winner, indeed.

Washington isn’t far behind McDormand’s track record either, having garnered two Academy Awards in his career. And critics are also hailing Washington’s nuanced take on the darkly fated character, pointing out that the chemistry between the two actors runs the gamut of epic emotions you would expect from a Shakespeare play.

This isn’t the first time Washington has been in one of the famous bard’s film adaptations, either, having played Don Pedro in Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 take of Much Ado About Nothing. Though Branagh also co-directed and starred in a theatrical adaption of Macbeth, back in 2013, which was broadcast to cinemas, critics are mostly saying that version pales in comparison to this new interpretation.

Click here to read the full article on We Got This Covered.

The Story Behind ASAP Rocky’s Thrifted Met Gala Quilt

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ASAP Rocky wearing a thrifted quilt inspired look for the met gala

By Ashley Boucher, People

A$AP Rocky’s Met Gala look has a special history. The rapper, 32, wore a quilt as a cape as he arrived on the red carpet alongside Rihanna for fashion’s biggest night on Sept. 13. After discovering the quilt in a California thrift store, ERL designer Eli Russell Linnetz used it as inspiration for Rocky’s ensemble — and the family who once donated the handmade blanket is now sharing its story.

A woman named Sarah shared a photo on Instagram last week of Rocky and Rihanna on the Met Gala red carpet side-by-side with a photo of the quilt laying on a bed at home.

“So my great grandmothers quilt was donated to an antique/thrift store a while back. When I saw the #metgala Photo I realized instantly that it had to be the same quilt,” Sarah wrote in the caption.

“I read the Vogue article about the designer finding the quilt in Southern California and with his office not that far from us in Venice, California, I demanded that my mom go look for the photos of it on our old bed,” she explained.

“Looks like great grandma Mary went to the #metgala with @asaprocky and @erl__________ they wrote a @voguemagazine article too 🤩” she added.

Sure enough, Linnetz told Vogue that he had found the quilt at a thrift store and added on to it to encapsulate the Met Gala’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” theme.

“I quilted on things that were important to me, from my dad’s bathrobe to my boxers,” Linnetz told Vogue. “Then we used these amazing plaids and flannels and embroidered my family’s name all over the quilt.”

Linnetz worked with Zak Foster, a Brooklyn-based quilter who “specializes in burial and memory quilts” to add the personal touches to the thrifted quilt.

“There’s an irony to it that I liked, using the clothing of the deceased to create this beautiful new quilt then [in their honor] that lasts forever,” Linnetz said.

Click here to read the full article on People Magazine.

Shaq is retiring from celebrity status: ‘Out of their mind’

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Shaquille O'Neal smiling wearing a suit

By , NY Post

Don’t call Shaquille O’Neal a “celebrity.”

Although the Lakers legend has a stacked NBA resume and booming broadcast career (including countless commercials and brand deals), O’Neal wants to be remembered for his kindness before anything else.

“These celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” O’Neal told The Post, while discussing his new campaign with Kellogg’s.

“I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy, they really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking mind with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”

The four-time champion has found a different way into the spotlight with his random acts of kindness, which he said he tries to do at least twice per week.

Since retiring from the NBA in 2011, he’s become known for helping others with grand gestures that have included paying for a stranger’s engagement ring — and more recently, funding one of his favorite Atlanta restaurants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he said.

It’s easy to hone in on O’Neal’s life from the start of his NBA career to the present day, but things were much different before the 1992 NBA Draft — when the 7-foot-1 LSU product was selected first overall by the Orlando Magic.

O’Neal grew up poor in Newark, New Jersey, and has credited the Boys & Girls Club of America for helping to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.

“I came from nothing,” he said. “But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you — just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way. So I don’t want to be in that category of people.

“When they talk about Shaq, what do you say? ‘He’s a nice guy.’ Because what else can you be? You’re either nice or you’re the A-word, and I definitely won’t be looked at as the A-word,” he said.

“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it.’”

Another good deed O’Neal is focused on, is helping kids play sports.

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

Lil Nas X Conquered Pop On His Own Terms

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Lil Nas X Conquered Pop On His Own Terms

BY CHRIS DEVILLE, Stereogum

Lil Nas X was going to be a one-hit wonder. This much seemed obvious to me. “Old Town Road” had all the makings of a fleeting career. A half-rap, half-country novelty hit about a lean-drinking cowboy who’ll ride ’til he drops, made viral through savvy promotion on TikTok and Twitter, buoyed by controversy over whether it should qualify for Billboard‘s country charts, then sent into overdrive by a remix featuring the “Achy Breaky Heart” guy — it was more a meme than a song, a joyous joke adults and children alike could be in on.

After the track spent a record-breaking 19 weeks at #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, its momentum extended by an assortment of star-studded alternate remixes and videos, it also started to seem like an albatross. Despite everything the “Old Town Road” saga said about this guy’s musical and promotional skills, it was hard to imagine where he could possibly go next. But Montero Hill is nothing if not imaginative.

At this point, about two years after “Old Town Road” ended its run at #1, not only is Lil Nas X not a one-hit wonder, he’s one of the surest things in mainstream music. He nabbed a Album Of The Year nomination for an EP. He landed three more songs in the top five, including one that debuted at #1 and another that was only blocked from the top of the chart by an aggressive BTS stan campaign. He has expertly stirred controversy with some of the most vividly rendered music videos in recent memory and strategically outrageous merch, weaponizing his sexuality, inciting a lawsuit from one of the world’s largest corporations, and throwing in some satanic panic for good measure. His debut album Montero will surely spin off more hits, partially because it shows him wielding the ruling rap, pop, and rock sounds of the moment with expertise. “Funny how you said it was the end,” he raps on “Industry Baby” in a rebuke of skeptics like me. “Then I went did it again.”

Even LNX’s most fervent supporters would agree his promo acumen has been inextricable from his success. During the Montero cycle, that has included descending into hell for sex with Satan, leading a jailhouse full of naked men through a dick-swinging dance routine, donning a prosthetic pregnancy bump ahead of “birthing” the new album, and selling modified Nikes that feature pentagrams and drops of human blood. As he puts it on one song featuring his fellow attention magnet Doja Cat, “I’m just tryna be the daily scoop.” But Montero, released last Friday, affirms that he’s musically adept as well. The album is hooky and energetic, with versatile songwriting and production that maintains a recognizable imprint despite all the genre morphing. Although parts of it edge up to the cheesier corners of the modern pop landscape, it’s an undeniably fun, engaging debut with some depth to it — the kind of album that bodes well for a young star’s future.

Lyrically, Montero largely presents a mix of “hell yeah I’m famous now” and “oh shit I’m famous now” common among budding superstars, delivered with a personal touch and some raw vulnerability that adds some freshness to the usual proceedings. That he’s achieved this success as a gay Black man makes elements of the album’s story feel culturally significant and new, starting right up front with a lustfully flirtatious #1 single named for the queer coming of age movie Call Me By Your Name. As others have pointed out, queerness colors the darker, heavier side of the album as well. Throughout, Lil Nas X revels in the pursuit of both fleeting pleasure and more enduring partnership. But there’s real pain on display too, as on the moody standout “Dead Right Now,” which finds him spitefully telling his old acquaintances, “You know you never used to call/ Keep it that way now.”

Click here to read the full article on Stererogum.

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.

The Blueprint: A Conversation with Christian Wise Smith, Esq.

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Christian Wise Smith, suthor, smiling and holding up his childrens book

By Santura Pegram

(SP) – Tell people a little about Christian Wise Smith…who you are, how it all began, and what you’ve accomplished so far in life?

(CWS) – I was born and raised in the justice system. I saw my mother get arrested several times before she lost custody of me. My Uncle Steve was sentenced to life in prison for murder. I witnessed my grandmother stripped down to her underwear and handcuffed. Ultimately, my family and I experienced several traumatic encounters with law enforcement and the justice system during my childhood. Determined to break the negative cycles of my upbringing, I was able to turn my pain and tragedy into triumph, becoming the first in my family to graduate from college, ultimately earning my Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Juris Doctor degrees. The horrors experienced during my childhood ultimately led me to devote my career to working with our youth.

(SP) – Realizing that poverty, idle time, a lack of opportunities, and peer-related pressure often entices and influences disadvantaged people of all ages (especially teenagers and young adults) to get caught up in turning to ‘street life’ for survival, how were you able to avoid such desperate measures and traps during your youth, which could have negatively affected you later in life?

(CWS) – Before finishing high school, I saw several family members and friends destroyed by murder, violence, drugs, and other crimes. At 17, I was kicked out of school. Headed down a path leading straight to a jail cell, Officer William Dean Sr., a Black police officer, took an interest in helping me to break free of the low expectations inherent in my situation. Due to his mentoring and support, I learned that I was capable of changing my path.

(SP) – Researchers have proven there is a direct link between socioeconomic disadvantaged individuals and crime. Additionally, there are those who believe that “over 90% of crime in America and around the world takes place due to economic disadvantages and the remaining percentage involves mental illness, social disagreements, and/or other miscellaneous reasons.” If those precipitating factors are true, why have more prosecutors and court systems not taken these seriously and opted to explore better strategies and proven solutions which reinforce teaching positive behavioral change and empowering people – economically, mentally, socially, and otherwise?

(CWS) – I visited the King County Prosecutor’s Office in Seattle, Washington in 2018 to study a program they created called ‘LEAD’ (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). Instead of booking people into jail for criminal activity that stems from poverty or behavioral health needs, officers instead take people to case managers who provide crisis response, immediate psychosocial assessment, and long-term wrap-around services that include substance, disorder treatment and housing. By the time I visited the program, they’d already had hundreds of success stories where people completely turned their lives around. Instead of being trapped in the system of recidivism, they now had jobs, housing, and lived productive lives. The program has also significantly improved their community overall. Once people are off of the streets and working, employment rates and property values increase. They’ve proven that this kind of justice system can work.

Unfortunately, most prosecutors and court systems have not opted to explore better options to help people break free from the system because of money. In 1865, we saw southern states enact Black Codes to ensure that newly freed Black Americans could be sentenced to labor for crimes such as vagrancy or “poor living conditions” after slavery was abolished. Today, many states use prisoners to manufacture license plates and other products. The prison industry is a multi-billion-dollar system. Think about bail bonding companies, probation services, and corrections officers just to name a few. Most elected prosecutors are financially supported by people who benefit from the prison industry. We need to see more prosecutors elected like Larry Krasner, Rachael Rollins, Aramis Ayala, and Deborah Gonzalez, and consider the advice of experts like Dr. Brandon Mathews and Adam Foss to see significant changes in our system that will ultimately help people break free from the system and live better lives.

(SP) – Police departments across the country have long been the primary instigator of public backlash for abusive tactics by law enforcement officers, especially acts committed against minority individuals. However, most often, prosecutors and court systems throughout America have played an equal or far more destructive role by primarily pushing for greater numbers of convictions or guilty pleas, versus considering life-improving alternatives and opportunities to dismiss cases that reveal little or no evidence to warrant prosecution. How do we get more prosecutors and judges to understand the role(s) they play in shaping or destroying communities, and make better decisions in pursuing restorative justice?

(CWS) – Our justice system has been driven by a “conviction by any means necessary” approach for several decades. This approach is cruel, costly, and counter-productive. It has created a hamster wheel cycle of incarceration that has especially destroyed the Black community, communities of color, and low-income people. This approach has destroyed lives, over-crowded jails and prisons, and has done nothing to keep us safer. The way we get more prosecutors and judges to understand the roles they play in the system is by no longer voting for prosecutors and judges who aren’t willing to change things. Voters have to be more vocal about the kind of people they want leading our local justice systems.

(SP) – A growing number of professionals in the areas of law and government are beginning to embrace the ideas of “criminal justice & prosecutorial reform visionaries” such as: Larry Krasner of Philadelphia; Rachael Rollins of Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Diana Becton of Contra Costa County, California; Jonathan Rapping of Atlanta, Georgia; Professor Jody D. Armour from the USC School of Law, and Judge Bruce Morrow of Michigan. Could you share your thoughts on some of the unique concepts any of them have implemented and how you might contribute to such growing trends?

(CWS) – I respect and appreciate those folks and everyone else who is willing to acknowledge the significant issues within our justice system and do something about it. Larry Krasner made headlines when he fired 31 staff members (which included trial attorneys, supervisor-level staff, and assistant prosecutors) on his fourth day in office to honor his promise to change the culture of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He promised to never seek the death penalty, end cash bail, and end the mass incarceration model that has plagued the justice system for entirely too long. He was recently re-elected for a second term, which makes me hopeful that more and more voters across the country will become more aware of what he and other progressives are doing and start to vote more likeminded candidates into other local offices.

(SP)– Throughout the United States, there are legal professionals and legislators who would argue that “debtor’s prisons, exploitive labor arrangements, and/or Peonage laws” no longer exist. However, if that were true, overzealous tactics such as charging parents (typically fathers or men identified as one) with a criminal offense instead of a civil one for nonpayment of child support; suspending the driver’s licenses of a parent who is unable or unwilling to pay support; branding them with unnecessary employment-dismissive criminal records; placing them on probation, and even incarcerating such people (most often only fathers) who are unable to pay a biased, expected amount to the child(ren)’s other parent (typically a mother) has been nothing short of a fruitless abuse of law practice and a gross waste of time and public resources. Fathers who find themselves in these circumstances refuse to speak out on this touchy subject for fear of being scrutinized further or mislabeled as a Deadbeat Dad as opposed to properly being recognized as a Dead Broke Dad. A 2019-2020 study in Baltimore which is often ignored, revealed an eye-opening perspective about how this “system” has continued to do more harm than good in many instances. What are your thoughts on better ways to move away from the criminalization of child support delinquency, which adversely impacts a family’s dynamics through increased poverty and the destabilizing of (father) parent-child relationships?

(CWS) – I haven’t encountered any child support cases during my legal career thus far, but I do believe that things can improve significantly to ensure that policies aren’t counterproductive. For example, suspending someone’s driver’s license and incarcerating them because of nonpayment makes it harder for that person to maintain employment. I guarantee you that nobody is using the same cell phone they used 10 years ago, but our court systems are operating the same way they did several decades ago. Technology always evolves and we adapt to it. Unfortunately, big systems that play vital roles in our everyday lives like the justice system, the education system, and the child support system don’t evolve and improve. If we valued improving these systems as much as we value advancing technology, our country would be in much better shape. The Baltimore Sun article you’re referring to (At what cost? For Baltimore’s poorest families, the child support system exacts a heavy price — and it’s hurting whole communities – Baltimore Sun) was published in March of 2020. It reveals how counterproductive the current child support system is in Maryland, and I think that article paints a pretty good picture of how bad things truly are across the country.

(SP) – In your opinion, what would/should the ideal “prosecutor’s office-court system” look like in terms of methodologies, operations, and intended outcomes?

(CWS) – Just as our culture changes and moves forward, our justice system must use innovative and commonsense solutions that respond to the issues we face today. We must rewrite history and create a paradigm shift in the justice system to value people over conviction rates. We can accomplish this if prosecutors prioritize resources on serious and violent crimes and end the revolving door model of mass incarceration by no longer using jails as ineffective and inhumane mental health treatment facilities, homeless shelters, and drug rehab centers. Diversion programs should be implemented for low-level non-violent crimes with paths to employment and educational opportunities. Prosecutors should right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs that disproportionately ruined Black and minority communities by no longer prosecuting possession of marijuana. Prior marijuana possession convictions not attached to violent crime or drug sales should be pardoned to help several people across the country obtain employment and housing opportunities.

Prosecutors should hold police officers accountable for any misconduct or abuse. Prosecutors should never take campaign money from police unions to maintain total independence and eliminate any conflicts of interest when it comes to prosecuting police. Cash bail should be eliminated because it keeps poor people detained simply because they can’t afford bail, putting them at risk of losing employment and/or housing, which eventually leads to re-offending. Every local justice system should have a Military Veteran’s court unit to get our brave men and women who suffer from psychological or substance abuse issues the proper tools they need to be productive citizens after encountering the system. Prosecutors should be transparent and accountable. Prosecutors should also partner with public school systems to do more to divert the school to prison pipeline. These things would get us on track to seeing an ideal justice system where everyone is treated equally.

(SP) – You have accomplished quite a bit in your 38-years. It’s refreshing to note that after deciding at the last minute to run for the highly coveted District Attorney position for Fulton County-Atlanta (the largest county in the state of Georgia), you went on to maximize your skill set by launching the National Social Justice Alliance. What led you to embark upon this endeavor and what do you hope it will achieve?

(CWS)The NATIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE ALLIANCE – HOME (nsja.org) was created to bring prosecutors from across the nation together for a common effort to fix the broken American criminal justice system. NSJA believes prosecutors are the answer. Prosecutors are the gatekeepers of our local justice systems, and are responsible for holding everyone, including police officers and other prosecutors, responsible for the acts they commit. The 2020 police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the aftermath of protests for equality, justice and calls for police reform highlight the need for prosecutors to step up. Together, the gatekeepers of the system can finally end police brutality and ensure that equality and justice are the standard for everyone.

(SP) – People have been expressing their appreciation for your new children’s book, WISEUP Adventure Series: Chris & Key Go Vote! Tell those who are unfamiliar with it what was your motivation for writing it and what is the intended outcome?

Christian Wise Smith smiling dressed in suit and tie
Christian Wise Smith, Author

(CWS) – When I ran for District Attorney in 2020, I met so many people who believed their vote didn’t matter. Recognizing this as a byproduct of voter suppression, I wanted to do something to eliminate the negative thinking that people have about whether their vote can make a difference. The answer: our kids, the next generation. By teaching our kids now about the superpower of voting, they’ll grow up knowing their votes will matter one day soon. I also wanted to do more than just tell them about voting, so the book is interactive. Young readers and their parents learn the voting process in a simple way by completing a voter registration card and casting a ballot for their favorite color. Teaching kids and their parents how to vote with an interactive children’s book is a new and direct way to increase future voter participation, fight against voter suppression efforts, and encourage the normalization of a culture of consistent voting in local and national elections.

We also just launched a community outreach program through NSJA called VOTING IS A SUPERPOWER to teach children in public school systems about the voting process. Students will receive a backpack complete with supplies and most importantly a copy of the book. We also provide a pizza party for each school we visit and appreciation gift cards for the teachers and staff. If anyone would like to donate towards helping us reach our mission of teaching millions of kids across the country how to vote, please visit njsa.org and click on any of the donate buttons to make a 100% tax deductible donation.

(SP) – You’re clearly a sound decision-maker. What do you want or plan to be doing when you’re in your 50’s or 60’s?

(CWS) – I pray to be alive, healthy, and still using everything God has blessed me with to help all of us live better lives together.

Santura Pegram (santura.pegram@yahoo.com) is a freelance writer and socially conscious business consultant who has helped to advise small businesses; nonprofit organizations; city, county, and state governmental committees; elected officials; professional athletes; and school systems.

In New York, Eight Young Bipoc And LGBTQ+ Artists Take Over The Subway

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VMAS IN NEW YORK, EIGHT YOUNG BIPOC AND LGBTQ+ ARTISTS TAKE OVER THE SUBWAY

By Virginia Lowman, MTV

During a chaotic year that has laid bare the divisive inequities within our society, music and art have often served as universal entities to ground us, tell our stories, and provide a sense of escape. Now, a new exhibition hosted by MTV pays homage to that sense of unity. Nestled appropriately within the belowground subway station at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue terminal at Barclays Center — that great mixing pot where riders from all walks of life brush elbows on a communal commute, as well as the initially planned home of the 2020 VMAs — the show takes over public advertising spaces to amplify the diverse work of eight emerging visual artists working in a variety of media.

Conceptualized by MTV’s Rich Tu, Vice President of Digital Design, and Antonia Baker, Senior Director of Marketing, who were inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that took place at Barclays Center earlier in the summer, each artist submitted original pieces inspired by the themes of unity, music, space, and the future, which will remain on view through September 6. Where some works feature futuristic dance parties in outer space, others aim to combat tropes that lead people to view BIPOC communities through an exoticizing lens. The result is a vibrant picture of youth and the beauty of the differences that exist between us, as well as a love letter to New York City. Here, the artists share their stories, the inspiration for their work, and more.

  • Amika Cooper, Illustrator

    Amika Cooper’s exuberant depictions of Black women as divine beings are both a call to activism and a celebration of the beauty of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s important to me to refute the idea of the ‘strong Black woman’ and other tropes that limit the public perspective of Black femmes,” she tells MTV News. Working across digital illustration, 2-D animation, and collage, her art plays with space and draws upon rich hues: showing Black women as healers and rulers with lush curls or donning Egyptian headdresses as rulers of the galaxy. Raised in Toronto, she now calls Brooklyn home, but her West Indian and South American heritage is tightly woven into her work. “The culture I grew up on is the product of the unwavering ingenuity in enslaved and indentured people,” Cooper says. Her latest pieces lean heavily into geometry, “a reflection of the forces that connect us and remind us of the importance of creating, sharing, and repeating.”

  • Bronson Farr, Photographer

    For Bronson Farr, art is about making people feel seen. A photographer and director, his craft resides in the sweet spot between beauty and discomfort, with overlapping themes of vulnerability, power, and voyeurism. “People’s faces tell incredible stories when they’re being honest, even if it’s a bit scary,” Farr says. His work casts Black men in a gentle, intimate glow juxtaposed with a sense of reverence and longing. One photo depicts a man against a terracotta backdrop, his chest exposed, his view obstructed by buds of baby’s breath and a sheet of tulle that hides his face. It’s a playful subversion of stereotypes about Black masculinity, calling the viewer to see the softness and serenity in these boys. “My aim is to allow the viewer permission to see Black people, especially men, the way I do — wrapped in warmth, love, and light, and deserving of your protection.” Farr hopes his art takes people on a journey that acknowledges the experiences and feelings of someone who has “[gone] through some shit” but has found their happy ending.

  • Eugenia Mello, Illustrator

    When tapped to participate in the Atlantic Avenue terminal takeover, Brooklyn-based, Argentina-born illustrator Eugenia Mello sought to “translate music into shapes” and create a mural that vibrates so loud a viewer can feel it. She explores the relationship between emotion and the body: Abstract shapes in deep primaries paint the scenes of a dance club alive with rhythm and heat. Her incorporation of contrasting colors and angular shapes adds depth to the image harkening back to a time before social distancing was the norm and when dancing in groups generated a feeling of electricity. Her work is heavily musical, pulling from an upbringing in South America and the Caribbean that was “bursting with energy.” She credits the grassroots spirit of the Venezuelan political climate of the early 2000s as helping her find her own artistic voice: “People would march, exercising their right of free speech by chanting and dancing with loud music,” she says. “Expression was with the whole body.”

  • Eva Zar, Photographer

    Eva Zar wields self-expression as a means of liberation. Raised within a traditional Russian-Austrian household, she uses photography to relay messages of empowerment and self-love. Focusing her lens on the beauty and sensuality of her subjects, her soft, almost retro depictions are subtly nonconformist. “A lot of my art speaks directly against the lessons and rules I grew up with,” she says. “I wanted to create art that shows different types of bodies and liberates women from the idea of only being a wife.” Her latest series exists at the intersection of music and performance, in one instance crafting an image of a dancer clad in black trainers and a neon tracksuit dancing on the stage at a Lynchian bar. Metallic decor and striking cateye liner are reminiscent of the heightened glamour of the disco days. Often incorporating her friends as her muses, her vivid portraiture captures the strength of the LGBTQ+ community; it is a reminder that regardless of what is happening in the world, “our community gives us space for an inclusive and safe future.”

  • Kervin Brisseaux, Illustrator

    Three words come to mind in viewing illustrator Kervin Brisseaux’s vibrant digital drawings: rich, conversational, animated. With a background in architectural studies, bold graphics and crisp lines are at the forefront of Brisseaux’s work. Whether he’s fusing cultures and experimenting with typography or scribing his own language into being, his work always has something to say. His art isn’t just about aesthetic pleasure, it’s also about tapping into discussions that are happening each day. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to not only provide eye-candy but contribute to the relevant conversations of today,” he tells MTV News. The three works he displays at the Atlantic Avenue terminal — a standout piece emphasizing the intersection of culture, art, and identity through the use of contrasting browns and yellows, as well as tribal markings on the face of a sweating subject entranced and empowered by the music playing through their headphones — highlight his bold style, presenting subjects as warriors who champion individuality.

Click here to read the full article on MTV.

Zendaya Opened Up About Refusing To Have Her First Kiss On Camera And Keeping Her Dating Life Private A Day Before The Photos Of Her And Tom Holland Kissing And Meeting Her Mom Went Viral

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Zendaya in a nude dress on the red carpet

By , Buzzfeed News

Ever since Tom Holland blew up the internet last week by seemingly confirming his rumored relationship with Zendaya, fans have been dying to know more about the Spider-Man duo.

But it seems that, for now at least, Zendaya is keeping her cards close to her chest, recently hinting that she prefers to keep her private life private — certainly easier said than done for one of the biggest names on the planet.

Gracing the cover of this month’s issue of British Vogue, the Euphoria star gave a rare glimpse into her infamously private romantic life, recalling her refusal to have her first kiss on-screen.

“I remember being on Shake It Up and being like, ‘I’m not gonna do this. I’m going to kiss him on the cheek because I haven’t been kissed yet so I don’t want the kiss to be on camera,” the former child-star explained.

And having gone on to make history with her Emmy win last year, Zendaya is certainly no stranger to life in the spotlight. But, despite her fame, it appears she’s remained committed to keeping her most personal moments away from the public eye.

Click here to read the full article on Buzzfeed News.

RED NOTICE Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds is coming to Netflix!

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The Rock, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Dot together in promo picture for Netflix movie Red Notice

An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the top FBI profiler (Dwayne Johnson) and two rival criminals (Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds), there’s no telling what will happen.

The high-flying adventure that ensues takes the trio around the world, across the dance floor, trapped in a secluded prison, into the jungle and, worst of all for them, constantly into each other’s company.

The all star cast is joined by Ritu Arya and Chris Diamantopolous. Directed and written by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, Skyscraper) and produced by Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia of Seven Bucks Productions, Beau Flynn’s Flynn Picture Co. and Thurber’s Bad Version, Inc., Red Notice is a stylish globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse (and cat).

Coming to Netflix on November 12, 2021!

#RedNotice
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https://neflix.com

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