Dr. Dre helps break ground on new Compton High School performing arts center

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Dr. Dre

By ABC 7

A performing arts center at Compton High School that’s being built with the help of music mogul Dr. Dre is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Compton native – who donated $10 million to the project – joined city and school leaders for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the first step in getting the center up and running.

The facility will include a 1,200-seat theater and will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.

“When I was approached about funding a performing arts center that would provide an arts and technological education to students and be accessible for the community at large, I was all in,” said Dr. Dre. “I wanted to give the young people of Compton something I never had.”

Dr. Dre – born Andre Young – grew up in Compton and first rose to fame as a member of NWA, whose debut album was titled “Straight Outta Compton.”

He later found success as a solo artist, producer and businessman.

The performing arts center will be the first new high school facility to be built in almost a decade in the greater Los Angeles area.

Compton High School is more than 100 years old.

“This is very historical for Compton,” said Compton Unified School District Board President Micah Ali.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

TRAVIS SCOTT DONATES $1 MILLION TO BLACK COLLEGE STUDENTS … To Ensure They Graduate

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Travis Scott Forbes Fortnite Concert

By TMZ

Travis Scott is making sure hundreds of Black college students walk across the commencement stage with their diploma … with a seven-figure donation.

The rapper awarded $1 million in scholarships to 100 students at HBCUs who are on track to graduate in the Class of 2022 … ensuring they cross the finish line and aren’t affected by last-minute financial hurdles.

The soon-to-be grads are each getting a $10,000 scholarship from Travis’ previously-established Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund … and the recipients finished their final semester with at least a 3.5 GPA.

Among the scholars … Florida A&M University pharmacy major Nisha Encarnacion, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands and paid her own way through college while supporting her mother and daughter, Fisk University computer science major Chisom Okwor, whose goal is to help transform developing countries in Africa, and North Carolina Central University broadcast journalism major Jordan Massey, who took on a ton of debt to get his communications degree.

Travis’ sister, Jordan Webster, manages the scholarship fund … and she recently graduated as well, with a degree from Howard University.

Travis’ donations went to seniors at 38 HBCUs … including Alabama A&M University, Central State University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Grambling State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Prairie View A&M University.

The $1 million worth of scholarships is part of Travis’ Project HEAL, which as we first reported, was announced back in March and included $5 million in earmarks.

Remember … Project HEAL was one of Travis’ first public philanthropic since the tragic Astroworld concert last November, which saw 10 people die as a result of injuries sustained during Travis’ set.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ.

Kevin Hart Signs $100 Million Investment Agreement To Create HARTBEAT, Which Will Be Led By An All Black Leadership Team

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HARTBEAT Team L to R: CCO Bryan Smiley, Chairman Kevin Hart, CEO Thai Randolph, and CDO Jeff Clanagan

By Corein Carter, Forbes

Kevin Hart, trailblazing entrepreneur, executive, and entertainer, has now combined Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions to create one of the leading sources of comedic storytelling and experiences with HARTBEAT, after more than a decade of leveraging his individual success to build the two high-growth companies.

With the mission of keeping the world laughing together, the multi-platform company creates entertainment at the intersection of comedy and culture. Hartbeat Productions’ best-in-class television and film production capabilities are combined with Laugh Out Loud’s extensive distribution network, as well as marketing, sales, experiential, branded content, digital, and social capabilities.

HARTBEAT was established with a $100 million investment from Abry Partners, a private equity firm that took a minority stake in the new company. Evolution Media Capital and a team from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP led by Sophia Yen, a partner in the Entertainment Group, advised HARTBEAT on the deal.

The creation of HARTBEAT and the capital raised with Abry Partners mark the beginning of a new era in comedy. Hart is proud of what has been delivered. As part of the agreement, Nicolas Massard, a partner at Abry Partners, will join the HARTBEAT board as part of the agreement. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, will remain a shareholder in Laugh Out Loud after signing a multi-year, first look deal and taking an equity stake in the network in 2020.

Hart discusses his commitment to building the most innovative and inclusive comedy storytelling company. “In an industry where people love to say no and shut doors, I’ve been confident in forging our own path and using our success to open doors for others. We’re taking the new entertainment blueprint we’ve built to the next level with this merger and funding, paving the way for a new generation of comedic talent. I can’t wait to bring more comedians, experiences, and heartfelt stories to the world.”

HARTBEAT intends to use the funds to expand its team, accelerate growth for existing brands and franchises, and develop a new IP that will appeal to a global audience. This will be accomplished by collaborating with today’s most influential stars and rising comedic talent, both in front of and behind the camera, using HARTBEAT’s creative engine, relationships, and resources.

The existing leadership from Hartbeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud will continue to oversee day-to-day operations. Thai Randolph, who previously served as President & COO of Laugh Out Loud and COO of Hartbeat Productions, has been appointed CEO of the new entity. Hart will serve as Chairman in the interim. Bryan Smiley of Hartbeat Productions will become President & Chief Content Officer, and Jeff Clanagan of LOL will become President & Chief Distribution Officer. Leland Wigington, co-founder of HartBeat Productions, will lead a new production banner under HARTBEAT.

Randolph spoke with For(bes) The Culture about the emergence of HARTBEAT.

“Commercially, it’s a milestone moment. In terms of the company’s capitalization and valuation, as well as the possibility of expanding the team to create more content. We are breathing rare air when it comes to scaling companies of this size, especially when it comes to having a company that is minority owned and run by people of color.” Randolph continues, “We don’t consider diversity to be an initiative because, the composition is more than half women and half people of color. We are diverse by design because it’s just good business. With the mission of keeping the world laughing together, we have a team that looks like the world around us, so we can program relevantly to those audiences.”

The LOL! Network was named one of the top 10 media publishers in an April 2021 Conviva report that ranked the size of social media audiences across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. It came in ahead of major players like Hulu. The merger and capital raise will allow HARTBEAT to expand and invest in the future of comedic entertainment, producing more in-demand content and experiences where comedy meets culture.

HARTBEAT is a full-service entertainment company that develops, markets, and distributes the most culturally relevant IP and experiences in comedy and beyond. The company is divided into three divisions:

● HARTBEAT Studios led by Bryan Smiley finances, develops, and produces comedy and culture-related film, television, and content.

● HARTBEAT Media, under the leadership of Jeff Clanagan, connects with consumers all over the world through events, gaming, music publishing, Web3 initiatives, and a vast distribution network.

● PULSE, the company’s branded entertainment studio, works with companies like P&G, Lyft, Sam’s Club, Chase, and Verizon to provide creative and cultural consulting.

Operating under HARTBEAT Media, the LOL! Network will continue to be the company’s flagship consumer brand, reaching audiences across its O&O social media, audio (SiriusXM) and OTT partners (Peacock, Roku, Tubi, PlutoTV, Vizio, Redbox, Xumo, and more).

With projects featuring Tiffany Haddish, Hasan Minhaj, Amanda Seales, Deon Cole, and Affion Crockett, HARTBEAT creates hit vehicles for A-list comedians and brings the next generation of comedic voices into the mainstream.

HARTBEAT is currently working on more than 60 projects with 15+ entertainment partners, all of which are in various stages of development. The company also has several multi-year strategic partnerships, including the unscripted first look deal with NBCU’s Peacock, a film deal with Netflix, a partnership with SiriusXM, and a deal with Audible via the joint venture SBH Productions with Charlamagne Tha God.

Among the upcoming projects include: Me Time (Netflix) with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, “Storytown” (HBO Max), the F. Gary Gray action heist Lift (Netflix), #1 on the Call Sheet documentary (Apple TV+), “Die Hart” season 2 (Roku), “So Dumb It’s Criminal” with Snoop Dogg (Peacock), and a new season of the Hart-led sports talk show “Cold as Balls” (LOL Network).

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Nike releases ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ shoe to honor Gianna Bryant on her birthday

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Nike has released a special edition pair of sneakers to honor Gianna Bryant's legacy.

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

Nike has released a special pair of “Mambacita Sweet 16” shoes to honor Gianna “Gigi” Bryant on what would have been her 16th birthday.

“I’m so happy with the way these Mambacita shoes came out in honor of my daughter, Gigi,” wrote Vanessa Bryant on Instagram. The shoes feature a black snakeskin pattern to represent “Gigi’s Mambacita Mentality.”
“The ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ is inspired by her resilient spirit and the love she had, not only for the game, but for her family, friends and community,” said Bryant in a note posted to her Instagram. “Part of her legacy is about building a better future for all girls and women in sport, one step at a time.”

Gianna and her father, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Like her father, Gianna was also a talented basketball player and aspired to play in the WNBA. Earlier this year, Bryant announced that she had reached a deal with Nike to create apparel to honor the late basketball player, nicknamed the “Black Mamba.”

“The Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ honors the legacy that Kobe and Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant built,” wrote Nike in a statement announcing the release. “One that propelled all generations to continue their quest to be better, for themselves and for the game that unites us all.”
Proceeds from the shoes will go towards the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring Kobe’s and Gianna’s legacies by supporting underserved athletes, according to Nike.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Viola Davis on Hollywood: ‘You either have to be a Black version of a white ideal, or you have to be white’

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Viola Davis speaking to audience standing behind podium

By , The Guardian

Many of us had existential thoughts during lockdown, and assuaged them with new hobbies. We did thousand-piece puzzles. We crocheted and knitted. We learned new songs on our guitars, baked overzealously, and connected with our plantlife. For Viola Davis, knocking around in her $5m mansion in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, it was writing, though the nature of it was less assuagement than staring into the coalface of an existential crisis. Who am I? What is my life supposed to mean? If this isn’t it – the Oscar winning, the formidable trail of accolades, the palatial bathrooms and saltwater pool – then what is?

“I lost my mind during the pandemic,” she tells me from her bedroom, dressed pre-photoshoot in a grey sweatshirt and loose woollen hat. “I just wandered around this house like Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” She laughs about it (she has a deep laugh and a deep, mighty voice inherited from her grandmother), but the memoir resulting from the time spent writing is anything but light. She has a story to tell, a gripping, emotive, at times spine-tingling story, with pathos and pain, triumph and redemption, setting a new benchmark for the celebrity confessional. Finding Me is a page-turner, written with narrative knowhow and stylistic competence.

Over a matter of months – interrupted by the filming of The First Lady, in which she plays Michelle Obama, and The Woman King, a historical drama set in the Kingdom of Dahomey (now southern Benin) in west Africa, both projects from her company JuVee Productions – she grappled on the page with the spectre of her poverty-stricken childhood and her subsequent thorny rise to the top, a place that turned out to be less comfortable than imagined.

“Whenever you’re still, whenever you’re quiet, whenever you put everything down, then everything in your life comes into full focus. It comes at you like a jackhammer,” she says of the big, Covid-induced pause. But it was not only the pandemic that led her to the blank screen. The crisis was already in process. “I think it’s been happening ever since my status started to rise,” she says. “When it first rises, it’s nothing but excitement, nothing but an understanding that this is a culmination of your hard work, your talent. You just feel like God has blessed you – I still feel that.

“And then it moves along: what no one tells you about being ‘on top’ is the minutiae of it, the cost of it, the pressure of it, the responsibility, and finally the disillusionment. You feel like you’ve found something you love to do and you’ve made it, your life’s all sewn up – and then you hit it, and it’s just a level of emptiness, of wondering what your life means, and then you crash and burn. I had to go back to the source and revisit my life, revisit my stories, to sort of catapult me into something so I could find home – find me. I’d been lost in it all.”

In 2016, with her Academy Award win for best supporting actress for her role in Fences, based on an August Wilson play, Viola Davis became the first African American to achieve the triple crown of an Oscar, Tony and Emmy for acting (the Tony was for a Broadway role in Wilson’s King Hedley II; the Emmy for the TV legal thriller How to Get Away With Murder). She is the most nominated Black woman in the history of the Academy Awards (she received nominations for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, another Wilson adaptation, as well as The Help and Doubt) and has been ranked in the top 10 of the New York Times’ list of the greatest actors of the 21st century. Her execution of her roles is both exacting and magnanimous, ever astute, possessing a haunting integrity that makes each character seem profoundly known, tangible and self-possessed.

The consummate humble artist, she deems fame and glory secondary to the work; she is modest about her trophies, and dismissive of efforts by her actor husband of almost 19 years, Julius Tennon, and their adopted daughter, Genesis, to splash them around the house. “If it were up to me all the awards would be in the garage,” she says. “I mean, it’s just not my style – it’s a bit too much. Listen, it’s not that I haven’t looked at the Oscar or whatever and thought: wow, that’s pretty awesome. I’m very grateful, but, you know, you can’t live there. Soon as you get it, you walk off the stage, you’re an Oscar winner, but then it’s like, and now what? And then you gotta go on to the next job, and start all over again with that impostor syndrome.”

Click here to read the full article on The Guardian.

Ironheart is Reportedly Looking to Cast a ‘Black, Latina or Afro-Latina’ Trans Woman

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Ironheart animated cartoon cover, iron heart is holding iron man while wearing casual street clothes

By Rebecca Kaplan, Movie Web

Marvel Studios is reportedly looking to cast a smart, confident transgender female character in the Disney+ series Ironheart. According to POC Culture, Marvel sent out a casting call for the upcoming series for a “Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender” actress between 18 and 22 years old. If the studio follows through with casting a trans actor, the Ironheart actress would be the fourth trans actor to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and third trans woman. Ironheart stars Dominique Thorne (Judas and the Black Messiah) as Riri Williams, as well as Anthony Ramos and Lyric Ross in yet-to-be-announced roles. In the comics, the character is a super genius by five years old and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by 15 years old. After her best friend and father are killed in a drive-by shooting, Riri wants to protect her hometown and the ones she loves, so she reverse engineers Tony Stark’s Iron Man design to create her own suit of armor—the most advanced of its kind since Stark’s Iron Man designs themselves!

“One of the characters that will be introduced in the upcoming Ironheart Disney+ series is going to be a Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender character,” said POC Culture’s Ron Seoul-Oh. The publication’s report continued on, adding, “the character is portrayed as she/her, [who] is around 18-22 years old.”

The casting call for the character also describes her as “smart” and “confident,” “with a mystical bent and unique sense of humor,” adding that she is “unapologetically nerdy about things that excite her…even if they might be terrifying to others.” Although this casting description doesn’t point to any specific character from Marvel Comics, fans are excited about the prospect of a POC trans woman joining the cast of Ironheart.

There are also rumors the show is looking to cast an older non-binary actor for a major role and Marvel and Disney are considering making Riri bisexual.

This Would Not Be the First Trans Character in the MCU

After The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek’s failure to oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the company needs to earn back goodwill and trust with its LGBTQIA+ audiences. Even if it seems like shouldn’t be remarkable to see a trans actor on-screen, it still is. Not backing out on its recent promise to have more diversity and inclusion in its content—for example, by casting a Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender character in Ironheart—is a first step toward Disney showing it’s a true ally to the queer community.

Although it’s worth celebrating more trans representation on-screen in Ironheart, casting a trans female character in the Disney+ series wouldn’t be a first for Marvel, especially now the Netflix shows seem to be back into the canon with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) appearing in the MCU. For example, trans actress Aneesh Sheth (The Walking Dead) played Gillian, a trans woman and Jessica Jones’ (Krysten Ritter) assistant in Jessica Jones Season 3. Notably, Gillian’s trans identity isn’t a plot point.

“There’s no narrative around her identity, which I think is wonderful because trans people exist in the world, and it’s not always about their [trans] narrative,” Sheth told iNews.

Click here to read the full article on Movie Web.

How Black Men Changed the World

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Two black men, one father and one son.

By THE SMITHSONIAN

Too often Black men are seen as threatening. Over the generations, whether they are boys like Emmett Till, Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin, or adults like Philando Castille, Eric Garner or George Floyd, or the thousands of victims of lynching in the 19th and 20th centuries, their deaths were made to seem justified by a fear based solely on their race. Only on rare occasions is someone held accountable. It’s even evident with the recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, killed by three men while he was out for a run, that the “lynching” of Black men is still happening today.

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “Men of Change: Power, Triumph, Truth,” now on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, delivers a world of ideas about who Black men actually are and works to dismantle myths. The show supports the diversity of Black male identities in their capacity as role models, and amplifies the many positive ways their work and endeavors impact the Black community and the world.

Unfortunate, as it is, that there is a need for such an exhibition, Marquette Folley, who is content director for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, hopes the show is not only affirming for Black men, but that the messaging is potent enough to shift the cultural experience for all visitors. “Hard dialogues are occurring in the galleries,” she says.

Kendrick Lamar by Derrick Adams
Figure in the Urban Landscape #25 (portrait of Kendrick Lamar) by Derrick Adams, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist
Muhammad Ali by David Alekhuogie
Know Your Right [Muhammad Ali] by David Alekhuogie, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Powerful personalities like Kendrick Lamar, Muhammad Ali and James Baldwin are featured because their work in music, sports and literature, appeals to a larger audience and is very much concerned with how their struggles and undertakings impact freedom and rights for all Americans, but especially African Americans.

“We’re reckoning, looking at a broad landscape of what is human, which humans are worth looking at, and noting excellence without stereotyping what that excellence looks like,” Folley says.

While there are countless Black men in our world impacting many sectors and industries, the men were especially chosen, not solely because of their achievements, but because they made conscious decisions to help the world and uplift us all, and there is no one right way to do that.

The larger society from diverse backgrounds can also witness the variety of Black male identities possible. As our country becomes more diverse every day, the stories that we tell ourselves about strangers we live with have an impact on the collective. An exhibition such as this one is a chance for people unfamiliar with the history of the United States to educate themselves and their families about pivotal members of our society—Black men.

“It’s an affirmation of truth for African Americans. There is not one African American who doesn’t recognize a reality that was interesting and remains interesting within the exhibition, it is that those truths remain almost fairy tale to people who are not raised Black in America. And so there was the moment for culture’s storytellers to ask, can we effectively start changing the dialog,” Folley says.

Dick Gregory by Shaunte Gates
Light Side Dark Side [Dick Gregory] by Shaunte Gates, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Though this exhibition features just a few of the countless people who have impacted the world, the lightbox displays interspersed throughout the galleries includes the names, images, quotes and writing of Black men and some women.

“It’s not a story necessarily for African Americans. It’s a story for Americans,” Folley says.

Sarah Nelson Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, the founders of WeShouldDoItAll, a contemporary design studio in Brooklyn, New York, were enlisted to aid with the exhibition. In addition to the lightboxes that house photographic images and text, they suggested that the exhibition include artworks by Black visual artists in dialogue with the Black male personalities featured in the exhibition.

Each artist interpreted the assignment of creating an artwork about Black men differently. The artwork about the award-winning journalist and author, Ta-Nahesi Coates, was created by the New York-based artist Robert Pruitt, known for his figurative drawings. The image of a woman with a map depicting redlining on her head is based on the critically acclaimed article, “The Case for Reparations” that Coates wrote for The Atlantic in 2014.

Ta-Nehisi Coats by Robert Pruitt
Monumental [Ta-Nehisi Coates] by Robert Pruitt, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist and Koplin Del Rio, Seattle, Adam Reich Photography

These are not traditional portraits. An artwork about the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright August Wilson by Radcliffe Bailey is an assemblage of disparate items of locusts, dirt and a book.

Ryan Coogler is a global phenomenon. The writer and director of the film Black Panther created another world, one where for the first time, Black people were central to its narrative. His portrait created by the Atlanta-based artist Alfred Conteh is painted with the artist’s signature style of destressed colorful figures against a patterned backdrop. In this instance, Conteh is not painting Black people he identified on Atlanta streets to represent economic disparity, he’s painting one of the most influential filmmakers of today.

Kehinde Wiley, the artist who did Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait, uses visual art to explode representation of the Black image into largely white spaces. Wiley has been painting portraits of everyday Black men and women from cities around the world including, Harlem, South Central LA, Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, and positions their bodies in a manner similar to that of the Old Masters. In this way, he makes the claim on the worth and importance of the Black body.

Now Wiley is himself the subject of a portrait painted by Devan Shimoyama whose signature style of bright colors, bejeweled with rhinestones and sequins and other mixed media, speaks to queerness in the Black community and challenges the myths surrounding Black masculinity.

Andrew Young, who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, U.S. Congressman from Georgia, U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations, and 55th Mayor of Atlanta. His portrait, angular with a cartoonish feel, was created by Nina Chanel Abney as if in juxtaposition of the gravity and seriousness of Young’s accomplishments. But she is employing symbols to represent the many aspects of Young’s efforts.

Click here to read the full article on The Smithsonian.

The CROWN Act highlights years of workplace hair discrimination finally being legally reprehensible

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Linda Husser modeling Zoom meeting crown (hair)

By Amiah Taylor, Fortune

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Friday, March 18, in a vote of 235-189, that would ban hair-related discrimination.

The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, first introduced to Congress in March 2019, prohibits prejudicial treatment towards individuals on the basis of their hair texture or hairstyle. This is the first step on a federal level needed to officially get the bill signed into law. The bill now goes to the Senate.

“Routinely, people of African descent are deprived of educational and employment opportunities because they are adorned with natural or protective hairstyles in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, or worn in locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, or Afros,” according to the bill.

Personal style and grooming choices do have negative educational and employment consequences for Black people in ways that are not consistent for white individuals. For example, in clinical settings, Black nurses have been told to cut their hair for the sake of ‘infection control’ whereas their white peers are merely told to tie their hair up. “Black nurses worldwide have experienced ‘racial gaslighting’ through the profiling and policing of their hair, to the point of being driven out of nursing,” according to the Journal of Nursing Management.

Black nurses are not the only professionals who have been threatened with dismissal over “looking unprofessional,” when they show up to work with their hair in its natural state. In 2016, a Black woman was allegedly fired from her position as a waitress for wearing her natural hair in a bun. In 2019, a Black news anchor was fired over wearing a natural style, because of a company policy which stated on-air talent could not have “shaggy and unkempt,” hair. In 2021, a Black woman who stopped wearing wigs over her afro-textured hair was fired promptly from her sales position at American Screening.

Studies show that Black women with “Afrocentric hairstyles” are viewed as less professional than their counterparts who wear Eurocentric hairstyles, that are rooted in European standards of beauty which often emphasize straight hair. Whether it’s corporate America or the service industry, Black people have historically been expected to change their appearances to fit into the aesthetic norms of white professional settings. Echoing this sentiment, in a Feb. 28 statement in support of the CROWN Act, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler cited a 2019 study conducted by the JOY Collective in which 80% of Black women said they believed they had to alter their natural hair to gain acceptance in the office.

“While this study illustrates the prevalence of hair discrimination, it is the people behind those numbers that make this legislation so vital,” Nadler said. “For example, a Texas student was told that he would not be allowed to walk at graduation because his dreadlocks were too long; a Florida boy was turned away from his first day of school because his hair was too long; and a New Orleans-area girl was sent home from school for wearing braids.”

Nadler’s point about how hair racism affects school aged children is apparent in the petition of Latrenda Rush, which has gained over 89,000 signatures as of Mar. 21.

Rush was preparing for her son Joshua’s graduation from Abeka Academy, a Florida-based Christian school, when she was informed that he would be barred from walking during the graduation ceremony because of his hair. Abeka Academy’s grooming policy required male students not to have hair that exceeded their ears and specifically banned Black hairstyles such as braids and dreadlocks.

Abeka Academy has since apologized on Facebook, stating regret over their “insensitive rule,” and removing their ban on dreadlocks. However, the fact remains that without Rush’s vigilance, and the social pressure of a public outcry, Joshua and other Black students like him may have been excluded from walking during their graduation ceremony because of implicit bias against their racial hairstyles.

If passed in the Senate, the CROWN Act could potentially rectify the ongoing discrimination Black people face for wearing their hair in natural styles, by adding legal consequences for schools and employers alike. The social media response was that inclusive work and academic environments that do not chastise people of color for their natural hair are long overdue.

Click here to read the full article on Fortune.

Instagram adds credits to ensure more Black creators are cited for their work

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Black Creators Cameryn Boyd and Alexis Michelle Adjei came up with a way for Instagram to address "inequity in the creator ecosystem."

By Randi Richardson, NBC News

Instagram announced Monday that it will introduce a special tag for professional accounts and influencers that ensures they receive credit for their content, an attempt to address complaints that Black users are not credited for starting trends or are shut out from profiting from them.

The tag is available to business and creator accounts, and comes on the heels of nationwide discussions and content strikes by Black content creators who pushed out viral posts saying they do not receive credit for their work.

Alexis Michelle Adjei, a data analyst, and Cameryn Boyd, an engineer, envisioned and created the label with these disparities and Black creators in mind, particularly that creators make a living off producing social media content and that Black creators should share equally in that, too, they said.

Adjei said, “Black creators and addressing that inequity in the creator ecosystem” was top-of-mind when developing the new feature.

Twice as many white influencers are making upward of $100,000 a year as are Black ones who are making similar content to similarly sized audiences, according to a study published in December by MSL, a communications company, and The Influencer League, an educational organization. The report also found a 29 percent pay gap between white creators and all creators of color.

“We want to ensure that as Black creators’ content is being distributed as it already is, they are getting the proper attribution so that they have the opportunity to get all of those growth and monetization and career-starting opportunities like their contemporaries are,” said Boyd, a Spelman College graduate. “It’s really critical, as we’re moving towards this new age where creators are so important and creators are really able to use their craft to support themselves in their lives, that Black creators are getting the same opportunity, as they’re already creating the content.”

Adjei and Boyd joined Meta in August 2020 before landing on the idea the following February. They worked on it with colleague Alexandra Zaoui, building it out together and pitching it across different teams at Instagram’s parent company, Meta, until eventually getting their own team, which prepared the feature to launch this week under the pair’s leadership.

Adjei, a Stanford University graduate, said the need for a formal credit was apparent, and it just took the right set of eyes at Meta to see it.

“I think we were just so close to the need that we were able to see and we kind of had that same situation of like, why doesn’t this exist? And then we went the next step of like, let’s make it exist.”

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Celebrate Black Women in Film With These 20 Classics

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4 black women in film movie covers

By , The Cut

There is something nourishing about seeing your realities reflected back onscreen. Multidimensional stories that don’t force you to settle for bits and pieces of yourself in characters who don’t experience the world like you do. Films that carefully and tenderly explore the interior lives of Black women and girls — our happiness and sadness, our friendships and romances, our varied relationships to our mental health and our bodies, our undoings and rebirths and all the messiness that comes with being human in a deeply imperfect world. While these kinds of stories have long been told, they’re rare and often underappreciated in mainstream Hollywood because, well, Hollywood.

Fortunately, there are resources that make finding dynamic stories much easier: Black Women Directors, an ever-growing digital library founded by Danielle A. Scruggs, spotlights Black women and nonbinary filmmakers across the diaspora. Maya Cade’s Black Film Archive is a growing register of Black films from 1915-1979. Transgender Media Portal features Black filmmakers, as well as other artists of color, with stories that center trans and queer people in front and behind the camera. And film festivals like Black Femme Supremacy, founded by Nia Hampton, are great for finding new stories and connecting with other film lovers.

While this curated watch list doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s out there, these 20 films centering Black girls and women are a great starting point of stories for us and by us.

Jinn (2018)

Photo: Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection

Guided by filmmaker-writer Nijla Mu’min, this tender coming-of-age story set in the Crenshaw community of Los Angeles follows 17-year-old Summer (Zoë Renee) as she experiences first love, a deepening relationship with Islam, and the ups and downs of a mother and daughter’s clashing self-discovery.

I Like It Like That (1994)

Director Darnell Martin and lead Lauren Vélez are a union that continue to shine on screen almost 28 years later. If you’ve got a soft spot for seeing New York City on film — the stoop hangouts, confrontations in the bodega, ruminations on the train — then this tale of a fly working mom struggling and persevering in the Bronx will feel like a hug.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Filmmaker Cheryl Dunye wrote and starred in this seminal mockumentary that’s now a must-watch part of the queer-cinema canon. The story centers a filmmaker and video store clerk, who is also a Black lesbian in ’90s Philadelphia, as she searches for information about a mystery queer Black woman from a silent film. Expect a delightful dose of nostalgia — hello, video-store connections!

Abundance (2021)

Amber J. Phillips is a filmmaker and art director whose hilarious sharp cultural commentary “imagines a world where Black womanhood is an abundant overwhelming experience of safety, pleasure, and joy.” Her latest project, which she wrote, produced, and stars in, is a 31-minute meditation on identity divided into three parts — fat, angry, queer. Abundance is directed by Kym Allen, with cinematography by Sade Ndya.

Baldwin Beauty (2020)

This 11-minute gem of a short film follows Farrah (Raven Goodwin), a new-to-Los-Angeles hairstylist who makes a house call and meets a lively group of friends pregaming before an outing. The film was written and directed by Thembi Banks and was a 2019 Sundance selection.

Jezebel (2019)

A young woman (Tiffany Tenille) enters the realm of cam modeling with encouragement from her big sister, who works as a phone-sex operator. The film is inspired by the lived experience of writer-director-co-star Numa Perrier (hay, Black & Sexy fans!), and explores stepping into one’s womanhood and the realities of survival for two sisters as they simultaneously process grief.

Miss Juneteenth (2020)

Writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples honors the Fort Worth, Texas, community she was born and raised in with Miss Juneteenth. The film follows Turquoise (Nicole Beharie), a single mother and past Miss Juneteenth pageant winner, as she pushes through hard times and trying to establish her independence while dreaming big for her teen daughter (Alexis Chikaeze).

Pure (2021)

17-year-old Celeste (Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew) grapples with her queerness and the traditions of her affluent community on the eve of her cotillion. Writer-director Natalie Jasmine Harris, who brings the authenticity of a third-generation debutante, is currently adapting the short film into a feature-length script.

The 40-Year-Old Version (2020)

Photo: Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Finding your groove at any age can be tough. Add in being an artist who is sensitive about your shit in an industry full of white nonsense, grieving a parent, a younger Brooklyn boo, and casually being roasted by NYC teens from your drama class, and whew! Radha Blank’s black-and-white dramedy — which she also wrote, produced, directed, and starred in — is a delight. Bonus incentive to watch: We get to see Blank rap-ping!

A Luv Tale (1999)

In 1999, Sidra Smith wrote, produced, and directed a film centered around a photographer (Gina Ravera) and a work-consumed magazine editor (Michele Lamar Richards) who find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. It’s a fun and sensual portrayal of romantic love between Black women, friendship, and taking a leap of faith in the name of love. Expect to see familiar faces like Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Ajai Sanders, and Angela Means.

Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2018)

A shining aspect of artist Tourmaline’s creative output is her archival work of Marsha P. (“Pay it no mind”) Johnson and her experimental film portraiture of Black trans and queer elders. In this short, which was co-directed by Sasha Wortzel and stars Mya Taylor as Marsha, viewers get to go back in time hours before the pioneer sparked the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992)

Filmmaker Leslie Harris’s tale of a high-school junior, Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson), from Brooklyn with big dreams is a classic. The headstrong teen’s life plan is set: Graduate early, keep on the path to becoming a doctor, and leave the projects — but as life often reminds us, things rarely play out exactly how we envisioned it.

Click here to read the full article on The Cut.

Scholarship Connoisseur Encourages Students to Apply for STEM Scholarships and Internship Opportunities Now

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IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities.  IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

“Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of  IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”

GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.

The majority of the scholarships featured on  IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.

Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, the  IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about  IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

16 Black women who shaped history

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black women have changed history. Photo is of Maya Angelou

One of the best ways to get inspired is to examine the stories of courage and strength of others. As part of Together, We Rise, a 31-day package highlighting amazing Black people, experiences, allies, and communities that shape America and make it what it is today, we’ve compiled a list of Black women who have made historic impacts in our nation and the world as a whole.

The history-making Black women included in this group defied odds, broke boundaries, and left special marks of excellence in their communities, paving the way for other Black women to do the same.

Elizabeth Freeman (unknown-1829)
Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was a nurse and midwife who successfully sued Massachusetts for her freedom in 1781, becoming the first African-American enslaved woman to win a freedom suit in the state. Her suit helped lead to the permanent abolition of slavery in Massachusetts altogether.

Ona Judge (1773-1848)
Ona Judge, known by the Washingtons as Oney, was a mixed woman born into an enslaved family on Mt. Vernon and brought to Philadelphia to serve at the President’s House. On May 21, 1796, a 22-year-old Ona successfully escaped her enslavement to President George Washington while he and Mrs. Washington ate dinner. She fled to New Hampshire.

Harriet Tubman (unknown-1913)
American abolitionist Harriet Tubman is most known for her efforts to move slaves to liberation in the Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery activists. Her legacy is indelible in the movement to abolish slavery, as she is documented to have made approximately 13 trips through the Underground Railroad to lead dozens of slaves to freedom — and never got caught, despite a $40,000 reward for her capture.

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Ida B. Wells was a prominent Black investigative journalist, educator and activist in the early civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the NAACP (National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People), and led a powerful anti-lynching crusade in the U.S. in the 1890s.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks, a trailblazer known for her courageous participation in the Montgomery bus boycott, sparked a movement against racial segregation on public transit. Her defiance to give up her seat led to her arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, but sparked a revolutionary movement. The United States Congress has since honored her as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou has a distinct voice as a Black writer and activist. She left her legacy with a large collection of memoirs, poems, essays and plays. She rose to fame in 1969 after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” one of her autobiographies that details her early years as a young Black woman.

Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Nina Simone possessed a unique raspy voice and had a massive impact on the jazz community, as well as continued involvement in the civil rights movement. In her early years, she changed her name from Eunice Kathleen Waymon, her birth name, to her new alias, Nina Simone, so she could disguise herself from her family while trying to make a career in jazz as a pianist and singer. She rose to fame and recorded more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
Audre Lorde made incredible contributions to feminist literature. In her writings, she highlights her experience being a Black lesbian woman and confronts issues of racism, homophobia, classism and misogyny, giving voice to other Black female writers and activists.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)
“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin was ranked ninth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” twice and it’s said that no one understood soul music better than Aretha. She also was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcom Michaels Jr., was the first American self-identified drag queen. She was one of the first gay liberation activists and one of the most prominent figures of the Stonewall riots in 1969. When asked what the “p” in her name stood for, she responded, “pay it no mind,” and continued to use that phrase when asked about her gender identity.

Click here to read the full article on Today.

These Afro-Latina Beauty Influencers Know How to Celebrate the Wonders of Black Beauty

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Black Beauty Influencer smiling at the camera ina. yellow tank top and light blue jeans. Behind her is a calendar on the wall and some post its

By ASHLEY JIMENEZ, PopSugar

Afro-Latinas are very much a part of the Black diaspora, yet there’s still a major lack of representation. Growing up, I rarely saw Afro-Latinas in television series, movies, books, or advertising campaigns. Although I recall seeing Afro-Cuban singers like Celia Cruz and La Lupe in music, there was still a massive part of the media counting us out. Pop culture consciously spoke to Latinas who saw themselves reflected in celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Mariah Carey. Although these A-listers are glamorous, respectfully, they do not represent the diversity of Black beauty within our community. They cater to Euro-centric beauty standards such as fair skin, light eyes, and straight hair.

Hence Afro-Latinos within the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia, to name a few, are curating their own spaces. And this is especially true of the hair, makeup, and skin-care industries, where influencers and entrepreneurs are forging a representation path for those who identify with these experiences. Here, we collected the perspectives of Afro-Latinas who turn to Black women for inspiration and are honoring the African diaspora and embracing their Black beauty through their brands and the content they share on social media. Because, as Lulu Cordero points outs, “Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty.”

Alexa Dolmo
When Alexa Dolma came to Houston from Honduras, she did not see any representation of herself among the masses. The influencer identifies as Garifuna, a mix of African and Indigenous ancestry, mainly from the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize. Over the years, Dolma tells POPSUGAR, she’s grown to be more vocal and confident about celebrating her Afro-Latina roots on her page and Garifuna Bosses, the platform she created to represent and highlight other Garifuna women. Dolma has featured Black women like Kalifa Marin and Eunice Suazo, the founders of Tru3 B3llas, a hair-care brand that offers detangler brushes, edge controls, and bonnets. “I felt the need to do this because, as a blogger, I always came across pages that highlighted other bloggers, and I never saw one who did the same thing for my people,” she explains.

As a proud Black Latina, Dolma says she saw herself in the rom-com “Nappily Ever After” featuring Sanaa Lathan. Based on Trisha R. Thomas’s novel of the same name, the film illustrates the relationship between Black women and beauty standards imposed on them by society. “This movie shows that our hair is beautiful whether bald or full of coils,” the beauty influencer says.

Lulu Cordero
Lulu Cordero, the CEO of Bomba Curls, wasn’t always proud of her natural hair. Like many, growing up she heard the word pajón when people referenced her hair, but when she stepped into womanhood, Cordero decided to let go of the relaxer and embrace her natural texture. Being an Afro-Latina from the Dominican Republic, she always knew the beauty benefits of natural ingredients, and that’s how she decided to formulate her line of curly-hair products featuring fundamental formulas such as cafecito, rosemary, and more.

“Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty. These are all gifts from our ancestors, and by celebrating said gifts, I honor them,” says Cordero, who remembers watching Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones” as a pivotal moment in celebrating Black beauty and representation. The 1950s American musical features an all-Black cast and tells the story of a parachute-factory worker and an Army corporal. “I’d never seen anything like it before. Before that, I’d only seen Latino media, which has a history of erasing us.” Seeing the iconic Black actor sport a sultry red lip and epitomize retro glam gave the beauty entrepreneur hope.

Sherly Tavarez
Like many Afro-Latinx women, Sherly Tavarez grew up hearing the phrase pelo malo, which means “bad hair.” After years of chemically treating her gorgeous curls, the fashion stylist decided to design apparel to debunk the notion of “bad hair” once and for all. The Dominican blogger created Hause of Curls and is now known for her shirts and accessories that read “Pelo Malo Where?” and her feed that features diverse women within the natural hair community.

“My first time appreciating the beauty of my Afro-Latinidad was when I watched the Netflix series ‘Celia,'” Tavarez says. “It taught me about my background, roots, what it was like to be an Afro-Latina back in the day, and how much we have had to fight to be seen.” She adds: “Back when I was straightening my hair all of the time and honestly being a slave to my hair, I didn’t feel like my true self. I felt like I was celebrating a version of myself that other people told me to be. I didn’t even know what my natural hair looked like until I stopped applying heat and relaxing my hair. Now I celebrate by sharing my journey to natural hair with others and by building this community we have at Hause of Curls.”

Click here to read the full article on PopSugar.

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