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    uptown gentlemens guide to getting hitched

    By R. Alexander Sumner; Photography by Karl Ferguson

    Fortunately, men are now becoming more proactive in making choices for themselves and their half of the wedding party. They are now taking greater ownership over their sense of style and a woman having executive power over her man’s sartorial picks, both in purchasing and in what specifically is worn, has waned. From collaborating on the rehearsal dinner to crafting the look of the wedding party, there are several ways for a groom to participate and co-create the nuptial experience.

    Partners in Shine

    As much as a wedding is her big day (and it truly is!), it’s also a day when the bride and groom both are co-hosting an incredible event and thusly both should be involved in planning. No bride-to-be should dominate the ball.

    I let my wife, Isha, take the reins with key events, as her touch is impeccable, yet we discuss crucial areas before pulling any triggers. Wedding planning can serve as a testing ground for a couple’s future decision-making processes. I’ve found that most couples inclined to see the wedding cooperatively invariably come back to me lauding the experience.

    Pre-Gaming

    The Rehearsal Dinner is an oft-overlooked event when it comes to planning. The wedding day ensemble takes such precedence that the sentiment is typically, “Oh, we are going all out for the wedding, so what shall we wear to the rehearsal dinner the night before?” Keep it relaxed. Perhaps everyone wears a bow tie of a specific fabric and/or color. Dinner jackets and jeans with sneakers for everyone can be jubilant.

    uptown getting hitched 3All About The Benjies

    Money, money, money! This should be the overarching concentration when making plans for ALL parties. Remember that you’ve likely asked your guests to travel to the wedding, perhaps pay for accommodations, purchase a gift and now dress the part as a bridesmaid, maid of honor, best man or groomsman. It would be magical in pictures to have everyone dressed to the nines in couture dresses and custom tuxes, but the key, unquestionably, is budget.

    Living within your means is critical for both the big day and beyond. Know your audience. Know your finances. There is never a need to create undue stress. Having style is not contingent upon having (or spending) money. Internalize this!

    The date, time of the year and location are essentially intertwined in regards to styling. If it’s a New England wedding in early October, then white trousers and a navy blazer for the groomsmen after Labor Day is a definite no-no, but if the wedding is in Miami, or Costa Rica where it is warm all year round…a definite yes.

    Color Me Bad

    If you are asking groomsmen to buy a suit or blazer for the wedding, then navy, grey or black will all work perfectly for the big day—as well as in their closet for other events—as opposed to forcing them into purchasing lime green suits to match the bridesmaids’ dresses or because it’s the groom’s favorite color (unfortunately, both are true scenarios).

    Go with traditional color palettes. Versatility, a classic aesthetic and color consistency always win. Think visually of framing the bride and groom so that in pictures the focus is on them as well as the individuals in the wedding party. It’s not an editorial shoot where the ensembles are the story. It’s about the wearer and keeping it simple. There can be interesting details such as matching a tie to the bridesmaids’ dresses for a connection or opting for bold socks which may accentuate color and strike a balance between the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. However, the eye must gravitate to the couple.

    uptown getting hitched

    Back To Black

    After the food is gone, the band has packed up, the flowers have wilted and the honeymoon is over, all that remains are the pictures. Do it right. Nothing is more regal and classic than black tie. Nothing. Yet, I always encourage grooms to go with the best, most formal and classic approach for themselves. But economics are important. Asking the men to purchase tuxes, which they’ll likely not find that versatile, considering the average man wears a tux three or four times a year, is in most cases inconsiderate and very expensive. Thinking of renting? Absolutely not!

    Framing is also of consequence. Visualize the wedding party in a semi-circle with the bride and bridesmaids arcing out to the left and the groom and groomsmen to the right. Do bridesmaids ever wear the same color or silhouette as the bride? Then why in the world do men wear the same suit, color or silhouette as the groom? In that case the only distinction is a different type of flower on the lapel. It’s an unbalanced approach.

    At the very least: choose a different color. If the gents wear black tuxes, then the groom should don a distinctive blue tux. If the groom sports his black tux, then the groomsmen should go with a navy or grey suit. My favorite: a navy blazer paired with grey or red trousers. For summer, perhaps white trousers. Frame the lovely married couple with symmetry and balance.

    Keep It Real

    Speak to who you are as opposed to making choices that are more about who you wish you were. Warmth and sincerity are the ideal components. Guests need not walk away with critiques on the flowers, reception, clothing choices and the like. They ought to reminisce saying, “There was so much organic love between these two, so much joy and warmth.” I’ve been to breathtaking low-budget weddings. Conversely, I have attended the ritziest affairs that were simply opening ceremonies for divorce. Be authentic. Live honestly. Have a budget and stick to it. Weddings should not be an excuse for couples to dive into debt or for attendees to reach too deeply within their own pockets. Both scenarios sap the joy out of the event.

    Sneaking Down The Aisle

    Being comfy is key. Forcing anyone to wear heels on sand is absurd, just as rocking sneakers in a church ceremony is silly. But, using sneakers for all of the right economic reasons and to maintain consistency and proper framing is cool. For summer, slipping on Vans or Chuck Taylors can be a fun and prudent way to go. Some 35 years ago, I wore a vintage tux and pink high-top Cons to my Senior Prom. It spoke to who I was, what I could afford and how I wanted to express that. Be yourself, but don’t break all the rules; I still wore a tux and bow tie!

    Get Fit

    When it comes to suiting, fit is it. Without fit, you ain’t got it! Women already get this and men are beginning to recognize the need to subsume their desire for comfort with a willingness to think as women do when they wear heels: no pain, no gain. Donning an ill-fitting garment will get you absolutely no love, save for the salesman who duped you into buying it. A suit from Zara that fits wonderfully is $200 well spent.

    Party Time

    The wedding ceremony is formal; therefore, by nature it’s rather ritualistic and stiff. For the reception your role changes. You are an emcee and guests will follow your lead. Taking your blazer off and rolling up your sleeves is a great start. But, the greatest transformation occurs when the groom changes into a dinner jacket or a vibrant, fun blazer. This dramatic change signals the shift to party time. Taking off one’s socks or throwing on a great pair of sneakers also speaks volumes!

    R. Alexander Sumner is a clothing designer and founder of menswear line Alexander Nash.


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    oscar_common

    On Sunday night, Common and John Legend led a powerful performance of their duet “Glory,” the theme song from the movie Selma, right before taking home the Oscar for Best Original Song.

    The performance, complete with a full chorus marching into the audience, was so awe-inspiring that Oscar-goers, including Selma lead star David Oyelowo and Chris Pine, were moved to tears. The pair’s acceptance speech was equally emotional, touching on violence against Black men in this country and the struggle for equality.

    This was the only Academy Award Selma won. The film documented the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, Jr. (played by Oyelowo). Despite the film being passed over in the Best Picture and Best Actor categories, the riveting performance by Common and Legend proved just how important the film is in its homage to civil rights history and relevance to Black existence today.

    Watch Common and John Legend’s performance here.


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    UPTOWN_common_john_legend_oscars

    The 87th Annual Academy Awards focused on more than film, actors, and actresses last night. There were also must-see musical performances from Common and John Legend, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Rita Ora, Tim McGraw, Tegan and Sara, and Maroon 5. And who could forget the Opening Number featuring Neil Patrick Harris?

    UPTOWN_john_legend_glory_oscars

    Keep clicking to watch the eight musical performances of The Oscars for 2015 …


    Neil Patrick Harris brought attention to the Academy’s penchant for highlighting mostly white talent within the first 15 seconds of his Opening Number.


    John Legend and Common performed their Oscar-winning song “Glory” from Ava DuVernay’s SELMA, which lost the Oscar for Best Motion Picture to Birdman.


    Lady Gaga paid tribute to The Sound of Music with her Academy Awards performance.


    Jennifer Hudson belted out “I Can’t Let Go” after the 2015 Oscars in Memoriam Tribute.


    Tim McGraw paid homage to country legend Glen Campbell with “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which was co-written by Campbell. The Oscar-nominated theme song is from the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.


    Rita Ora sang “Grateful” from Fifty Shades of Grey.


    Even though The Academy snubbed The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature, the film did have a major Oscar moment when Tegan and Sara performed “Everything is Awesome.”


    Maroon 5 performed “Lost Stars” from the musical drama Begin Again, which starred frontman Adam Levine.

    RELATED: Lupita Nyong’o, Solange Knowles And More On The Red Carpet At The 2015 Academy Awards


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    sudan

    What is the world coming to?

    An armed rebel group in South Sudan has abducted 89 children from a South Sudan school, according to reports. The boys, some as young as 12, were taken from an area near Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, a UNICEF statement confirms. The armed group surrounded the community of Malakal, searching house by house and snatching boys 12 and over.

    Though it isn’t exactly clear which group is responsible for the abductions, South Sudan has a well-documented history of violence between rebel militia and government as well as recruitment of kids by armed forces. Last year, 12,000 child soldiers were used by armed forces and groups across South Sudan, according UNICEF. 

    Related Article: U.S. Will Help #BringBackOurGirls

    At the core of this issue is a country rooted in conflict and scarce in resources. South Sudan, a country founded after splitting off from Sudan in 2011, has been entrenched in violence and political conflict since 2013.

    Though repeated efforts have been made to gain control of tribal feuds and establish peace, mass violence, kidnappings and starvation continues nationwide.


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    uptown samuel l jackson wwhl 219

    Bill Cosby‘s battle with a wave of rape allegations against him continues to be a touchy subject for many, including his acting peers who aren’t quite sure what to make of the issue. Samuel L. Jackson is one such example.

    Jackson sat down with Andy Cohen during Watch What Happens Live where he was asked whether or not he believed Cosby is guilty. “I can’t make a judgment about it. I wish that [Cosby] would say something,” he said.

    While Jackson was careful not to take sides, he did admit that powerful men do take advantage of women. “I make my judgment because I have a daughter, I have a wife I love and I have a lot of women in my life,” he said. “And I know women are vulnerable in this society and people with power take advantage of them.”

    To date, over two dozen women have come forward accusing Bill Cosby of raping and drugging them – most notably former supermodels Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson. Cosby has remained mum on the issue while his lawyers insist that the mounting allegations against him are “discredited” and “defamatory.”

    Samuel’s interview on WWHL is the latest in a string of Cosby-related news. Just last week, Eddie Murphy declined to participate in a Saturday Night Live! sketch where he was asked to portray Cosby for the SNL 40th anniversary special. Cosby says he “applauds” Murphy for his decision not to participate.


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    UPTOWN_lupita_nyongo_oscars

    After hitting the red carpet at the 87th Academy Awards in a custom Calvin Klein Collection pearl dress and Chopard diamond drop earrings, Lupita Nyong’o became a top trending topic Sunday, Feb. 22. While her dress sported 6,000 pearls, which cost $150,000, Nyong’o’s look wouldn’t have been complete without a perfectly beat face. Although most fans of the 2014 Best Supporting Actress can’t recreate her couture look, getting her beauty look is as easy as a trip to the Lancôme counter at your favorite department store.

    Here’s how to get Lupita Nyong’o’s beauty look at the 87th Academy Awards.

    UPTOWN_lupita_nyongo_beauty_oscars

    Makeup artist Nick Barose was inspired to create a modern take on 1920s glamour. He gave Lancôme Ambassadress Nyong’o a smokey eye using metallic colors that paired well with her aubergine lip.

    Here are the Lancôme products Barose used on Nyong’o:

    FACE:

    EYES

    LIPS

    RELATED: Lupita Nyong’o, Solange Knowles And More On The Red Carpet At The 2015 Academy Awards


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    uptown oscars class of 2015

    While we don’t know the Nielsen numbers, yet, it’s probably safe to say that a lot of Black folks didn’t watch the 2015 Oscars ceremony last night. All 20 best of acting nominee slots this year ended up all White – which is pretty damn bizarre when you consider the U.S. population (which Hollywood supposedly represents through film) is only 62 percent White. By the way, it will be a way-less-than-that minority by 2050.

    You could hear the grumbling for weeks leading up to the star-studded self-congratulating assembly of Hollywood’s elite in Los Angeles, whether it was talked about over dinner or maybe spit about while buying groceries. And with perfectly timed, clever Twitter hashtagging like #OscarsSoWhite blasting the movie industry, many folks of color could be seen or heard building up an enormous amount of resistance at the television screen last night. Civil rights activists, such as the National Action Network, were also chomping furiously at the bit to make a massive show of advocacy force outside the event. However, at the last minute, acclaimed Selma director Ava DuVernay (in what will be seen, eventually, as a smart long-term career strategy) persuaded the NAN Los Angeles chapter to cancel it.

    For its part, the Oscars – formally known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – went into a form of desperate damage control. Not only was Oscars’ host Neil Patrick Harris permitted to crack jokes about “Hollywood’s best and whitest” (as reported since a lot of us didn’t watch it), but the Academy built elaborate Edmund Pettus Bridge backdrops and made certain to highlight the glittering Black actors who showed up but didn’t get an award. It was all finely scripted … something Hollywood is good at, anyway.

    For “Glory”, music sensations Common and John Legend snagged a Best Original Song  award for their contribution to the epic Civil Rights era drama Selma.  But, Best Song wasn’t quite what millions of Oscar boycotting African Americans had asked for, now was it? If there was a year where finally a Black produced, Black directed and, frankly, well-crafted Black film could get a Best Film, Best Director or – at least – Best Actor award, it was this one. This was the film where the Black actors didn’t play a crooked drug-dealing cop or sex-hungry widow of a death row inmate. The Black protagonists in Selma, while faced with impossible odds and unspeakable horrors, showed something missing in most films with Black casts: political savvy and empowerment.

    Which is what’s really annoying. The nearly all-White Academy that didn’t bother voting for it and the corps of White historians who are picking at the dramatic interpretation as if it was billed as a documentary. No: during #BlackLivesMatter times like these, the last thing a White-dominated entertainment industry wants African Americans to recognize is a film depicting Martin Luther King, Jr. actually playing nails-tough political hardball with President Lyndon B. Johnson, one of the fiercest arm-twisting legislators in American history. Naturally, it takes Oprah Winfrey’s money and pull to push it.

    That brings us to a crucial question missing from the conversation on Selma snubs and the disturbing lack of color in an industry that has a social obligation to present what America really looks like. Shouldn’t Washington be doing or saying something about diversity in Hollywood?

    It’s not like Washington hasn’t considered the question of aggressively regulating or forcing diversity hiring in the film industry before. Title VII’s equal employment provisions within the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, apply to the film industry just like every other industry. It’s one reason why, for example, the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule” compels team owners to interview and consider Black head coaches (which should be the case when 80 percent of the players are Black). In 2003, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had filed a “rare” lawsuit against Universal Studios for its firing of black Assistant Director Frank Davis (a John Singleton hire). UCLA’s Russell Robinson offers some excellent reasoning here for a major Title VII lawsuit against Hollywood due to lack of racial and gender-based hiring in the industry.  In 1978, the California Advisory Committee submitted a report to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission blasting the film sector for lack of “equal opportunity” in the wake of hearings in which witnesses testified before relevant federal and state enforcement agencies. Not surprisingly, industry heads didn’t bother to meet with the Committee.

    But with all the commentary and rage over snubbed actors/actresses of color and Black films, it’s quite baffling that federal lawmakers and regulators aren’t making a big stink out of all of this.  Clearly, there is substantial, incontrovertible evidence that Hollywood has a really bad diversity hiring problem that has to get fixed.  Yet, bi-partisan bands of lawmakers (supported by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)  seem more eager to change a football team’s name than they do calling hearings on why a nearly $90 billion movie industry that controls our cultural perceptions of one another doesn’t want to hire people of color.

    It’s worth further exploration on why that is.  Because, as we see in this groundbreaking must-read study pulled together by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Hollywood has a big problem:

    statistics-1024x593

    The complex issue of diversity hiring in the film industry is also popping up in key states like California and Illinois where lawmakers continue passing attractive tax incentives as a way to land lucrative shooting deals with studios. But advocates are beginning to question why those incentives aren’t being pushed with conditions on hiring, thereby forcing studio executives to make their films – from the acting cast to the writers, directors, stylists and behind-the-scenes crew – more representative of our national demographics. Obviously, like most industries, Hollywood can be compelled to interview minorities – but, they don’t have to hire them if they don’t want to.

    That’s screaming for a legislative solution or, if that’s too much to chew on at the moment, then the introduction of a bill to address it. You’d think that even President Obama, with his penchant for the occasional off-script social commentary, would say something about Hollywood’s diversity problem and the snubbing of Selma (especially since he’s in his last term), but he’s not touching that one. He was quick to call Chicago-brethren Kanye West a “jackass” twice, but notice how he’s conveniently maneuvered himself out of a smart conversation on diversity in the entertainment industry, a subject Kanye is struggling to articulate.

    But, when examining the political dynamics a bit more closely, it makes quite a bit of sense why that hasn’t been happening. Hollywood contributes millions to the coffers of many an elected official and candidate, including POTUS, which could potentially buy them leeway on the subject. During the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the TV, Film and Music industry contributed “$70 million to campaigns, parties, PACs” and other outside spending groups. In the 2014 midterm, the combined entertainment industry ranked 12th with nearly $17 million out of the 50 top industry groups that contributed to Congressional campaigns.  That same combined entertainment industry also spent $114 million in federal lobbying throughout 2014.  Wondering why Capitol Hill seemed to gloss over those racially-charged emails at Sony, Inc. unearthed by an alleged North Korean hack? Sony spent over $2 million in 2014 on government relations and it’s a good guess that diversity is that one topic they don’t talk about that much.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences might have hired its first Black president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, as a way to placate the angered Black masses about the lack of Black executives, directors, writers and other C-suiters. But, without any serious political and economic pressure to counter Hollywood’s influence and clout on Capitol Hill, it won’t be a conversation they are going to substantively tackle anytime soon and, like Isaacs (who swerved around it to talk up #CharlieHebdo) and DuVernay, neither are a lot of successful Black folks already in the industry, too.

    CHARLES D. ELLISON is a veteran political strategist and Chief Political Correspondent for UPTOWN Magazine. He is also politics contributor for theRoot.com, Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune and the weekly Washington Insider for WDAS-FM (Philly). He can be reached @ellisonreport.


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    uptown_rihanna_leonardo_dicaprio

    Rumors of Rihanna and Leonardo DiCaprio being more than friends are growing like wildfire. The two were reportedly spotted flirting with each other at the pop star’s 27th birthday bash on Friday, Feb. 20.

    Initially it was reported that DiCaprio, himself, threw the party, but later reports revealed that it was actually Up & Down club owner Richie Akiva who set up Rihanna’s birthday festivities.

    A People magazine source said that during the star-studded celebration, Rihanna and DiCaprio were seen getting close and enjoying one another’s company.

    “They weren’t couple-y but they would flirt and dance so definitely a little magic there,” said the partygoer. “They were definitely flirty and dancing, but not over the top.”

    Buzz about a romance between the “Pour It Up” singer and The Great Gatsby actor developed after the two were seen arriving and leaving the Up & Down club on Valentine’s Day. Neither has confirmed an existing relationship.

    Some of the celebrities in attendance at the party were Jim Carrey, Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton.

    Rihanna posted a special birthday message to her Instagram:

    “27 years ago, my mother gave birth to her very first child at the tender age of 27. Life is never a piece of birthday cake, but I feel special that I was chosen by my Father in Heaven to make it here! And each year that goes by I am more grateful! Every day we wake up, means we get another chance at life … to live what we’ve learned and to discover even more, to be good to other people and to know that you are a part of their smile! I cherish these days, and I pray that God will spare my life to see many more! #Feb20″


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    shea moisture

    Shea Moisture has cultivated a reputation as an ever-growing beauty line of the utmost quality. The line’s lotions, shampoos, conditioners, African black soap, and more are made with organic and natural ingredients and work wonders on textured hair. The company was also founded by an African woman and are known to cater to a Black customer base. This is why fans of the product were confused to find a white girl featured in one of their recent ads.

    The ad, while adorable, raised some eyebrows since the young model’s race is not that of the product’s usual target consumers. Naturally, critics took to Twitter to vent.

    uptown_shea-moisture_tweet_2015

    “I dont get it, why shea moisture including white folk in the customer demographics now,” wrote another Twitter user.

    “@SheaMoisture: We have a problem… ” you ain’t run out of Shea Moisture, you ran out of Black chirren,” posted another.

    While many were questioning Shea Moisture’s choice of model, several people said that they love the brand too much to boycott over the ad, while others said that using a white model is no big deal.

    Do you think Shea Moisture was wrong for featuring a white child in its ad? Let us know in the comment section.


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    uptown_bobby_brown_bobbi_kristina_nick_gordon

    As Bobbi Kristina Brown remains in a coma, her boyfriend Nick Gordon has waged a proverbial battle with her father Bobby Brown, who has restricted Gordon from seeing her. Now, the reason he is barred from Bobbi Kristina’s hospital room may have finally been revealed.

    On Feb. 21, Gordon tweeted hostile statements aimed at Brown, demanding he be allowed to see his girlfriend.

    uptown_nick_gordon_tweets_2015

    uptown_nick_gordon_tweets2_2015

    Brown’s lawyer, then, released a statement claiming that Gordon was, in fact, given the opportunity to see Bobbi Kristina, but that he would not comply with the suggested rules.

    To address the continued and never ending media requests for comment about Mr. Gordon’s requests to visit Bobbi Kristina, let me be very clear, Mr. Gordon was offered an opportunity to potentially visit Bobbi Kristina and he declined to meet the terms of any possible visit.

    We are only concerned with individuals that can help Bobbi Kristina and bring resolution to this investigation. Obviously Mr. Gordon is not as desperate to visit Bobbi Kristina as he wants the world to believe.

    Gordon continued taking shots at Brown. On Monday, he tweeted a picture of a text he sent to Brown:

    “Man to man I love your daughter …  I don’t know why you won’t let me see her … Your daughter is going to hate you when she wakes up.  It’s not like you know her anyways.  What’s her favorite color?  What’s her favorite smell, movies, food.  You don’t know. I forgive you she won’t.”

    Brown’s attorney, Christopher Brown, reportedly said Gordon is not being cooperative in talking to police about the events that led up to Bobbi Kristina being found unconscious in a bathtub. He is also refraining from speaking to her father about any known details. As a result, the offer for Gordon to see Bobbi Kristina is now off the table.

    “It appears that Mr. Gordon did not want his understanding of the facts to be subject to the truthful examination of various experts or Bobby Brown himself,” stated Christopher Brown.

    Gordon was suspected to have a history of being physically abusive with Bobbi Kristina after authorities discovered bruises on her chest, although a family friend said the bruises were from Gordon performing CPR. There was also a domestic violence dispute reported at the couple’s Georgia home in January that may have involved Bobbi Kristina and Gordon.


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    87th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

    Many have raised their eyebrows at Giuliana Rancic after the E! News host made controversial comments about Zendaya Coleman‘s dreadlock hairstyle that she sported at the Academy Awards Sunday. On her show Fashion Police! Giuliana commented that the Disney Channel star‘s hair looked like it smelled of “patchouli oil.” Kelly Osbourne also chimed in to remark that it also looked like it smelled like weed, with Giuliana co-signing.

    As the comments flooded social media, many expressed their outrage toward the host with comments accusing her of racism and ignorance, but it was Zendaya’s response that set the tone. The singer took to her social media account to post a photo of her statement, in which she described Giuliana’s comments as “outrageously offensive,” especially with Zendaya being just 18 years old. She continued on to recognize many figures in music, film, and history who sported dreadlocks, and to recommend that Giuliana listen to India.Arie‘s classic “I Am Not My Hair.”

    Giuliana heard of Zendaya’s response and the outrage from viewers, and issued an apology via Twitter.

    “Dear @Zendaya, I’m sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!”

    Many are skeptical of her apology, as they believe the host was being hypocritical since she made opposite comments towards Kylie Jenner, who sported faux locks last month.


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    Uptown_maya

    Legendary poet and humanitarian Maya Angelou is being honored with a Forever Stamp by the U.S. Postal Service.

    “Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” said Postmaster Gen. Megan J. Brennan in a press release. “Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”

    Details about the stamp—including a preview and information about when and where the first-day-issuance ceremony will take place—have not yet been released.

    Angelou passed away in her home last May at the age of 86. The literary giant had been having heart complications, according to her literary agent. She had been nominated for a Pulitzer, won numerous literary and humanitarian awards, and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2010.

    Source

     

     


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    Uptown_Patricia-arquette-oscars-speech

    Patricia Arquette is not backing down from statements she made while accepting her Oscar on Sunday, despite the criticism she has gotten. The actress has been receiving backlash for her speech, which she used to bring awareness to the argument of equal pay for both sexes, as well as calling out gay and Black communities for not co-signing the issue.

    She responded last night, by taking to her Twitter, where she wrote, “I don’t care if people are pissed. The truth is that wage inequality adversely [affects] women. Did you know that a disproportionate amount of children living below the poverty line are from single female households? This is a call to action. Women are being discriminated and it is having serious consequences on them and their children.” Arquette then wrote, “My children are not living below the poverty line. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the kids who are. DO YOU? Then help their moms.”

    Patricia explained that her speech wasn’t just about equality for White women. The Boyhood star suggested that it’s minority women who are most harshly affected by the gender gap in salaries.

    “Wage equality will help ALL women of all races in America… I have long been an advocate for the rights of the #LBGT community. The question is why aren’t you an advocate for equality for ALL women? If you are fighting against #Equalpay you are fighting for ALL women and especially women of color to make less money than men. She added, “Guess which women are the most negatively effected in wage inequality? Women of color. #Equalpay for ALL women. Women stand together in this.”


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    UPTOWN_kristi_capel

    A FOX news anchor used the term “jigaboo” to describe Lady Gaga’s music, then later claimed she didn’t know what the word meant.

    On Monday morning, Kristi Capel of Cleveland’s FOX 8 News was describing how stunned she was by Lady Gaga’s Oscar performance. The pop star has been widely heralded for her Sound of Music tribute. In trying to express how different it was from Gaga’s usual music, Capel said, “It’s hard to hear her voice with all the jigaboo music … that she … whatever you want to call it … jigaboo, haha!”

    UPTOWN_kristi_capel_newscast

    After Capel was called out for using such a racially-insensitive term, she issued apologies via Twitter and explained that she had no idea what the term even meant.

    Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 2.27.43 AM

    That is a pretty specific word to use to have “no idea it was a word.” I mean, it is awfully specific. In other words: girl, bye.

    However, it’s not impossible to believe that Capel may not know what it means. Even on FOX News, it would be surprising to see someone knowingly use a derogatory term so flippantly. It would not be surprising if Capel knew that the word has a negative connotation, but did not understand the depth of its sting.

    Racism can be an insidious thing. Perhaps someone in her family used the term “jigaboo” whenever they criticized something. It’s not far-fetched to think that this woman may have thought that the word meant something unpleasant.

    I’m not trying to be an apologist for what she said. There are certain terms that everyone should know not to use, especially if they are in the public eye. But I think that’s the larger point. People don’t learn, nor do they care to learn Black History enough to know some of these things. It seems that the only time people claim to not know that something is offensive is when it comes to Black people. Why is our pain not enough to warrant sensitivity? Why is our history not important enough to teach at length?

    I can’t speak to Capel’s actual knowledge of the word’s meaning. It could be that she knew full well what she was saying and just didn’t think it would be a big deal. Either way, we need to look at why it’s so easy to say “I didn’t know,” when it comes to insulting the Black community.

     


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    apple emojis

    Apple is ready to make virtual conversations that much better, as the company prepares to give its fans racially diverse emojis in March. The technology giant is keeping the same emoji characters that many users know and love, but soon there will be the option to change the ethnicity of most of the illustrations.

    Though Apple’s attempt to create culturally diverse emojis that reflect the wide range of iPhone users has been praised by many, some are not too pleased with the graphics.

    Asian Apple customers have complained about the yellow-toned faces that are apparently intended to represent them.

    “It looks like the yellow people have jaundice,” complained one user. Another Weibo.com commenter wrote: “Are yellow people really that yellow?”
    Emoji_1-640x426

    African Americans have also expressed some concerns, mostly about the hair of the emojis that doesn’t accurately reflect the texture of many Black people’s tresses.

    “[I]s it me or do the Black women emojis have weaves?” asked Twitter user packergirl.

    The diverse emojis were first previewed in November, and now it’s confirmed that they will be added with the new beta of OS X. The emojis will let users change the skin color with 6 different options of most of the original emojis, which are White, in a drop-down menu that will be installed. Some supported devices already have the new emojis, and the rest will be able to receive the installment with the new download. On top of it, the watch emoji will also be replaced with the new Apple watch, along with the iPhone turning into the iPhone 6.

    While there are some critics, the announcement of the emojis has mostly resulted in excitement from minorities, who are pleased to finally be able to use the graphics that look more like them.

    “I can finally express myself with the Black emojis,” wrote Twitter user Kori.

    Source: Mashable


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    VH1 "Love & Hip Hop" Season 4 Premiere

    Love and Hip Hop New York star Rich Dollaz better hope he can live up to his moniker because he’s stuck in jail unless he can pony up some serious cash. Rich Dollaz, born Richard Trowers, was arrested on Feb 19 near his home in North Bergen, NJ for outstanding warrants on two separate child support payments: one for $12,00 and the other for a whopping $188,000.

    The judge ordered that he pay $82,000 in cash to make bail. At the time of publication, he was still in jail. This isn’t the first time that Richie Dollaz has been arrested for neglecting his payments.

    In October, the music exec illegally parked while picking up some food in Edgewater, NJ. When the cops went to write his ticket, they noticed he had a warrant for unpaid child support.

    Richie better stop trying to manage talentless artists and start finding ways to pay his child support if he wants to maintain his freedom.

     


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    UPTOWN_erykah-badu

    What do you do when your flight is cancelled due to extreme winter weather and all you have is time on your hands? If you’re Erykah Badu, you crash a live news TV broadcast, of course.

    Mass flight delays dominated the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport schedule on Monday, leaving travelers stranded for hours. One of those travelers was the “Call Tyrone” singer who was traveling to Los Angeles.

    CBS 11’s Steve Pickett noticed the singer while she waited near a ticket counter. The 43-year-old described how “it’s hard out here for a pimp” with Mother Nature affecting flights. Before the segment ended, she gave a shout out to her mother with the cliche, “Hi, Mom.”

    And Badu is no stranger to crashing live TV reports. During a live NY news telecast last June, she tried to kiss a New York reporter.


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    UPTOWN_chris-brown-the-breakfast-club-interview

    During a candid interview with New York’s Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club, Chris Brown discussed his drama with Drake, new collaboration album with Tyga, how he feels about marriage and more.

    Whenever asked about his beef with rap crooner Drake, Chris responded with, “I ain’t getting no money about talking about him.” The singer later confirmed the he and Drake are not friends, calling him a “corny singing rapper” while discussing Drake’s past relationship with his ex-boo Rihanna.

    The 25-year-old, who is currently headlining the nationwide Between the Sheets tour with Trey Songz, also spoke on his blossoming relationship with rapper Kanye West. He says the two have become “real cool” over the past few months while later defending the Chicago rapper’s controversial rants:

    “Me and Kanye, we just got started getting real cool over like the last couple of months, so I understand him sometimes. A lot of people be like ‘Man, he just complains.’ The stuff he complaining about don’t be so over the top, though, whether it’s music or whatever. Sometimes how he words it it’s like ‘Okay damn, don’t say it like that.’ But I can’t knock the man for how he feel. If you wanna be the greatest, you gotta act like you the greatest.”

    Chris’ on-again-off-again romance with model Karrueche Tran wasn’t an off limits topic, either, as the “Loyal” singer spoke about their relationship:

    “I’m impulsive, I don’t have no filter. So a lot of the times, whether it’s an issue in the relationship, whether it’s both parties, her or me, we don’t know how to communicate to say ‘Hey, let’s talk about this,’ before we say some bullsh*t. And then, we’re back together the next week. Then you give everybody else the option to depict our relationship and set their own basis of how we live our life.”

    Chris and Karrueche have been dating for years, so is marriage in their near future? Chris said:

    “I’m cool with having a baby, great. The marriage thing, I’m not cool with giving you half of what I earn all my life. Pre-nups and all that, that’s cool. I just think, marriage, in our generation, marriage has been distorted.”

    Chris has previously stated that he’s ready to step into the daddy role sooner rather than later, and he would have already had two children, one by each of his exes, if he’d had his way.

    “That would have been my ultimate boom,” he said. “At the time when I was doing my wam, wam  with both…Get both of them [pregnant]. Boom! I’m good.”

    Check out the full interview above.


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    UPTOWN_zimmerman_doj_trayvon_martin

    The Department of Justice will not charge George Zimmerman for the brutal murder of Trayvon Martin. Yes, the same unarmed Trayvon Martin that was approached, accosted, and eventually shot to death for the unthinkable crime of walking through a neighborhood at night with his hoodie on, armed with Skittles and iced tea. The DOJ has determined that there is insufficient evidence to show that Zimmerman intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights.

    And yes, we are talking about the same George Zimmerman that has been arrested three times since being acquitted by a jury of second-degree murder and manslaughter on July 13, 2013 in the death of Martin. Not even two months after the Martin decision, Zimmerman was accused of threatening his estranged wife with a gun and punching out her father. Just two months after that, Zimmerman was arrested for allegedly pointing a shotgun in his girlfriend’s face and damaging her belongings. And just last month Zimmerman was arrested for throwing a wine bottle at his ex-girlfriend’s head.

    Now I won’t go as far as saying that someone’s recent incidents are absolute proof of past guilt, but considering a large part of the case depended on analyzing Zimmerman’s character and temperament, it’s interesting (to say the least) that the DOJ’s decision came down like this.

    Many people were skeptical that Zimmerman would face any real consequences, especially in this climate where the deaths of unarmed Black teens rarely result in any charges. Unfortunately, this decision proves that the only justice that can be truly won for Trayvon Martin is raising enough awareness and changing laws so that this tragic loss of life and the accompanying miscarriage of justice never occur again.

    LAB

    Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site ThisIsYourConscience.com, he’s an author of the book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer” and a weekly contributor for UPTOWN Magazine. He can be reached via Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at This Is Your Conscience.


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    Uptown_DancingWStars

    The celebrity cast for the next season of “Dancing With the Stars” has been announced on “Good Morning America.” Season 20 is expected to be a big one, as it is the 10th anniversary of the show.

    Co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced the 11 celebrities and shared some surprises live from Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. Legendary chanteuse Patti LaBelle, television star Suzanne Somers, Olympic champion gymnast Nastia Liukin and football star Michael Sam are among the names of stars who will dance in the competition.

    The return of dancer Derek Hough was a huge surprise to fans. He is a five-time winner of the show and an Emmy-winning choreographer. He will be paired with Liukin.

    “This all happened literally two days ago,” Hough said live on “GMA” from New York where he will practice with Liukin. “I had a little heartbreak not being able to a part of the 10th anniversary, the 20th season. It’s such a huge milestone for ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ It’s my family, so I wanted to be a part of it. … I’m so glad we made it happen. Let’s make it the best season ever.”

    One star who fans may not be familiar with is U.S. Army veteran Noah Galloway. A veteran of the Iraq War, he lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in an IED attack. One more celebrity will be announced ahead of the premiere. They will be paired with dancing pro Whitney Carson, who helped Alfonso Ribeiro win last season.

    The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star was on hand at the announcement to give advice to the new cast.

    “The one thing I would say to everybody is simply that it is a marathon, not a sprint,” Ribeiro said. “It’s not about winning week one, it’s about winning that final week. You’ve got to take it slow, pace yourself. Go hard, learn everything, and be the best you can be and give it 100 percent, but pace yourself.”

    In an effort to make the 10th anniversary season the best one yet, there are a few new ideas and some returning favorites. Producers are bringing back Disney and Latin theme nights and introducing a Spring Break special theme night. Another new addition will be the all-access cameras in the rehearsal studios. That footage will be made available on live stream. They will also be changing the mirror ball trophy from silver to gold to commemorate the momentous season.

    Check out the list of celebrity/pro pairings below. Who do you think is taking the trophy this time around?

    Noah Galloway with Sharna Burgess
    Robert Herjavec with Kym Johnson
    Patti LaBelle with Artem Chigvintsev
    Nastia Liukin with Derek Hough
    Riker Lynch with Allison Holker
    Charlotte McKinney with Keo Motsepe
    RedFoo with Emma Slater
    Michael Sam with Peta Murgatroyd
    Willow Shields with Mark Ballas
    Suzanne Somers with Tony Dovolani
    Rumer Willis with Valentin Chmerkovskiy

     


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