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    Uptown_Tyga and Kylie

    Over the weekend, 25-year-old rapper Tyga professed his love for 17-year-old Kylie Jenner — mere weeks after denying the two were in a relationship.

    UPTOWN_tyga_and_kylie_jenner

    Tyga posted the above photo of Jenner on his Instagram page with the caption, “Certain things catch your eye, but only few capture the heart.”

    Mkay then, Tyga. So we’re just going to disregard that this girl does not turn 18 until August? Are you going to backpedal and say she captured the friendship zone of your heart? Is it still that the Black community doesn’t understand friendship? I’ll wait

    While most people naturally reacted to the relationship with disgust or disdain, People took an entirely different approach. The publication titled its article about the post: “Tyga Confirms Relationship With Kylie Jenner in Sweet Instagram Post.”

    That would surely be the case if Jenner was of legal age, but since she’s not, that title gets a hearty “No, ma’am.” What makes this whole admission worse is that it likely confirms that the two have been dating since around the time Tyga split from fiancee Blacc Chyna — possibly before Jenner was even 17.

    Unfortunately, as evidenced by sister Khloe Kardashian‘s vehement defense of their relationship, her family does not seem to care about the wide age gap. Clearly, no one is stopping Tyga in his camp either. However, the court of public opinion — with the exception of People, apparently — is not amused by this inappropriate union.


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    community standards

    Facebook rolled out its updated policy list with a new “Community Standards” section on the site. The standards lay out the rules for the kind of content that can and cannot be posted on the site, including a new rule that bans bare butts.

    The social media giant has oft been criticized for its ambiguous policing of content. For instance, many were upset by their ban on images of breastfeeding while videos of beheadings could be viewed on their News Feed. This new rulebook is supposed to clarify Facebook’s stance.

    Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, said in the blog post announcing the new page, “Billions of pieces of content are shared on Facebook every day. We hope these updates help provide more clarity about the standards we have, whether they are our own Community Standards or those imposed by different laws around the world.”

    On nudity, the site admitted that their policy can “sometimes be more blunt than we would like,” acknowledging that while some nudity is for artistic or campaign purposes, some Facebook users in different parts of the world may be offended by that kind of content.

    To that end, their stance on nudity is as follows:

    “We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.

    Restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes.

    Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited.

    Some verbal descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.”

    Another major clarification was on the subject of self-harm. Facebook will not allow the promotion of suicide or self-harm. The site says these removals will include any content that promotes self-mutilation and eating disorders. However, it will allow the sharing of information about these topics as long as the posts do not encourage these behaviors.

    In regards to direct physical threats, Facebook said it reviews all reports of threats to determine which are credible to public and personal safety. The policy claims that they also evaluate locations when identifying threats, including the status of the part of the world the threat comes from.

    “We remove credible threats of physical harm to individuals. We also remove specific threats of theft, vandalism or other financial harm.”

    On a related note, the rules address the issue of violence and graphic content.

    “Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve violence and graphic images of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, they are condemning it or raising awareness about it. We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.”

    There is also a section on hate speech, a menace that plagues social media as a whole. The site confirmed that it relies on users to report incidences of hate speech.

    Still, the new standards define prohibited content as anything “that directly attacks people based on their: race; ethnicity; national origin; religious affiliation; sexual orientation; sex, gender or gender identity; or serious disabilities or diseases.

    However, the guidelines state that “humour, satire or social commentary related to these topics” are okay as long as the user is posting under their real identity.

    Facebook added that it encourages users to “challenge ideas, institutions and practices because such challenges can promote debate and greater understanding.”


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    150316-kendrick-lamar

    Kendrick Lamar‘s highly-anticipated sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly unexpectedly dropped a week early, close to midnight on Sunday. Rumor was that Interscope Records messed up his release, but it would seem that this was always the plan.

    When the album appeared on iTunes and Spotify, the internet exploded, including questions regarding whether it was a mistake. The series of events that followed the release did not help with that confusion.

    The CEO of Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label, Anthony Tiffith, sent an angry missive via Twitter that clearly called out Interscope for messing up.

    Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 1.30.51 AM

    The tweet was later deleted without explanation.

    The first release on iTunes was the clean version of the album, with the explicit version dropping not too long thereafter. However, both versions were pulled from iTunes a few hours after its release, fueling rumors of it being unintentional. The link that had previously allowed users to purchase the album had been changed to a pre-order on iTunes option, although it was still being streamed on Spotify.

    Helping to clarify things, Dave Free, Lamar’s manager, told Billboard that the “pre-order lock” on the album was a glitch that he expected to be resolved quickly. An Apple representative said they were “looking into it.”

    When Billboard spoke to a rep for Spotify, he said, “It went up at midnight last night.” When it was brought up that Spotify would not have rolled out an album without a plan, the rep confirmed that they would not have. Although there was a glitch with finding the album on Lamar’s Spotify page, it was expected to be corrected shortly.

    Interscope declined to comment.

    If you’re still not sure who to believe, a peek at two of Lamar’s tweets right around the time of release seem to indicate that this was not a mistake. He referenced that the date of the release marks the 20-year anniversary of Tupac‘s Me Against The World. The legendary rapper is clearly a heavy influence on Lamar and even makes an interesting cameo on the last track of To Pimp a Butterfly.

    And most importantly:


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    uptown_leolah_brown

    Bobby Brown‘s sister, Leolah Brown, has been chatty with the media in the past about her family issues. She once stated during a television interview that Whitney Houston was murdered and that Bobbi Kristina Brown should not trust anyone but her and Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston. Leolah is now claiming that her niece’s current condition was planned, and she also encouraged what many followers of the Bobbi Kristina tragedy had already suspected: Pat Houston and Nick Gordon are not to be trusted.

    Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in her bathtub in January, and her aunt says “it was someone’s intention to put her where she is right now.” She continued that she believes Pat, Whitney’s sister-in-law, “has a lot to do with” Bobbi Kristina’s current condition. Bobbi Kristina has been in a coma for over a month. Leolah says that contrary to what many believe, Whitney was not fond of Pat, who is the executor of Bobbi Kristina’s trust fund.

    “She was not close to Whitney. That was a big lie she told to the media,” Leolah said of Pat.

    Leolah was also infuriated by how Pat set Bobbi Kristina up to be on a reality show, The Houstons: On Our Own, right after her mother, Whitney, passed away in 2012. Leolah says that situation didn’t give Bobbi Kristina the time she needed to grieve.

    “Why would you throw her on a reality show? I know why … because you’re a money hungry beast, Pat!” Leolah said.

    Leolah also spoke on Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend, Nick Gordon, who was recently on Dr. Phil displaying disturbingly erratic behavior. Leolah wasn’t buying his act.

    “Nick is manipulating Dr. Phil just like he manipulated my niece, Bobbi Kristina,” she said. “Everybody can see what Nick is doing; his actions speak for itself.”


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    uptown_jermaine_dupri_ciara

    Now that Marvin Gaye‘s family has won $7.4 million in a lawsuit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, the makers of the 2012 mega hit song, “Blurred Lines,,” things in the music industry may never be the same. The successful track was determined to be way too close to Gaye’s classic 1977 hit, “Got to Give It Up.”  Now, one super-producer is saying that other producers are likely to be more careful in regards to copyright issues. He also suggests that he is about to embark on his own music-stealing situation against Ciara.

    Jermaine Dupri created monster hits for a variety of artists in the 1990s and early part of the 2000s. He was key to Mariah Carey‘s memorable 2005 comeback and also produced and wrote songs for Usher. One song he both co-wrote and co-produced was Usher’s 2001 hit “You Got It Bad” from his album, 8701. Dupri says Ciara’s new single, “I Bet,” sounds just like Usher’s song.

    “Ciara’s new single is a complete rip-off of Usher’s ‘U Got It Bad,'” Dupri told AP. “I’m clear on what I made and I’m clear on how music influences people and I’m clear on chord changes and how people move things. … It might not be as evident as the ‘Blurred Lines’ situation, but I believe the same thing happened to me.”

    Dupri said that even Usher and the other producer of the single, Bryan-Michael Cox, heard the similarities. He says that the song also sounds similar to Tamia‘s “Still,” which he also helped produce.

    The Atlanta-based producer says he plans to contact Ciara and others involved with “I Bet” to ensure that he, Usher, and Cox receive their fair profit from the song.

    Dupri added that being inspired by existing songs is common in the hip-hop community, and now people in the industry may be a little more careful.

    “It’s crazy because I’ve tried to get away with records like that, where I was influenced by something, and the record company wouldn’t budge; they wouldn’t put the record out until I got whatever they thought they heard in the song cleared. That’s the most amazing part about this whole case to me period,” he said of the recent Gaye lawsuit.

    “I’m sure now people are really going to really be paying a lot more attention to it,” Dupri added.

    He also mentioned that while helping create Mariah’s latest album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, he almost ran into some copyright issues of his own.

    “Hit-Boy used a Tupac sample that I couldn’t even hear, and somebody at the label, Def Jam, they found the sample and they were like, ‘This (sample) got to come out,'” Dupri remembered. “That would have put Mariah in a crazy situation and she didn’t even know the sample was on the record.”

    Do you think Usher and Tamia’s songs sound similar to Ciara’s “I Bet”? Listen below.


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    UPTOWN_mcdonalds_brawl_suspects

    Video of the brutal beating of a teenage girl, jumped by a gang of girls in a Brooklyn McDonald’s last week helped investigators find five of the six suspects involved in the attack, including one who was busted on a plane fleeing to Jamaica. The sixth suspect is still on the run. The savage assault, which was videotaped and uploaded to Facebook, left 15-year-old Ariana Taylor with a concussion, contusions and bruises.

    Two of the suspects, 17-year-old Telani Marshall and a 15-year-old girl whose name is not being released because she is being charged as a minor, appeared in court Saturday. They were arrested on Friday in Brooklyn and charged with robbery and gang assault after they turned themselves in to police. Marshall, who is being charged as an adult, was released on $75,000 bond.

    An attorney for the 15-year-old suspect said her client had previously been attacked by Taylor and feared a repeat attack. Her bail was set at $50,000.

    UPTOWN_mcdonalds_brawl_suspect

    Mercedes Wilkinson

    Brooklyn teen Mercedes Wilkinson, 16, turned herself in Saturday morning and was charged as an adult with gang assault and robbery.

    UPTOWN_mcdonalds_brawl_ferguson

    Aniah Ferguson 

    Aniah Ferguson, the alleged ringleader in the vicious brawl, was the first suspect to be arrested in the assault earlier in the week. The 16-year-old was arraigned on Friday on charges of robbery and gang assault, and is being charged as an adult. Ferguson, who has been arrested over six times since September for numerous crimes, including assault on a pregnant woman, stabbing her brother in the arm and punching her 64-year-old grandmother in the face, also stole the victim’s purse, makeup and phone. She also violated an order of protection after allegedly cutting her grandmother’s cable line.

    The prosecution requested a bail source hearing, meaning even if Ferguson were somehow able to raise the $500,000 bail, with $250,000 cash, that amount would need proof to ensure it was from a legitimate source. Otherwise, Ferguson would remain behind bars, where she currently sits.

    One teen was trying to escape the country at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a plane headed to Jamaica alongside her mother. The NYPD alerted local officials, seconds before the plane took to the air, calling the aircraft back to the gate, apprehending the teen before takeoff.

    Prosecutors allege the suspects, who are all believed to be Erasmus Hall High School students, are apart of the Young Savage gang, known for their brutal attacks and credit card scams.

    Despite video evidence, the investigation was initially delayed due to a lack of cooperating witnesses, including Taylor and her mother. Taylor, who has since come forward to file a police report, is reportedly enjoying her new-famed celebrity status, according to her defense attorney.


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    UPTOWN_Karrueche-Tran-and-Christina-Milian
    Embattled celebrity couple Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran have certainly had their share of public ups and downs, and it looks like the news of Brown’s secret love child has finally severed the couple’s relationship for good. Tran’s friend, singer/reality star Christina Milian sat down with Dish Nation, offering details on how the model is holding up after the break up.

    “Karrueche’s doing great. I was just with her last night. She got her friends and her family here to uplift her and I think she’s really focused on her career, family and on the things that are not a distraction. That’s what we’re here for, what I’m here for. I love her. She’s a good person.”

    The former love birds went their separate ways after news of Brown’s daughter, nine month old Royalty, became public. Karrueche was reportedly blindsided by the baby news when TMZ broke the story.


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    uptown_azealia_banks_2015

    Rapper Azealia Banks wears a lot of hats. Artist. Sex symbol. Proud, Black woman. Pot-stirrer. Potty mouth. She showed all these sides of her colorful personality in April’s edition of Playboy.

    Banks’ photo shoot for the gentleman’s magazine, shot by Ellen Von Unwerth, involved lots of purple and sex kitten props. As usual, the 23 year old did not hesitate to spill on her sex life, dating a grown man as a teen, practicing witchcraft, hating America, race, wanting to be like Jay Z, and more.

    Here are some of the most intimate quotes from the Playboy interview with the Broke With Expensive Taste rapper.

    Azealia Banks on the topic of sex when she was young:

    “My mother was always making inappropriate jokes. We had sex books in the house. She never tried to hide it from me. When I got my period it was very much like, ‘Boys are going to want to touch your body, but you can get pregnant now, and we not playing that shit.’ My mom scared me off of getting pregnant.”

    [All images: Ellen Von Unwerth via Playboy]

    uptown_azealia_banks2_2015

    On her longest romantic relationship:

    “Four years. It started when I was 17. He was 43. There’s something very wrong with a man that age who wants to date a 17-year-old girl. I didn’t know how to shave my bush and shit like that. I had a hairy pussy. I didn’t know how to wear perfume. I had neon pink barrettes in my hair. And as ‘212’ started to pop off and my career started to happen, he became jealous. He choked me and beat me up, and of course you should not be fucking with a man who puts his hands on you, but I was stupid and young.”

    uptown_azealia_banks4_2015

    On her current sex life:

    “I should be getting dick all the time. I like to fuck. [laughs] But I can’t just meet a guy and fuck him. I’m too afraid of getting herpes or some shit. I like to feel them out, and then I start talking about my Black female problems, and we get into a conversation about race, and then we disagree and don’t have another date. Whatever. I’ll just hang out with my mother. It’s okay, because pussy is way more sacred than penis.”

    uptown_azealia_banks5_2015

    On being a Witch:

    “I don’t want to say, but I’ll tell you about one form of the religion. It’s called 21 Divisions. When they brought the slaves over to the Caribbean, they syncretized all their African gods with Catholic saints. So in 21 Divisions there are Black gods and goddesses, and my mother practiced that when I was little. Whenever problems happened, we turned to 21 Divisions to fix it. It’s funny, because my friends on the block in Harlem, their mothers would be like, ‘Oh, you fucking with that witchcraft. You working roots.’ You can cleanse people with root work or do bad things to them. But 21 Divisions is celestial.”

    uptown_azealia_banks7_2015

    On race relations in America:

    “Y’all motherfuckers still owe me reparations! [laughs] That’s why it’s still about race. Really, the generational effects of Jim Crow and poverty linger on. As long as I have my money, I’m getting the fuck out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.

    uptown_azealia_banks6_2015

    On hating the U.S.:

    “I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma—that’s really America.

    uptown_azealia_banks3_2015

    On her admiration for Jay Z:

    “That’s the only person I have my eye set on. The race thing always comes up, but I want to get there being very Black and proud and boisterous about it. You get what I mean? A lot of times when you’re a Black woman and you’re proud, that’s why people don’t like you. In American society, the game is to be a non-threatening Black person. That’s why you have Pharrell or Kendrick Lamar saying, ‘How can we expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?’ He’s playing that non-threatening Black man shit, and that gets all the white soccer moms going, ‘We love him.’ Even Kanye West plays a little bit of that game—’Please accept me, white world.’ Jay Z hasn’t played any of those games, and that’s what I like.

     


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    NeNe_Leakes
    It was NeNe Leakes’ idea to gather her Real Housewives of Atlanta co-stars together for professional counseling courtesy of Dr. Jeff, but when the criticism toward her began to fly fast and loose, she bailed on the session, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over.

    More of the group therapy attempt will air on the next episode of the Bravo hit, but NeNe suggested she’s going to save her input for the season seven reunion show.

    “These girls have no 1 to talk about but me,” NeNe tweeted—with the hashtag “THIRSTYMUCH” — in response to the feedback she received from her cast mates on the show. “REUNION,” she added, but NeNe isn’t waiting until the ladies gather for their customary rehashing of the season’s drama to address the incident.

    She took to her NeNeLeakes.com blog to explain that she felt attacked by her fellow cast mates whom she described as “obsessed and dangerously jealous.”

    “Most of the ladies hate or should I say are jealous of the fact that I hold the title of being the only original and the one that has been here since day one. Every job has someone on it that has seniority and that somebody is me in this case,” said NeNe who believes they’re also green with envy about her professional success.

    UPTOWN_nene_leakes

    That alleged jealousy manifested itself with Kandi Burruss, Cynthia Bailey, Kenya Moore, and Claudia Jordan all airing their grievances about the RHOA Queen Bee. NeNe insists she suggested the group session to improve relationships, but instead she felt attacked.

    “My motives were pure and true! I wanted to bring unity because I cared … Walking into the counseling session I was open and thrilled to get started,” she explained. “Being bashed and called the common denominator is bullsh*t and a set up from the word go.”

    In retrospect, NeNe said she wishes she had stayed and not allowed her emotions to get the best of her, but exiting the situation seemed the best choice at the time.

    “Looking back I wish I had taken a break over leaving. Staying in that moment was gonna result into something I wouldn’t have been proud of. Walking away seemed to be the best option at that time because I saw myself in a no win situation,” said NeNe, who admitted she became defensive when faced with the criticism.

    “Not many people can sit in a room full of people and let them fire at you one by one!” she said. “It was like only I had done wrong. I couldn’t help but be defensive!”


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    The Pan African Film & Arts Festival Closing Night Premiere "Blackbird"

    Mo’Nique has recently re-entered the spotlight after she revealed that director Lee Daniels told her she had been blackballed in Hollywood. Back in 2009, when she won an Oscar for her role in Daniels’ film Precious no one could have guessed that her name would have faded. However, Daniels said in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon that Mo’Nique had been shut out because she didn’t play the game and claimed that she made “unreasonable demands.”

    Mo’Nique decided to set the record straight on her relationship with Daniels and being blackballed, in an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful. Part of that includes a desire to have a public sit down with Daniels.

    I no longer have Lee’s phone number but would love to have a conversation with my brother, but we would have to do it publicly because the ones we’ve had privately –when you then speak about them — you don’t tell what the real conversation was. When a person is saying, I want to do it publicly, does it sound like a person who has something to hide? I don’t bind to the A-list, I don’t bind to the elite. I’m just a regular folk from Baltimore Maryland, who’s living out her dreams. I’m a wife and a mommy and having the time of her life. That can be for the other elite folk, I’m not that.

    She also addressed Daniels’ accusations of making ridiculous demands.

    “From the amazing journalists and reporters that have talked to [Lee Daniels] no one has yet to say ‘What were her demands?’ and what made her ‘difficult?’ No one asked him that question. Me and Lee Daniels — I know him. We’ve had conversations in the middle of the night. I know him. So when he says I’m difficult and demanding, when he makes that statement, me and that man ain’t never had a drop of an issue, not on Shadowboxer, not on Precious. And, if I were those people, why ever would you call me for Empire? Why ever would you offer me the grandmother in Richard Pryor? Why? Cause Lee knows he and I never had any issues. I simply repeated what he said to me.”

    Recently, Empire co-creator Danny Strong denied that Mo’Nique had ever been offered the leading role of Cookie on the show, as she had claimed. The comedienne stood by her statements when asked about his remarks.

    “I tweeted him back. I understand why you would say that, however when you find out the truth, will you speak as loudly? I’ve never had any communication with Mr. Strong. I’ve never met Mr. Strong. Lee’s never mentioned Mr. Strong so I have no idea who Mr. Strong is. So if Lee is telling Mr. Strong, ‘No, I didn’t offer Mo’Nique those things…No I didn’t talk to Mo’Nique about that,’ then that’s Lee’s friend and his business partner so all he’s doing is standing up for his friend.

    Me and my husband Sidney, we respect people like that. However, when you find out the truth will you speak as loudly? Then it will make you question your friendship to say, ‘Why would you let me go out into the world and say something that you knew wasn’t true?’”

    Although Mo’Nique made it a point not speak ill of anyone the interviewer asked about, she did allow Daniels to bury himself.


    When the director spoke with Lemon on CNN, he said, “I guess I’m a sellout then! Call it what it is.” When asked if she thinks Daniels is a sellout, Mo’Nique replied, “Remember when Maya Angelou said ‘When someone introduces themselves to you believe them?’ Those were his words. What I think is unimportant.’

    She admitted that not following the unwritten protocol when she was nominated for her Oscar contributed to her being shut down from Hollywood, saying that the studios were simply unused to being told “no.” She explained that she declined invitations to go to some of the events because they were unpaid and would take time away from her family.

    “This is my down time and I want to spend it with my family, so when you really tell the story, all the way through, folks are saying what was difficult and demanding cause any working woman, in this country, once you put in you 40, you put it in right? If they call you to come in on Saturday, do you want to be paid for that or is that just a good gesture? You just gon’ go on and give them your Saturday?”

    She went on to say that she’s unafraid to say these things, partially because movies were never her dream. “Coming to Hollywood becoming an actress wasn’t what I came to do. I came to Hollywood to be a talk show host. becoming an actress just fell in my lap.”

    Despite all the drama, Mo’Nique is still busy on the big screen. Her independent film Blackbird is due for limited release on April 24th. The film is about a young singer growing up in a Southern Baptist community who is struggling with his sexuality. She scoffs at the notion of the film being controversial.

    “It’s funny we consider love controversial. And that’s how far we’ve gotten removed from treating one other good. Because ‘Blackbird’ is a beautiful love story. I think when we open our hearts and our minds, we walk away with this thing called ‘acceptance.’ And we stop saying we love our fellow-man and we begin to love our fellow-man.”


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    DeasiaWatkins

    Cincinnati police walked into a gruesome scene on Monday when they entered 20-year-old Deasia Watkins‘ home. They found that the head of Watkins’ three-month-old daughter Janiyah had been severed.

    Watkins was arrested and charged with aggravated murder. Later that night, she received a mental health evaluation. She had reportedly been suffering from mental illness and had already lost custody of Janiyah for a small period in the short time she’d been alive.

    According to the medical coroner Dr. Lakshmi  Sammarco, Janiyah had suffered “multiple traumas.”

    “It’s days like this when you really wonder how much evil there is in the world and how we’re fighting it,” Sammarco said.

    Watkins’ neighbor Jimmie Graham said, “Something’s wrong. She got to be sick in the mind or something,” he told WKRC. “I don’t see how anybody can do that to a little baby.”

    [Source]

     


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    Uptown_Racetogether

    Starbucks is unrolling a new campaign called “Race Together” that they hope will start a national conversation about race in America. While noble, the plan is not going over well with everyone.

    The initiative invites customers to initiate conversations with Starbucks baristas about race. The idea was drawn from an internal meeting that Starbucks employees participated in three months ago that engaged them in a conversation around race. The initial discussion was sparked by the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz figured he would let the rest of America in on the chat.

    “[‘Race Together’] is an opportunity to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society — one conversation at a time,” Schultz said in a statement on the company’s website.

    Linda Mills, a Starbucks spokeswoman, elaborated, “This was not about demanding change, but demonstrating a willingness to embrace change and begin to bridge the divide to empathy.”

    As part of the campaign, baristas are encouraged to engage in conversation about race with customers and hand out branded cups with the words “Race Together” on them. “If a customer asks you what this is, try to engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country in regards to race and racial inequality,” Schultz said in a video shared by the company this week.

    Many were critical of the new campaign. Some noted that it put an undue burden on Starbucks employees and could even put them in danger. Others wondered why they didn’t offer to create a space for people to have the conversation and offer free Starbucks goods.

    As usual, Twitter turned their criticism into a clever hashtag. Users tweeted #NewStarbucksDrinks that played on popular names and phrases of the African American experience and turned them into Starbucks drinks.

     

    Corey DuBrowa, Starbucks’ Senior Vice President of global communications, blocked Twitter users who were asking him questions about the campaign before deleting his account altogether. “I was personally attacked through my Twitter account around midnight last night and the tweets represented a distraction from the respectful conversation we are trying to start around Race Together,” duBrowa said. “I’ll be back on Twitter soon.”

    If the launch is any indication, Starbucks may need to reconsider this campaign.

     

    [Source: Huffington Post]


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    karreuche-tran-iyanla-vanzant

    Chris Brown’s long-suffering ex-girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, will finally get to air her side of the story in an upcoming interview with spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant on OWN this month.

    The highly anticipated televised sit-down will not follow the typical “Fix My Life” format of Vanzant’s series, but will cover burning questions many have had about Brown and Tran’s tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship. In a 30-second teaser, Vanzant grills the model/socialite about how she discovered Brown’s secret love child and her choice to stay with Brown after his repeated humiliating antics (even briefly dumping her go-again with Rihanna). “He betrayed you; he lied to you; he did it all publicly,” Vanzant says to Tran.

    According to sources, the interview almost didn’t happen once Vanzant pushed her boundaries a bit too far. The conversation went left when Tran was asked if she slept with Brown immediately into the relationship because he was famous. When Tran denied it, Vanzant kept pressing the issue and also challenged Tran about her decision to date Brown in the wake of abusing Rihanna. The producers originally promised Tran’s management that the interview would be positive, but her team began to feel that Vanzant was being too invasive and judgmental in her questioning and showed OWN and Iyanla the door. Hours later, once everything had boiled over, the cameras were invited back in to finish the interview.

    The special will air on OWN Network, March 28 at 8 p.m. EST.


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    UPTOWN_common

    Late last week, Common went on The Daily Show with John Stewart to discuss the 50th anniversary of Selma’s Bloody Sunday, under the general theme of the current state of racism in America. Being the kind of conscious artist he is, I wasn’t completely shocked to hear him talk about love and forgiveness in the concept of creating racial harmony because it sounds great, it appears to be completely non-inflammatory and it is easy for anyone to wholeheartedly applaud. But, like most issues involving race, it is far more complicated than applause-break-worthy sentiments wrapped in niceties and flattering colloquialisms.

    Essentially, Common plays racial apologist by saying that Blacks need to love white people. His logic is if Black folks could appease white people’s apprehension by “extending a hand in love,” then they can feel at ease to accept that hand and join us in creating a healthy, loving, and non-discriminatory world. While it’s the type of comment that will make liberals and conservatives, men and women, and the young and the old join together to hoot, holler, and cheer, it’s ultimately a sentiment rooted in utter bullshit.

    First, when we talk about any racial progress that has been achieved in modern western society, we must divorce ourselves of the ideology that we’ve advanced our causes on our own volition, and start accepting the reality that our breakthroughs are a result of an oppressive system choosing not to kick our asses with the same force as before. Chris Rock said it best in an interview with New York magazine’s Vulture blog late last year:

    “White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first Black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not Black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been Black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, ‘Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.'”

    Black people have been proactively fighting racism in every way we possibly could since the 19th century. From Sojourner Truth to Assata Shakur, we’ve been using everything from love to aggression to defeat discrimination. The idea that we need to “extend a hand” is insulting because it implies that the hand hasn’t been extended for generations. Many great Black leaders have touched off great movements with an open and extended hand, only to have it slapped away. The ball of proactivity is now, as it has always been, in the hand of the dominant majority. All Black folks need to worry about, to use Rock’s Tina and Ike metaphor above, is dodging uppercuts, making sure we aren’t getting our faces slammed into a cake and protecting ourselves and our loved ones from further harm.

    And finally, I think it’s time we truly took stock of what racism really means. It’s cute to say that being “nice” is the cure to bring folks together in unity. However, niceness is NOT what’s needed to defeat ingrained systemic racism. Whenever we have discussions about race, I try very hard to separate “racism” and “prejudice” because I view them as two different things. Prejudice is about judging someone on the color of their skin or other attributes, making horrible snap judgements, or saying terrible things about them. Racism is far more sinister and all-encompassing than that, and it’s best stated by author Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    Racism is the housing discrimination that prevents minorities’ upward mobility in owning homes or leaving impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods, even when they have the means to do so. Racism is about sending Black and brown kids to underfunded schools to receive below-standard educations. Racism is about creating a school-to-prison pipeline in those same schools. Racism is about the creation and the maintenance of racist police forces who prey on Black bodies. Racism is the unfair and unequal sentencing that Black and white people receive for committing the same crimes. Racism is profiling that leads to minorities continually being harassed on the streets and Muslims constantly being harassed in airports. Racism is created by prejudice neanderthals, but it’s silently, overtly, and continually perpetuated in every aspect of our daily lives, even by people who truly believe they aren’t anywhere close to being racist.

    That type of system will never be brought down by Black folks deciding to be more loving to white people.

    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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    In less than one week, three violent incidents have occurred on Morgan State University’s campus. The latest incident involved the stabbing of three university football players on Tuesday afternoon. A fight at an on-campus fraternity party over the weekend is believed to be what prompted the crime. One victim, who was stabbed in his chest, is listed in critical, but serious condition. A second was sliced in the cheek and the third was cut on the arm.

    According to Clint Coleman, the university’s spokesperson, the incident occurred outside a dining hall when a student began waving a knife wildly. No text alerts were sent to students because the act was targeted, and not at random, so there was no imminent danger to others. The student suspect was taken into custody.

    This is the third violent incident at Morgan State, the largest HBCU in Maryland, in less than one week. A male student was stabbed by his male roommate with a pair of scissors over an argument about the cleanliness of their room. Early Saturday morning, a campus party was shut down after a string of fights ensued.


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    A logo hangs outside a Sallie Mae building in Reston, Virgin

    College grads, rejoice. Your prayers for student loan forgiveness just may have been answered.

    Sallie Mae and the federal government have struck a deal to resolve accusations that the nation’s largest student loan lender cheated student loan borrowers who were being charged pricey late fees. In addition to the government, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating whether the company violated federal consumer protection laws that prohibit discriminatory lending while wrongfully processing borrowers’ monthly payments. Because of the never-ending charges and hefty fees, it’s become increasingly difficult for college grads to pay off student loan debts, causing a lifetime of financial obligations to the lender.

    Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, loan organizations must lessen the interest rate on student loans to six percent or less upon request for active duty soldiers. The law extended beyond private student loans in 2008 to incorporate federal student loans. In recent years, the Justice Department started enforcing the law, as student loan companies have been slow to follow its statutes.

     

     


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    Following Kid Rock‘s poorly advised decision to come for the beloved Beyoncé, Raven-Symoné is the latest victim to be stung by the Beyhive. The reason? The former “The Cosby Show” star asserted that Lil’ Kim was the originator of the term “Beehive.”

    Raven and Empire co-star Jussie Smollett attended event planner Legendary Damion’s annual “Luxx Ball” birthday extravaganza. The two got a chance to meet their childhood idol, rapper Lil’ Kim, who performed that night. Raven went ranting and raving on Twitter and Instagram about her encounter with Kim, praising her as the original “Queen B” while using the #Beehive hashtag.

    Well, Beyoncé’s army of overly-dedicated stans felt some type of way about that reference, and in their usual style, began to flood Raven’s social media mentions with negative comments and bee emojis as payback.

    r_b

    Never one to back down, Raven jumped on Instagram to set the record straight that even though she loves Beyoncé too, Lil’ Kim did in fact coin the term first. “I love Beyoncé too. But La Bella Mafia @lilkimthequeenbee had a track called BeeHive, this album came out 2003, when Beyoncé just started to become dangerously in love….. Calm down #new #beehive I’m not coming for your queen Bee… I’m just showing love to my #hardcore #queenbee.”

    That explanation obviously did not satisfy the more zealous Beyoncé fans, who continued to go in on the former child star and light up her mentions. Once she got the message that Beyoncé’s stans weren’t going to let up, Raven gracefully bowed out of the conversation.

    Raven-IG

     

     

     


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    San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr holds a press conference

    Corruption charges brought against one San Francisco police officer have led to the discovery of racist and homophobic text conversations between four other officers. Consequently, this has forced prosecutors and defense attorneys to review an estimated 1,000 criminal convictions that could have been subject to bias, officials announced yesterday.

    Ian Furminger, 48, a former San Francisco police officer, was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison on various corruption-related charges. The FBI obtained the text messages from Furminger’s phone as part of its investigation and found messages he exchanged with four other officers referring to minorities as “savages,” using the N-word to refer to African Americans and suggesting they be spayed like animals, and using a derogatory term for homosexuals. One text message Furminger sent read, “White Power Family,” and then listed his address.

    “To ensure our criminal justice system is fair and equitable, my office is conducting an immediate assessment of every prosecution within the past ten years where these officers were involved,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon in a statement. The investigation promises to review at least 1,000 cases among the five officers involved. Officials identified more than 120 in just the last two years.

    San Francisco police Sgt. Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice Peace Officers Association, which represents African-American officers as well as women and other minorities, said, “It’s disgusting that in 2015 in San Francisco we would have officers that engage in such hateful despicable text messages. … No matter how big or small the number [of officers] is, this has managed to bring such hostilities and racism and Ku Klux Klan ideology up to the surface, to the point where all officers feel uncomfortable in our work environments now … They’re fearing the unknown.”

    That sentiment is not only echoed by minority law enforcement in the district, but also white officers who feel “uncomfortable” that such attitudes exist on the force. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr believes the officers involved should be fired, and Mayor Edwin Lee agrees. For now, the four officers -– whose names have not been released -– have been reassigned to duties away from the community, said SFPD spokesman Albie Esparza.

    Many wonder if these officers can’t be trusted to work with and for the community, why do they still get to keep their jobs?

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    Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - March 16, 2015

    “Drip, drop, drip, drippity, drop”

    FOX’s Empire has effortlessly taken over Wednesday’s prime time, making FOX the most watched network in the homes of African Americans. Before the highly anticipated two-hour season finale premieres tonight, co-stars Jussie Smollett, who plays the gay, cucumber cool middle child Jamal Lyons and Bryshere Y. Gray, the smart-mouthed, flashy bad boy Hakeem, talked all things Empire, at the soundtrack’s listening party in New York City on Monday.

    Smollett, who landed a record label deal with Columbia Records, said the season finale will give fans life and set the stage for season two:

    “Y’all not ready. Watch the season finale. I feel like once people see the season finale, they’ll understand where the characters are going to go for the second season, because it’s really not where you thought it would go. For that reason and that reason alone they have to watch the finale, because you will literally get your entire existence of life.”

    Gray, who landed a major record label deal of his own earlier this week, although which label has not been revealed, talked about working with the show’s music producer Timbaland:

    “We are working with the best of the best – a mega producer who worked with iconic people like Michael Jackson and Pharrell [Williams] and now he’s working with Yazz and Jussie.”

    Smollett, who is the real life brother of Eve’s Bayou actress Jurnee Smollett, gave his two cents on working with the famed producer:

    “To be a part of the same family as Missy, Magoo, Ginuwine, Aaliyah, as well as all the other greats leading up to the Timberlakes is fantastic.”

    RELATED: Empire’s’ Stars Torn Over Using N-Word

    Smollett chimed into the N-word debate between Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard:

    “The N-word is not going to be used on network television. So I don’t have a point about it either way, but Terrence is brilliant and we use it in real life.”


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    A new biography on First Lady Michelle Obama has revealed that her mother, Marian Robinson, was not always too sure about her now son-in-law.

    Michelle Obama: A Life, the upcoming biography written by Washington Post reporter Peter Slevin, claims that Robinson, 77, was wary of President Barack Obama because of his mixed race background. Obama’s father was Kenyan and his mother was white, but his father abandoned their family when he was two-years-old. Robinson was not skeptical for long as Obama was able to quickly win her over.

    As part of his research, Slevin uncovered an interview with WTTW’s ‘Chicago Tonight’ wherein Robinson shared, “[His mixed race] didn’t concern me as much as had he been completely white.” According to Slevin, “Marian, no pushover, was favorably impressed with Barack.”

    The book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, will be released on April 7th. That hardback edition will sell for $27.95. In describing the book, the publisher said, “An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history.”

    “Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.”

    [Source]


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