Articles on this Page
- 04/23/15--10:08: _Amber Rose Admits t...
- 04/24/15--07:38: _MC Lyte Defends Igg...
- 04/24/15--07:50: _Nick Gordon’s Broth...
- 04/24/15--08:00: _Jada Pinkett Smith ...
- 04/24/15--08:02: _Loretta Lynch Begin...
- 04/24/15--08:18: _Jay-Z, Beyoncé Rele...
- 04/24/15--08:43: _Tina Knowles’ New H...
- 04/24/15--09:15: _Exclusive: Porsha W...
- 04/24/15--09:51: _Missouri Officers D...
- 04/24/15--12:21: _Confessions: Direct...
- 04/24/15--15:21: _Smithsonian African...
- 04/25/15--11:47: _How Did Celebs Reac...
- 04/26/15--03:59: _Bobby Brown Files F...
- 04/27/15--07:50: _Jay-Z Wants You To ...
- 04/27/15--07:55: _Queen Latifah’s Nex...
- 04/27/15--08:36: _Phaedra Parks Dodge...
- 04/27/15--09:19: _A Refined Eco Adven...
- 04/27/15--10:45: _White House Officia...
- 04/28/15--07:55: _Raven-Symoné ‘Despe...
- 04/28/15--08:10: _Kirk Franklin Defen...
- 04/23/15--10:08: Amber Rose Admits to Filtering Instagram Photos
- 04/24/15--07:38: MC Lyte Defends Iggy Azalea
- 04/24/15--08:00: Jada Pinkett Smith Challenges Hillary Clinton Regarding Black Women
- 04/24/15--08:02: Loretta Lynch Begins a Short Run as AG … Unless
- 04/24/15--08:43: Tina Knowles’ New Husband Dishes On Marriage
- 04/24/15--09:51: Missouri Officers Deny Quitting Over Black Mayor’s Race
- 04/24/15--12:21: Confessions: Director Patrik Ian Polk
- 04/25/15--11:47: How Did Celebs React To Bruce Jenner’s Interview?
- 04/26/15--03:59: Bobby Brown Files For Guardianship Over Bobbi Kristina’s Estate
- 04/27/15--07:50: Jay-Z Wants You To Know Tidal Is Doing Just Fine
- 04/27/15--07:55: Queen Latifah’s Next Move
- 04/27/15--08:36: Phaedra Parks Dodges Domestic Abuse Question on ‘RHOA’ Reunion
- 04/27/15--09:19: A Refined Eco Adventure in Tobago
- 04/28/15--07:55: Raven-Symoné ‘Desperately’ Wanted To Join ‘The View’
- 04/28/15--08:10: Kirk Franklin Defends Erica Campbell, Trap Gospel
You don’t have to follow Amber Rose on Instagram to see her raunchy, skin-exposing photos. In each post’s comments, opinions flare about whether or not the Philadelphia native photoshops her pictures to accentuate her curves. The mother of one, who is also still legally married to Wiz Khalifa, sat down with DJ Charlie Sloth this week to discuss whether or not she photoshops her infamous posts:
“It’s funny because if they see a beautiful picture of me, I photoshopped it. If they see an extremely unflattering picture of me where I look almost deformed, they assume that’s my natural body and that’s not photoshopped. That’s just because people are negative and they wanna see celebrity look really, really bad. But that’s just a part of my life … My pictures were not photoshopped and I wouldn’t begin to know how to photoshop a picture for Instagram, but maybe a filter on it. So that’s about it.”
There you have it, only filters.
MC Lyte has been in the hip-hop game for almost three decades, and she’s still going strong by bringing music lovers some true, thought-provoking lyricism. As one of the pioneers who helped put female rappers on the map, the New York native is very much here for all female MC’s who care about the craft, and that includes Iggy Azalea.
Lyte recently stopped by Hot 97 to talk with Ebro and Laura Stylez and, unlike some of her professional colleagues, she came to Iggy’s defense.
She explained why she feels the Australian rapper gets an undeserved bad rep in the game, stating, “I think Iggy’s style is different. I also…you know, people want to get on her because of wherever she’s from. Wherever she’s from really doesn’t matter. She has a love of the craft and of the art. The reason why I can say it and mean it is because one of the first tours I ever did was in Denmark, Copenhagen. Everybody in the audience looked just like her. Prior to going there, there were places here that we partied at. It was no, ‘You are this and I am that.’ It was everybody is one. Hip-hop is universal. No color lines.”
Iggy has famously battled critics, including those rappers from decades past who question her authenticity and credit her success to mainstream appropriation of Black culture, as opposed to talent. Many have also taken issue with Iggy’s accent that seemingly changes when she hits the stage to perform.
“Well, I mean, every time we see an English actor, they’re putting it on to act like an American. We don’t get on Idris [Elba] when he has to act like a homeboy from Baltimore,” Lyte argued, referencing Idris’ stint on The Wire. “It’s a job. With Iggy, I think she catches a lot of heat because she’s so damn confident. It’s a catch 22. You want to be humble, but if you’re too humble, they’ll take you up. She’s between a rock and a hard place.”
Bobbi Kristina might be off life support, as reported by her family members, but her condition is apparently unchanged. It’s been nearly two months since the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was found unconscious in her home’s bathtub, and authorities, as well as her family, are still searching for answers. Nick Gordon‘s brother Jack Walker recently offered some and suggested that Bobbi’s intention was to try and commit suicide.
“I just feel like she… she just was fed up with everything that’s going on in her life,” Jack told Extra about Bobbi’s bathtub incident. He also revealed that she and Nick went to a nightclub the evening before, where they began fighting.
“They got in an argument from there and then it carried on to the house and they just went in separate parts of the room, and that’s as far as I know what went on there. I mean, I knew how depressed Kris was, I knew drug use. I mean, all that mixed together with arguments is never, never good,” said Walker, who doesn’t believe Nick was ever physically abusive toward Bobbi.
According to Walker, Bobbi and Nick’s unhealthy habits began before the untimely death of Bobbi’s mother. Walker said that he believes the couple was doing drugs in the house while Whitney was alive, and possibly around the late singer.
“It was going on when Whitney was alive. I would be on the phone with Nick and I can hear Whitney asking for the stuff.”
To see the full interview, head over here.
While many females across the U.S. were excited to hear that Hillary Clinton was running for President in the 2016 election, her decision has, of course, also received some doubts. Jada Pinkett Smith is one of those doubters, and while she’s not closed-minded to Hillary’s campaign, she has some serious questions regarding how Black women fit into her female-friendly views.
Jada penned an essay on her Facebook page, as she has done for a number of previous subjects, and asked Hillary some of the tough questions as far as the differences in treatment between women of different races. She wrote:
“The only question I have been asking myself is if I’m suppose to vote for Hillary because she is a woman; will she take us to the mountaintop with her or will women of color once again be left out and left behind? For example, during the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, black women were specifically excluded because Northern white women feared of losing support of Southern white women if black women were included. What made it even more offensive is that the two women given the credit of pioneering the woman’s movement were at first abolitionists.”
She also stated what would help Hillary win a vote from her in the future. “How will we reconcile the past to move into the future? Can Hillary, whether she becomes President or not, heal the broken political ties of the women of this nation?” Jada asked. “I know it takes far more than the idea of being the first female President of the United States to run this country, but as a woman, it sure is an exciting idea. Women of color and white women have been taking on the majority of their fights on the political platform on separate lines; can Hillary Clinton change that legacy through her journey to become president? Because if she can…she would not only have my vote…but she would have my heart.”
After more than five months of intense and awfully petty partisan wrangling, the good news is Loretta Lynch finally became the next Attorney General of the United States. With it comes a little history, too, as now the first Black female Attorney General, following the position’s first Black male one.
The bad news, unfortunately, is that she’ll more than likely be out of the job before she even has a chance to put a mark on it.
It’s the political calendar that has defined Lynch’s nomination, that molded her confirmation and now stands to completely shape and limit her tenure. Her nomination was born of post-midterm election bad blood, Democrats failing to push her through before their last days in control of the Senate and Republicans holding her up as a way to reward the loyal conservative base that voted them into the majority. The confirmation tangled in other Senate business at a time new Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) needed to show some level of defiance at the White House or risk the ire of activists on the right who’d most certainly accuse him of being soft.
This was all theater. Privately and off-record, Senate lawmakers and aides familiar with the intimate details of Lynch’s confirmation process knew a couple of months ago that she’d eventually be confirmed “by mid-April to mid-May.” Politicians simply need time to show airs.
But, the mess of it took so long that now she has only several months under two years to do her job. The final days of the Obama administration are around the corner. We are already in the waning, albeit unseasonably chilly, days of Spring. Summer is fast approaching, along with it those dogged humid days when even less gets done in Washington. Perhaps that’s a good thing; perhaps that gives her time to adjust to the new commute.
Knowing Lynch and knowing Eric Holder, the man she is replacing, the transition process had already been underway. Since she was already United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, among the more powerful federal attorneys in the nation who worked on key Wall Street, cybersecurity, terrorism and policing issues in tandem with Holder, she was already playing a central role on key facets of the Justice Department agenda. Her work on police brutality issues, including prosecution of NYPD officers in the grisly Abner Louima case and oversight of the Eric Garner case (which, notice, she never really pushed forward on as her nomination was on the horizon), gives her some credibility as she’ll be faced with federal probes into the tragic slayings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement.
But her time as AG could be so short-lived that her only real brand on the agency will be the history she’s made as its first Black woman head. That’s obviously not enough for the extremely capable Lynch. But an unforgiving political calendar threatens to pigeonhole her legacy. Not only will she be running against the clock of her boss’ lame duck status, but she will be forced to navigate a legislative branch that finds a handful of its Senators already launching presidential bids. Congress will be focused more on upcoming elections, with Republicans eager to re-capture the White House while maintaining their grip on the House and Senate.
Whether she can accomplish anything in that climate, along with the shortened window to do it, will be a testament to her skills.
That said, there is a school of thought that argues she could keep her job past President Obama … if she wanted to keep it.
Or, she could easily become a rallying point for unmotivated Black voters who are expected to stand down in this upcoming election out of both pure spite and the absence of their favored cultural son, Barack Obama, on the ballot.
All it takes is for Hillary Clinton, currently the lone announced Democratic presidential primary contender and presumed nominee, to simply pledge her support for an extended Attorney General Lynch tenure during the first Clinton administration.
First: Clinton is a former U.S. Senator from New York. She’s claimed the state as home. Hence, it’s only natural that she give props to one of her former constituents and ensure her Empire State base is held intact.
While risky for Lynch, considering the taint of presidential politics could impact her relationship with Congressional Republicans, it’s possible. She skillfully maneuvered a very contentious confirmation process, never breaking a sweat (at least not showing it) and always finding a happy medium between her boss and grumpy Senate Republicans. They seemed fine with that.
For Clinton, it’s the boost among Black voters she’ll need to gain their trust and support – especially among Black women. With a tight presidential election promised for 2016, Clinton will need 90 plus percent of the Black vote, without fail. In the most recent YouGov poll, her combined favorability ratings are only 80 percent – while Republican potentials like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) are actually showing 30 percent or more Black favorability ratings. She actually has 20 percent “unfavorable” ratings among African Americans, according to a Public Policy Polling poll, which is not good, and the only time she reaches 90 percent Black support in a hypothetical 2016 general election match-up is against Christie.
At the moment, we can’t see the numbers for Black women, the Black electorate’s most active segment. But her less-than-needed Black support numbers above suggest a somewhat lukewarm reaction from sisters, whom she’ll really need in 2016 (Black women voted, consistently, 96 percent for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections). And she needs something to shake off the growing tension between Black and White feminists over numerous issues (on display during the Oscars following actress Patricia Arquette’s backstage dismissal of Black women over the wage gap issue and the Fashion Police flap over actress Zendaya’s dreads). While some critics may contend those issues are slightly cosmetic and superficial on the surface, Clinton will need to find a way to bridge that divide as she enters the presidential fray.
Publicly announcing support for extending Lynch’s tenure, while not guaranteed if she won, could bring those numbers closer to Obama-level. The problem is that Clinton, famously cautious and over-calculating, doesn’t do bold stuff.
CHARLES D. ELLISON is a veteran political strategist and Chief Political Correspondent for UPTOWN Magazine. He is a also a frequent politics contributor to The Root, Washington Correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune, weekly Washington Insider for WDAS-FM (Philly) and a panelist on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.’ He can be reached @ellisonreport.
Since the star-studded announcement of Tidal was made last month, the artist-owned streaming service has been met with mixed reviews. If you haven’t yet made the commitment to trade in your Spotify subscription, Jay-Z and Beyoncé may have something up their sleeves to persuade you.
The power couple is rumored to be finalizing a joint album that will be available for download for all Tidal users, according to DJ Skee. One of the main selling points about Tidal is that popular artists like Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Rihanna, Daft Punk and Usher have promised to release music exclusively to the streaming service that Tidal subscribers get first dibs on. Tidal could use a leg up from The Carters right now, since the Tidal app just dropped out of the App Store top 700 as music fans flock to the more affordable competitors.
The $20-per-month streaming service has been widely criticized, even by fellow artists. “I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid,” rock singer Ben Gibbard told The Daily Beast. “That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”
Kanye West must have heard the streets talking and second guessed his association with the struggling brand. On Wednesday, the rapper deleted all of his previous tweets promoting Tidal and changed his Twitter avitar from the Tidal blue logo back to its original artwork. Once fans and news outlets noticed the removal of said tweets, West was seemingly pressured to add this tweet to his timeline yesterday:
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 23, 2015
Nothing has yet to be confirmed from the Carter-Knowles camp regarding the joint album, but hopefully we’ll hear something in time to rescue Tidal’s sinking numbers. Would you be willing to pay a few extra coins per month to snag the ‘Jayonce’ collab album? Do we think Tidal will survive the tech wave?
It looks as though Tina Knowles and her new hubby Richard Lawson are enjoying their new blended family. TMZ caught up with the newest member of the Knowles-Carter clan, who gushed about his new wife and stepchildren.
“[The family] couldn’t be tighter,” Lawson said. “My family, their family…we’re one. It really is a blessing.”
The actor revealed that he’s known Tina and her family for 33 years, so the bond was effortless. To show his support for his stepson-in-law Jay’s business venture, Lawson didn’t hesitate to throw in a shameless plug about the mogul’s new streaming service.
“Everybody out there, buy Tidal,” he urged. “It’s the new thing, but it’s the right thing.”
Go in for those brownie points, Mr. Lawson!
Click over to TMZ to watch the video.
UPTOWN: What can fans expect from the reunion?
Porsha Williams: Fans can expect to be on an emotional roller coaster because people are trying to figure out where these different relationships are going to go. It’s very similar to the therapy session- how we went over the issues we’ve had and try to work them out. No one really gets to the point of screaming at each other, everyone just wants to be heard. And someone very unexpectedly has a breakdown.
U: What is your current friendship status with the ladies?
PW: I’m still friends with Phaedra [Parks] and Nene [Leakes.] I haven’t seen Kandi [Burress] in awhile, I think she’s been busy with her show, but that’s pretty much it. The other ladies I don’t see much off season.
U: As you look back, is there anything you would do differently?
PW: No, I enjoyed the season for the most part. It wasn’t as stressful for me being that I wasn’t a main character, even though I’d like to be. They didn’t delve as much into my personal life which can be difficult because your personal life is on the line and people can be judgmental. Sometimes when you involve your personal life it can be a bit stressful. I enjoyed the relationships with the ladies and that’s what they focused on with me this season.
U: Not being the main character can be good…
PW: Yeah, it gave me a break. By not being a main character they didn’t show my romantic life which allowed everyone to speculate, which was a major part of the season, who I’m dating. What I wanted to say, was “This is going on…’ but I couldn’t because that’s not what they wanted to focus on so it was like a catch 22.
U: Is there anyone on the show you don’t want to return next season?
PW: I really can’t say who I would not want to return because saying you don’t want someone on the show is saying you don’t want them to get paid. I really can’t speak on that- that’s the business part of it. If I’m on the show, I can co-exist with anybody, whether I like you or don’t like you, so it really doesn’t matter who stays or who goes.
U: The ladies tried to call you out for being in an abusive relationship with Kordell. Did you see any signs of abuse between Phaedra and Apollo?
PW: I can’t say that I observed any abuse whatsoever and Phaedra has never claimed to deal with any type of abuse with Apollo. I don’t think that was their issue. I think their issue was more based on his truthfulness, and business and some of the things that led him to get into trouble.
Photo credit: Porsha’s Instagram
U: If you could join any other Housewives franchise, which would it be?
PW: I really love Miami. I don’t know if they still have that franchise, but I just love Miami. I would probably join Beverly Hills. I love Beverly Hills and it seems like they have a great time for the most part. This season I think they had a pretty stressful season like we did. But I would go back to the season where they had a good time.
U: Are you friends with anyone from the other cities?
PW: I’m not friends with any of them, but I’ve met a few of them before. I’ve done Brandi Granville’s podcast and she seemed really cool, like I’d get along with her. And I really like Lisa Vanderpump.
U: What’s it like working with Rickey Smiley on Dish Nation?
PW: It’s hard to focus because we laugh so much! The jokes go on and on and on- it’s like being in a room with big brothers. Sometimes I’m the butt of the joke and sometimes I’m not.
The best thing about Dish Nation is we get to be ourselves. We get to be opinionated and talk about current events and hot topics. It’s entertainment news given in an entertaining way. It’s a light hearted mixture between E! News and TMZ. We’re the best of both.
U: What separates your Go Naked Hair line from others?
PW: I waited a long time before launching because I had to try out a lot of different vendors because they all claim to have 100% virgin hair and it’s not. I waited it out until I found the perfect vendor. Our hair is 100% Indian and Peruvian. Our hair doesn’t have hair follicles so it doesn’t tangle. It’s tightly woven on the weft so it doesn’t shed. It can be purchased on the website.
U: Would you ever go on Millionaire Matchmaker, looks like it worked for Kenya Moore…
PW: It’s a possibility. I’m dating on my own right now but if things don’t work out in the long run, maybe I would.
U: What advice would you give to someone dealing with heartbreak?
PW: I would say make sure you give yourself time to heal. Don’t just jump into anything else- even after you heal, don’t just jump into another relationship. Start focusing on what’s important in your life and find out what your purpose is and just be driven by that because the love will come back around.
I’m a hopeless romantic so even though love failed for me I definitely know I’ll love again and marry again.
U: What’s something about you that can’t be Googled?
PW: You can’t Google what I do on my off days. I think people think I’m super glam all the time but I’m not, I’m like everybody else, I walk around without makeup. I posted pictures of myself with no makeup on Instagram.
And I love to cook. I’m a country girl so I love yams. But right now I can’t have yams- they’re too sweet and too fat and I’m trying to pull it together for the summer!
Two former Missouri police officers have recently come forward to deny that the race of the town’s new mayor Tyus Byrd was the reason for their quitting.
Trish Cohen, Parma, Missouri’s former police chief, and Rich Medley, former assistant police chief, say that it isn’t Byrd’s race, but her “anti-police” stance, that influenced their decisions to quit the force. “You can’t have an anti-police mayor, and that’s the way she made me feel,” Cohen told NBC News.
The officers also said they feared Byrd had plans to replace them. Medley added, “From the moment [Byrd] announced her candidacy, she never approached any of us, never advised us what her plans were or anything. Never asked us to stay or told us that the moment she took office that we weren’t going to have a job.”
Cohen and Medley weren’t the only public servants to jump ship. Following Byrd’s election win, a total of 11 city officials quit. Byrd said she doesn’t believe race was a factor in the departure of these city officials, but says she gave no reason for them to fear for their safety or their jobs.
“I don’t understand. I never said anything about cleaning house,” Byrd said in an interview with NBC. “I wish we could have sat down and came to whatever the reasons were, that maybe we could have came to some type of agreement and understanding.” Byrd also says she has yet to receive resignation letters from the departing officers.
By Satchel B. Jester
When director Patrik-Ian Polk read Larry Duplechan’s novel Blackbird 25 years ago as a college freshman, he etched the coming of age story, full with struggle and shame, onto a permanent to-do list in his mind, knowing he’d circle back to it in some way. Now, after writing a screenplay and partnering with executive producers Sidney Hicks and Oscar winner Mo’Nique, he’s manifesting his destiny as the film premieres on the Urban Movie Channel. Polk, often deemed the “Father of Black Gay Cinema,” made his directorial debut in 2001 with Punks, a gay black romantic comedy, followed by popular television series Noah’s Arc and other feature titles including The Skinny and Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom. After spending time in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., to deliver his adaptation of Blackbird with actors including co-producer Isaiah Washington, Polk reflects on the man in the mirror and a few weaknesses he struggles with.
Making movies… is not an easy progression. You hope that you get more experience and figure out how to navigate the situations, but it’s grueling, it’s so all encompassing.
People think… I write from my own life experiences. That’s ninety-nine percent of the time not true.
I AM MOST PROUD OF… THE FACT THAT WHEN IT COMES TO BLACK GAY CINEMA, I MADE A WAY WHERE THERE WAS NO WAY. EVERY ARTIST DREAMS OF BEING A TRAILBLAZER IN ONE FASHION OR ANOTHER, AND IT’S THE HARDEST THING TO DO, BECAUSE ALMOST EVERYTHING HAS BEEN DONE AND DONE MULTIPLE TIMES. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO BLACK GAY CINEMA, I AM A TRAILBLAZER, AND I’M VERY PROUD OF THAT. MY FILMS ARE KNOWN ALL OVER THE WORLD, THIS GAY BLACK BOY FROM HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI. IT’S AMAZING, REALLY.
The last song I sang out loud… is Diana Ross’s live performance of the Broadway number, “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” It may be cliché to say, but it’s fabulous and in heavy rotation.
When I look in the mirror, I see… an insecure gay man, who thinks his stomach is a little too flabby, his hairline a little too non-existent, his muscles a little too small. But I also see a nice smile, beautiful eyes and a face full of hope.
SUCCESS TO ME IS… COMPLETE ARTISTIC FREEDOM. IF YOU HAVE THAT, THAT MEANS YOU’VE AMASSED ENOUGH MONEY OR POWER IN THE INDUSTRY TO CALL YOUR OWN SHOTS AND WRITE THE CHECKS TO BACK IT UP.
The thing that makes my work easiest is… a fearless actor.
A dream project for me would be… to tell Luther Vandross’s story on screen. If I could go in and really tell it like it is, it would be amazing! The music, the costumes, the story. Oh boy!
A smart, talented, sexy and driven man… makes my knees weak.
Since the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012, citizens nationwide have been focused on how law enforcement officials police those members of the Black communities they are sworn to serve and protect. It seems a new amateur video is released each week that demonstrates the need for dialogue and understanding between authority figures and suspects.
Some local governments have taken steps to improve the relationship between police officers and citizens, but as more questionable killings occur, few would argue that enough has been done and further discussion is unnecessary.
While most people think of museums as places that house relics and artifacts of eras past, Lonnie Bunch (pictured above), Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), believes the Smithsonian is the perfect place for such dialogue on current events to occur.
This Saturday, the museum, which officially opens in 2016, is hosting a daylong symposium, aptly named History, Rebellion, Reconciliation: Communities Mobilized for Social Change, that will allow educators, scholars, activists and those in attendance to discuss ways to improve the relationship between police officers and the minorities with whom they interact daily.
A museum inserting itself into this controversial discussion may seem like a stretch for some, but Bunch explained why the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio; Walter Scott in North Charlotte, S.C.; and others, are relevant to the mission of the NMAAHC.
“The goal of the museum is not just to have a great building, not just to have important collections and not just to have exhibitions that are ripe with education, the goal of the museum is to make America better,” Bunch said.
That doesn’t mean simply teaching people about their past, but providing a historical context that might help heal wounds and affect real change.
“The relationship between police and the African-American community has long, deep historical roots. We think it’s important for a museum like the Smithsonian, like this museum, to be a great convener, to bring people together in basically safe spaces to debate difficult issues and talk candidly about where we are today and use that to try to find some answers,” he said.
Saturday’s symposium includes three panel discussions: Ferguson: What Does This Moment Mean for America?; Ferguson & Faith in the 21st Century; and #Words Matter: Mobilization and Expressive Cultures. Former BET newsman Jeff Johnson, Ebony.com’s Jamilah Lemieux, Fox News’ Juan Williams, and Lisa Crooms and Renee Harrison of Howard University are among those who will debate and discuss what steps need to be taken to prevent the killings of unarmed men by authority figures.
With such a sensitive topic, it’s reasonable that some may be hesitant to share their feelings about the violence that often befalls African Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers; however, Bunch said a museum setting is exactly the space for open and honest discourse on the difficult subject.
“The program we’re doing is really a way for us to say, ‘Here’s a place that will shine a light on all the dark corners of America and tell the unvarnished truth and use that unvarnished truth to make us better by debating and discussing important issues like Ferguson and police violence.’ That’s why we’re trying to do this today,” said Bunch who isn’t fazed by critics who may question whether a national museum needs to involve itself in such controversial issues.
“Is that having an agenda? Yeah. The agenda is to make us better,” Bunch said. “If there’s something wrong with trying to make the place you live better, then we want to be wrong.”
The panel can be watched live here on Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m. EST.
Friday night over 17 million people tuned in to watch Bruce Jenner’s heartbreaking and brave confession that he identifies as transgender. He sat down with famed journalist Diane Sawyer and broke down about living a lie for over sixty years and the pressures of living with gender identity issues while in the public eye. If you missed the two-hour interview, Bruce delved into his past and how he struggled to be himself. He also discussed what it was like coming out to his 10 children and how they reacted to the news. All in all, the interview was intriguing, heartfelt and most of all inspiring.
Before the interview, there was a lot of chatter questioning the genuineness of a Bruce Jenner sit down. Considering he is a member of the Kardashian-Klan, a family that turns every private moment of their lives into a publicity stunt, people questioned Jenner’s motives. Was he coming out for fame? Was this all a publicity stunt?
The verdict is out and since the interview, thousands have reached out in support for Bruce Jenner, congratulating his bravery. Take a look at how celebrities reacted to the Bruce Jenner interview.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 25, 2015
Just finished watching the #BruceJennerInterview with the family. Bruzer, I'm soooo proud of you! Dads really are heros ❤️
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) April 25, 2015
Sending lots of love and support to #BruceJenner and their family tonight. It is always brave to stand in one’s truth. Congrats darling.
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) April 25, 2015
go, bruce jenner!!! let ur hair down, love!
— angxl hxze (@AngelHaze) April 25, 2015
I don't know what's harder to see Bruce Jenner start to look like a woman, or Madonna start to look like a man #TeamDl
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) April 25, 2015
Man, I'm glad I got out when I did. #Gottadoyou
— Kris Humphries (@KrisHumphries) April 25, 2015
— LA LA (@lala) April 25, 2015
Do you agree with their sentiments? How did you feel while watching?
Bobby Brown has had it hard these past couple of months, having to watch his baby girl, Bobbi Kristina Brown battle for her life has certainly taken a toll on him, as one can only imagine. In an effort to continue to take care of Bobbi as she recovers, the R&B crooner has filed for guardianship over his daughter’s estate, the home in which she was found face down and unresponsive in a bathtub this past January.
Prior to making the first move to file for guardianship, Brown was forced to leave his daughter’s side to perform in previously scheduled show in Dallas, Texas a few days ago. During the performance, Bobby stated, “I can say today Bobbi is awake. She’s watching me,”
Unfortunately, Bobby’s statement on Kristina’s condition was less than accurate and he has since clarified his words. His lawyer has released the following:
“Due to the numerous requests for an elaboration of the comments made by Bobby Brown on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at his concert in Texas, there is a need to clarify the reports on the condition of Bobbi Kristina… Bobbi Kristina’s condition has changed since moving from Emory University Hospital and there has been improvement. Doctors have indicated that she will have a long life. However, Bobbi Kristina is presently embarking on a rehabilitation process and the quality of her life will not be known for years to come.”
Bobby Brown added to that statement saying, “We thank everyone that supports Bobbi Kristina. And God is hearing our prayers.”
We’ll be sure to provide more updates on Bobbi Kristina’s condition as they are made public.
When Jay-Z makes a rare appearance on social media, rest assured he’s got something major to say. With all the flack his new streaming service has been getting from the media lately, the rapper/mogul felt it necessary to break his Twitter silence on Sunday with a series of #TidalFacts tweets to address the haters:
Tidal is doing just fine. We have over 770,000 subs. We have been in business less than one month. #TidalFacts
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify 9 years to be successful… — Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better. #TidalFacts
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
The Jigga Man also threw in some facts and figures to prove just how well the streaming service is doing and exactly how much artists stand to gain from it:
Rich getting richer? Equity values… YouTube $390 billion. Apple $760 billion. Spotify $8 billion. Tidal $60 million. #TidalFacts
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
Tidal pays 75% royalty rate to ALL artists, writers and producers – not just the founding members on stage. — Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
It was previously reported that Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé are cooking up a collaboration album to be released exclusively on Tidal (the goal being to boost downloads). Rihanna has already issued her single “American Oxygen” through Tidal. Other artists like Usher, Madonna and Nicki Minaj have also promised to follow suit, confirming that Tidal will be a vein for their exclusive content including music, videos and documentaries.
WORDS BY NIKI MCGLOSTER PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARI MICHELSON
For several slow-burning, agonizing moments, Queen Latifah sits stark naked. Drenched in stillness, her 5-foot-10-inch frame settles, mostly without obstruction, forcing your senses to entirely digest these on-screen minutes unhurried. It’s an unfiltered scene, not offensive or vulgar, but calm and altogether empty and melancholic. Unpacking unseen weight of fame and personal devastation, the multifaceted entertainer peels off her gaudy jewels along with her stewing emotions – fully committed to creating the most powerful scene of HBO’s anticipated Bessie – a biopic of blues icon Bessie Smith. “I’ve never done that before,” the newly-turned 45-year-old, born Dana Owens, says as she drives up the California hills toward back-to-back meetings. “It was a little odd but it was also a quiet, relaxing thing. Sometimes she was so alone, and it was a moment for Bessie to acknowledge her vulnerability, which I can completely relate to. When you get to strip it all down and have a moment to yourself, sometimes the world comes crashing down in that little moment, or maybe it’s a moment of peace.”
In some ways, playing the overtly sexual and free-spirited chanteuse de blues is new for the award-winning actress, whose acting credits lean largely toward rom-coms and comedic dramas both on the small and silver screen. Nonetheless, she nailed it. “I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in Set It Off and sticking to the script. You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.”
The script – written by screenwriter and director Dee Rees (Pariah) and co-executive produced by Latifah’s own production banner, Flavor Unit Entertainment—lingered for 22 years, remaining an unshakeable fixture in Queen’s personal life. She eventually breathed life into this historic tale in one month’s time, and called for a specific cast of talented players – including Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) Oscar-winner Mo’Nique (as Ma Rainey), comedian Mike Epps (Sparkle), Tika Sumpter (The Have and Have Nots), Khandi Alexander (Scandal, The Corner) and theater and television veteran Charles S. Dutton (as Pa Rainey). “I’d revisit this woman’s life story every couple years more and more,” she says. “Although I could’ve pulled off this character when it first came to me, I now have more depth as a human being.”
Smith’s complex history echoes in Latifah’s present-day life in a hauntingly familiar way, beyond an on-screen strip-down and trivial speculation. For years, Queen’s sexuality has been fodder for tabloids, blogs and the paparazzi.
And now, with her fluent handle of Bessie’s bisexual activities one could wonder: Is this Latifah’s coming out party? Not at all. “I’m not really sure how people will feel about [Bessie’s bisexuality],” she says of whether folks will raise eyebrows about Bessie’s bedroom acrobatics. “It’s not like it’s a secret with her story. She was just free.”
And even the slightest dive into the promiscuity of the most acclaimed entertainer of the 1920s and ’30s will uncover Bessie’s laundry list of lady conquests during the Harlem Renaissance, back when Langston Hughes was penning The Weary Blues and traces of homosexuality were indiscriminately running rampant through black arts, safely and far enough under the radar of mainstream America. Culturally explosive, the 20-year period allowed for an acceptance of many hang-ups that, unfortunately, 21st century mainstream society still has issues with today.
“People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love,” Latifah says, echoing sentiments of Kerry Washington’s recent GLAAD Media Awards speech, which touched on black homophobia. “We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should. And the reality is that there’s always been gay people in the black community, so it’s not foreign to us. And not just as a black community but just a society as a whole.
“Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on. I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw. Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual so let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”
Since the cancellation of her daytime talk show, The Queen Latifah Show, in late November of last year, Latifah has been transitioning into new things with a noticeable ease, both quietly enjoying life away from the lens and handling business.
“The first thing I did was take a proper vacation,” she laughs, days after our first conversation. “From Miami to the Caribbean to South America and Los Angeles. I went to New Jersey…Virginia and Maryland…to see family ‘cause I really missed them.” But are there any regrets about the ending of her second talk show stint? “Obviously it was disappointing but I don’t look at these things as catastrophic failures. We have a lot going on in our company alone, so I’m not worried about my next job opportunity.”
However, she later admitted to one huge missed opportunity: the canceled interview with Bill Cosby amid headline-littering rape allegations. “I would’ve absolutely had to ask him about it because it just would’ve been too big an elephant in the room,” she says. “It’s unfortunate because he has done so much in terms of entertainment, culture and black folks. But right is right and wrong is wrong. All these women, all these stories, it’s just – what a big stain on such an amazing career.”
Nowadays, Latifah is settling almost exclusively into projects attached to her Flavor Unit Entertainment imprint with partner Shakim Compere. Continuously ushering new, young talent into the forefront (see: Keke Palmer) in the same manner as her on-screen mother figure, Ma Rainey, Queen creates opportunities for black creatives, a constantly underserved market. “It’s always been very important for me and Shakim to make sure that we service the black community. No matter how many successful ventures we have, people still don’t seem to understand that we want to see these movies, so there’s still limited opportunity and we just wanna change that through entertainment, through film and through music.”
Similar to those unbothered several moments she spends stripped completely down in Bessie, in true life Queen Latifah seems confident and at peace about what’s over the hill or around the next corner. “[The show] was a part of my journey and now it’s time to keep moving forward. I embrace life and I accept that there will be things to come and I’m just trying to prepare myself for all the things to come. There are greater things in store for me always.”
In true Real Housewives of Atlanta fashion, the drama and emotions were on 10 as the cast rehashed long standing feuds and personal struggles during the first installment of the season 7 reunion. One of the most tear-jerking moments during last night’s special was witnessing Phaedra Parks’ discuss her relationship with estranged husband Apollo Nida. Host Andy Cohen replayed a clip of Nida, who was supposed to reporting to prison for his sentence at the time, storming into the house as Parks changed the locks. Cohen asked Parks if she felt grateful that cameras were present during Nida’s outburst, to which she replied yes. “My husband definitely has a temper, and he can get out of hand,” said Parks of the incident. “I think we saw that during the [season 6] pajama party. So I just didn’t know [if he would get physical with me].”
“Did he ever get physical with you?” asked Cohen. “I just don’t know if I need to discuss that with you, to be honest,” Parks finally stated after a very long silence.
Parks also confirmed that she has not yet filed for divorce from Nida and that she still hasn’t taken her children to visit their father in prison. “I want people to be proud of me as a mother and a wife,” she said on the brink of tears. “I need time to make the appropriate decisions for my life and children.”
Winter had been pretty rough on us in New York City. It felt like the snow and cold would never end. I needed to plan an epic vacation for my husband Joe, son Jaden, and I – one that would include lots of lush leafy terrain , clear blue seas to bathe in, adventure and chill time in a beautiful villa. We boarded Jet Blue Airways and headed to the island of Tobago for sun and aquatic adventures.
Remarkable sights exist off Speyside, Little Tobago and Goat Island on the northeastern side of Tobago where you can drift dive along reefs with sponges the size of bathtubs and bushes of black coral. On the southeast coast are the exceptionally clear Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef National Park.
Tobago has many different adventures to get caught up in, from reefs to rain forests to small towns. We were in Tobago for six days so we spent most of our time exploring the North Coast and its gorgeous beaches and small fishing villages. Another two days we just chilled on Tobago’s famous Pigeon Point beach with its clear blue, calm waters.
One of our favorite adventures was sailing on a vast luxury catamaran operated by Island Girl . We sailed up the emerald coat to Cotton Bay (accessible only by boat) to snorkel for a few hours with eel, squid, and colorful schools of fish. The crew of Island Girl spoiled everyone on the catamaran, serving endless rum punch and an amazing sea to table lunch of grilled tuna caught while we sailed. Joe was the most impressed by the post-lunch french press coffee the crew offered; as he always says “It’s the small details.”
I always thoroughly research any vacation destination. Once I decided on a tour the North Coast of Tobago, I knew finding a top notch driver was needed to navigate the island’s narrow and winding roads. I was so lucky to have found Thunder (Garvin Cooper) of Thunder Taxi Services (868-753-2868).
Thunder drove us up the winding North coast of Tobago, stopping for us to take pictures of the surreal bays and towns. We also bathed in a few of the beautiful beaches and finally had a fantastic meal at Gemma’s Tree House in Speyside. Our favorite beaches were Castara, where we watched the fisherman pull in their catch, and Englishman’s Bay for the its majestic beauty.
In Tobago, we stayed for the second time at the Villas at Stonehaven. Designed by renowned Mustique architect Arne Hassleqvist, it is situated on a hillside just a few minutes from the beach and twenty minutes from the airport. The first thing we saw as we drove up to Villa #9 – known as the Eagles Nest – was the stunning ocean views in one direction, and the lush rain forest with its wonderful array of flora and birds in the other.
The resort is built in an 18th century French Colonial style and consists of 14 spacious villas, all with large living areas, 50 ft covered verandas, each villa comprises three air conditioned, sea-view bedrooms. All have a personal safe, computer ports, private infinity pool and a very spacious and modern kitchen, including a separate cooler for wines. Each villa is assigned its own personal attendant – Miss Audrey was ours and she was the best part of Stonehaven Villas. My nine year old son Jaden fell in love instantly with her and vice versa. She took wonderful care of all three of us and prepared such delicious meals, pampering us at every turn.
Tobago is must do vacation with the family. With a bit of everything for everyone, you can customize your holiday to have a mixture of beach, eco adventure, sailing and luxuriating in a beautiful villa.
We shall miss you Sweet Tobago.
* Photography: Naima Anthony
As tension between police and outraged protestors in Baltimore intensifies, Freddie Gray will finally be laid to rest today, 15 days after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury that has yet to be explained by the officers who took him into custody.
Gray will be mourned by relatives and loved ones, along with representatives from the White House and families of other victims slain by police. Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson; chair of the Obama administration’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, Heather Foster; an adviser in the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Elias Alcantara from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs were all present at Gray’s service.
Also attending to show support was a special interest group called Families United for Justice. The group includes relatives of Eric Garner, who died last July after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold, Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man who was shot 41 times by New York police officers and Alberta Spruill, who died of a heart attack after police threw a stun grenade into her apartment during a botched raid.
Gray was arrested on April 12. He died a week later due to injuries sustained while in police custody. Although surveillance cameras captured Gray’s inital encounter with the police, what happened inside the police van that caused his injuries (including a crushed voice box and spine trauma) remains a mystery. It’s also believed that officers stalled in sending for paramedics when Gray complained of his pain.
The hosts of The View have been changing consistently over the past couple of years, with tons of guest hosts becoming very popular with the audiences. Now, it looks like one guest host in particular is being recruited to join the panel of women as a permanent addition, and that would be Raven-Symoné. The actress is apparently being sought by ABC, who is reportedly “desperately” trying to sign her on as a co-host on the show.
The former Disney star/Cosby kid was such a hit on The View last month, producers think she would be a great aspect as a permanent host. According to Page Six, “She was interesting and provocative. Raven would be great as a regular host.” A source told E! News, “She’s been terrific as a guest co-host. No decision imminent—all proceeding as planned as we’ve said for months.”
Raven has made headlines over the past couple of months for making numerous controversial statements, including her revelation that she does not identify as African-American. She also defended Rodner Figueroa, who seemingly compared Michelle Obama to that of a character in Planet Of The Apes. She later clarified her statements insisting that she was not suggesting the First Lady looks like an animal. So far, Raven has not reportedly made any solid plans to join the talk show.
I luh God / You don’t luh God / What’s wrong with chu?
Erica Campbell‘s latest single, “I Luh God” has sparked controversy for its slang lyrics and secular beat, deemed “trap gospel,” a new wave of inspirational music.
Gospel music legend Kirk Franklin, who caused waves himself when he debuted in the early ’90s with his upbeat, urban-inspired gospel tracks, spoke about the new genre of music, defending her song.
“I just commend [Erica’s] efforts, man,” he said. “I think that trying to take a message, you know, that’s old as many millennia and trying to make it culturally relevant is always a tough job.”
Franklin defended Campbell against gospel music fans’ strong reactions: “I think that more than anything, man, is that I always try to remember the heart of the person doing it,” he told NPR. “And I am a very, very good friends with Erica. She has a great heart for God. She has a great heart for ministry, and I just believe that the heart always wins.”
Check out Franklin’s full interview: