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    The ‘Gram is where celebrities like Ice-T, Monica, and Tracee Ellis Ross chose to capture milestones in their lives or that of their friends this weekend.

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    Kat Graham loves her some Babyface, who took home the Soul Train Legend Award.

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    Proud parents Ice-T and Coco shared another image of their newborn daughter Chanel Nicole.

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    Monica threw her hubby Shannon Brown a fabulous birthday party. Check out his gift below.

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    Tracee Ellis Ross revealed that she sung at her mom’s concert about a week ago.

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    Someone, maybe James Harden, sent Khloe Kardashian striped roses.

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    Christina Milian turnt up at a friend’s wedding.

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    Secrets Of The Magic CityUPTOWN is giving away five (5) DVD copies of the gritty coming-of-age film Secrets of the Magic City starring Black Reel Award winner Jenifer Lewis and Emmy Award nominee Jamie Hector.

    Directed by R. Malcolm Jones is available now on DVD and Digital HD from Entertainment One, but you can win a copy for free!

    To enter, simply complete the form below by Thursday, December 10 at 11:59pm EST. Five lucky winners’ names will be randomly selected and announced December 11 at 12pm EST.

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    In Miami on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd? Come check out UPTOWN Uncorked presented by Lexus! This food and wine experience featuring two of Miami’s hottest culinary geniuses: Chef Amaris Jones and Chef Irie. In the spirit of Art Basel, we will feature art by Raheem Saladeen Johnson, Aaron Maybin, and Desmond Mason. RSVP here.

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  • 12/01/15--07:35: Beyond The DL
  • By Rose Afriyie | Photography by Selase Kove-Seyram

    It’s April 24, 2007, and LaQwanna Finkley, then 19, sits in her pediatrician’s office stumped. Finkley, a Bronxite who believes in spending every free minute with her friends and family recalls, “I had headaches so bad it brought me to tears.” She went to the doctor, and they ran tests to get to the root of her symptoms. “‘All your tests came back negative except for one,’” she remembers the doctor saying.

    “Which one?,” Finkley quizzed.

    “The HIV test,” her doctor responded.

    Finkley, 24, initially dismissed her doctor’s willingness to retest. “I wanted to know the next steps,” she says. Finkley is no stranger to adversity; she was born legally blind, with no vision in her right eye and partial vision in her left. “I didn’t get to lose my virginity like most girls,” says Finkley. “I was forced into having sex when I was 14 by a classmate’s brother and molested by my father when I was 16.”

    Finkley’s first boyfriend, whom she started dating after the molestation, left her immediately after she confided in him about her father. After her next boyfriend seemed more sympathetic, Finkley remembers feeling as if she was beholden to him. “He didn’t abandon me, and so maybe I owed him something,” she recalls.

    Soon after, Finkley was pressing her new boyfriend for answers about a woman who braided his hair and cooked him dinner—for free. “I did care,” Finkley said after her boyfriend finally admitted to sleeping with other women. “But because my self-esteem was so low, it didn’t take much for him to get me where he wanted me to be. I still willingly had unprotected sex with him.”

    LaQwanna Finkley’s story is one of many illustrating how traumatic experiences can affect future sexual decisionmaking, and how concurrency— having more than one sexual partner at a time—can lead to HIV infection. These factors fueling the HIV crisis among black women aren’t as publicized as, say, bisexuality in men, but deserve careful consideration.

    (originally published Dec. 12, 2012)

    In the U.S. today, more than half a million black people are living with HIV. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that black women have an HIV rate that is 15 times higher than their white counterparts, compared to black men who have a rate that is six and a half times higher than white men.
    “If we really genuinely want to help black women,” says Dr. Gail Wyatt, director for the Center of Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities at UCLA, “we need to recognize the context of women’s lives and not simply apply the same concepts that are true for men.”
    That context, which includes black women’s sexual histories, addresses a profound, but key question: Knowing the risk factors, what would make a woman engage in unprotected sex with a man who has disclosed he has been having unprotected sex with other women?
    Apparently, the question is partly answered by trauma, which Dr. Wyatt defines as an “experience of terror, 0r fear, and the inability to process those feelings to the extent that your body then develops other ways of coping, like using drugs or having sex.”
    According to a 2010 study, 22 percent of black women have been raped over their lifetime. Forty-four percent of black women have endured rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 37 percent of Latinas and 35 percent of white women.
    “Trauma is one of the highest predictors of HIV infection,” says Regina R. Quattrochi, CEO of Bailey House, a Harlem-based organization that provides housing and access to health services to people living with HIV/AIDS .
    It was Bailey House that helped Finkley find subsidized housing after she faced the twin tragedies of trauma and HIV.
    On December 1, World AIDS Day, Bailey House will launch a Behavioral Health Clinic to address HIV-positive people who have suffered from trauma. The clinic will survey HIV-positive individuals to assess how much trauma people have been subjected to, a practice not often done when servicing HIV patients.
    “So often mental health systems fail some of our clients,” said Quattrochi. It is very powerful when people feel like they are being given a choice.”
    Although Finkley’s father and boyfriend had disappointed her, encouraging words came directly from her boyfriend’s father: “‘You think that you may have a disability,’” she recalls him telling her, “‘but you deserve so much better than my son.’” After her boyfriend impregnated his hair braider, she broke it off.
    Trauma also had an impact on Linda Hamptlon, 64, a Harlem native who was diagnosed in 1998 after spending more than 40 years battling a range of addictions to alcohol, crack, cocaine, PCP, and later—men. “I started out drinking… after being sexually abused at the age of 10,” says Hamptlon.
    When she became an adult, saying no to sex was something Hamptlon had trouble doing because she could not say no to drugs and alcohol. “I had to use,” said Hamptlon about her life as an addict in the infamous Kenmore Hotel, now called Kenmore Hall, located near New York’s Gramercy Park.
    “There was 22 floors in that hotel, and I ran through all those floors,” Hamptlon said of the sexual encounters she had, sometimes with intravenous drug users, in the red brick building she called home. “I would knock on their doors and present myself and see if they had any money, drinks, or drugs, and I would give myself to them for those things,” recalls Hamptlon of one theory she has about how she became infected with HIV.
    Authorities came in 1997 to arrest Hamptlon for solicitation, only they came on the day of her sister’s funeral. “You can’t arrest me today, my sister passed and I have to be with her,” she recalls pleading to officers. When her begging fell on deaf ears, she found herself appealing to a higher power. In a cold cell at Central Booking, she got down on her knees and asked God “to take the taste of alcohol and drugs out [of ] my mouth.”
    Soon after, Hamptlon, who is the seventh of 10 children, mustered the courage to detox for five days in the Cornerstone of Medical Arts Center in New York. She then spent six months in the Realization Center outpatient clinic near Union Square in NYC. “It was God and the people He put in my path,” she says of the therapist, psychiatrist, and the women’s groups she frequented.
    It seemed that Hamptlon’s prayers had been answered, until she fell in love. “I ain’t using alcohol and drugs, but I want to use somebody,” Hamptlon remembers of the man who was 10 years her junior, who would arrive to her apartment often with flowers, teddy bears, and cards.
    He was also carrying something else.
    “I wasn’t feeling right,” Hamptlon said about her health shortly after her affair. She tested positive for HIV. “I want to tell you something,” she started to tell her partner with a Realization supervisor in the room, “I tested HIV positive today.” Her partner kept his composure until they went home together that night. “He was so angry he beat me and threw me in the bathtub saying I messed up his life,” she says. Although Hamptlon acknowledges that condom use could have prevented transmission, one thing was clear to her about her boyfriend. “He was trying to kill me,” she said. After he left, she went downstairs and told the security guard he was no longer allowed to come and visit her.
    Three months later, her ex-boyfriend wrote her a letter saying he was sorry. He had the virus all along.
    In response to trauma, Dr. Wyatt has designed Healing Our Women, an intervention developed for black and Latina women. For 11 weeks, women are encouraged to talk about their experiences and identify the most terrifying aspects of their trauma. Instead of engaging in a risky behavior to cope, the women learn new skills to handle their experiences; how their abuse has affected their decisionmaking; and how to reduce their sexual risk-taking behavior, havingunprotected sex with an uncommitted partner.Surveys between 2008 and 2010 by the University of Chicago give further insight into concurrency. Considering those who have been married, 37 percent of African-American men admitted to having affairs, compared to 19 percent of white men; 17 percent of African-American women admitted to having affairs, compared to 11 percent of white women.“Concurrency in the black community is attributed to the fact that there are more black women than men, and the mass incarceration of black men,” explains Phill Wilson, CEO of Black AIDS Institute (BAI). “And part is due to black men being more vulnerable to young death.”Wilson, whose institute leads the only national social marketing campaign targeting the black community in 40 markets across the country, also points out challenges in disclosure. “Many black men do not have the experience of sharing their feelings—physical or emotional. Because they do not have the practice of doing this, one’s HIV status or high-risk behaviors become an additional area that is difficult to discuss.”

    Having disclosed and undisclosed affairs com-bined with the interconnected nature of sexual networks contribute to “population dissemina-tion of HIV,” according to a report by American Journal of Public Health. The report also shows that in the past year, 15 percent of black women had a male partner who they knew had more than one partner, almost twice the rate of white women and two and a half times greater than Latinas. These rates are much lower than admitted “affairs,” presumably done in secret.

    The numbers tell some of the story, but the consequences of concurrency are best understood by the toll it has taken on women’s lives.

    “I thought I found love,” says Monique Howell-Moree, an Oklahoma native and Army veteran. “I had two kids prior to him marrying me. It was just like, this is the one.”

    Less than a year into their marriage, Howell-Moree became pregnant with her third child. When the doctor called with news that her HIV test came back positive, Howell-Moree was in disbelief. “You have the wrong person, it’s not me. I am a wife, this man loves me and my children,” she recalls saying.

    “Three months into my diagnosis another female calls me and tells me that she had an affair with him the whole time of our marriage… That she, too, was infected with HIV,” said Howell-Moree, who never knew of her husband’s affairs. “There was so much going on in my mind: confused, disgusted, heartbroken,” Howell-Moree says. “We ended up divorcing eventually.”

    Dázon Dixon Diallo, CEO of SisterLove, an Atlanta-based HIV/AIDS organization focusing on women of African descent, believes that when concurrency involves a lack of honest communication between intimate partners, this drives the HIV epidemic.

    SisterLove’s key intervention championing these issues is the Healthy Love Party. “We are like the Avon lady, except our products happen to be HIV intervention,” says Diallo of the program, which has been included in the CDC compendium on evidenced-based programs that work.
    From Finkley to Howell-Moree, each woman’s story comes to a close when they leave their dysfunctional partnerships. The end of their relationships marked an opportunity to channel their strength, work toward a suppressed viral load, and engage in efforts to address trauma or concurrency.
    Finkley overcame trauma and built her self-esteem through prayer, having access to counseling beyond the question “how do you feel about that?,” and by taking herself on dates. “[Now] I define sex as something totally different. It’s like physical poetry or learning another language,” Finkley beamed.
    “I think of myself as an STI doula,” Finkley says of her work as an informal case manager for youths in search of testing services or advice on accessing social welfare programs. She also facilitates workshops on creative writing and healthy relationships.
    Linda Hamptlon smiles with teeth as she stands underneath Harlem United’s green and gold awning brimming with celebration. “Tomorrow I will be celebrating right here, 15 years,” says Hamptlon of the sobriety anniversary that Harlem United celebrates for residents on the third week of every month. She also has had a suppressed viral load for 14 years.

    Hamptlon, who is known by her peers as “Nana,” is also the proud convener of the Narcotics Anonymous program held weekly at the organization. “I remember times when I was in the hotel… I never had to leave out of the hotel because they had all the drugs that I needed,” Hamptlon says. “Now I have all the love that I need.”

    Monique Howell-Moree receives roaring applause. She has just given her HIV testimony at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., this past July. Howell-Moree is happily remarried with three sons, and has been empowered by her faith in God and by writing Living Inside My Skin of Silence.
    She advises women in concurrent relationships to “get out of the denial state that their husband is not doing anything. Step up to the plate and communicate with your spouse.”
    If women on the margins of society can find it within themselves to fight this epidemic, the least everyone else can do is follow SisterLove’s lead and share these often untold HIV stories. Diallo declares, “We will ensure that women are a part of the story that gets told when this epidemic is over.”

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    Iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz was behind the lens for the 43rd Pirelli calendar and changed the direction of the calendar that usually features nude top models and is a who’s who for models and photographers. For 2016, Leibovitz chose to snap portraits of accomplished writers, filmmakers, artists, and philanthropists.

    A topless Serena Williams, the featured talent for April 2016, strikes an artistic pose that shows off her strength while simultaneously showing her softness.

    With 21 Grand Slams and the first Black person to be ranked No. 1 in the world, Serena has helped to change women’s tennis and is the most recognizable athlete in the sport.

    Pirelli, which is an Italian manufacturer of mostly tires, doesn’t sell the calendar to the public, unfortunately. Instead, the Pirelli calendar is given to top clients and VIPs. The sold-out collector’s edition 50th anniversary book fetched $2,000.

    Fortunately, we’ve got the pic of Serena for you.


    RELATED: Rihanna, Beyonce, Nicki and ‘Nem: Nipples Are the New Black

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    Website BabyCenter recently released the list of the most popular baby names of 2015 in America, after processing data about more than 34,000 babies in the U.S.

    The two most popular names of the year, Sophia and Jackson, aren’t newcomers to the list. Sophia, which is also the most popular girl’s name worldwide, has been most popular for six years now, and Jackson has been reigning for three years.

    “Sophia has been a powerhouse for six years, thanks to the variety of spelling options and the multi-ethnic, multi-language appeal of the name,” BabyCenter Editor in Chief Linda Murray said in an press release. However, Murray predicts Jackson’s appeal won’t last for long. “I predict Jackson’s popularity will be more fleeting. We’ll likely have a new number-one boys’ name next year,” she said in the announcement.

    For the fourth year straight, Emma and Olivia were second and third place. Madison made the top ten by beating out Madelyn, which is now 13th on the list. While Logan and Jacob swapped ninth and tenth places.

    Check out the complete list below.

    Most Popular Girls’ Names of 2015

    1. Sophia
    2. Emma
    3. Olivia
    4. Ava
    5. Mia
    6. Isabella
    7. Zoe
    8. Lily
    9. Emily
    10. Madison

    Most Popular Boys’ Names of 2015

    1. Jackson
    2. Aiden
    3. Liam
    4. Lucas
    5. Noah
    6. Mason
    7. Ethan
    8. Caden
    9. Logan
    10. Jacob

    [Image: Shutterstock]

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    In the same month Taylor Grant turned 5, doctors informed his mother that he has about a month or two left to live.

    Grant has been battling neuroblastoma at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital since he was 2 years old. He celebrated his fifth birthday on Nov. 3rd.

    “Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body” and it “most commonly arises in and around the adrenal glands,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Grant was in remission last year, but the cancer relapsed in March and spread aggressively. His mother says he’s in unbearable pain all over his body.

    UPTOWN_ciera_taylor_grant“I really just can’t picture life without my child so every little minute with him, every second, is the best thing I could ask for,” said his mom Ciera Grant to Cincinnati’s WLWT. “I’m thankful that I at least had 5 years with him, he’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

    The community has rallied behind Grant and is planning a benefit to spread awareness of children’s cancer. Follow the hashtag #TeamTaylor and visit the TeamTaylor Facebook page for more information. To help with Grant’s living expenses, donate here.

    “He may not have beat cancer, but in reality he did because as long as he’s getting attention for other kids and can continue to advocate for them, he will never die,” said his mother.

    [Images: TeamTaylor via Facebook]

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    UPTOWN_sandra_bullock_laila_louisSandra Bullock is a mom again!

    The 51-year-old Oscar winner adopted 3-year-old Laila (pronounced Lyla), who is from Louisiana and was in foster care.

    Laila joins 5-year-old Louis, whom Bullock adopted in 2010 and is also a Louisiana native. Bullock began the process of adding to her family three years ago. Louis reportedly led the way to Laila’s adoption.

    “Louis spearheaded this whole journey,” said Bullock to People.

    With Laila’s adoption, Bullock hopes to draw attention to the 415,129 children currently in the U.S. foster care system.

    “My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding,” the notoriously private and protective mom says. “That’s a family.”

    RELATED: Interracial Adopting: Celebs and Their Ethnic Children

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    An elite South African police unit is investigating Chris Rock and estranged wife Malaak Compton-Rock regarding the South African girl who has lived in their New Jersey home for seven years without officially being adopted.

    The couple’s pending divorce has flashed a spotlight on Ntombi-futhi Samantha‘s status. The Rocks reportedly brought her to the U.S. on a tourism visa, not as a would-be adoptee. American authorities alerted the South African government to the discrepancy. The 7-year-old has been a member of their family, which includes two biological daughters, since November 2008.

    Based on the belief that the Rocks allegedly didn’t follow proper legal procedures when taking Ntombi out of South Africa, one of the investigators compared the situation to “child trafficking.”

    “Whatever arrangement there was between the Rocks and the parents of the child, laws are in place to prevent parents from allowing their children to travel overseas indefinitely with third parties.

    “It seems there has not been regular contact with the biological parents and if money changed hands, or even gifts in return for the child staying with other people overseas, it sounds very much like child trafficking,” said a detective working on the case.

    MailOnline has identified Crispen Khanyile and Thusang Precious Ndebele as Ntombi’s biological parents. It has been claimed that Rock met Khanyile when he worked at a luxury hotel in Johannesburg.

    Since his separation from Compton-Rock, Rock has not had contact with Ntombi, despite spending time with his biological daughters Zahra Savannah and Lola Simone.

    Compton-Rock says she is in the process of finalizing Ntombi’s adoption, according to her attorney who spoke with People:

    “While the adoption by Malaak is not yet finalized, it is actively in process under the rigorous guidelines and safeguards of international adoption policy.

    “The child is in the country lawfully with the written consent of her birth parents, and while here, has been cherished and adored by the entire Rock family.”

    RELATED: Meet Sandra Bullock’s Daughter Laila

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    Team Couture #2
    The founders of Team Couture, Cassandra Johnson and Audrey Tolson Johnson, are two former college roommates and graduates of Georgia Tech. They are redefining the game of sports merchandising as they design sports apparel for the sophisticated female sports enthusiast.


    Since the sports merchandising industry generates more than $12 billion annually, these forward-thinking entrepreneurs are certainly moving in the right direction and there is certainly a market for female fans who want to represent their team in a way that speaks to their personal style.

    Johnson started a previous line TIG: MIR (To Whom Much is Given, Much Is Required) Greek apparel to meet the needs of members of black Greek fraternities and sororities ( Johnson was successful in building up clientele and soon customers started requesting similar apparel for their sports teams. Johnson and Tolson decided that they should fill this void as soon as possible.

    They invested their own cash and they were able to leverage the relationship with their manufacturer to get initial samples created quickly. They hit the ground running with research and implemented an expedited learning curve in an effort to understand the collegiate merchandising industry.

    The team stated that it’s a long, tedious process to become an approved collegiate licensed company. “We had to target an initial list of schools first which was Georgia Tech (our alma mater) and the University of Georgia.” “It’s also been a challenge because we have weaved this business into our existing careers.” “We want to leave a legacy for our children.

    When asked if they sought out mentors during the process, Johnson exclaimed, “Most definitely! I like to use the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” “We needed individuals to provide a different perspective. We attended a trade show for collegiate apparel and connected with a gentleman who’s been in the licensing industry for 20 years. He helped us broaden the scope to all professional sports and gave the direction to aim for the NBA,  NFL, NHL, and MLB.  He soon joined our board as our biggest advocate. He provides a pulse of what’s going on and why.”

    “On the collegiate licensing industry side, a woman we like to call our “guardian angel” has taken us under her wing. The president of GT Alumni Association Joe Irwin has also worked in the apparel industry and has become our biggest advocate. There are other individuals who they stated have helped and inspired them including Mary Brock, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, first female president of Morehouse School of Medicine, and Dorsey Levens from the Green Bay Packers.

    Their hope is that Team Couture will be the staple brand for high-end sports apparel. “We want to set the standard and set the horizon for where sports fashion should go. We would like to be a part of New York Fashion Week, design for the U.S. Olympic team, and have fully funded “Your Story” scholarship endowments at multiple colleges and universities. We are blessed to have accomplished what we have in our personal careers and we want every young woman to have the same opportunity.

    To learn more about Team Couture visit

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    The Southern University marching band, one of the best in the country, has put their own spin on Adele’s record-breaking hit “Hello.” The Dancing Dolls helped the band freak it over the weekend. The performance begins slow, but about one minute in, the Southern University marching band does the damn thing. Lower the volume on your speakers if you’re watching this “Weekday Distraction” at work.

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  • 12/03/15--03:00: Ro James Is In The Fast Lane
  • UPTOWN_ro_james
    By Satchel B. Jester

    It’s said that slow and steady wins the race, but bad boy balladeer Ro James believes that’s complete bullsh*t. The 20-something Indiana-born, Gotham-bred preacher’s kid has been waiting in the wings for years and now, with the backing of RCA Records, he’s about to launch from the starting blocks like Usain Bolt.

    “Something’s happening to music right now and this is the perfect time for me to jump into the ring,” says James. “Genres are becoming extinct and people are doing exactly what they want to,” he offers with the robust cockiness that the Panamanian-American alpha male threads throughout his music.

    Having left his fans salivating for more of the brash lyrics and sensual baritone he flaunted on his introductory EP Coke, Jack and Cadillacs, he’s giving us an aperitif, Jack Neat, before his long-awaited debut album releases in the fall. Warning: it’s a rustic sliver of country, a stiff shot of R&B, a smooth sip of soul and a whole ‘lotta funk. It’s rowdy and Ro wouldn’t have it any other way.


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  • 12/03/15--03:00: Confessions: Angie Stone
  • UPTOWN_angie_stone
    By Erica Color

    We’ve watched the last few years of Angie Stone’s once private life unfold via reality television and gossip-laden blogs. However, Stone—who has sold over 5 million records worldwide and scored several Grammy nominations—has reemerged with Dream, a new album that she says is a culmination of her extraordinary personal and artistic journey so far. Here, the mother, writer, producer and now single lady talks about the state of music, her life and the effects of reality TV as she sets out on an exciting, yet emotional, comeback.


    The world … has changed and, as a result, every industry, including the music business, has also changed. Boundary lines are fading; and social media and instant gratification are catalysts for poor choices. This affects music directly.

    My goal … is always to remain true to who I am. I’m blessed to still be a relevant artist who has a means to share my voice and message. I believe that when there is truth in your music, people can hear, feel and see that.

    I cannot say … that I have any career regrets, as God puts you right where you need to be, when you need to be there. I can say that I would not be too eager to do reality television again because it has the capability of being cruel and sometimes the media can be insensitive.

    My new music is … deeply personal and real. I prayed a lot during this process and asked God to take the lead through times when I couldn’t find words to describe my happy, unhappy and in between emotions.

    I’m not … afraid of anything. I trust in God and always will my faith to be bigger than my fear.

    I am sure that … I am a real singer with real issues that trusts a real God!

    I just … finished making my assistant directorial debut and I am developing some television shows. I’m also currently reading for scripted television roles. I’ve only just begun!

    I would love to … have the opportunity to collaborate, musically, once again with D’Angelo

    [Images: Breyona Holt and Walter W. Millsap III]

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    Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation is set to premiere during the Sundance Film Festival, which will take place Jan. 21 to 31 in Park City, Utah. Parker directed, wrote, and stars in the biopic that chronicles Nat Turner‘s slave rebellion in 1831.

    “It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done just because I’m wearing a lot of hats,” explained Parker during a press junket in July 2014, while The Birth of a Nation was in pre-production. “And just to put it into perspective, it’s the director’s job to look to the writer and say, ‘What the heck is this? We gotta get this better.’ So I have to take off one hat and put it on myself and look at myself critically.”

    The official Sundance Institute description for the historical film reads: “Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom.”

    Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, and Mark Boone Jr. appear alongside Parker.

    When I asked Parker to explain his choice to title the film The Birth of a Nation considering D.W. Griffith’s propagandizing film Birth of a Nation, he said:

    “I think for us to know where we’re going, we have to know where we came from. And too often we’ve been allowing people to put their hands into the clay of who we are and we look at it and say, ‘That’s us,’ but it’s not. Birth of a Nation, the original film, which screened at the White House, which had the stamp of approval from the White House, basically said this country was built on the fear of the Black man taking the white woman. And all the actors were white in blackface. There’s this iconic moment when the white woman runs to the cliff and looks back and the white man in blackface is there and she jumps to her death. Just the images, it’s no wonder we are where we are being that we’ve accepted that as our beginning. So I just want to take it back. In the beginning there was resistance. You know we don’t have an image of resistance unless there’s a white man saying you can do it. And this is not a racial hate thing. You know, Black power and positivity doesn’t mean white hate by any means. So with this film, The Birth of a Nation, what I wanted to do was rewire us from the beginning. The whole idea of Sankofa, like going back and saying this is who we were in the beginning. This is what really happened. Once we can get on the same page as that, then we can play operator and find our way to where we are now and say, ‘OK, this is wrong, this is wrong. This is a bad connection.’ Far too often when we bring up issues that we’re dealing with it’s considered a conspiracy theory. If right now the Klan walked in and set the building on fire and then left, on the news it would be ‘Well, what did they do to the Klan?’ I think it goes back to knowing who we are, knowing our history so we can better dictate our future. So to answer your question, I’m very aware of D.W. Griffith’s film and I just want to spark that discourse: The image of us versus who we are.”

    Keep clicking to view more images from The Birth of a Nation.

    [Images: The Birth of a Nation]






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    The Steve Harvey Show continued its “Season of Surprises” by hosting a Neighborhood Block Party, at the Universal Studios Back Lot in Los Angeles on Dec. 2nd, that brought the cast of 227 together for a surprise reunion.

    Marla Gibbs (Mary Jenkins), Jackee Harry (Sandra Clark), Hal Williams (Lester Jenkins), and Curtis Baldwin (Calvin Dobbs) joined in the festivities in front of 300 guests.


    Since you can’t have a block party without eats, Auntie Fee‘s “down home” dishes served as inspiration for some of L.A.’s most popular food trucks.

    Keep clicking to see photos from the event!

    [Images: Arnold Turner/A Turner Archives]

    Torrei Hart and children Hendrix and Heaven

    Adina Porter

    Laura Govan

    Karrueche Tran

    Nina Parker of Access Hollywood with the 227 cast

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    Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced today that women will be allowed to fill all U.S. military combat positions.

    Previously, women were barred from serving the 220,000 jobs, including infantry, armor, reconnaissance and some special operations units, reports CNN.

    “This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Carter said at a news conference Thursday. “There will be no exceptions.”

    However, Carter said men and women have “physical differences on average” and “thus far, we’ve only seen small numbers of women qualify to meet our high physical standards” for some units.

    The policy will take effect after 30 days and extends to all branches of military, including the Marine Corps, which “had sought exceptions to keep positions such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support and reconnaissance to men,” according to CNN.

    [Image: Shutterstock]

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    “For those of you more concerned with Violet’s hair (understandably cause you just don’t know) her hair isn’t in the twists, it’s another method used where they are tied into her corn rows. The hair isn’t heavy. If you’ve ever grabbed a bag of afri braiding hair you know they are very light weight. But just trying new things. Violet likes it and it’s not damaging. Xo”

    — Christina Milian responds to Instagram followers who said her daughter Violet Madison Nash‘s Marley-twist hairstyle is too grown for a 5 year old. Milian had to edit the below ‘Gram post because too many people were commenting on Violet’s hairstyle, assuming it would damage the child’s natural hair. The look is a little long for a child, but if you’ve followed Milian’s career or watch her reality show Christina Milian Turned Up, then you know she and her sisters Danielle and Elizabeth Flores love to experiment with their hair. So Violet comes by it naturally.

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    The Alvin Ailey Opening Night Gala Benefit Performance kicked off the five-week New York City Center Holiday Season on Wednesday night. Brandy Norwood and Chadwick Boseman served as honorary chairpersons for the star-studded event, where Kelly Rowland, Andre Holland, Phylicia Rashad, Joe Morton, Malik Yoba, Savion Glover, New York’s First Lady Chirlaine McCray, and Judith Jamison were among the 900 guests.

    Highlights from the Ailey gala and performance included, “a performance of David Parsons’ signature gravity-defying male solo Caught, and the world premiere of Ronald K. Brown’s Cuban-inspired Open Door set to music from Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s most recent album, Cuba: The Conversation Continues. Alvin Ailey’s beloved Revelations rocked the crowd in a rousing finale to live music with singers that included the incomparable Ella Mitchell,” according to a press release.

    For more information on Ailey’s the five-week New York City Center Holiday Season click here.

    See more pics from the gala on the following pages …

    [All images: Dario Calmese Jr.]


    Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Robert Battle & Judith Jamison

    Kelly Rowland

    Joe Morton

    Janet Mock

    Brandy & Debra Martin Chase

    New York First Lady Chirlaine McCray

    Chadwick Boseman

    Debra Lee

    Bevy Smith

    Arturo O’Farrill

    Andre Holland

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    NBC drew 11 million viewers to the debut of The Wiz Live! last night. “The event also set a Nielsen Twitter record as most social live special program in the more than four years of tracking such numbers,” according to Variety. Many viewers took to social media to roast and applaud the production that featured Shaniece Williams, David Alan Grier, Elijah Kelly, Ne-Yo, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Mary J. Blige, and Queen Latifah in starring roles. These amateur comedians drew most inspiration from the residents of Emerald City and the absence of ToTo from the land of Oz. Check out the best memes from The Wiz Live!

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  • 12/04/15--10:37: Rockin’ Keith Robinson
  • UPTOWN_keith_robinson

    Keith Robinson is a multi-hyphenate and he’s not afraid to show the goods.

    By Satchel B. Jester

    Keith Robinson is feeling unstoppable at the moment. The actor/singer has just completed both a table read and a high-intensity workout between shooting scenes for a new movie in Atlanta. He’s amped because in the next few months, the almost forty-year-old will be on screens and in stereos simultaneously. Yes, his boy-next-door brawn was in full effect as a colorful, nouveau superhero on television in Power Rangers and he re-imagined “C.C. White” in the 2006 blockbuster Dreamgirls. But his soul-stirring R&B side has escaped the attention of most. Until now.

    The Kentucky-born native has been singing for most of his life. “I was in a group in high school,” he recalls. “We would sing everywhere that someone would listen.” Still supporting that notion, Robinson has been able to weave his vocal and songwriting ability into many of his bigger roles, even resulting in an Oscar nomination for the song “Patience” in Dreamgirls. “One of the top moments of my life was performing the song alongside Beyoncé at the 2007 Academy Awards. It was the first time, but surely not the last.”

    Now, Robinson is expecting to reach new heights with his forthcoming release Love Episodic. The lead single, “Love Somebody,” debuting in January, offers a groove that you would expect from Keith Sweat, Tyrese or even Usher, but it’s all Robinson. “When I’m singing, I’m exactly who I am. That may be someone people haven’t really met yet, but I’m up for the introduction.”

    Robinson is just as confident about his various other endeavors. He mentions “All things Keith Robinson” will be available at the swipe of a finger with his new KEITHSINGS app, premiering for iOS and Android in November. “It offers music, videos and trivia,” he says. “This app is our way to make more personal and hands on. Pun intended.” He pauses to revel in the statement and then is back at it. “I’m just trying to do my thing.” And keep doing it well.

    [Image: Jon Prosper]

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