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Black news, entertainment, lifestyle and culture

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    farissa knox bmw #payit4ward honoreeA native New Yorker, Mrs. Knox relocated to Chicago in 2007 and founded RLM Media in 2008. RLM Media is a full service, 100% minority owned, media planning and buying advertising agency.  Mrs. Knox has grown RLM Media to gross billings of over $13 million in 7 years by providing excellent customer service, complete solutions, and a team approach for her clients.

    In addition to founding RLM Media,Farissa founded WhatRUWearing in 2012. It is a fashion social networking APP available on ITunes that brings together groups of people all across the globe who have a love for style and fashion.  The brand also has a website that is a style, fashion and lifestyle online magazine providing original content each week to it’s readers. Lastly, Mrs. Knox has just released her debut memoir entitled Love, Sex & Friendship: In No Particular Order, available on Amazon, which highlights her 20’s: The years she spent in NYC getting her career in advertising off the ground, making life long friendships, and dating and getting to know her now husband.

    Farissa received her B.A. in Communications from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA in 2003 and lives in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood with her husband and two daughters.

    Farissa Knox has been recognized by BMW, UPTOWN Magazine, Fame Enterprises and Heart and Soul Magazine as one of the women who #PayIt4Ward!


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    katherine darnstadt bmw #payit4ward honoreeArchitect and educator Katherine Darnstadt is the founder and principal of Latent Design, a collaborative of individuals whose projects focus on social, economic and environmental impact beyond the building. Katherine brings innovative design to those in resource and budget limited environments through a holistic, creative approach to design driven by community needs that leverages other partners and assets to address project challenges. Her passion for public interest design through participatory strategies and diverse background have allowed her to collaborate with change agents in design, science, arts and philosophy.

    As the founder and principal of Latent Design, Katherine merges her passion for public interest design through participatory strategies and diverse background have allowed her to collaborate with change agents in design, science, arts and philosophy.

    Since founding her practice in 2010, Katherine and her firm have been recognized as an emerging leader in the architecture profession and have been published, exhibited and featured widely, most notably at the International Venice Architecture Biennial, Chicago Ideas Week, the 2013 AIA National Young Architects Honor Award winner and Crain’s 40 Under 40.

    Katherine Darnstadt has been recognized by BMW, UPTOWN Magazine, Fame Enterprises and Heart and Soul Magazine as one of the women who #PayIt4Ward!


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    UPTOWN_yolanda_thomasDr. Yolandra Johnson was born in South Carolina and raised in Columbia, Maryland. She went to college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Sociology. It was there that she was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and began her love of service to others. She is now a life member of the sorority and an active member of the Xi Nu Omega chapter in Chicago, Illinois.

    Her medical degree was obtained from New York Medical College. While there she was a member of the student senate and also the associate regional director of the Student National Medical Association for all of the medical schools in NY and New Jersey. She received the parent’s council award from NY medical college for her service to the school and community.

    Her residency in Internal Medicine was completed at Yale University.  While there she did an elective in Zimbabwe to see first hand how medicine could be delivered with minimal technology. It was a life-changing experience. She then moved to Chicago for her Gastroenterology fellowship at The University of Chicago. There she learned the importance of educating patients about the importance of preventing colon cancer.

    After completing her training, she joined Gastroenterology Consultants of the North Shore, SC.  She was the first and remains the only woman in her group. She was also the first female and first African-American gastroenterologist at Evanston Hospital, in Evanston, Illinois.

    She is in private practice and spends her days treating patients with various gastrointestinal ailments and performing colonoscopies. She teaches medical students, interns, residents and fellows and is on the clinical faculty of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

    In the Evanston community she has cared for the underserved and continues to participate in community outreach. Every March (Colon Cancer awareness month), she is an active participant in getting the word out about colon cancer prevention month via radio interviews and magazine articles.
    In July 2015, she became the president of Gastroenterology Consultants of the North Shore, S. C.
    While this latest accomplishment has been fulfilling, her aim now is to continue to get the word out about the importance of colon cancer screening and prevention. There is now a national goal to get 80% of Americans screened by 2018.  She plans to be sure African-Americans are educated about the need for screening as this is a preventable cancer.

    Dr. Yolandra Johnson has been recognized by BMW, UPTOWN Magazine, Fame Enterprises and Heart and Soul Magazine as one of the women who #PayIt4Ward!


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  • 12/14/15--02:17: Tone Bell’s Truth Juice
  • Comedian and actor Tone Bell went from corporate manager to sitcom star all while sipping on his favorite whiskey.

    By Chrystal Parker

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    Art imitates life for Tone Bell. The funny man currently stars in the new NBC sitcom Truth Be Told as Russell, a comic and actor married to a doctor (the latter part is strictly fiction). However, it was this former first grade teacher’s corporate stint as a sales manager for a beer company that inspired his early jokes. “Most of the stories came when I began traveling as a comedian and started lying about where I was all the time, because I was missing meetings,” admits the the Decatur, Georgia native, whose first Comedy Central special aired on Thanksgiving weekend. Here, he shares his love for whiskey, favorite Los Angeles hangouts and how he’ll spend the holidays. (Spoiler Alert: liquor, shrimp and grits and Magic City are involved.)

    Which do you like better: sitcom life or live comedy?
    Live comedy. I create it, I perform it. It’s a rush. It’s something I can do alone. I don’t need other people for it. It’s a selfish thing but I enjoy it.

    UPTOWN_bulleit_ryeIs there always apple juice in your cup when you’re onstage?
    Usually, if it’s a Friday or Saturday night, it could be whiskey. But, probably not because I like to give people the show that I wrote and don’t want to forget anything. But on a Sunday night, [if] people send drinks onstage, just to say “Thanks for coming to our town,” I’ll drink with the crowd.

    So your go-to is whiskey?
    If the sun is down, yes. Bulleit Rye is my favorite. If it’s going to be a long night and I need to power through, it’s probably Jameson.

    UPTOWN_barrel_ashes1

    The last time you went out with friends in Los Angeles, where’d you go?
    I went to Barrel & Ashes in Studio City, it’s a barbecue place. We got a whole roast chicken that was amazing, some dope corn and hoecakes. Food was unbelievable.

    UPTOWN_barrel_ashes2

    Are you going back to Decatur for the holidays?
    I’ll do Christmas with my parents and then I have four shows. I don’t do anything big on the holidays. I’ll go back to Georgia and see friends from high school. My best friend from high school runs Magic City. His dad is Magic. He’s Little Magic and he runs the club now.

    Did I hear they have good wings at Magic City?
    They have the best food. The wings are crazy. We don’t go for the festivities we just go downstairs and talk. But the shrimp and grits are amazing. I usually try to go during the day so it’s not a crazy night!


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    From engaging in nerdom to being on daddy duty to putting in work, here’s how our favorite celebrities spent their weekend.

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    Lupita Nyong’o is loving being a part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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    Zendaya attends the Clara Lionel Foundation Diamond Ball.

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    Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi were twinning on what appears to be the set of black-ish.

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    Nick Cannon was on his Frank Sinatra swag while serving as grand marshal for The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade.

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    The Game and daughter Cali celebrate during her cheerleading competition, which she and her team won.

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    Danai Gurira shares an image from her shoot with Elle.

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    Ciara presented Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott with the Billboard Innovator Award. Missy also shared a video of the women celebrated at the Women in Music event.

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    Angela Simmons put in work at the gym.

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    Keke Palmer shows off a new look at the launch for Evan Ross‘s Ui Culture launch.

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    Taraji P. Henson showed love where love was due.


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  • 12/15/15--04:00: Write Like You’re Dying
  • Author Lennox Randons’s bout with terminal cancer has pushed him beyond his creative limits. He shares his story here and it just may inspire you in ways you couldn’t imagine.

    UPTOWN_lennox_randon

    In the late hours of December 16, 2010, an ambulance transported me from my home, along the snowy road paralleling the Cedar River, to the hospital emergency room. I was semi-paralyzed, in serious pain, and wondering what the heck was going on.

    A couple of hours later, a physician told me that a CT scan showed I had innumerable tumors requiring emergency surgery. He told me and my wife to say our goodbyes because I would not survive the surgery.

    Exactly two months earlier, Rob Cline and I had our first writing group meeting in my basement. We both had unfinished novels and I was convinced that together we could complete them. An earlier bout with cancer led me to refocus on writing because you never know when something kooky like cancer will strike.

    Now that cancer had returned with a vengeance (maybe Bruce Willis will star in the movie directed by Quentin Tarantino), I knew I had to write like I was dying.

    When I advise you, dear reader, to write like you’re dying, I mean for you to write with a focus and purpose. Beyond that, I mean for you to write well, because, hey, you’re dying and nobody wants to leave a sucky legacy.

    Eight days after I was released from ICU (surgery averted), I again met with Rob in my basement, fresh pages in hand. Despite being under the influence of heavy pain meds, I cranked out four pages of brilliant first draft prose (my judgment of the quality of my work may have been nominally influenced by the aforementioned top-notch medications).

    I wrote like I was dying.

    My imminent death gave me a focus I’d lacked. More importantly, while I was putting words to page, I wasn’t dwelling on my death, but on the lives of the characters I was creating.

    Cancer helps me concentrate on my writing, yet writing distracts me from cancer. Those sound like contrary propositions, but it works. You, dear reader, don’t have to fall victim to cancer to focus like you have cancer.

    Two years ago, the local newspaper published an article about me and my writing group, which added a third member, Dennis Green, shortly after my ICU stay. The headline was “Writing on Deadline.”

    Write as if you have a deadline.

    That doesn’t mean to write fast, but just to write with a reasonable goal in mind. Despite the fact that I was dying, I took two years to finish my first novel.

    Even then, I felt it was somewhat rushed, but I was approaching the median time when the first chemotherapy for my GIST cancer fails.I had to finish, because I didn’t want a posthumous release. I wanted to see how people responded to my work.

    Your deadline can be a birthday or some other significant date. With that date in mind, you can plan and work accordingly.

    With a two-year plan, you can break it down further by giving yourself a year to finish the first draft and another year to do at least two more drafts and a final edit. And without cancer whispering in your ear, the plan can be tweaked as needed.

    Some writers have daily goals, but for me, a weekly goal made more sense. I need large blocks of time for writing the first draft. With historical fiction, that is even more so the case.

    During the week, I generate ideas and do research, making notes and emailing ideas to myself if I’m away from my computer. I allow what I wrote the previous week to marinate and plan what I will write the next week.

    Then, on Sundays, I lock myself away and im-merse myself in my fictional world for about six or seven hours. If I miss a Sunday, I find a way to make it up during the week.

    As I mentioned before, writing like you’re dying doesn’t just apply to pacing. It also applies to quality.

    If the tome you complete within your self-imposed schedule is not something you’re fully comfortable with leaving as your legacy—as the last thing you leave as representative of who you are as a writer—then take a little more time to polish your product.

    You’re not actually dying.

    My first novel, Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers, came out in the fall of 2012, and, because I thought I was going to die within the next year, I made it more autobiographical and less commercial than I would have otherwise. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with the final product and the legacy it would have left.

    Somehow, I have beaten the odds and, though my first chemotherapy has failed and led to a major surgery, my second novel, Memoirs of a Dead White Chick, was released September 1, 2015.

    I would have loved to feel I had six months or a year to expand the universe I created and polish what I crafted, but I am gradually dying. The chemo and the side effects from the chemo have caused me to drop fifteen pounds and my stamina is low.

    Some days I’m strong enough to go for a very short bicycle ride and others, I have to use the electric cart to get around in the supermarket. I’ve learned to time outings around chemo and meals so that I’m not homebound, but there’s always some level of discomfort.

    Writing and sharing my writing allow me to forget, albeit briefly, that death is looming. Maybe it’s even helped me extend out my time.

    My books will allow a part of me to live on beyond my death, and writing like I’m dying allows me to be content with what I’ll leave behind.

    Lennox Randon, a writer battling metastatic GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumors) cancer, is a graduate of the Houston Police Academy and the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Education. He has worked as a police officer, technical writer, and teacher. A native Texan, Randon currently lives in Iowa with his wife and daughter. When he’s not reading or writing, Randon loves bowling, tennis, scuba diving, snorkeling, skiing, hiking, and just exploring nature in general as his health allows. Randon’s new book, Memoirs of a Dead White Chick, is available now in paperback and e-book. As of this writing, Randon counts every new day as a bonus. LennoxRandon.com


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    UPTOWN_underground_aldis_hodge_jurnee_smollett_bell

    WGN America announced yesterday that UNDERGROUND, an “Underground Railroad escape thriller,” will premiere March 9th.

    The series was created by executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski. John Legend will also serve as an executive producer for UNDERGROUND.

    Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Chris Meloni, Jessica De Gouw, and Alano Miller star in the high-stakes slave drama.

    According to a press release, UNDERGROUND “takes viewers on a pulse-pounding journey with revolutionaries of the Underground Railroad.” WGN describes the plot:

    “A courageous blacksmith Noah (Hodge) covertly organizes a small group of his fellow slaves and pieces together a daring plan of escape across hundreds of miles to freedom. The odds of success are razor-thin for those who make it off the plantation, while the risks, dangers and obstacles multiply each step of the way.”

    Check out the double trailers below. Will you watch?


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    “I stand here for all the women who’ve been told, ‘You don’t fit the mold, you’re not good enough, you won’t make it.’ Look at me, I’m here.”

    — Missy Elliott accepts the Innovator Award during the Billboard Women in Music Awards on Dec. 11th. See more of her and Ciara at the ceremony in CELEB IG WKND: Lupita, The Game, Danai & More.


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    “Somehow, despite all the conversation about race and policing, there was relatively little discussion of Officer Holtzclaw and his violence against women that he was sworn to protect and serve, but who he instead harmed and violated. Why the silences? One reason may be because the familiar stories of race, rape, and criminal justice tend to be dominated by three characters: Black men, who are variously decried as either dangerous brutes or defended as wrongfully accused; white women, either understood as innocent victims whose honor must be defended, or disparaged as dishonest accusers whose lies bring wrathful vengeance; and white men, narrated as either righteous or vile defenders of white women’s sexual chastity. The villains and the heroes may change depending on where the storyteller stands, but that ancient tale of race, rape, and American criminal justice consistently features these three figures. Notice anyone missing?”

    — Melissa Harris-Perry opines about why the mainstream media hasn’t covered the case of Daniel Holtzclaw, who is a former Oklahoma City Police Department convicted recently of 18 of 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and forcible oral sodomy of Black women, during an airing of her MSNBC show.


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    Navarro CarrIt takes an extremely talented mixologist to provide craft cocktails in an array of settings. Whether it’s a large scale event or an intimate cocktail bar, Atlanta mixologist Navarro Carr does it right every time. Currently the Beverage Manager at The Sound Table, he has been integral in the development of the cocktail culture in Atlanta.
    Navarro Carr
    Navarro is a regular presenter at the annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. He also has beverage industry experience in education, training, consulting, event planning and brand development.

    Navarro Carr is one of the featured mixologists for Seagram’s Ginger Ale and Uptown Magazine’s Art Of The Mix event.

     


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    Mixologist Michael CharlesMichael Charles is a beloved Atlanta bartender and mixologist, and is most known for his role at the helm of Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant’s Inman Park location.

    A native of Teaneck, NJ, Michael started bartending in 2002 at the hottest clubs in NYC to support himself through college. His job as a bartender quickly transformed into an undeniable passion for the craft of creating cocktails and delivering an unforgettable experience to the patrons that frequented his venues.

    In 2010, Michael brought his talents to Atlanta, first, with Andrews Entertainment District and ultimately found himself at home with Barteca Restaurant Group.

    Michael boasts a cult-like following. His sophisticated, high-energy regulars pump life into the veins of the restaurants he works at. He was instrumental in the launch and on-going success of Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant’s Sunday Brunch scene – transforming it into an NYC-like day party week after week.

    ixologist Michael Charles

    Michael’s dedication and passion to his craft resulted in his promotion to Bar Manager with Barcelona and then to their sister restaurant, Bartaco.

    When it comes to imbibing, there is no “one-size-fits all,” so Michael’s motto is to break away from the traditional template of drink composition and deliver a truly unique experience tailored to each one his customers, respectively. This strategy has paid off big time and Michael has earned the reputation of being “the best bartender.”

    Michael’s Favorite Bar: “I may be biased, but I love Bartaco! Their cocktails are fresh-squeezed, balanced, bright, and most importantly – they pack a punch!”

    Michael Charles is one of the featured mixologists for Seagram’s Ginger Ale and Uptown Magazine’s Art Of The Mix event


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    Tokiwa SearsHaving been raised in Atlanta, GA, southern hospitality is of utmost importance to Mixologist Tokiwa Sears. Currently she is the Assistant Bar Lead at the world famous Holeman and Finch Public House. Creating cocktails in a 3 times James Beard nominated food and beverage power house is quite an accomplishment.

    Tokiwa Sears

    Tending bar under the highly acclaimed and hugely talented Chef Linton Hopkins is a surreal experience, indeed. Previously ‘Toki’ was the Head Mixologist under the prestigious, James Beard award winning Chef Art Smith at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta, GA; and prior to that she tended bar alongside Iron Chef and James Beard award nominee, Chef Duane Nutter at the highly acclaimed One Flew South in Hartsfield Jackson International Airport which was voted the #1 airport bar in the world.

    Tokiwa Sears

    Known to many as ‘Miss Libation’, Tokiwa’s style is fresh, balanced, bold and fun. She is a very active member of the Atlanta chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild. (U.S.B.G.) Toki loves competing in and judging cocktail competitions. She won best of category for whiskey at the Peach Jam 2013 competition in East Atlanta Village and she is the 2013 Taste of Atlanta Barcraft competition winner. She enjoys blogging, studying her craft, dining out and crocheting when she is not behind the stick.

    Tokiwa Sears is one of the featured mixologists for Seagram’s Ginger Ale and Uptown Magazine’s Art Of The Mix event.


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    UPTOWN_the_color_purple_musical1
    When it comes to Broadway, you’re just not sure what you’re going to get, unless you opt for one of the popular commercial successes. But who wants to feel like they’re visiting a Disney theme park if they can’t actually ride Space Mountain. The Color Purple Musical doesn’t present this problem, however, because it’s both familiar and unfamiliar. There’s a guarantee that you’ll enjoy the musical if you’ve cracked open Alice Walker‘s tome or sat through the two-plus hours of Steven Spielberg‘s film more than once. What’s unfamiliar is how Tony Award-winning director John Doyle and Pulitzer Prize and Tony award winner Marsha Norman, who adapted the novel for the stage, will handle the span of several decades in two and a half hours, or the cringe-worthy moments of Celie’s stepfather and husband sexual abusing her and Sofia’s near-lynching.

    UPTOWN_the_color_purple_musical2

    When we first meet Celie, she’s 14 and pregnant for the second time and has less confidence than a baby taking her first steps, but as time progresses she becomes more self-assured and possesses the strength of a woman who has survived some ish. The coming and subsequent going of Shug Avery also helps time to progress. Even though we’re spared watching Celie be raped and Sofia’s full ordeal — that would be too awkward for a musical — the characters sing and discuss those occurrences without diminishing the magnitude of importance to the story and characters. The jazz, ragtime, blues, and gospel music of The Color Purple Musical is one of the characters at the hands of Grammy Award winners Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The singing at times helps to lighten the load of the plot. Other times, it intensifies it.

    UPTOWN_the_color_purple_musical3

    After witnessing Cynthia Erivo play Celie through often tearful eyes, there’s bound to be more opportunities for this Brit on this side of the pond. Her voice is heaven and her triumphant “I’m Here” is breathtaking. Jennifer Hudson, who celebrates her Broadway debut in The Color Purple Musical, handles Shug Avery as well as she did Dreamgirls‘s Effie White, for which she won an Academy Award and Golden Globe. Danielle Brooks, another newcomer to the Great White Way, plays an unbreakable Sofia, but you know there’s love — for some — behind the intimidation. These three are supported by Joaquina Kalukango (Nettie), Patrice Covington (Squeak), Isaiah Johnson (Mister), Kyle Scatliffe (Harpo), and a trio of church gossips played by Carrie Compere, Bre Jackson, and Rema Webb.

    Catch this celebration of Black women before it leaves New York’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street) in March. For more enticement go behind the curtain of The Color Purple Musical here.

    [All images: Matthew Murphy]


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    UPTOWN_barack_obama_hotline_bling

    YouTuber baracksdubs is back at it. This time the video editor is “putting words” in President Barack Obama‘s mouth to the tune of Drake‘s “Hotline Bling.” Using a ton of footage from speeches and adding a jolly-looking image of the president to Drake’s body, barackdubs creates a rather impressive rendition of the popular song and Obama’s dad face is a welcomed addition to Drake’s dad dance moves. Obama has previously “covered” Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller,” The Weeknd‘s “I Can’t Feel My Face,” and Ariana Grande‘s “Problem.” First Lady Michelle Obama has also taken the stage. She “sang” a duet with her husband, Ne-Yo‘s “It’s All Good.”


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    UPTOWN_nicki_minaj_angola_showNicki Minaj might be putting a twist on Jermaine Dupri‘s 1998 single, “Money Ain’t A Thang,” as she gears up for a performance for the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, and his family. But instead of rapping “to hell with the price ’cause money ain’t a thang,” Nicki’s tune might be “to hell with dictatorships ’cause integrity ain’t a thang.”

    The rapper is set to perform for “millions” of spectators at the Show Unitel Boas Festas on Dec.19. But human rights groups have labeled dos Santos a dictator for his abuses within the African country. According to Amnesty International, dos Santos imprisoned the peaceful Angolan 15, a collective of democracy rights activists, “unlawfully for almost five months and charged [them] with preparing ‘rebellion and a coup attempt.'” Angolan hip-hop artist Luaty Beirao is among the group of jailed activists, whose trial will be a litmus test for the independence of Angola’s judiciary system.

    How ironic that a woman who called out Miley Cyrus for apparently not caring about the plight of Black people, specifically the double standard Black women in the music industry face, seems to care very little about the Black folks suffering under dos Santos’s regime.

    According to the Human Rights Foundation and as UPTOWN reported previously: “The dos Santos family has ordered the deaths of many politicians, journalists, and activists who protest his rule. He also has exploited oil and diamond wealth to assert power over all branches of the government, the military, and the courts.”

    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group’s Africa policy director, Jeffrey Smith, explained the group’s issue with Nicki’s performance for dos Santos to Confidenti@l: “Nicki Minaj is following in the footsteps of Mariah Carey, callously taking money from a dictator who’s been in power for nearly four decades and who has effectively and ruthlessly choked free expression, setting a horrible precedent not only for Angola, but for the entire region. This sustained crackdown on basic human rights in Angola has swept up activists, opposition members, journalists, and even musicians, including Luaty Beirão, part of the collective now known as the Angola 15, who was until recently on a hunger strike to protest his inhumane treatment in prison.”

    dos Santos’s billionaire daughter Isabel owns Unitel, the mobile company that hired Nicki to perform at the holiday show. Isabel is married to Sindika Dokolo, whom UPTOWN covered in a recent issue.

    RELATED: 6 Entertainers Who Made Big Money Performing For Corrupt Leaders


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    UPTOWN_empty_office

    As you gear up for holiday travel or just taking a few days to decompress from 2015, here’s how to craft the most professional OOO message, but first a few findings from a Microsoft study about the out-of-office auto-reply message.

    “In a recent survey of about 1,000 people, Microsoft found that many people feel happy when it comes to all things OOO. More than 77 percent of respondents said setting their OOO feels as if vacation is ‘officially starting,’ and 60 percent said they like seeing creative OOOs from other people.

    “More than 44 percent of respondents said other people’s OOOs made them feel ‘excited that things are slowing down! Can’t wait to turn mine on too!’

    “If there was a downside to auto-reply, it was the potential for FOMO (fear of missing out) upon receiving someone’s out-of-office email. Nearly 30 percent of people have succumbed to the feeling, in which they wondered, ‘Why aren’t I on a tropical vacation, too?!’ the survey found.”

    WHEN SENDING AN OOO

    Keep it Short (But Sweet)

    • Steer clear of a message that rambles. That said, use a tone that’s conversational—not clinical.

    Ensure it Informs

    • Include all the facts your correspondents will need:
      1. Will you be checking email while you are out?
      2. Can someone reach you in case of a work emergency?
      3. Is anyone covering for you while you are gone?
      4. When will you return?

    Keep it Timely

    • Turn on your OOO right before you walk out the door, and deactivate it once you’ve returned to your desk. Don’t let the OOO overstay its welcome as a cheat for keeping work requests at bay when you’re in fact already back!

    Use it Universally

    • Write an OOO for your personal email accounts, too—particularly if you’re planning to go on a complete email diet. Here’s where you can have a bit of fun, infusing your message with some whimsy and even inviting friends and family to interact with you on social media rather than email.

    Stay the Course

    • If you’ve indicated you won’t be checking email at all, don’t check email at all. And at the very least, don’t reply to emails if you’ve advised you won’t be checking, as you’ll set the expectation that you intend to answer emails consistently throughout your time away.

    WHEN RECEIVING AN OOO

    Remain Calm

    • There is no such thing as an email emergency. Repeat: No such thing as an email emergency. If you need information or a response immediately, simply follow the steps outlined in the sender’s out of office message.

    Shake Off Jealousy

    • If you’re not taking a proper holiday yourself, don’t let bitterness about your own lack of a getaway dampen your spirits. You’ll get your turn eventually. In the meantime, relish the fact you’ll be able to take nice, long lunches—not to mention get a lot more done without the usual volume of email and office interruptions.

    Respect the Request

    • Clearing your in-box at the expense of someone else’s much-needed downtime is inconsiderate. If your matter can wait, go ahead and compose emails to your out-of-office colleagues, but save them in your drafts folder. Wait on sending them until the recipients are back in the office.

    Avoid Sneaky Contact

    • Don’t stalk the person in other places where work conversations are rare. In other words, don’t switch to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or WhatsApp to get your message through.

    Stage Your Own Exit

    • Are you the last one still in the office? What are you waiting for? Providing you are getting a bit of a break (even a small one), set your own OOO, shut your computer down and begin your holiday, too.

    [Image: Shutterstock]


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  • 12/16/15--14:15: Reflections On 2015
  • UPTOWN_woman_urban_setting
    By Wendy Credle

    As 2015 comes closer to its conclusion, sit back and reflect upon the gifts you have received, the lessons you have learned, and the wisdom that comes from having experienced it all. Spiritually you are growing. Everyone is here to be successful. You are here to be successful.

    For me 2015 was a lesson in presence, and the art of allowing. Some of the professional balls I have had in the air for the past couple of years began to manifest, while others landed in disappointment. On the bright side, I finished my first book and started filming a TV show. On the more disappointing side, even after receiving multiple offers, I was not able to sell the multimillion-dollar house I had listed for over two years.

    I turned 50 this year and realized I had to take better care of myself. I incorporated more yoga and running into my exercise routine and lost that extra five pounds. While I still worry and stress just like everyone else, wisdom has taught me to sit in meditation and search within my Self for resolution, peace, and guidance.

    This past year has given me two new guardian angels. One in the human form of my Aunt Betty, and the other in the horse form of my beloved Dreamy. Having been an important part of my life, I carry on focusing on the kindness of my Aunt and the grace of my horse.

    2015 has also given me the gift of clarity and focus. My heart sings most when I am leading workshops and helping others fulfill their dreams. To give my best Self, I have to be my best Self. This is a profound and joyful challenge. In 2016 I look forward to loving more intensely, demonstrating that love more often, and living even more consciously.

    Love and Respect,
    Wendy Credle

    Wendy Credle is an entertainment lawyer and founder of the executive coaching company, Spanda Coaching.  Follow her on twitter @IamWendyCredle  or contact her at SpandaCoaching.com.


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    UPTOWN_freddie_gray_william_porter

    Judge Barry Williams declared a mistrial today for Baltimore police officer William Porter, who had been charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office in the April 19th death of Freddie Gray. The jury was hung after they began deliberating Monday afternoon.

    Gray died a week after his neck was broken while riding in back of a police van.

    NBC News reports that the mistrial is viewed as a legal blow for the prosecution, who figured a conviction for Porter would strengthen their case against van driver Caesar Goodson, Jr. and the other five officers charged in Gray’s death.

    The remaining trials are set for early 2016. An administrative hearing on Thursday will determine a new court date for Porter.

    The jury was composed of four Black women, three Black men, three white women, and two white men.

    Source

    [William Porter image: Patrick Semansky/AP]


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  • 12/17/15--03:31: Charlotte: Wine Me Up
  • UPTOWN_corkbuzz_charlotte

    Very rarely do people like to be in a room full of whiners, unless you’re a patron of Charlotte’s newest vino haven, Corkbuzz. In addition to full menus for brunch, lunch, dinner and a bevy of house branded cocktails, the wine-centric restaurant offers enjoyable and educational options for every level of interest in vintages from grape growers to sommeliers. Did we mention that this watering hole also boasts a stunning event space to pop corks on special occasions? Cheers! Corkbuzz.com


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  • 12/17/15--03:37: New York: Where Art Thou
  • UPTOWN_momaps1

    They say the best things in life are free and a gratis romp through Queens’ wonderful MoMA PS1 is evidence of that adage. Made possible by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, the year-long offering is open to residents of all five boroughs in an effort to celebrate the vast artistic community of the Big Apple. This former Long Island City school turns 40 in 2016 and you’ve made the list for a 365-day party! MoMAPS1.org


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