Eric Garcetti and Ava DuVernay launch diversity initiative for entertainment industry

Ava Duvernay and eric garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and filmmaker Ava DuVernay launched a diversity program on Monday that will fund internships in the entertainment industry for young people from underserved communities.

The new program, which kicks off this summer, will also provide production gap financing to feature projects made by filmmakers and crews who don’t have sufficient funds to get through post production.

The Evolve Entertainment Fund will assist 150 interns for the coming summer, with the goal to increase the number to 500 by 2020 and beyond. The $5-million initiative won’t be financed with tax dollars but rather through fundraising, according to a city spokesperson.

The program will dispense grants to entertainment companies and organizations around L.A. The first grant recipient will be the Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, a joint venture between Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reporter.

Hollywood has come under harsh criticism in recent years for its lack of racial and gender diversity in key production and executive positions. The industry has also been roiled in recent months by widespread accusations of sexual harassment, beginning with allegations that surfaced in October that producer Harvey Weinstein engaged in sexual misconduct against women for decades.

“Unless we change, the status quo stays,” said Garcetti during a launch event Monday at the Filipinotown headquarters of “The Lego Movie” producer Dan Lin.

An immigrant from Taiwan who grew up in a modest Brooklyn neighborhood, Lin said his production company, which has been renamed Rideback Ranch, will be a “symbol of inclusion and diversity.”

Continue onto the LA Times to read the complete article.

Mae Jemison: Diversity In STEM Isn’t A Nicety, It’s A Necessity

mae jemison

The first African-American woman in space discusses her agricultural science initiative.

Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, knows firsthand the importance of exposing kids to STEM topics early. She also knows the significance of having kids see themselves in movies, on TV, and in certain careers.

“It means making sure that people get those images that show they have those things available to them,” Jemison told HuffPost.

Jemison is collaborating on “Science Matters,” an initiative to encourage kids of all ages and backgrounds to pursue agricultural science from pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer and youth development organization National 4-H Council. Jemison, a physician and chemical engineer, knows the field of agricultural science can sound intimidating, but she and Jennifer Sirangelo, CEO and president of the National 4-H Council, have set out to change that.

Digging into agricultural science can be as simple as asking, “Where does my food come from?” An increasingly popular way to kick-start this sort of interest is through urban gardens, Jemison explained.

“There’s nothing more exciting to see something growing ― and you can eat it!” Jemison said. “That’s something parents can do with their kids as well.”

Sirangelo agreed, noting that agricultural science is more than horticulture and animal science and has huge applications for our future.

“The need to produce more food with fewer resources over the coming decades is going to push our science even further,” she told HuffPost.

As Jemison put it, we need to prepare our kids “to not just survive, but thrive.”

Bringing more children into STEM topics like agricultural science isn’t enough, though. Diversity is imperative, especially for women and people of color, groups underrepresented in these fields, Jemison said.

“We’re losing talent and we’re losing capability by not including them,” she told HuffPost. “When people think about why it is important to have a diversity of talent in a field, they think of it as a nicety. No, it’s a necessity. We get better solutions.”

Continue onto the HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.

Jordan Peele is first black screenwriter to win best original screenplay


Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” has placed him in the Oscar history books.

Peele was crowned the winner in the the best original screenplay race at Sunday’s Academy Awards, making him the first black screenwriter to receive the honor.

In his speech, Peele thanked the people “who raised my voice and let me make this movie.”

Heading into Sunday, Peele and his film were nominated for a total of four awards, including best picture.

Only four black film writers have been nominated in the best original screenplay category in Oscars’ 90-year history: Suzanne de Passe (“Lady Sings the Blues,” 1972), Spike Lee (“Do the Right Thing,” 1989) John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood,” 1991) and Peele.

In the adapted screenplay category, three films with black writers have won in the past — “Precious,” “Twelve Years a Slave,” and “Moonlight.”

This year, Peele made history, becoming the first black director to receive nominations in the writing, directing, and best picture categories for his directorial debut.

Only two other people have accomplished that feat, according to the Academy. Warren Beatty with “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) and James L. Brooks with “Terms of Endearment” (1983).

Continue onto CNN to read the complete article.

Tiffany Haddish Will Be The First Black Woman To Host MTV Movie & TV Awards

tiffany haddish

Tiffany Haddish is making history left and right.

The “Girls Trip” actress announced on Thursday that she will be hosting the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards in Los Angeles on Monday, June 18. Haddish, who made history last November by becoming the first black female stand-up comedian to host “Saturday Night Live,” is making history again as the first black woman to host the award show. The last female host was Amy Schumer in 2015.

Haddish announced the news in a video on Instagram. “It’s gonna be off the chain! Because you know why? I’m hosting!” Haddish says in the video. “And you know what that means ― it’s gonna be hilarious.”

MTV released a statement shortly after Haddish’s announcement, writing that the actress, comedian and author is “quickly establishing herself as one of the most sought-after actresses and comedic talents in television and film.”

Haddish, who many believe should have been an Oscar contender, has been on fire as of late.

After her hilarious acting in “Girls Trip,” she released a New York Times best-seller titled The Last Black Unicorn. She recently made waves as the face of Groupon, appearing in the brand’s 2018 Super Bowl ad. The actress is also starring in the upcoming TBS sitcom “The Last O.G.” alongside Tracy Morgan.

Continue onto the HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.

Bubba Wallace Makes History As The First African American With A Podium Finish In The Daytona 500


Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr. will make history as the first full-time black driver since 1971 in the predominantly white Daytona 500 race.

Wallace follows Wendell Scott from nearly 50 years ago – who was the first black driver to win a race in the Grand National Series since NASCAR was founded in 1948.

The 24-year-old will drive the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports on Sunday.

Wallace had driven the iconic No. 43 car to a third-place finish in a Daytona 500 qualifying race, setting off a celebration for Richard Petty Motorsports almost worthy of winning NASCAR’s marquee race itself.

The King strolled to the pits and hugged Wallace. The 80-year-old Petty wrapped his arm around Wallace , and they walked off smiling toward what each side hoped was the start of a fruitful alliance.

‘I just had a guard walk me from pit road to the media center. His name is Richard Petty. I’ve never seen him so excited in my life,’ Wallace said.

That Wallace can energize Petty may symbolize as much a true passing of the torch as NASCAR could want: Petty and his deep kinship with old-school fans and Wallace, a video game playing, social media darling about to make history as the first black driver in decades.

Busting down racial barriers in a sport long reserved for whites is heavy stuff for Wallace, and he’s keenly aware all eyes are on him.

The rookie invites glare from his fans and haters, starring in his own eight-episode docu-series ‘Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace ,’ on the Facebook Watch show page.

Wallace, the son of a white father and black mother, has openly talked of becoming the Tiger Woods of NASCAR – a black star who can transcend the sport and prove people of all colors can race and flourish in corporate America.

‘There’s a lot of stuff that’s riding on this weekend. I know it. I pay attention to it,’ Wallace said.

‘I follow a lot of people on social media, and it’s being put out there. But I’m doing my best at managing it, keeping it behind me, and that’s the best thing I can do.’

Wallace is one of at least eight black drivers in NASCAR’s 70-year history who reached the Cup level: Elias Bowie, Charlie Scott, George Wiltshire, Randy Bethea, Willy T. Ribbs and Bill Lester.

Aside from Scott’s 1963 Cup race win, the next win at a national event by a black driver came in 2013 when Wallace took the Truck Series checkered flag at Martinsville.

Wallace, raised in Concord, North Carolina, has the full support of the black drivers before him. Lester sent him encouraging tweets. Wallace met some of Scott’s children.

But none of the black drivers who raced before arrived with this kind of full-blown promotional push, acceptance in the garage and a solid ride that got him a seventh-place start in the Daytona 500.

Continue onto the Daily Mail read the complete article.

The iHeartRadio Nominees Have Been Announced!


The 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards is set to air live on Sunday, March 11th at the Forum in Los Angeles, California. For the fifth straight year, the ceremony will celebrate the most talked about artists and songs heard throughout the last year across radio stations and the iHeartRadio app. Throughout the year, these artists have released hits that have impacted radio stations across the nation.

For the first time, iHeartRadio will be including fans in this year’s show. Fans will be able to vote for “Best Fan Army”, “Best Cover Song”,  “Best Solo Breakout”, and even “Best Musician Pet”.  Voting for these categories are now open at the iHeartRadio awards page. Don’t forget to vote! In the mean time, check out some of the most prominent Black nominees below!

1. Rihanna

Making her debut in 2003, Rihanna has not stopped pushing the barrier in her musical career. The singer has continuously challenged the media and has showcased the balance of being a humanitarian and one of the most notable pop icons of the decade. Her nomination for the 2018 iHearRadio female artist of the year and Best R&B Artist is no surprise, as her release of her 8th studio album, ANTI, brought on a new sound for the singer.

2. The Weeknd

This Toronto native made his mark in 2011 with “House of Balloons”, a 50 minute track with dark R&B tunes flowing through headphones and speakers across the U.S. With his continued rise, The Weeknd has released two more unique sounding albums and has been featured on many soundtracks. His nomination for Best Male Artist and Best R&B Artist of the Year is to be noted as his star continues to rise.

3. Drake

This Canadian native is not just a rapper. He is also a songwriter, producer, and singer. Rising to super stardom in 2006,  the rapper has gone on to release songs with prominent artists such as Rihanna, The Weeknd, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj.  The rapper’s catchy hooks and beats land him as one of the nominees in the Hip-Hop Artist of the Year category.

4. Kendrick Lamar

Originally known as K-Dot, the Compton, California native released many mixtapes under his formative name until he was picked up by a major record label. Making his album debut in 2011, Lamar spilled beats and lyrics detailing the harsh life he has witnessed throughout this childhood. The socially conscious and at times, politically driven lyrics with catchy beats has made Lamar a nominee for Hip-Hop Artist of the Year.

5. Future

Future maybe known for creating a duet album with Drake, but this Hip-Hop Artist of the Year nominee has been paving his way in the music industry for quite some time. Making his mainstream debut in 2011, Future has been featured on tracks with Rihanna and Pharrell. His most prominent album, HNDRXX gained popular success and critical acclaim, and continues to peak through the charts.

6. 21 Savage

The Atlanta based rapper has landed a Best New Hip-Hop Artist nominee for making a splash with his debut album, Issa Album.  Peaking on the Billboard charts, 21 Savage does not plan to stop. With collaborations with Metro Boomin and other influential hip-hop artists, 21 Savage’s star continues to rise.

7. Cardi B

Debuting with her smash hit, Bodak Yellow and being featured on Migos’ ever popular Motor Sport, Cardi B continues to release strong hits such as Bartier Cardi. It comes as no surprise as to why this artist has been nominated as a Best New Hip-Hop Artist.

8. Lil Uzi Vert

His unique style of rapping in XO TOUR Llif3 has made Lil Uzi Vert an artist to watch out for in the coming year. With Marilyn Manson, Paramore, Kanye West, and Pharrell as his inspirations, we can anticipate many unique tracks from this Best New Hip-Hop Artist nominee.

9. GoldLink

This SoundCloud artist rose to prominence  indie and hip-hop mixes. With is album making an appearance in 2017, we can expect a lot more from this Best New Hip-Hop Artist nominee

10. Playboi Carti

Although the release of this mixtape in 2016 received notable attention from various music publications, Playboi Carti gained recognition when he was featured on Lil Uzi Vert’s song, Woke Up Like This. As a Best New  Hip-Hop Artist nominee, Playboi Carti has a lot more room to grow in his music career.

11. Childish Gambino

Donald Glover may have first made his name by starting in hit shows such as Community and Atlanta, but he has solidified his artistic talents under his rapper name, Childish Gambino. The rapper, producer,  and songwriter burst onto the scene with his ultra catchy  3005 and Sweatpants. Riding from that success, the rapper later refined his sound with his soulful funk, R&B hit  Redbone. Taking influences from psychedelic soul and funk, Gambino is one of the most noted nominees in the R&B Artist of the Year category.

12. Khalid

His hit song Location catapulted young artist Khalid to Grammy spotlight. His features with Kendrick Lamar, Logic, and Alissia Clara has gained him much attention and a signing with RCA Records.

13. SZA

Although SZA has been in the music industry since 2013, it wasn’t until she dropped her 2017 album Ctrl, where she earned critical acclaim, that she received popular success. Recently, she has been featured on the Black Panther soundtrack with Kendrick Lamar.

Check out iHeartRadio for more information on these talented artists

Where Are The Black Baseball Players?


TEMPE, Arizona — When Jerry Manuel walks into the room at Tempe Diablo Stadium early on a Friday morning, he’s carrying a portable speaker blasting an instrumental version of Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing.” His coaches are trying to guess who is on the saxophone. After multiple failed attempts, he announces that it’s Boney James. A copy of Baseball America is on the table, and MLB Network is playing in the background. Then the meeting starts.

The baseball lifer known as “The Sage” is here to run the show. He’s leading a collection of former major league players, coaches and scouts at the Dream Series, a showcase event run by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that puts the best African-American players in the country in the same place to learn and play.

It looks like a big league spring training, it feels like a big league spring training, but it doesn’t quack like a big league spring training. With 60 kids invited to the event, specifically pitchers and catchers, they don’t have time to waste. This crew has been selected because of their knowledge, experience and skill. The best black players in America are here to learn from some of the best black coaches in America. Period. It’s important that their message is unified, for a variety of reasons.

“The key thing is, for me, is that there’s no confusion with the kid when he leaves here,” said Manuel, who won a World Series ring and a Manager of the Year Award in the big leagues. “He’s not confused. He might not get the revelation of what you’re talking about, but he’s not confused. He might not get it right now. He might go home, wake up and say, ‘Ah, that’s what he meant.’ Flash [Tom Gordon] said to me the same thing Marvin [Freeman] said to me. But Marvin said it in a different way. That’s the genius of who you guys are. That’s the genius of having different types of pitchers here.

“There’s a difference between throwing and pitching. We can’t get caught up in just velocity. We gotta get caught up in pitching. Counts, etc. I just want to make it clear what the whole program is about. We are trying to get this thing right, and it’s going to take some time, but we are getting better.”

Over the next three days, players who were part of a generation who shaped what the game is all about for me would attempt to do the same for the players whom MLB has identified as those with the best chance to help solve their diversity problem.

While the baseball basics throw around phrases such as “where are all the black players?” and posit quasi-sensible but ultimately pointless theories as to why the number of African-American players at the major league level has dipped by whatever percentage, on the surface the league is taking a multifaceted at best, scatterbrained at worst, attempt to build the game at the grass-roots level, besides grooming talent to advance to the next level.

The truth is that a combination of economics and sociology — along with interest — has changed why the number of African-American players is down in MLB. But baseball is bigger than the major leagues. There are fewer black players in college baseball, never mind high school baseball and on down. Travel ball has turned the average teenage experience on the diamond into a game with higher stakes than most parents can afford to play, and when teams in structurally and institutionally disadvantaged districts do succeed at the little league level, there are some coaches willing to go to the ends of the earth to make sure their kids win, no matter the cost — remember what happened to Jackie Robinson West.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

“Black Panther” Stars and Creators Reflect On Its Arrival


By Ronda Racha Penrice, Urban News Service

Fans, who bought a record-setting number of advance tickets, weren’t the only ones anticipating the Feb. 16 opening of “Black Panther,” Marvel’s historic first black superhero film.

“I’ve been waiting a long time. I was just so, so excited because this was a movie [where] we all felt a lot of ownership, that we thoroughly enjoyed making,” said Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o during the film’s January 30 press conference at the Montage Beverly Hills the morning after its glitzy purple carpet premiere. Nyong’o plays Nakia, T’Challa/Black Panther’s love interest.

Although T’Challa/Black Panther, whose superpowers include speed, strength, night vision, claws and more aided by his country’s powerful metal, Vibranium, was first introduced in the “Fantastic Four” comic book series in 1966, months before the founding of the iconic freedom-fighting Black Panther Party, “Black Panther” is the character’s first-ever live action film. Reportedly Jack Kirby, who created T’Challa/Black Panther with Stan Lee, took the name from the all-black U.S. Army 761st Tank Battalion of World War II dubbed “the Black Panthers.” Chadwick Boseman, well-known for his roles as such real-life heroes as Jackie Robinson and James Brown, is the first to ever play him on film, appearing in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” to great enthusiasm. He returns in “Avengers: Infinity War” May 4.

“Black Panther” follows T’Challa/Black Panther’s journey, in the aftermath of his father’s death, to lead his technologically advanced nation, Wakanda, which the world believes is impoverished. Featuring black actors from the United States, England and various parts of Africa, “Black Panther” is the first Marvel film set in a black-ruled nation. As such, the film challenges the negative stereotypes in which the world typically views African nations. It also raises larger questions about what a successful never colonialized African country might look like and what role it would play in today’s global landscape.

The film’s larger significance was clearly important to Nyong’o and her fellow cast members – who included Boseman, Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), Forest Whitaker (Zuri), Angela Bassett (T’Challa/Black Panther’s stepmother Ramonda), “Get Out” Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) and more – during the Hollywood press conference where Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and Ryan Coogler, the film’s co-writer and director, were also present.

Jordan, who plays the main villain Erik Killmonger that challenges T’Challa/Black Panther’s ascension as Wakanda’s king, said he only truly grasped the film’s importance after seeing it for the first time at the premiere.

“I couldn’t describe that feeling before actually sitting down and watching that film and seeing yourself on screen, not just me personally, but people that look like me in power and having those socially relevant themes but in a movie that you want to sit down and watch and enjoy,” Jordan said.

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba)..Photo: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018

As someone from both the United States and Zimbabwe, Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, leader of the female warriors known as the Dora Milaje who protect the king, had an even more positive response to the fictional Wakanda and its very real continent. Gurira shared that she appreciated the departure from the usual depictions of African countries as impoverished.

“You see the power and potential of where you’re from, but you see how skewed it’s viewed by the world and how misrepresented it is and how distorted it is or besieged by the world so often,” she said. “[“Black Panther” is] kind of a salve to those wounds to see this world brought to life this way and to see all the potential and power of all the different African culturalisms and aspects of our being that’s actually celebrated,” she said.

“Black Panther” is also noteworthy for its elevation of black women in the superhero genre, be they strong like Gurira’s Okoye, humanitarian like Nyong’o’s Nakia, royal like Angela Bassett’s Ramonda or STEM geniuses like Letitia Wright’s Shuri who is T’Challa/Black Panther’s sister. That elevation was also present behind the scenes through the work of production designer Hannah Beachler, Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter and hair department head Camille Friend.

“How it was written is that the men are always behind the women as well so no one is undermined,” said Wright of the film and her character. “The men are not like ‘you shouldn’t be in technology, you shouldn’t be in math.’  T’Challa is like ‘go ahead sis, this is your department, this is your domain, like kill it.’”

Black Panther
T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) . . . Photo: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018

Boseman attributes that gender balance to the vision that is Wakanda. “The idea of the next generation being smarter, being better than you, is a concept that they would have evolved to,” said Boseman. “So even though she’s reared in the same generation, she’s my younger sister, she benefits from whatever I have. So you want your sons and daughters to be better than you were. So that concept is a Wakandan concept.”

Coogler, previously known for his independent social justice film “Fruitvale Station” and the latest installment of the Rocky franchise, “Creed,” both starring Jordan, said he was cautious not to tamper too much with the “Black Panther” spirit so well established by the comic books in the script he wrote with Joe Robert Cole.

“You can go through our film and see something in there probably from every writer that has touched T’Challa’s character and the “Black Panther” comics, from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial runs to Don McGregor to Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, Jonathan Hickman and Ta-Nehisi Coates,” he said, naming most of the franchise writers. “The character has got a long history and such rich stuff to mine and each writer left their own mark.”

When the film’s radicalism was singled out, Feige reminded those in the room that “Black Panther” was born radical. “Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid-1960s,” he said.

That integrity, Feige continued, guided this Marvel team. “If they had the guts to do that in the mid-1960s,” he said, “the least we [could] do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the Civil Rights era.”

Urban News Service

Bigger Than Ever, And More Diverse: Team USA At The 2018 Winter Olympics

team usa at the 2018 winter olympics

Team USA is bringing more athletes to Pyeongchang (242) than any nation ever has to a Winter Olympics. This year’s team is also the most diverse of any U.S. winter squad, in terms of both race and gender: The 108 women on the 2018 team are the most of any U.S. team at a Winter Games.

Team USA is nearly 45 percent female, putting it slightly above the average for all countries competing in Pyeongchang. Overall, the Winter Olympics has boosted women’s participation since the 1990s, largely by removing barriers to sports such as the biathlon, curling and ice hockey. But other restrictions remain that close events to women, including requirements that women race in only the shorter two-person bobsled, with no four-person events.

The U.S. squad includes 10 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and its first two openly gay athletes.

Four of the five athletes on the U.S. women’s bobsled team are people of color, led by Elana Meyers Taylor. The total includes alternate Briauna Jones, who will step up if there are injuries on the two-sled team. If the team reaches the podium, it will continue a streak of success: With a similar makeup, the 2014 version of the team won silver and bronze at the Sochi 2014 Games.

The age range on Team USA is from 17 to 39, with an average age of 26.4 years. The oldest U.S. Olympian in South Korea is the hockey team’s Brian Gionta, 39. The youngest is 17-year-old figure skater Vincent Zhou – one of eight U.S. athletes born in 2000.

Continue onto NPR to read the complete article.

8 Afro Latinos Who Made Important Contributions to US History


Nearly 100 years ago, historian Carter G. Woodson established a week-long commemoration of Black achievements and history.Through that initiative, Woodson lay the groundwork for what would eventually become known as Black History Month. In the United States, the month of February is a celebration of Blackness, paying tribute to those who fought for racial and social equality. The month serves to highlight the existence of the African Diaspora in the United States, and in school, turned our civics and history classes into necessary discussions about their contributions. However, many times this history is incomplete.

While we commonly learn about imperative African-American figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, and many others, we don’t often hear about the importance of Afro-Latinos in the United States. Because Black and Latino are incorrectly seen as mutually exclusive, Afro Latinos find themselves overlooked.

As we acknowledge and honor Black heritage, here are eight Afro Latinos whose important contributions to US history should not go unrecognized during Black History Month or the rest of the year.

1. Miriam Jiménez Román

Miriam Jiménez Román’s influence is expansive, but perhaps nothing is as strongly felt as her book, The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States. Jiménez leads the AfroLatin@Forum, which is dedicated to raising the awareness of Afro Latin@s in the US. She has used her own experiences as a Black Puerto Rican to educate the world on Afro Latinidad and to bridge the gap between the presence of African-Americans and Latinos in the US.

She created spaces and outlets for Black Latinos that previously didn’t exist and addressed issues that often go ignored. Along with her co-editor, Juan Flores, Román conducted informative workshops with middle school students and discovered that many had a hard time understanding Afro Latinidad.

That’s why she knew crafting a book like The AfroLatin@ Reader was essential and something that should have always existed. “I said I wanted a book that addressed some of the concerns I felt when I was young,”  Roman told Los AfroLatinos. “This kind of book should have been around when I was a kid because Blackness was equated with being African-American. This limited view left me concerned about my Blackness because I grew up as a Black Puerto Rican, and I’m very conscious how race and ethnicity have both impacted my life.”

2. Piri Thomas

Down These Mean Streets, a memoir written by author Piri Thomas, is a noteworthy work on Afro Latinidad in the United States. Discussing the racism, identity issues and poverty he experienced during his lifetime growing in Spanish Harlem in NYC, the Cuban-Puerto Rican poet created a piece of literature that shone a light on his own community.

As a darker-skinned Latino, he faced discrimination, both from his family and society as a whole. His father reportedly preferred his lighter-skinned children, according to The New York Times. During his youth he used and sold drugs and ended up in prison after he hurt a police officer. During his seven years imprisoned, he finished high school and turned to writing. The work he created was so trailblazing that his editor told him that with Down These Mean Streets, Piri created a new genre, one where “everybody speaks like themselves.

He also became involved in his community and advocated for at-risk youth. In Carmen Dolores Hernández’s Puerto Rican Voices in English: Interviews with Writers, Piri said that if people wanted to know what he had done after writing his novel, all they had to do was to “ask the communities, the schools, the universities, and colleges.”

Piri is remembered as an influential voices of the Nuyorican Movement, which captured the experiences of Puerto Ricans in New York through the discrimination and marginalization they faced.

Continue onto Remezcla to read more about these revolutionary Afro- Latinos.

‘Black-ish’ Breakout Marsai Martin to Star in ‘Little’


Marsai Martin is set to have a big moment with Little. 

The Black-ish breakout is attached to star in the Universal comedy that centers on a woman who gets the chance to relive the carefree life as her younger self (Martin), when the pressures of adulthood become too much.

The deal is not only noteworthy for Martin as an actress (it will mark her first studio feature) but also a creative force. The 13-year-old came up with the idea for the script and will also executive produce.

Drumline scripter Tina Gordon has written the most recent draft of the comedy and is attached to direct. Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver penned the first draft of the screenplay, based on Martin’s idea.

Will Packer and James Lopez, who produced Girls Trip, are set to produce via the Uni-based Will Packer Productions, along with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. Along with Martin, Girls Trip star Regina Hall will exec produce, as well as Josh Martin.

Erik Baiers and Mika Pryce will oversee the project for the studio.

Continue onto the Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.


Laverne Cox Makes History As Cosmopolitan’s First Transgender Cover Girl


Laverne Cox can add “Cosmopolitan covergirl” to her ever-growing list of credits and accomplishments.

The Emmy-winning actress, producer and LGBTQ rights advocate made history as the first transgender woman ever to appear on a Cosmo cover, appearing atop Cosmopolitan South Africa’s February issue in a sheer black leotard. The Valentine’s Day-themed #SayYesToLove edition is focused on LGBTQ issues, and features a rainbow-colored masthead designed specifically for the occasion.

Cox, 45, debuted the cover on Twitter and Instagram early Monday.

In a video interview (see above) that accompanied the issue’s release, Cox got candid about her celebrity crush, her proudest career moment and her ongoing struggle for acceptance in the heteronormative world of show business.

“As a black transgender woman, I’ve often been kept a secret by the men that I’ve dated,” she said. “So when my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his dad and invited me to spend Hanukkah with him and his family, it was the most special thing ever.”

She added, “Trans women deserve to be loved out in the open and in the light.”

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

New Children’s Book Honors Ballet Pioneer Raven Wilkinson


Here’s to the woman who paved the way for Misty Copeland.

A new children’s book honors the historic career of Raven Wilkinson, who is widely credited as the first African-American ballerina to dance with a major touring troupe.

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson begins with a forward from ballet dancer Misty Copeland, who has called Wilkinson her mentor, and ends with a letter from Wilkinson herself. The book, which was released Tuesday, looks at the dancer’s legendary career and how she opened doors for future performers.

Illustrations and prose show that Wilkinson, who was born in 1935, always knew she was meant to dance. She made history in 1955, when she became the first black ballerina to sign with the touring company Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She danced with the troupe for six years and gained prestige performing in roles such as the solo waltz in “Les Sylphides.” Even after retiring from ballet, Wilkinson continued performing as a character dancer and actor until 2011.

But while touring, the New York native also experienced a type of overt racism with which she was unfamiliar. Wilkinson was in danger whenever the troupe moved through the South during the Jim Crow era. She recounted some of those moments in an interview with Pointe magazine in 2014.

“I remember one time in Montgomery, Alabama, the tour bus rolled into town, and everyone was running around with white robes and hoods on,” she told the publication. “They stopped traffic, there were so many of them. There was a rapping sound on the bus door, and this man jumped on in his hood and gown. Several big strapping male company dancers got up and moved toward him. He threw a fistful of racist pamphlets all over the bus before they chased him out.”

Trailblazer follows Wilkinson’s career, which included stints with the Dutch National Ballet in the Netherlands and the New York City Opera, and ends with a scene of her presenting Copeland with flowers following the young dancer’s debut in “Swan Lake” ― closing with the idea that Copeland will continue what Wilkinson began.

In 2015, Copeland became the first African-American ballerina to be a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She has also written three books, including a children’s book inspired by her relationship with Wilkerson.

Copeland has said she looks to Wilkinson as an inspiration and as a sign that things can still be changed in the world of ballet.

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