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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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    Meat Who? A Plant-Based Recipe to Keep You on Track!

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    Now is the time...
    Where you may have begun opening your mind to the idea of a plant-based diet.
    Yet, when meat is a staple and HAS been for so long, it can be difficult to pinpoint where to start.

    The good news is that fruits, vegetables, and grains can be prepared in just as many ways as meat, eggs and cheese.
    Maybe even more!

    Whether you’re half herbivore and half carnivore.
    Or you’re riding the veggie train all the way.
    This recipe is for you!

    Guacamole-Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato (2 servings)

    Ingredients:
    2 medium to large sweet potatoes
    1 large avocado
    1 healthy scoop of organic hummus
    ¼ cup diced, fresh tomato
    1 tbsp lime juice
    Cilantro
    ½ tsp Garlic Powder (or garlic salt, although this is not recommended)
    ¼ tsp Sea Salt
    ¼ tsp Black Pepper

    Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place inside the oven.
    Wash the sweet potatoes in warm water, using your hands to rub any excess dirt off the skin. Dry with a paper towel, again rubbing to remove excess dirt.
    Using a fork, poke holes into the thick parts of the potatoes, evenly around the potato.
    As the oven heats, dice the tomato and chop a desirable amount of cilantro.
    Now that you are ready to prepare the guacamole, place the two sweet potatoes inside the oven onto the foil. Let cooks for 45 minutes to an hour.
    The point at which you prepare the guacamole is based on the desired freshness. Ideally, this would be when the sweet potatoes have been allowed to cool off for about 10 minutes.
    To prepare the guacamole, first cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Scoop its contents into a small bowl.
    Into the bowl, add the tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice (equivalent to juice of ¼ lime), garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper.
    With a fork, mash the mixture until your guacamole has a somewhat chunky appearance.
    Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and let cool for at least 10 mins. This will allow the flavor to settle so you enjoy more sweetness without the burning sensation from the temperature.
    As the baked potatoes cool off, test your guacamole and adjust if needed - careful with the salt.
    When the potatoes are ready, remove them from the baking sheet and place each one on a plate. Using a knife, slice each potato open, the long way, to create a pocket.
    Divide the guacamole up between each baked sweet potato, scoop by scoop. Leave room for the hummus. You may have to enjoy any extra guacamole on the side.
    Add one scoop of hummus inside the pocket next to the guacamole. Feel free to top the hummus with a spice or herb of your choice.
    Take a picture and enjoy!

    You must develop a deeper understanding of food in order to have healthier relationship with it. Think about what it really means to be hungry. Or what it means to actually be full.

    Stuffed baked sweet potatoes are an easy to way to stay on track with your food goals while also being satisfied with what you eat. And how you eat it.

    You may feel as though you need meat in order to feel sustained after a meal, but that’s not true.

    These guacamole-stuffed baked sweet potatoes taste good, feel good, and keep you full.

    Take a chance and try your own variation of this recipe. You will be surprised at what you come up with.
    Try this recipe and let us know what you think!
    *********************
    Ariel is a 23-year old SoCal native, working professional, and Alumna of the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and through her studies, acquired a passion for gaining knowledge that would improve the quality of her life and further allow her to interact with and touch people in a positive way. You can follow her own blog, The Freewoman Diaries, at www.thefreewomandiaries.com

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    Photo by Island Boi Photography


    Written by Alma Hill

    What is the color of change?

    Two young women, Victory Jones and Tori Elizabeth are the founders of The Colored Girl, a creative agency looking answer that very question.

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    Their slogan “beautifully disrupting the status quo” is a reflection of their mission. They’re tackling social issues, one campaign at a time, and using diversity as their weapon of choice.

    A photo from their Instagram account @thecgirlinc went viral earlier last year for its in your face celebration of colored women of all shapes and shades. How viral you ask? We’ll let their interviews with Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Essence, and the Huffington Post speak for themselves.

    At the core of their mission are the need to encourage women of color to embrace themselves, their culture, and their beauty, both internally and externally. The campaign started as a way to embrace black women, specifically, and have them talk about what they loved about their identity. Now in 2017, they’ve gotten down to the nitty-gritty, and are looking more at cultural roots, in addition to the acceptance of your own skin.

    The heart of this campaign is colorism. In black culture, we hear too all hear praises sung on high about the cousin with the perfect curl pattern, or the fine aunty with the light skin and the watercolor eyes. It’s a division that is rarely discussed but is a very present, culturally damaging issue. One of the most important parts of The Colored Girl agency is it the fact that their message encourages unity, and helps to break down these old school, asinine arguments.

    Earlier this year, Jones and Elizabeth launched the Colored Girl Rebirth campaign. This reimagined venture features women of color from all backgrounds. The models have an incredible cultural range, from Jamaican and Dominican to Indian (the real India, not where you’re granny’s “good hair” comes from) and Chinese. The theme is inclusivity of brown women from around the world.

    One of the models from that Christina Bright from New Jersey talked about struggling with her identity as a biracial woman of color. She’s half black, and half Puerto Rican but because of her light skin, she was often mistaken for Dominican, and could never quite figure out where she fit in.

    “Ironically now that I’m part of The Colored Girls Project, I don’t have to choose … because I’m a colored girl!” Bright said


    Now the branding agency is taking on more causes. Their most recent battle is taking a stand against bullying, all while staying true to their mission, and their message, that every woman of color is to be.


    What do you think of The Colored Girl Campaign? Leave your opinion in a comment.
    *****************************
    Alma Hill is a freelance journalist, actress, and mother living in Orlando, FL. A frequent contributor to online and print media publications, she believes that the words from our mouths will change the world. Born in Charlotte, NC, she's a millennial with an old soul who appreciates a good meme as much as a Miles Davis album. Brave souls can follow her on Twitter @_mynameissoul, but you have been warned.


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    Between 2007 and 2016, women entrepreneurship has grown dramatically with women-owned firms now numbering 11.3 million (11,313,900), employing 9 million (8,976,100) and generating more than $1.6 trillion ($1,622,763,800,000) in revenue. That’s according to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report commissioned by American Express OPEN. The report also noted that it is minority women--namely Black women--who are spearheading this explosion in female-owned enterprise.

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    Over the course of the nine years studied, there was an increase of 3.5 million women-owned firms. Of these new businesses, 78% (approximately 2.8 million) are owned by women of color. That equated to a launch of 842 new minority women-owned firms each day with a racial breakdown of 327 Latina-owned, 311 African-American-owned, 122 Asian American-owned, 17 Native American/Alaska Native-owned and 5 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander-owned firms.

    For African American women-owned firms, the report found that these businesses are most likely to fall under personal care services (as in hair and nail salons), health care and social assistance (as in child day care and home health care) sectors as opposed to typically higher paying professional, technical or scientific service sectors. However, as Forbes reported in March and earlier this week, Black women are quickly emerging as trailblazers in all industries including academia, government and non-profit organizations.

    What is especially positive about Black female entrepreneurship is the desire of Black women business owners to encourage other Black women to follow their own business ownership pursuits. For example, as Forbes reported, the first Black Women Tech Talk in February of this year was launched with the specific intent “to inspire and support Black women in building the next billion-dollar tech industry.” Organizers of the event also chose six tech entrepreneurs to compete in a 60-second pitch contest.

    The American Express OPEN report specifically highlighted that Black female-owned businesses account for the highest number of businesses among minority women-owned businesses. An estimated 1.9 million firms are owned by Black women while just under 1.9 million and approximately 922,700 are owned by Latinx women and Asian American women respectively. Rounding out the pack are Native American/Alaska Native women owners with 153,400 and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women owners with 31,100 businesses.

    The top ten states for women-owned business are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The top ten metropolitan regions for women-owned businesses are New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Washington DC, and San Francisco.

    In general, women-owned businesses are outpacing national businesses in terms of new establishments, hiring and revenue. While the national number of firms have increased at a rate of 9% between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms have increased by a whopping 45%. As hiring across national firms has seen a decline of -1%, women-owned firms have experienced a hiring increase of 18%. And women-owned firms are beating the national revenue rates of +27% by 8 points with a revenue rate of +35%.

    In particular, women of color have increased their rate of new establishments by 126%, making up nearly half of all current women-owned firms. Minority women-owned firms employ approximately 2 million workers and generate $344 billion in annual revenue.

    What are your thoughts on these findings? Are you surprised? 
    ******************************
    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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    by Mary Wolff

    Summer is the perfect time to hang out at the beach. The weather is warm and the water is calling your name. One thing that could halt all that fun in the sun is the damage your curls will take on from the drying salt water, sun, and humid air. Avoid this fate with these tips on protecting your hair at the beach!

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    1. Apply coconut oil to your hair the night before. Coconut oil is known to lock in moisture and create a barrier from hair drying out. When you apply this the night before a beach trip, you allow your strands enough time to soak in those moisture-rich and restorative nutrients.

    2. Don’t wash your hair before the beach. When you wash your hair, you accidentally strip your strands of at least some natural oils needed to protect hair. It is actually better to rock 2nd day or week old hair at the beach since you will have a natural barrier of oil that can basically protect the hair shaft against harmful salt and sun.

    3. Choose a protective style. Putting your hair in a protective style means you can stop worrying about the health of your strands at the beach and just enjoy the day! Be sure to apply conditioner or a moisturizer on your hair before you style it. This will trap the moisture in.

    4. Use an SPF leave in conditioner. You may be really consistent about protecting your skin from the harmful effect so UV rays, but your scalp and hair need extra TLC to keep it safe from the sun, too! One of my favorites is Clarins Sun Care Oil Spray because it gives great protection against the sun while also packing thirst quenching aloe vera. It leaves my hair full of body with the protection I need. Best of all, it is waterproof so that extra dip in the water won’t hurt my curls.

    5. Make sure you rinse! Rinsing your hair after a dip is one of the most essential elements of safe and healthy beach hair. When you rinse, you remove extra saltwater, sweat, and dirt that can get in your hair from hanging out at the beach. A good idea is to rinse off after your swim and make sure you co-wash when you get home!

    Your curls are beautiful and they deserve to stay that way. Don’t miss out on the summer fun when you have these tips to keep your strands happy and healthy in the sun!

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    Photo courtesy of Venus Williams' Facebook page

    By Sharee Silerio

    Have you ever wondered what The Apprentice or Shark Tank would look like with all-women entrepreneurs?

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    Well, you’ll get the chance to find out, because tennis icon Venus Williams will be starring in and executive producing a new television show tentatively titled Deals in Heels, according to Deadline.

    “As an advocate for gender and pay equality, I’m thrilled to be working with 3 Ball Entertainment on this project that fosters and supports trailblazing women who are actively pursuing their professional aspirations,” said Williams, per Deadline.

    Each episode will feature five up-and-coming entrepreneurs who will pitch their start up idea to a panel. Of the group, two women with promising businesses will be invited to the next round, an “executive suite”, where they will critique their companies. Once their business plans are solid, the panel will mentor the entrepreneurs on all aspects of their business for a month, preparing them for critical sales benchmarks.

    At the end of the month, the two entrepreneurs will return to the executive suite to re-pitch their ideas. After a performance review and negotiations, one startup will receive an investment deal from the panel.

    The unscripted reality series will be executive produced with Todd A. Nelson, Ross Weintraub and DJ Nurre of 3 Ball Entertainment.

    Additional co-executive producers attached to the project are Staness Jonekos ,CEO and founder of Eat Like a Woman, who is also an award-winning television producer and director, women’s health advocate and published author; and Deborah Perry Piscone, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, CEO and creator of Alley to the Valley and national bestselling author.

    A home network nor release date for the series has been announced, but hopefully it’s slated to premiere this fall.

    DJ Nurre, executive vice president of programming and development at 3 Ball, said that “we’re confident these women can deliver both a powerful perspective and tangible results, helping to empower and inspire a new wave of entrepreneurs.”

    What do you think? Will you be watching the show?
    ***********************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
    Beyonce and Jay Z attend the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.  

    Looks like Jay Z and Beyonce have just cracked $1 billion dollars.

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    According to a Forbes list released today, Beyonce has amassed a net worth totaling in $350 million. Jay Z, according to Forbes Hip Hop's Wealthiest Artist list, has soared over $810 million, just $10 million shy of the Diddy's number 1 spot.

    This brings the couple's combined net-worth to $1.16 billion dollars.

    When asked in a candid conversation about how she did it, Beyonce responded: "I'm never satisfied," she once told FORBES. "I’ve never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry.”

    The total above may not include a new ten-year deal announced last week between Jay Z and Live Nation for $200 million. The new deal is expected to give Live Nation exclusive touring rights to Jay Z for the next decade.

    That's a lot of money. What would you do with it if you were in their shoes?
    *****************************
    Mike "Orie" Mosley is the managing editor for CurlyNikki.com and a cultural advocate from St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from LSU. He is also the founder of www.afrotrak.com. In his spare time, he's probably listening to hip hop & neo soul music, hitting up brunch or caught up in deep conversations about Black music. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_orie or on Instagram @mikeorie

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    By Sharee Silerio

    Jordan Peele is on fire! After the wild success of “Get Out”, a first-look deal with Universal Pictures and a record breaking debut film, he’s on his way to make more history with art that imitates life.

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    In partnership with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television, Peele will executive produce an hour-long horror anthology series for HBO called “Lovecraft Country”, based on the novel by Matt Ruff of the same name.

    The book is described by author Ruff as “A novel of Jim Crow America that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.”

    “Lovecraft Country” has favorable reviews from fans, who voted for it a Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Finalist. It also won a Barnes and Noble Best Horror of 2016 award.

    On Twitter, Peele said that the show will be a social thriller, horror and sci-fi rolled in one program.



    Misha Glenn, executive producer, creator and writer of “Underground”, will pen the script for the HBO series, and will also be the project’s showrunner. She is excited to be on board, especially since she’ll be calling the shots on the storyline.



    On Amazon, where the book has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating, the novel’s synopsis is fascinating:

    “Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

    At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

    A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.”

    From film to television and back, Peele is creating a new wave in horror and thriller, adding social consciousness to the mix and leading the way in producing content that follows and breaks the rules of traditional genres.
    What are your thoughts on this new series?
    **********************************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    By Sharee Silerio

    Do you believe that black people don’t need sunscreen? Have you heard that we don’t get skin cancer because of our melanin?

    I found out the hard way that my cocoa-hued skin needed protection from the sun when I was on a beachfront family vacation in Jamaica for a week, and did not wear sunscreen once. When I got back home, my back, neck and arms were peeling, thankfully, they weren’t burning too.

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    Although it’s true that people of color aren’t affected by skin cancer as much as people with white skin, we still need to protect it from discoloration, burning and dryness caused by sun exposure.

    The solution isn’t as easy as purchasing sunscreen from your local store, as they often leave a residue on dark skin.

    However, two Nigerian sisters, Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, are releasing a product soon that protects black skin from the sun, moisturizes it and blends with various tones.

    In an interview with OkayAfrica, Chidozie said:

    “A lot of black people don’t wear sunblock because they don’t see the damage immediately. There’s an issue with education around sunscreen in the black community...That makes it more dangerous because it’s often not caught until it’s in an advanced stage.”

    She also mentioned how difficult it is to find products that work, and trying multiple options that don’t work is unacceptable. Not only is it frustrating, but it can also become expensive.

    A sunscreen will be added to their skin care and beauty line, Bolden. According to their website, the product is an SPF 30 moisturizer that brightens the skin using advanced ingredients, visibly improving the look and feel of skin.

    “Nourishing moisturizers and robust antioxidants help restore hydration and radiance while SPF 30 sunscreen guards against UV damage,” the website specifies. “Vitamin C lies at the heart of our formulation, providing brightening corrective properties and counteracting daily oxidative damage.”

    Bolden’s mission is “to embolden women like us to confidently embrace their natural beauty.” They plan to do this through their “expertly-crafted, responsibly-sourced, and tailor-made beauty experiences” focused on women of color.
    The company’s vision is “to shape a global conversation about inclusive standards of beauty - where brown girls and women everywhere feel empowered to celebrate the natural beauty of the skin they’re in.”
    Summer is right around the corner, so hopefully Bolden’s sunscreen will be released so black and brown girls can adequately protect their sun-kissed skin.

    Have you had trouble finding a sunscreen that works for your skin? Will you be trying this out?
    ***************************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    Jordan Peele’s debut, record-breaking, critically and culturally acclaimed film Get Out will have its DVD and Blu-Ray release next Tuesday, May 23rd.

    Peele is the first African-American writer-director to surpass $100 million at the box office, has maintained a 99% or better rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and his first project is the highest-grossing original debut ever.

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    The satirical horror film mimics real life for black and brown people so authentically, yet subtly, that it’s almost scary.

    From beginning to end, the movie piqued my interest, engaged all of my senses and kept me in suspense mode.

    ***If you haven’t watched the film, you might want to stop reading because spoilers are up next.***

    Through all of the known and unknown, weirdness, realness and awkwardness, I didn’t expect the film to end the way it did. I was actually shocked, relieved, and excited that Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya) life wasn’t tragically ended by a police officer; that he wasn’t incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit; or wrecked by an evil family.

    I was happy to see Chris’ best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a black man, look out for his boy, find him, and rescue him from this nightmare “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” weekend. I was relieved to see black people save themselves and each other, because Black saviors are necessary.

    Get Out is the social commentary, truth and liberation we all needed to see and experience in creative form, especially since black and brown men, women and children continue to be killed at the hands of police without punishment. This is why the end of the film surprised me; because as real as it was, it didn’t abide by the reality we see on the news and in the media almost every other day.

    Although the film has already been released digitally, the disc version offers exclusive content such as an alternate ending, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, deleted scenes with commentary by Peele, plus much more.




    While some are calling it depressing, sad and even scarier than the ending seen in theaters, I hope they realize that for many black people, the alternate ending is what was expected.

    Not only because it was the worst thing that could happen to a black man that had been through so much and was fighting for his life (and it IS a horror film), but because it’s what we see and experience every day as black people living in America – hopelessness, injustice, racial discrimination and lack of respect for our humanity.

    Have you seen Get Out? What do you think about the alternate ending? Were you surprised?
    *****************************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    By Sharee Silerio

    So we’ve all heard by now that season seven will be the final season for Shonda Rhimes’ beloved, critically-claimed, black woman-boss political drama Scandal.

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    As much as we want to live through Olivia Pope and her ride or die gladiators, there was a sense that the end of the show would be arriving sooner rather than later.

    And just as quick as Scandal is ending, Rhimes’ is embarking on a new television series called For The People.

    Created by Shondlaland’s Paul William Davies (Scandal writer and producer), and executive produced by Rhimes and Betsey Beers (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder producer), the legal drama will explore the professional and private worlds of lawyers on opposite sides of the legal spectrum.

    According to ABC, the series is set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, also known as “The Mother Court.” It follows new lawyers working for both the defense and prosecution on some of the most high-profile, high-stakes federal cases in the nation.

    The trailer for the show reveals that it might be a less intense version of How to Get Away with Murder. Check it out below.



    A couple of the cast members are Regé-Jean Page (Survivor, the History Channel’s Roots) as Leonard Knox and Vondie Curtis-Hall (Coming to America, Crooklyn, Eve’s Bayou, Chicago Hope) as Judge Nicholas Byrne.

    Do you think the show can take Scandal’s place? Will you be tuning in?
    ***********************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    Yay, we have a deal! Freeform has officially ordered 13 episodes to the Yara Shahidi comedy College-ish (working title), a spinoff of ABC’s Black-ish. The much-anticipated comedy, also starring Deon Cole (who portrays the eccentric and unpredictable, Charlie on Black-ish), is set to premiere in 2018.

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    From Black-ish executive producer Kenya Barris, College-ish follows the Johnson’s eldest daughter Zoey (Shahidi) as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest. Per Deadline, the series is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Cole’s Charlie, who announced on a college-themed episode of Black-ish that he moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor, will continue his tenure at the spin-off. Audiences will meet new characters both in the administration and student body -- including Chris Parnell, Matt Walsh, and Trevor Jackson -- who reflect the complex and hilarious points of view that populate college campuses.

    “I never thought they’d let me put Black-ish on the air, let alone give me a spin-off,” said Barris. “I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to continue working with Yara and the rest of this talented young cast. To any aspiring writers struggling to make it out there, I highly advise adding an ‘-ish’ to any working title you might have. It seems to be the move.”

    While College-ish was determined to be too-young for ABC, it fit right with the millennial demographic of its cable sibling Freeform. Think of it as a millennial version of A Different World.

    “Our goal at Freeform is to celebrate the power, possibility and inclusivity of youth culture through our shows,” said Karey Burke, the network’s EVP Programming & Development. “Kenya Barris blazes new trails in the funniest way possible with College-ish, and we can’t wait to get schooled by the incredibly talented Yara Shahidi, who is the perfect addition to our Freeform family.”

    Barris, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and Brian Dobbins are executive producers of the series, from ABC Studios.

    Looking forward to the spin-off series! I, for one, am especially looking forward to the fashionable looks from Zoey on the college campus! She was already so chic during high school, so I know she’s gonna take it up a notch as an adult!

    How do you think the new spinoff will be? Will you tune in?
    ***************************
    Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director living in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. She is the co-host of the movie review podcast, Cinema Bun Podcast. She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice... with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbraceTheJ, on Facebook FB.com/tstidhum, and Instagram @embracethej. You can find more of her work on her About Me page, https://about.me/tonjareneestidhum.

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    Solange performs "An Ode To," a stunning visual performance of her album 'A Seat At The Table.' Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    Written by Tonja Renée Stidhum

    Solange Knowles graced the Guggenheim for a Red Bull Music Academy event that was billed as an “interdisciplinary performance piece and meditation examining themes from A Seat at the Table“—and it was masterful!

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    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool
    Solange used the full-scope of the Frank Lloyd Wright design to her advantage and crafted her concert into a work of art. It was an interactive masterpiece, as Solange had asked audiences to dress in all-white to create a contrast against the brown-oranges, yellows, dark blues, and reds of herself, her backup singers, and the band.
    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    Solange performed a set of minimalist versions of favorites from the critically-acclaimed A Seat at the Table, such as “Cranes in the Sky,” “Mad,” “Don’t Touch My Hair,” and “F.U.B.U.”
    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    “It’s not about just being here at the Guggenheim,” she mentioned after the performance, “it’s about tearing the f*cking walls down.”
    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    Staying true to her word, she maintained an essence of the carefree Black girl, blackness, pride and black feminism, which she showcased through interpretive dance, singing directly to Black audience members, and even singing to a security guard. The band was even part of the artful choreography as three separate rows of trumpeteers popped up on the three levels of the artichoke-esque Manhattan museum.
    Krisanne Johnson / Red Bull Content Pool

    After what appeared to be a magical experience, Solange ended with a message, “It’s not about allowance, because we belong here. We built this.” Say that, sis!
    *****************************
    Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director living in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. She is the co-host of the movie review podcast, Cinema Bun Podcast. She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice... with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbraceTheJ, on Facebook FB.com/tstidhum, and Instagram @embracethej. You can find more of her work on her About Me page, https://about.me/tonjareneestidhum.

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    Image courtesy of Red Blk Grl

    Written by Nikki Igbo of NikIgbo.com
    Black girls throughout the world deserve to read books about themselves.

    It is this notion and premise that inspired Maria Stuart to found and create Red.Blk.Grl, a monthly literary subscription box recently launched in April featuring young adult (YA) books written exclusively by Black authors and curated especially for Black girls. It is such a simple concept, but among the fast-growing number of literary subscription boxes available in the marketplace, Red.Blk.Grl truly stands alone with the goal of ensuring that Black girls are reading about characters whom they find culturally relatable and reflective of their own unique identities.

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    “It’s very specific that we focus on Black authors. No other such subscription box does that. And no other subscription box specifically features YA authors,” said Stuart. “I am a big fan of YA fiction and there was no YA sub box that focused on Black authors. Our Black authors just don’t get the spotlight they should and I wanted to bring them to light.”

    Stuart, a Chicago native now based in Metro Atlanta, is a former instructor for the Institute of Reading Development. An enthusiastic reader since the age of three, the entrepreneur and mother of two constantly felt there was something that was missing from the books she loved to read while growing up. With time, she discovered that “something” was her which is why she is so deeply committed to addressing the huge disparity in YA novels featuring Black characters and written by Black authors.

    According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison—an organization which regularly publishes statistics on books by and about people of color—a mere 278 out of 3,400 such books in 2016 were about Africans/African Americans. Of that 278, only 92 were actually written by Africans/African Americans. Therefore, when trying to hunt down these books, Black readers are up for a challenge but Red.Blk.Grl helps tremendously.

    Each month, the subscription box includes a new, contemporary YA novel containing female characters with storylines that promote a healthy sense of self and well-being. Along with the book, the box also includes three to five items aligned with the theme of the month and selected novel. Those items may include stationary, jewelry, skin care, consumables and other feel-good objects suited especially for girls ages 13 and up.

    Image courtesy of Red Blk Grl

    “It’s a little surprise every month—like a present to yourself with gifts just waiting to be discovered,” explained Stuart. The first Red.Blk.Grl subscription box included the title American Street by Ibi Zoboi, a story about a Haitian girl who migrates to America and the experiences she faces as a newcomer. The box also contained bubble bath and a bookmark among other items.

    As a girl, Stuart recalled receiving the Hooked on Phonics reading learning materials in the mail. “In creating Red.Blk.Grl, I wanted to recreate the excitement I felt each time I opened that package back then. That feeling especially helped me develop a love for books.”

    While the current Red.Blk.Grl subscription box is ideal for young women aged 13 and older, Stuart plans to release an option for middle school aged readers in July as the response has been quite positive.

    “We started off with just under a 100 subscribers and we’ve been growing steadily every week,” Stuart said.

    To learn more about Red.Blk.Grl, visit redblkgrl.com.
    ********************************
    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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    For many of us, this year has been one to remember while, for others, it’s been purely heartbreaking.

    Suicide has become somewhat of a “trend” on Facebook Live in the recent months.

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    Headline after headline, we are discovering that so many of us struggle with deep depression or mental illnesses from which we see no way out of.

    On January 22, 14-year old Naika Venant hanged herself on Facebook Live from her bathroom shower at three in the morning. Some hours before, her alleged mother had made a Facebook post in which she wrote, "I was showing you tough love when you misbehaved." At this time, there are no further details pinpointing what led Naika to take her own life.

    The very next day, on January 23, up-and-coming actor, Frederick Jay Bowdy, who had recently been accused of sexual assault, also committed suicide on Facebook Live. His last post on Instagram - a picture of himself - was captioned: “Just me being me and staying ready for all the challenges.”

    According to Mental Health America, in the time between when an individual first experiences symptoms of a mental illness and when they first receive treatment, 84% of it is spent not recognizing the symptoms at all.

    The past few years in general have been quite a wake up call to the nation of how prevalent mental health issues are within the Black community. In August 2013, Lee Thompson Young, was found dead in his apartment. He shot himself in the head. According to various reports, Young had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his teenage years. When an individual suffers from bipolar disorder, his or her mood, on a spectrum, could at times, go from being on the really high end to being on the really low end. And when it’s on the really low end, the person’s depressive moods can last for as long as two weeks.

    Sadly, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and, on average, 121 suicides are committed per day.

    People like Young may have struggled with mental illnesses quietly in an effort to keep up with their images of success. He was the star of a popular Disney Channel series, “Jett Jackson,” and graduated from USC in 2005 with honors. He would also go on to appear in a number of successful hit tv shows.

    Young’s actions at the time of his death speak volumes to the infectious stigma associated with mental illnesses in the Black community, especially amongst Black men. In 2014, the death rate from suicide was more than 4 times greater for Black men than for Black women. In a 2013 study conducted by Ward, Wiltshire, Detry, and Brown, their findings indicated that African American women were “significantly more psychologically open and receptive to seeking professional help compared to men”, although this may be attributed to women having higher levels of education overall.

    Mental illnesses may be caused by genetics or may be the result of an individual’s environment. The United States department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reported that compared to whites, African Americans are 10% more likely to report having serious psychological distress. When compared to the general population, we are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health illnesses. These illnesses may include severe anxiety, major depression, suicide, or PTSD, all of which can lead to a host of physical problems. Even more, because of the stigma associated with mental health illnesses, many sufferers may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their emotions as opposed to medical professionals, ultimately decreasing their chances of getting better.

    Last March, Oakland native and Grammy Award-nominated artist, Kehlani, attempted to take her own life following allegations of cheating in a relationship. Barely a month before, MarShawn McCarrel, a well-known activist and co-founder of the non-profit organization, Pursuing Our Dreams, shot himself on the statehouse steps in Columbus, Ohio. His last Facebook post somewhat foreshadowed his suicide as he wrote, “My demons won today. I’m sorry.” McCarrel was only one of the many political activists who have taken or thought of taking their lives due to the intense psychological and physical distress that many activists experience.

    In 2014, the Census Bureau estimated that African Americans made up 13.2% of the U.S. population. Of these 6.8 million plus people, about 1.1 million had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. Included are many of the 1 million African Americans incarcerated in United States prisons or jails and the 40% or so African Americans who make up the homeless population.

    Problems like neighborhood violence, financial distress, or homelessness can push individuals to the brink of hopelessness where leaving the world feels like the best solution. What exacerbates these problems even further is the institutional racism and structural oppression that removes fathers and mothers from homes, prevents African Americans from receiving proper or any form of medical care, and funnels Blacks out of the workforce.

    How can we change the perception of mental health in the Black community? Share in the comments
    **************************
    Ariel is a 23-year old SoCal native, working professional, and Alumna of the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and through her studies, acquired a passion for gaining knowledge that would improve the quality of her life and further allow her to interact with and touch people in a positive way. You can follow her own blog, The Freewoman Diaries, at www.thefreewomandiaries.com

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    Image via Because Of Them We Can
    Written by Tonja Renée Stidhum

    We may have heard the adage, “you never know who’s watching,” but it’s true! Especially in today’s social media age, where people of influence are easily accessible -- just an @ or a retweet away. More often, we are seeing cases in which people are provided opportunities via social media that they otherwise wouldn’t be afforded.

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    This was certainly the case for one Isaiah Howard (@isaiahxavier10 on Twitter), a high schooler who posted a deftly edited and rhythmic series of super short films onto his timeline, accompanied by autotuned vocals he incorporated via the musical.ly app.

    See for yourself!



    He’s got skills, right?!

    Filmmaker and former NFL player Matthew Cherry saw the videos and decided to promote them to his 60,000 followers to "encourage (Isaiah) to get into directing." Cherry’s presence is mostly known for memes, but he’s also always down to support talent, using his access to the industry’s community to uplift others in their careers. To Cherry, there’s far too much “undiscovered talent” in the world and there’s no excuse not to give them a larger platform and further opportunities.



    And it worked! Cherry made a concerted effort for other people in the film industry to hire Isaiah for large scale commercial and music videos. In a response to fellow director Nick Childs, who asked how he could be of assistance, Cherry said: "If there's any way you can help him get work that would be (good). Really want to see a production company hire him to direct a similar style video/commercial, instead of just stealing his style and hiring someone else to do it," said Cherry in response to fellow director Nick Childs.

    Cherry’s Twitter call accumulated over 7,000 retweets and more than 16,000 likes. And Hollywood responded, including Rian Johnson (Star Wars: the Last Jedi) and Jordan Peele (Get Out)!



    "If y'all don't know who Jordan Peele, Matthew A. Cherry or Rian Johnson are, y'all better look them up! I am straight beside myself right now," said Isaiah's mother Simone in a Facebook post. "There are so many tweets, I couldn't capture all of them!"

    This is so dope and it’s just another example of how powerful social media can be! Given Isaiah Howard’s superb talent, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be seeing his name more often. Hey, one day, he may be in the position to do this for another young up and coming filmmaker and will always remember this day.
    What do you think? Should Jordan Peele hire Isaiah?
    ************************
    Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director living in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. She is the co-host of the movie review podcast, Cinema Bun Podcast. She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice... with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbraceTheJ, on Facebook FB.com/tstidhum, and Instagram @embracethej. You can find more of her work on her About Me page, https://about.me/tonjareneestidhum.

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    By Sharee Silerio

    We’re all aware of social media’s power and influence. It’s news. It’s commentary. It’s social change. It’s comedy. It’s movement-building. It’s error-correcting. It can be anything we want it to be.

    Last month, #BlackTwitter demonstrated its power to make things happen with two tweets.

    Twitter user @blaquepink shared this bomb photo of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o from 2014, which went viral.

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    A few minutes later, @1800SADGAL replied to the tweet with the film concept of the century! This also went viral and sparked a flurry of retweets, mentions and memes detailing the heist movie’s plot, potential actors, scenes and more!



    Enthusiasts on the social media site made sure Rihanna and Lupita were in on the hype, and they even commissioned Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae to make the film happen.

    According to Huffington Post Black Voices and Entertainment Weekly, the two entertainment game-changers are officially bringing the film featuring the Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer to life, through a deal with Netflix.

    DuVernay will direct the heist movie, and Rae is writing the screenplay. The project might begin production in 2018, so hopefully it will be released at the end of next year at the latest!

    “I really think it shows the power of people wanting to see stories that are women-centered, women of color-centered that are made by women of color,” DuVernay told TIME last month. “I think it was really interesting that after Rihanna and Lupita were in the picture and the story went viral, it wasn’t about who’s the male lead or who’s the sidekick, it was about who’s going to write it? Who’s going to direct it?”

    User @1800SADGAL makes it known that she wants the idea for the film to be credited to @elizabitchtaylor as well, since she also published a Tumblr note about the photo with a similar plot a couple of years ago, which also went viral.



    http://elizabitchtaylor.tumblr.com/post/90856351997/they-look-like-theyre-in-a-heist-movie-with


    Both admit that they came up with similar ideas and have squashed claims that the idea was stolen.



    Rae’s team told Vanity Fair that the original Twitter users who shared their concept for the film will be credited and/or involved in the process.

    DuVernay tweeted the news yesterday, saying “We deserve nice things.” And we do.

    Now we see that all we have to do is ask for the things we want, even if it’s from people who seem to be beyond our reach.

    It definitely takes “ask and you shall receive” to a whole new level, and if we can learn anything from this process, it is that anything is possible with collective action.

    What do you think about these two starring in a film?
    *****************************
    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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    by Mary Wolff

    Changing your hair color is one of the easiest ways to get a fresh, new look. With natural hair, you have to be careful about which products you use when taking a DIY approach. You can’t use just any hair color product and hope for the best! Here are a few of the best hair colors for at home coloring.

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    1. Shea Moisture Hair Color System 
    A leader in the curly hair care world, Shea Moisture offers some of the best hair colors for at home coloring. They are free from harmful things you don’t want, such as sulfates and ammonia, and full of rich, vibrant color. Ranging from jet black to a honey blond, these are gentle on hair and a fan favorite.

    2. Clairol Textures & Tones 
    Clairol has been one of the top names in the beauty world for decade after decade. With their collection of natural hair friendly colors, this is another one that doesn’t use ammonia in their formula. It has 14 different colors to choose from and offers great coverage for gray hairs.

    3. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour for Gray Coverage
    Speaking of gray hairs, this is the at-home go-to for full gray coverage. It is meant to give salon results without the salon cost and it lives up to that claim. It comes in a foam so it is pretty easy to apply, just make sure you have a towel on hand to avoid dripping.

    4. Dark and Lovely Go Intense 
    This is a line that promises vibrant color without the use of bleach. Many hair lightening color products use ammonia in them and that can wreak havoc on the health of curls leaving them dry and brittle. With this product for at home coloring, the shades are highly pigmented to work with the undertones of your color so they catch the light in a highly reflective way.

    5. eSalon Tinted Love Color Enhancing Treatment
    This one isn’t so much an at-home dye job as is it a color enhancer. When you love your color, natural or otherwise, and want to bring out the intensity, this product is the answer. It even helps heal hair by giving it a boost of collagen!

    Coloring at home doesn’t have to be second best to the salon. With these curly hair friendly products, change up your curls with beautiful results!


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    by Mary Wolff

    Hair gels can have some questionable ingredients in them that make many curlies think twice. Why waste time studying labels when you can make your own DIY natural hair gel? Whether looking to make your own DIY natural hair gel as a fun project or because you simply ran out of product with no time to run to the store, these recipes are easy and effective.

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    Two Ingredient Gel
    This is an easy gel recipe to pull together. The gelatin will give hair solid hold and the only other ingredient is water. How easy is that?

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin 
    • 1/2 cup hot water 
    Combine gelatin and water in a saucepan until hot enough to dissolve the gelatin. Stir until evenly combined. Transfer to a clean container. Store in the refrigerator for an hour or so to let it firm up enough to use and voila! You now have two weeks of hair gel ready to go!

    Aloe Vera Gel 
    For a recipe that will give hold while offering moisturizing properties, this one is the way to go. The aloe vera and vitamin E offer moisture while the gelatin provides the hold. This recipe will give you a medium hold, but if you want a stronger hold, you can use 1 tsp of gelatin as opposed to the 1/2 tsp the recipe calls for.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
    • 1/2 cup warm water
    • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
    • 10 to 20 drops essential oil
    • 4-5 drops vitamin E
    Combine water and gelatin in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until evenly mixed. Remove from heat and add the aloe vera, vitamin E, and essential oil while still hot. Stir until evenly blended.

    Vegan Recipe 
    If you are taking the organic and vegan approach, you might want an option that stays away from gelatin. There isn’t anything wrong with gelatin, but it is partially created using animal products. A vegan-friendly option would be this recipe that uses agar agar flakes instead. This is a type of gelatin that comes from plants, like seaweed, instead of animals.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 teaspoon agar agar flakes
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
    • 4-6 drops essential oils
    To make this recipe, simply bring the water to just below a boil in a medium saucepan. Add your agar agar flakes and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. When all the flakes are dissolved into the water, remove from the heat and add the aloe vera gel and essential oils. Stir until well blended. Allow it to cool to room temperature before transferring it to a clean container. Move to the refrigerator to allow it to thicken. After a few hours, you will have up to 2 weeks of hair gel ready to go!


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    The mother of a six-year-old, Leanndra Cheatham, posted a video of her son that has since gone viral. The St. Louis native Jeffrey Cheatham is asking us to stop the violence.

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    "I feel bad about people killing each other, because God is going to help your brain. God is going to make you safe. God is going to do as much as he can for you. God loves you with all of his heart," he urged.

    After posting the video, the mother says she received a message from a man who said he was going to shoot someone as revenge, but after seeing the video of the young boy, decided to put down the gun.

    6-year-old Jeffrey Cheatham may not realize the impact of his words, but it's making a difference. It's also a message that he shouldn't have to think about at his age, however, it's a reflection of his reality.

    "Kids be knowing this. I'm a kid, I'm not supposed to know about this stuff. I'm not supposed to be knowing about all these guns. I'm supposed to be learning about school."



    What do you think about his message? Share in the comments!
    ****************************
    Mike "Orie" Mosley is the managing editor for CurlyNikki.com and a cultural advocate from St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from LSU. He is also the founder of www.afrotrak.com. In his spare time, he's probably listening to hip hop & neo soul music, hitting up brunch or caught up in deep conversations about Black music. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_orie or on Instagram @mikeorie

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    Color of Change PAC

    Written by Nikki Igbo of NikIgbo.com

    A couple of Sundays ago, an energetic DJ spun classic soul, R&B and hip-hop from the 70s, 80s and 90s to a crowd of about 30-50 folks at Atlanta’s the Gathering Spot. Most of the folks were seated at round tables tapping away on laptops either brought from home or provided by one of the various cheery, enthusiastic hosts. A few stole away to the banquet table in the back of the room, bopping to the music as they fixed themselves plates of deli sandwiches, fruit, brownies and cookies.

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    Back at the round tables, people chatted amongst themselves as they followed directions posted on a presentation screen telling them how to log in to an online application which would allow them to send text messages to African American constituents in Georgia’s 6th district. The event was referred to as a “textathon” and it had been organized by the newly formed Color of Change PAC, the political action arm of the nation’s largest racial justice organization launched in 2005 to improve conditions for Blacks in America.

    “Creating a PAC was a priority for us in 2016 because far too often politicians spend millions of dollars catering to Black voters and getting Black people to vote. Then once we vote, they are no longer held accountable to us,” explained Jennifer Edwards, Color of Change PAC’s Electoral Communications Program Director. “We really felt the need to create something that was led by a Black staff—a leadership team who built this structure and program from the ground up to empower Black people to do more. Not just for election day and not just for presidential candidates.”

    According to Edwards, the PAC was developed following Color of Change’s campaign to influence corporations to withdraw funding and support for the 2016 Republican National Convention. The organization noticed an enhanced level of energy in their work along with a need to move their activist efforts to the next level.

    The PAC then began its work with a focus on increasing Black voter turnout in five district attorney races in Florida, Ohio and Missouri, and a judicial race in North Carolina. By concentrating efforts on down-ballot races, the PAC’s intent was to raise awareness about just how vital it is to pay attention to these types of races. It is district attorneys who manage the prosecutor’s office, work with law enforcement to investigate alleged crimes, file criminal charges and bring evidence before the Grand Jury. Therefore, it is important to understand the political leanings and stances of these individuals and what they are likely to do when applying the law to people of color or instances in which police officers shoot unarmed individuals.

    “Far too often, Black people and other people of color aren’t aware that these races even exist,” Edwards said. “These corrupt incumbents that run unopposed almost always think that there is no one there to challenge them.”

    Following involvement in those local elections, the PAC had the opportunity to test its activist platform in texting voters regarding the presidential race and a few congressional races in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

    “We launched the textathon program in September 2016 and coordinated events in 11 different cities from September through Election Day. We did events regularly in New York, DC, Oakland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and a few in Chicago.”

    Dubbing the efforts the “#VotingWhileBlack Campaign,” the PAC held 86 textathons across these various cities with a force of more than 2000 volunteers. They were able to reach approximately 1.5 million voters with more than 3 million texts regarding 14 local, state and national races.

    “We won five district attorney races last year because of this texting program. We’ve been testing the effectiveness of texting voters and it has proven to be a really great vehicle in reaching out to people because people of color tend to get all their information on their cell phones,” Edwards shared.

    Edward further expanded, “What we’ve effectively done is create modern-day canvassing. At these events, there’s food. There’s music. The people are really vibrant. It’s the kind of environment we really want to create that sense of community. What we’ve effectively done is created modern-day canvassing. Instead of going door to door, we’re going from cell phone number to cell phone number and having the same types of conversations. But we’re also having the kind of conversations that people want to have via text.”

    Additionally, as the texting program is available on any laptop with an internet connection, volunteers can continue their efforts at home or remain engaged in the races anywhere.

    The Atlanta textathon volunteers’ mission that Sunday was to carry out SMS conversations with voters about the House race between democratic candidate John Ossof and republican candidate Karen Handel for the Georgia’s 6th congressional district seat. The race has garnered a great deal of national attention for the amount of money being spent on campaign messaging and because many are regarding its potential outcome as a bellweather for what many left-leaning voters hope will be the future of Congress.

    “For any district that has a high concentration of Black constituents, we definitely want to give Black people the chance to engage with their neighbors and friends to get them out to vote. Also, there is so much at stake in this Congressional district. This race is one of the first Congressional races under the Trump administration. Next year’s midterms, 2018, is a few months away at this point. And we have the opportunity to really shift the way these races are turning.”

    As Color of Change PAC looks forward to the 2018 midterms, their hope is to continue to scale up their operation and make a larger impact on the political landscape and its relationship to Black voters.

    “We definitely want folks to be aware of the consequences of not voting. The last presidential election has been the biggest display of what can happen when you choose not to vote. It is important that people understand what’s at stake in 2018 and in other races up and down the ballot. We can take back the House and we can take back the Senate but it is going to take dedicated volunteers who are going to be texting voters and knocking doors to really boost participation in 2018. We can make the midterm just as popular as the presidential. We just need the people. And the people have the power to do so.”

    What do you think about what Color of Change PAC is doing to increase the efforts of Black voters?
    **************************************
    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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