Black Enterprise Founder: ‘We Owe An Apology to Martin Luther King, Jr.’

Decades after his death, the legacy and contributions of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the sacrifices he made to bring justice to African Americans and to challenge America to live up to its ideals, are being celebrated more than ever before. It’s fair to say that we have done justice to King’s memory. But the truth is America has not done justice to his dream. In fact, I, and the rest of King’s generation, now between the ages of 70 and 85, owe King an apology.

Due to our lack of leadership and accountability, and despite the conspicuous success of a minority of African Americans, we have failed to do what it takes to lead our people to the promised land of freedom, equality, and the full measure of the American dream.

Two months after the assassination of Dr. King, Earl G. Graves Sr. escorts Mrs. Coretta Scott King on June 8th, 1968 to the funeral of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

King’s dream was about equal opportunity and economic justice for all black Americans, not just an exceptional few. After making progress toward those goals into the late ’80s, we somehow lost our desire to pursue King’s agenda. Ultimately, we simply stopped fighting, as if we no longer believed that what King died for was worth continuing to sacrifice and fight for. And for that, Dr. King, I am sorry. You left us with an example and a challenge to make a better world for our children. And we’ve failed you.

The evidence shows that our failure is as complete as it is indisputable. Nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, American education remains largely segregated by race, with black children bearing the brunt of failing public schools. We’re failing King in economic justice. Today, the wealth gap between African Americans and white Americans is wider than ever, and black businesses remain largely excluded from economic power centers–from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

The quality of life for African Americans in our urban centers has hardly improved, and in many cases, has worsened, since many urban areas were destroyed by riots in the aftermath of King’s assassination. Sadly, in nearly every area, from healthcare outcomes to high school drop-out rates to entire generations of African Americans trapped in our prison system, the world we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren is no better than the one we inherited.

I was assigned by Sen. Robert Kennedy to assist Coretta Scott King with getting her slain husband’s body from Memphis to Atlanta. I know intimately the ultimate sacrifice that King made–based on the promise of future generations–so that we would have the opportunities that we enjoy today. It’s a promise we have failed to keep.

Our fight for freedom and justice is not over. We have not won. Memorials aside, my generation owes an apology to King for having dropped the baton, for not taking the torch he lit and running with it. Now, it is up to our children and grandchildren to continue the fight to ensure that King’s dream is deferred no longer, and that all African Americans, not just a select, privileged, or fortunate few, reach the promised land of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity.

Editor’s Note: This article originally published in 2012. 

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Goodr Creates Free, Pop-Up Grocery Store for MLK Day

Goodr, a company that previously won the BLACK ENTERPRISE Tech Connext Pitch Competition is continuing to make a footprint in the community. The startup recently partnered with the Atlanta Hawks for a special volunteer service project as part of the Hawks court dedication at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation & Aquatic Center, just in time for MLK day.

Approximately 100 Atlanta seniors were invited to partake in a signature Goodr “Pop-Up Grocery” event, where delicious surplus food from multiple Atlanta grocery partners was available for free.

MLK Day

Goodr and the Atlanta Hawks Partner to feed Atlanta Seniors for MLK Day (Image: Kat Goduco Photography)

“In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to service, the Hawks are proud to partner with Goodr to provide a pop-up grocery store for seniors at the MLK Recreation and Aquatic Center,” said Andrea Carter, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility & Inclusion. “This added element to our MLK court dedication allows us to serve not only the youth who play on the court, but seniors who often times need additional assistance when living on a fixed income.”

Goodr is a sustainable food surplus management platform that leverages technology to reduce food waste and combat hunger. They have produced a variety of events to distribute surplus food to needy Atlanta locals in creative and uplifting ways, but the “pop-up grocery store” seems to be a fan favorite.

“It’s an honor to be able to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King through the service acts that Goodr performs each and every day,” Jasmine Crowe, CEO, and founder of Goodr told BE. “To be able to partner with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm is a dream come true for a startup from Atlanta,”

Every product is free to the guests and they range from fresh produce to prepared deli foods to fresh-baked bread. Everything is picked up that day from local vendors and partner stores and brought directly to the event. Each attendee gets their pick regarding what items they want to go home with.

MLK Day

Goodr and Atlanta Hawks for MLK Day (Image: Kat Goduco Photography)

The Hawks have been dedicated to the community as well. Off the court, the organization has built a culture of inclusion, diversity, and innovation, all with a touch of southern hospitality. Their goal is to build bridges through basketball, whether by constructing and refurbishing courts in Atlanta neighborhoods, providing scholarships to our basketball camps, or participating in unique partnership events like this one with Goodr.

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Amber Rose is Securing the Bag, Earning $2 Million A Year Off Instagram Alone

Amber Rose, the 35-year-old stripper-turned-model, claims that she nets about $2 million from posting on Instagram. Born Amber Levonchuck, the bi-racial beauty boasts 18.8 million followers on Instagram, where she frequently flaunts beauty, fashion, and diet products. And it turns out that these sponsored posts are helping her rake in major coins.

During an interview on The Red Pill podcast, host Van Lathan asked Rose how much she earns on the social media site. “Probably like $2 million a year, just off Instagram,” she said. “There’s girls that make more than $2 million a year, I make $2 million on Instagram a year.” Rose explained that she generates revenue through “all of her endorsement deals,” which have included companies like online retailer Fashion Nova and controversial weight loss products like BoomBod and Flat Tummy tea.

In response, Lathan joked that “a ni–a went to college and bought into that bulls–t, and Amber’s making $2 million off Instagram. Wow!”

View this post on Instagram

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A post shared by Amber Rose (@amberrose) on

Rose also opened up in the interview about her tough upbringing in Philadelphia, revealing that she initially started selling drugs as a means of survival before she began stripping as a teen.

“I usually don’t tell people this, but I tried selling crack in my neighborhood,” Rose confessed. “They said I was gonna get robbed, I was a girl and I was too pretty, and it wasn’t going to happen,” she said. “So what I did, I would bag it up for them, I would weigh it and bag up the crack rocks for them. And they would throw me some money.”

According to BankRate.com, Rose has amassed a $12 million net worth throughout her career as an author, media personality, music artist, and a former model signed with Ford Models. She also launched her own emoji app that reportedly earned $4 million in 2016. She gained her claim to fame as a video vixen and by dating Kanye West from 2008 to 2010.

In 2016, Rose appeared on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars and became the ambassador for the SlutWalk, an annual women’s empowerment march to combat rape culture. That same year, she has teamed up with Zoobe, a character voice-messaging app that creates 3D characters.

Watch Rose’s interview on The Red Pill below. Her remarks about her Instagram endorsements start around the 1:20:00 mark.



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UPDATE: Kentucky Airport To Be Renamed After Muhammad Ali

This article was updated on January 17, 2019.

The Louisville International Airport in Kentucky will be renamed after its hometown hero Muhammed Ali. Just a day before the legendary boxer would have turned 77 years old, the Regional Airport Authority board voted on Wednesday to name the airport Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in honor of his legacy, reports the Louisville Courier Journal.

The announcement comes almost two and a half years after Robert Holmes III, an educator from Louisville, launched a grassroots campaign in an effort to rename the airport. Despite receiving an overwhelming number of signatures petitioning for the name change, the idea was initially rejected by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.  However, the mayor sang a different tune Wednesday, stating:

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” reported the local publication. “Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people. It is important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ’s legacy,” Fischer continued. “And the airport renaming is a wonderful next step.”

Changes involving Ali’s name and brand at the airport will be part of the airport’s $100 million renovation project. to renovate and are slated for completion later this year.

 


This article originally published on October 20, 2017.

 

Muhammad Ali

(Image; Muhammad Ali 1966 via Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Earlier this month, Black Enterprise reported on the more than yearlong, uphill battle a Kentucky-based educator, Robert Holmes III, has faced in hopes of honoring Muhammad Ali in Louisville, the city where “The People’s Champ” was born and raised. Back in June 2016, Holmes launched the Global Friends of Muhammad Ali, a grassroots effort that is committed to renaming the Louisville International Airport to “Muhammad Ali International Airport.” The group started a petition on Change.org, calling on Ali fans to support an initiative that would pay tribute to the legendary boxer. After being shared on MPowerChange.org, it collected over 14,000 signatures.

 

Despite receiving an overwhelming number of signatures and even support from members of the Ali family, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesperson Chris Poynter told BLACK ENTERPRISE that “there is no active committee looking at the matter of renaming the airport.” He added that the power to change the name lies within the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, which “will ultimately make any decision to rename the airport.” The Louisville Regional Airport Authority, however, also confirmed that it “has no current plans to change the name of Louisville International Airport (SDF).”

In addition, Fischer’s office reached out to BE emphasizing that the city has already paid homage to their hometown hero in a variety of other ways. “Louisville has several major Ali memorials already, including the Muhammad Ali Center (a major institution) and a prominent street named after The Champ. By focusing only on the airport, you leave the impression that the Champ’s hometown isn’t honoring his legacy, which is the furthest from the truth,” said Poynter.

Holmes, however, dismissed the mayor’s response as “a great attempt at a political spin to dodge the question. It’s obvious that Louisville has done things to honor its greatest citizen, but that’s not the [issue].” Holmes added that other cities, like New Orleans, have renamed their airports after superstar natives. “If they can name their airport after Louis Armstrong, who’s a jazz musician, certainly Louisville should be able to coalesce around the idea of renaming the airport.”

According to Holmes, the opposition to rename the airport boils down to the fact that Ali was an outspoken black man who voiced opposition to racism and war.

“I feel that there is a racial component to it and I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t want to touch it,” he says. “Because he was a very brash, young man in very turbulent times during the 60’s and the early 70’s. He spoke his mind and he stood his ground and he stood up for what he believed in. He stood up against social injustice and racial disparities not only all over the world, but he also spoke about the racial disparities right here in his hometown.” Holmes continued, “There were segments of the white community that did not celebrate Muhammad Ali and you still have that today.”

Although Mayor Fischer’s office told BE that the airport authority will make the ultimate decision to rename the airport, Holmes pointed out that the mayor maintains power to appoint “several members of the board.”

“If he wanted to make that decision, to say that I want to rename this airport in honor of Muhammad Ali, I don’t believe it is that hard,” said Holmes.

 

 

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Rep. Steve King Advocates White Nationalism and Needs a Black History Lesson

Congressman Steve King’s racist, white nationalist philosophy and false assertion that other ethnic groups or as he refers to it, “subgroups,”  have not contributed more to civilization is ridiculous.

Congressman King, did you know:

  • It was a black man by the name of Benjamin Banneker who mapped out the streets of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. actually where your office is located.
  • Crispus Attucks, an African American man was the first man killed in the Boston Massacre, becoming the first casualty of the American Revolution.
  • Charles Richard Drew was an African American physician who developed the blood banks that saved many lives during World War II and even today. People of all races who get blood transfusions every day can thank a black man named Dr. Charles Drew.
  • A black man named Lewis Latimer invented the filament to the light bulb which gave the world long-lasting electric lighting methods that made it possible for the lights in your office to stay on for more than the 15 minutes that Thomas Edison reached.

By the way Congressman Steve King, we are not a “subgroup.” There is only one race, and that is the human race. Therefore, all racism is a total disgrace. Let’s not forget that Jesus Christ was a dark skin Jew, who was oppressed and crucified by the Roman government.

 


Steve KingThe ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.

 

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MLK Historic Sites Closed Due to the Shutdown; Black America Suffers Its Impact

Today would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday. On this day, many flock to the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was a pastor, and to King’s home—both of which are part of a national park in Atlanta honoring the late civil rights leader. However, both are closed today, due to the government shutdown. “’Because of a lapse in federal appropriations, this National Park facility is closed for the safety of visitors and park resources,’ said several signs on the landmarks run by the National Park Service,” reported the Philadelphia Tribune.

Bernice King, MLK’s youngest child, was reportedly upset about the closing.

“I feel a little bit of sadness because our main partner in this area, in this district, is the National Park Service … and they are not here with us today. I didn’t expect to cry over this,” she said according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

The current shutdown just made the dubious distinction of being the longest in the country’s history with the President and Democratic leaders at an impasse over funding for President Trump’s vision of a new wall on the southern border, a structure he says will curtail illegal immigration.

In addition to the closing of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, other national parks including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, remain shuttered as the shutdown enters its fourth week.

The shutdown is wreaking disastrous economic havoc for families of federal workers who have not received paychecks since it commenced. Black Americans, in particular, are feeling the enormous impact. In an essay for The Root, Jason Johnson writes:

Endemic discrimination in the private sector forces many African Americans to pursue middle-class dreams through working for the federal government. African Americans make up 18 percent of federal employees, and 21 percent of SES (Senior Executive Service) positions compared to being only 8 percent of executive board members across all fortune 500 companies in America.

 

This is especially the case in the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia area) where the bulk of employment is either directly or indirectly associated with the federal government. Everyone here knows all too well that Republican dog whistles about “lazy” federal employees have always been a proxy attack on black Americans in the same way the border wall is a symbolic attack on Latinos.

The Guardian reports that the shutdown is destabilizing the predominantly black Washington DC suburbs and Prince George’s County in Maryland. Those areas have among the highest numbers of middle-class blacks due to the numbers that work for the government.

From The Guardian:

“Around here people’s families work for the government, generationally,” said Kenneth Graves, a federal employee currently on furlough who grew up in Prince George’s.

 

“My mom works for the government. My dad worked for the government,” Graves said. “That’s what we always heard growing up – get a good government job.”

 

Graves, who is black, said he can probably sustain about another month of the shutdown before he depletes the last of his savings. A furloughed Federal Aviation Administration employee, Graves is currently looking for part-time work in hospitality to keep some income coming in, and stay occupied.

 

“We’re all just sitting at home or looking for a part-time position,” Graves said. “It’s really challenging.”

Black furloughed workers are trying to come up with ways to stay financially afloat. In Oxon Hill, Maryland, two sisters—both public sector employees have started selling cheesecakes as a way to bring in much-needed income, reports WJLA:

Two Maryland sisters who are both furloughed from their government jobs have launched a business selling cheesecakes to help pay the bills.

 

Nikki Howard, with the FDA, and sister Jaqi Wright, with DOJ, never imagined the government shutdown would lead them to start a business.

 

Each have husbands they say can’t work due to disabilities, and with bills such as college tuition for Nikki’s daughter piling up, they say they had to do something.

 

“It’s either cry or get up and do something, so we decided to get up and do something,” Nikki said.

Furloughed workers are scrambling to make ends meet. They are turning to food banks, launching GoFundMe campaigns, and some are even forced to ration their medication because they can’t afford the co-payments.

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Change in the Old South: Gwinnett County Gets First Black Woman Democratic Party Chair

The South will rise again—but this time in a definite shade of blue rather than Confederate grey. At least that is the goal of newly-elected Democrats in Georgia. The midterm election was an exclamation point, underscoring a process of change that has been quietly underway for some time. Nationally, eyes are on Georgia, particularly Gwinnett County and the first black woman to chair the county’s Democratic party.

With a Bachelor of Political Science from Spelman College, Bianca Keaton has earned her spot at the political table. Upon graduation, she went to Washington, D.C., and served as an aide and adviser to U.S. Congressmen Robert Brady and Cedric Richmond for a combined six years. Keaton is well-versed in legislative policy, administration, and strategic planning. Her most recent political position before being voted in as Gwinnett County Democratic Chair has been assistant to Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid where she served for nearly three years.

Keaton’s position is significant for a number of reasons. Gwinnett County has been a Republican stronghold for at least the last 30 years. It’s the second-most populous county in Georgia, and prior to 2016, had not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter.

However, this all began to change in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won a majority of the county’s votes. Last year, two Democrats were elected to the County Commission and the county’s legislative delegation in the state capitol shifted from being majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Gwinnett County is located in the northeast quadrant of the greater Atlanta area. With population just shy of 1 million people, it is often hailed as one of the most diverse counties in the southeast.

The most common foreign languages in Gwinnett County are Spanish (144,073 speakers), Korean (19,938 speakers), and Vietnamese (15,614 speakers), compared to other places, Gwinnett has a relatively high number of Korean (19,938 speakers), Serbo-Croatian (3,767 speakers), and Gujarati (4,802 speakers). – DataUSA.com

However, this diversity was not reflected in the county’s political leadership — prior to 2018, the  Gwinnett County Commission was all white and all Republican. Keaton, at 35-years-old, is set to play a critical role as the county’s political shift.

Change is not a scary word to Keaton. Growing up in Chicago, she struggled against poverty and uncertainty on a daily basis. She once went to 10 different schools in one year. Now, she is on a path to move Gwinnett from red to completely blue by the time of the 2020 elections.

Some of the key issues she is focused on include:

  • Fair elections – It’s no secret Gwinnett County had issues on election night with their precincts and ballot access. These issues could have been avoided with better planning and oversight. Absentee Ballots were thrown out and not enough voting machines were made available for the high voter turnout. This is a priority to fix for Keaton.

 

  • Making room for new voices and creating an expanded Democratic footprint throughout Gwinnett – At one time, the Democratic Party in Gwinnett was all but defunct. Keaton and her executive team are taking the reins and moving things forward, especially for groups that have been historically marginalized in the county.

 

  • Modernized operations – Keaton says it’s time to bring party operations into the 21st century. She has a clear idea on how she wants to achieve this. It’s more than just building a new website she says–it’s about brand and messaging as well as policy and procedures. She embraces technology and wants to utilize it to streamline the functions and work of the party.

 

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Nurse Alice: New Research Suggests Alzheimer’s Presents Differently in African Americans

Nearly 5.7 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. The disease, however, seemingly presents more problematic for African Americans. Studies show African Americans are twice as likely of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to whites. And while health, lifestyle, and socioeconomic factors contribute to our susceptibility for this disease (as well as others), more and more research is suggesting genetic differences could explain some of the disparity between African Americans and whites.

Research from the Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine suggests Alzheimer’s disease may develop differently in blacks. That could possibly mean the way we diagnose and treat African Americans for Alzheimer’s may need to change as well and become race specific.

Much of what we know about Alzheimer’s disease is from research based on white people. Yet numerous studies have shown racial differences exist in African American genetics which influence how we respond to different diagnostic tests, medications, and treatments. And this isn’t new information. Differences in cardiovascular treatment and diabetes diagnosis for African Americans are well documented.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. It’s the most common cause of dementia, causing changes in memory, speech, judgment, personality, and overall cognitive functioning. This steady decline in thinking, behaviorally and socially, disrupt a person’s ability to function independently.

While there is no definitive diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s, some of the biological hallmarks of the disease are abnormal amounts of protein plaques – amyloid Aβ42 and protein tau tangles that present throughout the brain. Its been thought that the higher your levels are, the higher risk you were for the disease. And because we know that to be true, companies have spent millions of dollars creating anti-tau medications and therapy to counter the disease.

In people with Alzheimer’s disease, tau proteins for unknown reasons collapse into twisted strands called tangles. These twisted strands keep the brain cells from getting nutrients and other essential supplies, and the cells eventually die.

 What Does This Mean for You?

In a research plot twist, researchers at Washington School of Medicine discovered that when they scanned the brains of participants for plaques – there wasn’t any significant differences between whites and blacks. However, when they performed lumbar punctures testing cerebral spinal fluid levels of tau proteins, the levels were much lower in African Americans. This debunks the theory that lower levels of tau proteins mean lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. African Americans having lower levels of tau protein did not seem to have the same decreased risk as it did in their white counterparts. What this means is there is the potential for African Americans to still have the disease, but present with lower levels of tau proteins which may lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s.

What’s Next?

So how do we properly and efficiently identify and treat Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans? Do we start with race specific thresholds for tau protein levels?…. maybe we need to.

While this question remains unanswered, it needs to be addressed sooner than later. But the only way to garner enough scientific information to do so is to gather more evidence. So while these findings are from a relatively small sample size (173 black participants) it is still worthy of a serious look because it comes from research done with African Americans. And last I checked – I was African American. So while some medical research can be generalized to different groups– it’s still not a one size fits all. If we have reason to believe race plays a role in how someone is diagnosed, and what medications and treatments work best for them – then we need to apply that information. This is one step closer to the goal of precision medicine, an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. Ask your provider today whether they practice precision medicine. If not, you may want to consider changing to one that does.

 

 

 

 

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Here Are the Winners of the Google Podcasts Creator Program

Previously, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported that Google and PRX, a leader in podcast content, training, and technology were looking for multicultural podcast creators to participate in the accelerator portion of the Google Podcasts creator program. Well, it seems they are locked and loaded. Here are the participating teams:

AfroQueer, Nairobi, Kenya

Google Podcasts

AfroQueer, Maeve Francis, Aida Holly-Nambi, Selly Thiam (Image: Google)

A reported, narrative-driven podcast about queer Africans living, loving, surviving and thriving on the African continent and in the diaspora.

Las Raras, Santiago, Chile

Google Podcasts

Las Raras, Martin Cruz, Catalina May (Image: Google)

This Spanish-language, non-fiction podcast tells stories of “The Weird Ones,” the people who live on the margins of society because of their background or life choices, and how these stories challenge social norms.

Timestorm, Bloomfield, New Jersey

Google Podcasts

Timestorm, Michael Aquino, Dania Ramos (Image: Google)

This audio fiction series tells the story of 12-year-old twins, Alexa and Beni Ventura, who travel through time to uncover hidden moments in the history of Puerto Rican culture.

Long Distance, Los Angeles, California

Google Podcasts

Long Distance, Patrick Epino, Paola Mardo (Image: Google)

This reported, narrative podcast uncovers unknown histories and present-day realities about life in the Filipino diaspora.

The Colored Girl Beautiful, Baltimore, Maryland

Google Podcasts

The Colored Girl Beautiful, Baltimore, Maryland (Image: Google)

Explores black women’s concepts of beauty, then and now, using Emma Azalia Hackley’s 1916 book The Colored Girl Beautiful as a framework.

Who Taught You How To Drive?! Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Google Podcasts

Who Taught You How To Drive?!, Tanikka Charraé, Melissa Tsuei, Tezarah Wilkins (Image: Google)

A humorous interview podcast about how we get around told through the stories of drivers, walkers, riders, and bikers and their habits on the road.

“The teams selected for the first round show incredible promise, and we couldn’t be more excited to help these producers develop and grow their shows,” said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager of Google Podcasts which launched in June 2018. “This program is one of the ways we hope to ensure that our millions of listeners have access to a variety of content for all types of global audiences.”

The program is funded by Google and run independently by PRX. The creator program aims to remove barriers to podcasting, increase the diversity of voices in the industry, and make sure content is available for all audiences through a series of educational programs, including a 20-week podcast training and accelerator program.

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Former Black Employee Files Suit Against Moschino for Racially Profiling Black Shoppers

Shamael Lataillade, a former employee at a Moschino boutique in West Hollywood, California, filed a lawsuit against the Italian luxury clothing company for racial discrimination against her and shoppers of color. In the suit, Lataillade claims that employees at the store were instructed to racially profile black patrons who didn’t appear to be wealthy and classify them using a racist codename.

Lataillade says a store supervisor would call black clientele “Serena” and ordered employees to follow and watch them closely if they weren’t wearing diamonds or name brand clothing, according to documents obtained by TMZ. Associates were also told to tell so-called “Serenas” that certain items were out of stock. The female supervisor even went as far as sometimes recording the license plate numbers of black clients. In one instance, she purportedly called the police to report a “suspicious” customer who Lataillade says turned out to be a high-profile rapper.

In addition, Lataillade, who is a Haitian-American woman, claims that the supervisor stereotyped her as someone who practices voodoo. Lataillade argues that she was then fired for speaking out about the “Serena” code word and other forms of racism she faced.

Ironically, the code word “Serena” seems to be a reference to iconic tennis star Serena Williams, who boasts a net worth around $180 million.

In response to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, Moschino denied Lataillade’s charges and told TMZ the company “complies with applicable equal employment laws and values and respects all customers and clients regardless of their race or background.”

Nevertheless, this lawsuit points to the notorious phenomenon of “shopping while black,” an epidemic that dates back to the 20th century, when department stores prohibited black shoppers from using their main entrance and trying on clothes in fear their skin would tarnished items. Oprah Winfrey even fell victim to the “shopping while black” stigma back in 2013, when a Zurich store clerk snubbed the billionaire and suggested that she could not afford a $38,000 purse.

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