Black Panther’s Costume Designer On Being Inspired by Ancient African Tribes

Marvel’s Black Panther movie is one of the most highly anticipated films of 2018. But beyond a star-studded lineup of incredible black talents such as Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Lupita Nyong’o, the film also includes an action-packed storyline equipped with a variety of jaw-dropping costumes. So we caught up with Ruth E. Carter, the Academy Award-nominated designer behind the film to talk about how the ancient tribes of Africa inspired her designs of the superhero costumes.

Carter is no stranger to recreating representations of blacks in films—she’s also the creative mastermind behind some of the most iconic black films in history—School DazeMalcolm XAmistadDo the Right Thing, Roots (2016) and Selma, to name a few. Below she shares her design process and inspiration behind the film’s costumes.

Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter

Ruth E. Carter on working with the film production team and planning for the design process. 

Marvel Studios gave me a blueprint. They had a lot of plans for the costumes, whether it was visual effects, special effects, or photo doubles. So they told me the elements the costume needed to have. From rich saturated colors and beautiful prints to textures—these things were rooted in African culture.

So we researched all of these wonderful different ancient tribes from the continent of Africa such as the Xhosa, Zula, Himba, and Maasai, and learned about their secrets and the reason behind doing things a certain way. For instance, when The Himba Tribe used this beautiful red clay that they put all over their bodies (including, jewelry hands, and hair) it was for the desert dwellers to have moisturizer. It also made your skin and hair really soft. It even had Shea butter—it was also so colorful and intense. It could even be bottled and sold today as a moisturizer.

On the other hand, the Maasai Tribe was known for all of this beautiful beadwork—so we wanted to direct the costumes towards that look. The stacked rings are a very prominent visual jewelry and were worn by ancient African tribes—that was also part of the framework that Marvel said we would like to have. I hired a jewelry designer who does African-inspired jewelry. She created rings, and necklaces—featuring a hand-tooled element that really pulled the looks together. We also pulled inspiration for the costumes from the draped robe attire that you often see in the Nigerian culture.

 

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Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Talks Misconceptions and Plans for 2018

As co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors is a modern-day revolutionary igniting change and turning messages into movements about law enforcement accountability and race in America. But beyond activist and co-founder of BLM, she’s a Fulbright Scholar, performance artist, an author of When they Call You A Terrorist, an instant New York Times Best Seller. Four years after the start of the movement, we caught up with Cullors to clear up BLM misconceptions and plans to expand. 

Let’s take it back to when you and your cofounders (Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza) first started the Black Lives Matter Movement, what were your intentions? 

The intention for Black Lives Matter had everything to do with wanting to challenge the idea that black people couldn’t fight for themselves and couldn’t be at the forefront for challenging anti-black racism. The beginning of BLM was really about developing a new set of skills and new leaders to challenge white supremacy and the way that it shapes everything that we do.

Over the years, what have you been most surprised to learn about yourself as well as the movement?

I’ve been most surprised to learn how vulnerable we are to right-wing attack and that our movement would be labeled a terrorist organization. I was most surprised that I would be labeled a terrorist and the people I loved would be labeled terrorist.

What have been the points of your journey that you’ve felt that BLM was most successful?

I think we’ve been successful at shifting culture and building out narratives that center black people at the margins. BLM is innovative and constantly challenging the ways we collectively understand blackness. There has been a deeper commitment to learning about issues that the black community faces and a realization from a lot of people that if we fight for black lives then ultimately, when black people get free, we all get free.

What are two common misconceptions people have about the BLM movement? 

Misconception No. 1 is that BLM is just the name of a movement and that movement only exists in America. BLM is also a global organization with over 40 chapters in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Our network understands that anti-black racism is global and the work of undoing white supremacy should be happening around the world.

Misconception No. 2 is that it BLM is leaderless. We believe BLM is leaderful and all movements have many leaders, our movement doesn’t believe in a single charismatic leader.

What events, initiatives, and plans do you have for BLM in 2018? What types of conversations should we be having more of?

We should be having conversations on what it looks like to build the black economy and what it looks like to develop black communities from the ground up. We’re in a long-haul fight given this administration and its consistent fight against us; white supremacy isn’t just here in the United States, it is a global phenomenon and we must challenge it as such.

In 2018, our chapters will continue to do the work that they do on the ground—fighting the local government, calling for new laws, and fighting against police brutality. As a global network, our work for the next year is building our own infrastructure. We’ve spent the last four years resisting and fighting back in reaction to black deaths and this next year is taking a deeper dive into what the next decade of this fight looks like.

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6 Black Fashion Labels to Know, Celebrate, and Support

At the start of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Beyoncé released a new Valentine’s Day-themed collection of merchandise on her website. The 10-piece capsule includes phone cases, hoodies, T-shirts, and undergarments inspired by her hit songs. The pieces, which range from $30 to $60, make the perfect gifts for a significant other, especially if you’re planning to “Buy Black” for bae for the holiday.

But even if you’re not celebrating Valentine’s Day, there’s always a reason to support the fashion designers who strive to overcome notorious racial barriers within the industry. Here’s a mix of black fashion designers to get to know, celebrate, and support—from legends like Dapper Dan to the up-and-coming talent making a splash.

 

6 Black Fashion Labels to Know:

For Luxury: Laquan Smith

(Image: Beyonce wearing LaQuan Smith | Photo Credit: Instagram/LaQuan_Smith)

 

At just 29 years old, designer LaQuan Smith is making waves in the fashion industry. The native New Yorker is responsible for the sleek, body-hugging dress that Beyoncé wore as she presented Colin Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at Sports Illustrated’s Person of the Year Awards in December. Smith’s signature sexy, show-stopping pieces have also been flaunted by fashion trailblazers such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian West.

 

For Woke Folk: Pyer Moss

A post shared by Whitney Bauck (@unwrinkling) on

Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of the Pyer Moss label, is renowned for using fashion as a fierce weapon of force to address and combat social injustice. Back in Fall 2015, the Haitian-American designer kicked off a presentation at NYFW with a 15-minute video about police brutality and black empowerment. The Pyer Moss’ Spring 2016 Menswear Collection infused video, street art, and fashion to spotlight the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jean-Raymond also delivered a powerful message on Saturday during a NYFW presentation inspired by the black cowboys of the 19th century. The collection featured Western-style jackets and shirts and a piece bearing the Pan-African flag. In the backdrop, a live gospel choir led by multi-platinum musician Raphael Saadiq sung uplifting songs like Kendrick Lamar’s politically-charged anthem “Alright.”

 

For a Custom Fit: Dapper Dan

Dapper Dan

(Image: Instagram/DapperDanHarlem)

Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day pioneered luxury hip-hop fashion in the 80s and 90s by remixing high-end brands into urban streetwear. However, after closing shop 25 years ago, the legendary designer opened a new store in Harlem this year similar to the famous Dapper Dan Boutique that closed in 1992— but this time with a Gucci twist. Rather than recreating luxury brands into urban streetwear without authorization, now Gucci provides Dan with fabrics, prints, and patches to design customized bespoke pieces. In addition to made-to-order garments, the Harlem couturier has limited-edition ready-to-wear items and accessories available for purchase.

 

For Street Style: Lyfestyle

(Image: Instagram/LyfestyleNYC)

Born in Brooklyn, Lyfestyle captures the essence of New York City urban art, style, and flavor. The brand was birthed from the imaginations of four friends who loved the lavish fashion on Fifth Avenue but were limited to shopping on a SoHo budget. That inspired the group to launch their own apparel line in 2010, which uniquely bears the brand’s signature logo upside down. Lyfestyle co-founder Kamau Harper says the stylized logo is a creative expression of individuality that always appears right side up when viewed by the person wearing the clothes.

The streetwear is making waves and growing in popularity largely thanks to hip-hop heavyweights like Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and Diddy, who have been seen wearing the brand.

 

For Ready-To-Wear: Colour by Nandi Madida

A post shared by nandi_madida (@nandi_madida) on

Hailing all the way from South Africa, Nandi Madida presented a beautiful Autumn/Winter 2018 collection at NYFW on Saturday showcasing her line Colour in collaboration with designer Josh Patron. Models ripped the runway in bright and bold fabrics and patterns that extruded the elegance and sophistication of an African queen. The designer and international media personality launched Colour clothing line in 2016.

 

For the Culture: Abdju Wear

Abdju Wear

Abdju Wear founder Bobby West

Abdju Wear is a new clothing line that sports high-end clothes and sneakers at affordable prices. The brand offers everything from polo-style shirts to hightop sneakers in traditional Pan-African flag colors. The designer, Bobby West, aspires to become a staple in black fashion the same way that Ralph Lauren has become one of the most iconic brands in the country.

“We are taking the hood out of the community one shoe at a time,” said West in a statement. “Abdju Wear is dedicated to building the African American community with a product that will transform the hoods back into a community. The starter of Abdju Wear have been volunteering in the black community for over 17 years. We have created a product that will stimulate the community with small business opportunities. We are bringing pride back into the marketplace with the red, black, and green.”

 

 

 

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Mental Health Survivor and Entrepreneur on Building Her Business While Managing PTSD

The mental health stigma remains a cloud of shame with many fearing discrimination or alienation from family, friends, even society at large. Approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness.

HLG Scans Founder Charmaine Gresham has dealt with depression pretty much all her life, beginning in her adolescent years. Gresham has faced some tremendous highs and very dark lows, but she prides herself on still standing and not being ashamed. She challenges the notion that you can’t be successful if you have a mental illness.

For Gresham, it’s about knowing trigger moments and how to efficiently work through them via professional counseling and meditation. Black Enterprise contributor Chanel Martin discusses with Gresham how she is able to build her business and take care of her family while managing her mental illness.

Chanel Martin: Tell us about your business. What is it? How did you get started?

Gresham: HLG Scans was started out of necessity. My newborn daughter was having sinusitis health problems, and I had to constantly take leave from my corporate job to take care of her. I finally decided I didn’t want to choose anymore and started the process of developing HLG Scans L.L.C. HLG Scans is a multi-dimensional electronic document management company. We have three subdivisions: federal contracting, online products and services, and small business services. HLG Scans is a certified Veteran Owned (VOSB) and Women-Owned (WOSB) Small Business.

We provide third-party vendor services to federal government agencies from administrative to minor construction outsourcing. Our online division provides interactive tools, training, and consultation to transform your traditional office into a digital workspace with the ability to work from anywhere. Our small business division, provide scan conversion and electronic document management services to help local business owners save money and increase office productivity. The workplace is an ever-changing entity. Technology is changing the way we do our business. Things that used to take weeks, now only take hours and minutes. Electronic document management is becoming a requirement and no longer a luxury.

As a mental health survivor, entrepreneurship can be very stressful. How do you manage your diagnoses while pursuing your entrepreneurial efforts?

Mental illness is something I’ve dealt with in one form or another for a majority of my life. Before I was clinically diagnosed with PTSD, I would continually have highs and sometimes feel so low that the only thing that got me to a place of recovery was prayer and determination to see another day. With mental illness, your trigger moments can feel like a deep dark hole you’re constantly trying to climb out. Normal habits, such as getting out of bed, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, can easily be put on the backburner because you’re too exhausted to get out of bed. I would have slept my life away I could. With PTSD you’re constantly struggling with past demons. It’s like playing a broken record in your head. Usually, with PTSD, you’re triggered by past and present moments of stress. You’re trying to win this battle in your head and everything you hold dear gets damaged in the crossfire. It can be utterly exhausting fighting with yourself.

Sometimes my moments of depression could end up lasting for a week, with me struggling to find a real reason to keep pushing. When you’re not adequately dealing with your mental health, nothing gets 100% from you, including family, friends, and your business. Sometimes I would go a week without being productive, things weren’t getting done, and it showed. I was trying to do everything myself, which made me stressful, which made me depressed. The goal for any business is consistency, and that’s something I could not give because I wasn’t dealing with my issues. Once I started treatment, delegated some responsibilities, and learned to take a break and breathe; things began to change for the better. Contracts began coming in, and real progress has been made across the board for my business. I want a happy and fulfilling life, and I deserve it. My main priority is maintaining a positive outlook for my family and me, which includes medication, regular counseling, exercise, and meditation.

What is a typical day in the life for you?

A typical day for me includes early morning meditation; getting my daughter ready for school, and meeting with my trainer for an exercise session. I then return home and start my workday which includes: virtual meetings with my team, responding to emails, reviewing my to-do list, developing new online products, social media interaction, live video trainings, and local networking meetings and events. I usually meet with my counselor twice a month to decompress. I always feel refreshed after our sessions.

What advice do you have for others who may feel that a mental health diagnosis would limit their ability to build a sustainable business?

First, you must openly acknowledge and accept your mental health diagnoses. It’s not a death sentence or something you should be ashamed of. I would suggest seeking physician care, professional counseling, regularly participating in activities that bring you peace and joy, and if you have a triggered moment, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all beautifully flawed human beings.

What motivates you to keep going?

I do believe there’s an anointed strength in me that keeps me going through all the trials and tribulations of juggling three hats (business owner, mother, and wife). I’ve had tremendous growth because through it all, I kept going. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t take the time to pat myself on the back because I always see something that can be better. I’m slowly learning to stop and smell the roses; enjoy the moment of achievement and growth. I’m also learning that no matter how busy or driven I am, to always make time for me. Enjoy the different vices that help me relax and just be. Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s a part of me, and I have to love all parts of me—no matter what.

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10 Black Olympian Historymakers

A number of black athletes are making history at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which kicked off earlier this week. This includes Maame Biney, who became the first black woman to join the U.S. Olympic speedskating team at just 17 years old; Erin Jackson, the first black woman to secure a spot on Team USA’s Olympic speed skating team; and Jordan Greenway, the first African American player to compete on the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. However, there are scores of black athletes who’ve paved the way for these legends-in-the-making over the last century.

10 iconic black Olympians who’ve made history by breaking records and racial barriers:

Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera

black Olympian

(Image: Wikimedia)

In 1900, French soccer player Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera became the first black athlete to compete at the modern-day Olympics, which launched four years earlier in 1896. The Haitian-born rugby player was also the very first person of color to earn an Olympic gold medal when the French team won the first Rugby Olympic Tournament. 

George Coleman Poage

(Image: Wikimedia)

 

George Coleman Poage was another trailblazer who faced great racial adversity during the Olympic games in St. Louis in 1904. Although many of the events were segregated, Poage became the first African American to win an Olympic medal after earning a bronze medal in both the 220-yard and 440-yard hurdles.

John Taylor

(Image: Wikimedia)

Four years later, John Taylor became the first African American athlete to win a gold medal in athletics when the U.S. men’s medley relay team came in first place at the 1908 Summer Olympics.

Jesse Owens

(Image: Wikimedia)

In 1936, black American sprinter and athlete Jesse James Cleveland Owens won four gold medals for running and field events in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. This victory helped dispel Nazi-based myths about Aryan supremacy.

Alice Coachman

(Image: Facebook)

Track and field star Alice Coachman was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold at the 1948 games in London. The HBCU graduate also set new records with her high jump.

Wilma Rudolph

black Olympian

World-renowned track-and-field star Wilma Rudolph made Olympic history at 16 years old when she became the youngest member of the U.S. team and won a bronze medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. She later earned gold medals in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and sprint relay events in the 1960 Olympics, making her the first American woman to win three medals in track-and-field events.

Florence Griffith-Joyner

black Olympian

Known for her flamboyant style on the field, Florence “Flo Jo” Griffith-Joyner set an all-time record as the fastest woman in the world at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul while competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

black Olympian

(Image: Flickr)

Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim woman to compete for the U.S. in fencing and the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in a hijab during the summer 2016 Olympics. The fencing champ also became the first female Muslim-American athlete to win an Olympic medal when she took home the bronze in the team saber event at the Summer Games in Rio.

Usain Bolt

black Olympian

(Image: Wikimedia)

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set a world record in the men’s 100-meters, 200-meters, and the 4×100 meters relay during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He is also celebrated as one of the most decorated sprinters of all time with six gold medals.

Gabby Douglas

(Image: Wikimedia)

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas made history at as the first woman of color to win gold in the all-around competition at 16 years old. In addition, she is the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual and team all-around competition.

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Domestic Violence Is a Workplace and Economic Issue [Opinion]

When I saw the image furiously circulating on the internet of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wife Colbie Holderness’ black eye she says resulted from Porter hitting her, I got angry and then sick. Domestic violence needs to be part of the #metoo conversation.

 

(Image: Twitter)

Unfortunately, there are immature, out-of-control, disturbed, and angry people committing violence against their domestic partner. I’m somewhat ashamed to say, I was in two back-to-back abusive relationships for far too long. Not only did remaining in these toxic situations tax me emotionally and physically, they cost me a job and also sent me tumbling down an economic hole toward poverty.

A tense, ugly relationship with many blood-red flags that couldn’t have been more obvious; the violence in the first of these relationships culminated after a particularly brutal argument. This man, twice my weight and height, grabbed me; smashed my head into a bathroom tile; dragged me across the floor; down some stairs; and tried to smother me with a pillow. He didn’t let up until I was just beginning to black out.

You think I would have left after that, right? Wrong. I did call the police, who had been out to our residence before after other incidents. During the call, I suddenly decided to not press charges. The officer on the other line said, “OK. Next time we’re out there we’ll probably be removing you in a body bag. ‘Bye!”

After I finally woke up and left, I headed straight into another poisonous adventure with an alcoholic who got violent when drunk. Life with such an individual is, unsurprisingly, extremely detrimental to work performance. I was in a job I had been successful at for half a decade and I became so emotionally drained, anxious, and so fraught with rage that issues that I would have handled well otherwise, I handled terribly and was given the pink slip.

Having broken up with the alcoholic—who did contribute financially to the household, with no job, and not much freelance work to be had; the bills piled up. I was threatened with eviction. My credit was nearing a negative number.

Black Women Are Especially Vulnerable in Domestic Violence Situations

Domestic violence didn’t just leave me emotionally and physically battered. My career and my finances were wrecked.

DomesticShelters.org compiled data on how disastrous physical abuse is to a woman’s livelihood and money. From the site: “Victims of intimate partner violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.”

Also, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence found that 64% of women said their work was affected by their abuse. They cited feeling distracted and a loss in work productivity as well as missed days—all as consequences of partner violence.

And African American women are victimized by domestic partners at a 35% higher rate than white women. Black women are also more likely to be killed by a partner.

As black women, we are used to striving; after all, we are making gains in the workplace and are among the most educated demographic in the country. “We got this,” is a phrase we love to use to self-motivate ourselves and our sisters.

But, when it comes to a domestic violence situation and not ending the abuse as soon as possible: Girl, you don’t got this. If you are in the same situation that I was, get out, get assistance, and reclaim your life. I finally did and emerged stronger in my profession, my finances, and as a person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Miami Giving Spree: Drake Donates More than $100,000 to Those in Need

Well, there’s one platinum-selling rapper who’s making philanthropy part of “God’s Plan.” Aubrey “Drake” Graham has been spreading the love like it’s Christmas with recent acts of kindness in Miami. According to reports, he recently footed the bill for customers’ groceries at local supermarket Sabor Tropical and then ventured to a women’s shelter to donate big bucks.

On Monday, after a surprise visit to Miami High School where he reportedly gave $25,000, he set social media abuzz when he stopped by Sabor Tropical and paid customers’ tabs to the tune of $50,000. The generosity continued on Tuesday when he made a stop at the University of Miami to gift a student a $50,000 scholarship and continued to the Lotus House Women’s Shelter to give another $50,000.

Apparently he’s on an achievement high since his current single “God’s Plan,” a song which he’s shooting a video for at various locations in Miami, hit No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart. It also broke Spotify and Apple Music’s single-day streaming record. Billboard reports that in its first two weeks on the chart, the song has had “two of the five biggest streaming weeks of all time,” and it has reached 83.3 million U.S. clicks, in its second frame. Last year, Drake was one of the top five most wealthy hip-hop stars, earning an estimated $94 million, according to Forbes, from tours and endorsements for Nike, Apple, and Sprite. The young boss, who backed Virginia Black whisky and launched his own October’s Very Own (OVO) record label, tour, merch, and clothing line, has also recently set his sights on the lucrative world of entertainment, recently partnering with Apple Inc., Netflix, and other film studios to produce and star in his own sports-centered content.

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Prince, Dodge Ram, Protests: Race-related Issues in Spotlight of Super Bowl LII

The use of one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches as a voice-over in the automotive manufacturer’s commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl game drew swift rebuke from fans of the late civil rights leader on social media.

“I just heard the voice of the famous anti-capitalist Martin Luther King, Jr, preaching a sermon on service, superimposed over the images of white American military personnel on parade in dress uniforms, in order to sell Ram trucks. I understand sports ball is to blame,” said M. Pezzulo in a comment left on the video on YouTube.

 

Many comments on various social media channels also echo the same sentiment, saying it was inappropriate for Dodge to use King’s Drum Major Instinct speech—given in 1968, on greatness and service—to sell cars.

“If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be free, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. Recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant—that’s a new definition of greatness,” King said as the video depicts fishermen, military, firefighters, football players, and other workers before cutting to shots of Ram’s truck.

The commercial ended with Ram’s tagline, “Built to Serve.”

The King Center said on Twitter that neither the organization nor members of King’s family approved the use of the words or imagery for use in the ad.

Other comments said it was hypocritical of the NFL to allow such an ad while NFL players who kneel during the national anthem all year were heavily criticized as activists staged protests outside the U.S. Bank stadium.

Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and a coalition of other groups attempted to shut down several critical transit lines in downtown Minneapolis in order to protest police brutality and racism.

About 100 leaders representing the Movement for Black Lives, Black Lives Matter Network, BYP100, St. Louis Action Council, and the BlackOUT Collective wore t-shirts branded with “You can’t play with Black lives!” locked arms and formed a chain blockade on the tracks of the West Bank station near the U.S. Bank Stadium for about an hour, according to the Star Tribune.

The activists said they are using the moment to call attention to and stand with athletes who have knelt and protested racial injustice and police brutality against African Americans over the past two football seasons.

The City of Minneapolis had banned city residents without Super Bowl tickets from using the public transit—a move activists said primarily affected people of color who rely on it to commute to work.

Seventeen of the protesters who were arrested were later released with a citation according to the Star Tribune.

In a night already filled with controversies, the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show didn’t disappoint either. While Justine Timberlake’s much-anticipated performance didn’t deliver on the hype according to some comments on Twitter, it was his tribute to Prince that drew ire from the late singer’s fans.

In a 1998 interview with Guitar World Magazine, Prince was asked what he thought about digital editing to “create a situation where you could jam with any artist from the past.”

“That’s the most demonic thing imaginable,” he said. “Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age. That whole virtual reality thing … it really is demonic. And I am not a demon. Also, what they did with that Beatles song (Free as a Bird), manipulating John Lennon’s voice to have him singing from across the grave … that’ll never happen to me. To prevent that kind of thing from happening is another reason why I want artistic control.”

 

 

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This Day In Black History: ‘Home Run King’ Is Born

Henry Louis Aaron, nicknamed ‘Hammerin’ Hank,’ was born the third of eight on Feb. 5, 1934 in an underprivileged neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama. At the young age of 8, Henry and his family moved to Toulminville, a middle-class neighborhood nearby, where he developed a passion for baseball and football. He attended segregated Central High School, where he played third base and shortstop on the school’s team.

In his junior year, young Henry transferred to a private school that had a structured baseball program. In 1951, he left high school to play for the Indianapolis Clowns, a team in the Negro Leagues, which he led to victory in the league’s 1952 World Series. Shortly after, he was recruited for $10,000 by the Milwaukee Braves and named “Northern League Rookie of the Year.” Two years later, in 1954, at the age of 20, he joined the MLB. His first year he had a batting average of .280, and in the 1955 season he hit more than 27 home runs, had 106 runs batted in, and held a batting average of .328. During the 1957 World Series against the New York Yankees, Aaron hit a home run in the 11th inning, causing the Braves to win which was a major upset, and helping him to earn the title of the National League’s MVP.

Aaron was a loyal activist in the civil rights movement; he also supported the NAACP. Together with his wife, Billye, Aaron created the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation to help children develop and achieve their potential. In addition, the baseball superstar would speak about opportunities for minorities. He once stated, “On the field, blacks have been able to be super giants. But once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again.”

Over the next decade and a half, Aaron continued to succeed, averaging 30 to 40 home runs per season. At the age of 39, he achieved a skyrocketing high of 40 home runs, just one run behind Babe Ruth’s sacred record of 714. Aaron began to receive death threats and hate mail that said a black man should not dare try to break baseball’s most sanctified record. On April 8, 1974, Aaron broke the record with his 715th home run in the fourth inning against the LA Dodgers. Afterwards, he returned to Milwaukee to finish his career, and retired there as a player, later becoming executive vice president of the Atlanta Braves.

Today, the 81-year-old Aaron is senior vice president of the Braves, and a leader and spokesman on getting players of color into the league. Aaron was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1982, and in 1999, the MLB introduced the Hank Aaron Award, which would be presented every year to the best overall hitter in each league. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 from President George W. Bush because of Aaron’s humanitarian ventures. Aaron now resides in Georgia and remains one of the best hitters in baseball history. He is responsible for breaking many baseball records; he is especially known for obtaining the most career home runs (755 in total), which lasted for more than two decades. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund awarded him the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Watch the below video for an interview with ‘Hammerin Hank’ who was honored with the A.G. Gaston Award last year at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Summit.

 

 

 

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Still Planning Your Super Bowl Food? Let Sunny Anderson Help

Whether you’re tuning in for the commercials, or you’re watching for the celebrities, unless you’re still boycotting the NFL and skipping the big game altogether, you’re going to need to get your Super Bowl food plans together. Like now.

Food Network host Sunny Anderson is here to rescue you from endless hours of scrolling Pinterest for the perfect recipes. Try either (or both) or her crowd-pleasing dishes to feed the football fans in your life.

Sunny’s Easy-Win Chili 

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2017

Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo or spicy sausage, casing removed
  • 1 pound ground chuck (80% beef, 20% fat)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp or finely minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dry, whole leaf thyme
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 14 ounces (1¾ cups) crushed tomato
  • 14 ounces (1¾ cups) beef stock

1. Start the chili. In a medium pot with a heavy base or Dutch oven on medium high heat add the chorizo, beef, onions, salt and a pinch of pepper. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break the chorizo down into bits like the ground beef. Once the chorizo is mostly cooked and the onions are tender, add the garlic, chili powder, chili flakes, thyme, and cinnamon. Cook a few minutes while stirring to combine all the flavors.

2. Cover and finish. Add the crushed tomato and beef stock. Raise the heat until the pot boils, then lower to a low simmer and cover. Cook stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes. Serve with a toppings/pairings bar. Transfer to a slow cooker if for a party.

Super Bowl food

Sunny Anderson’s Infladium (Photo: Amscan)

Anderson not only delivers he goods when it comes to what you should make for Super Bowl food, but she’s also tackled the problem of how you should serve it. A football super-fan herself, Anderson has made tailgating a bit less stressful for the host with her invention of the Infladium, an inflatable, reusable snack stadium that debuted last November and is sold at Party City stores across the country.

Here are her suggestions for what to serve with the chili when a simple serving bowl won’t do:

Fill the field:

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Corn bread
  • Baked potatoes
  • Taco shells

Fill the stands:

  • Tortillas, corn chips, tortilla chips
  • Chopped scallions, tomatoes, onions
  • Salsas, sour cream, hot sauce
  • Lettuce, corn, pickled jalapenos
  • Shredded cheeses, aluminum foil wrapped baked potatoes
  • Tater tots, radish slices, shredded lettuce, sliced black olives

If your home will be full of famished fans but the thought of actually cooking Super Bowl food is too much bear, Anderson’s also got a recipe for a cheesy dip that will save you time in the kitchen and get you back in the action in front of the TV.

Sunny’s Cheese “Point” Spread

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2017

Super Bowl food

Sunny Anderson’s Cheese “Point” Spread (Photo: Amscan)

For the spread

  • 48 ounces shredded white cheddar
  • 48 ounces shredded Monterey jack
  • 4 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 48 ounces scallion cream cheese
  • 1 cup drained and chopped pimentos
  • ½ cup drained and chopped pickled jalapenos

Garnish:

  • 32 ounces shredded white cheddar
  • bunches of fresh dill
  • bunches of fresh parsley, chopped
  • bunches of fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and spread evenly into the full sheet to flatten. Top with cheddar cheese and green herbs to create a football field.

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