Why Black Entrepreneurs Should Add Toronto to Their Bucket List

Have you been to Toronto yet? If you’re looking for a vibrant city that applauds itself on having diversity as its strength, you have to visit Canada and see what Toronto has in store. Toronto has been recognized as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, boasting over 200 ethnic groups with over 140 languages spoken. It’s now the fourth-largest city in the world and continues to attract people who are seeking a community where they can fit in while standing out. Black entrepreneurs and professionals will find a rich, welcoming culture that will expose you to life beyond the space you currently occupy.

The captivating city scene provides a perfect way to unwind after a long day of work or relaxation. Whether you’re in Toronto for business, pleasure, or have a long layover, here are some things you can do to see why Toronto is ranked at the top of the list for diversity.

[RELATED: AMERICAN BLACK WOMEN ARE MOVING IN DROVES TO THIS ONE COUNTRY]

Great Canadian Food Tour

One way to get a world-class crash course on a city’s diversity is by exploring a variety of cultures through the food. Food is where cultures typically connect. Local entrepreneur Jusep Sim curated the Chopsticks + Forks Great Canadian Food Tour to expose travelers from around the world to the most authentic cuisines in the city.

In less than three hours, you can get a taste of the best bites in Toronto while getting a tour of Kensington Market. This neighborhood is known as one of the most eclectic and diverse spots in the city, representing over 25 countries and captivating street art. It’s the perfect way to get a glimpse of the entire city in one neighborhood.

Enjoy these multi-cultural bites while learning fascinating historical facts and stories:

  • Ojibwe-inspired taco from Pow Wow Café
  • Peameal bacon sandwich from Bacon Nation
  • Montreal-style bagel from Nü Bagel
  • Butter tart from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky
  • Nanaimo Bar from Moonbean Coffee Company

Are you hungry yet? Head on over to Chopsticks + Forks to learn more, because a trip to Toronto isn’t complete without diving into the different flavors available at the family-owned businesses in Kensington Market.

CN Tower

If you’re looking for a breathtaking view to spark creativity and new ideas in your business or career, then check out the Canadian National (CN) Tower. It’s one of the top-rated attractions of Toronto. The CN Tower, which held the record for being the tallest freestanding tower for 32 years, is a great way to see the city at an elevated level.

If you’re meeting with clients or seeking exclusive dining, the 360 Restaurant at the top of the tower provides an unforgettable food experience and a revolving view of Toronto. For all travel adventurers who want to walk on the “wild side,” the CN Tower provides the “edge walk” experience which gives visitors the ability to walk along the edge while the wind is blowing all around you. Now you can truly experience what it’s like to have no barriers in life!

Are you coming directly from Toronto Pearson International Airport? Take a short trip (less than 30 minutes) to CN Tower. It’s conveniently located by other city attractions, so you’ll be inches away from the best pictures your camera can take by the popular Canada sign. This location also puts you steps away from the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Steam Whistle Brewery, Rogers Centre, and The Rec Room–Eats & Entertainment.

Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection

While you’re in Toronto, you’ll experience a different side of life when you escape to Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection, one of the newest hot spots for celebrities and booming business professionals. The hotel has been recognized as “the city’s first resort-style hotel” by Toronto Star. Hotel X offers amenities that provide the perfect level of comfort, creativity, and luxury for you and your family.

What’s fascinating about this hotel is that it was intentionally created with different personalities in mind. The hotel offers a variety of activities to help you schmooze with others while providing intimate spots throughout the hotel for relaxation. This spacious gem boasts four indoor tennis courts, a tech-savvy workout gym, and various studios for spin class and hot yoga–plus unrivaled sports and wellness facilities. You can experience all this while enjoying the most exquisite views from the rooftop Falcon SkyBar and taking advantage of the array of books that can be found all around.

Toronto is a special place that moves to a beat that can’t be matched by any other city in North America. Most importantly, its cultural diversity attracts people all over the world who can find a place for them in the city–no matter who they are and where they come from.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

Cardi B Publicist Patientce Foster Shares What It Takes To Succeed In Entertainment

Cardi B has made it clear that she doesn’t need more press–-and it’s in large part due to her amazing publicity team at The Cream Agency, headed by Patientce Foster.

Foster plays multiple roles for Cardi, which includes being her independent publicist. She shared, “We work very closely with Ashley Kalmanowitz, our label publicist, who has done an amazing, consistent job in bringing an immense amount of press opportunities to the table. I am also head of her brand partnerships, and day-to-day operations. [Cardi] has honestly allowed me to be a part of almost every conversation pertaining to her career, including creative, her music, her vision, her ambitions.”

Behind the Scenes of Celebrity Publicity

While onlookers get to appreciate the beautiful glossy images, energetic performances, and humorous interviews Cardi B dishes, each of these requires lots of preparation. Foster shared that the most challenging part of the job is having to work under a constant pressure that never seems to let up. You must make yourself available for everyone else while still trying to be emotionally available for yourself.

“It’s easy to lose yourself and your mind while trying to keep up with the demands and obligations of the job,” she says with a laugh.

[RELATED: WE’RE ALL DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM CARDI B: THE UBIQUITY OF HIP-HOP’S CURRENT IT GIRL]

The industry has its perks too. Foster loves being able to work with kind-hearted people with brilliant minds and genuine souls. Noting, “The best part of my job is having a voice, being able to be vocal about what we’re doing, where we’re going, how to evolve and remain consistent.”

Getting into the Industry

Foster recommends that anyone interested in pursuing this career look to build in every direction that could align with their end goal.

“Don’t be so specific in your direction that you turn down opportunities that will help you to build a Rolodex or increase your experiences. Place yourself in rooms that will help you to build contacts. Place yourself at tables that will open your ears to conversation and educate you. Become so well-versed in the industry so that when your time does come you’re equipped with education, contacts, and networks. Those elements are essentially what the person/brand hiring you wants–your reach and your experience.”

Rubbing Shoulders with Celebrities

Rubbing shoulders with celebs is a dream for many, but there are unspoken rules. Foster advises that your approach and intent are everything. “Some people want to rub a shoulder for a photo opp, rub a shoulder to be able to post on social media and caption the moment as if they are acquainted with the celeb and use the visual for their own leverage. My pet peeve would be how the approach is made. Complimenting a celeb, asking them to possibly look at their art, listen to their music or [ask] for a photo is always OK, but how it’s done is what bothers me. The sense of false entitlement is what bothers me.”

Patientce Foster’s Journey to Becoming Cardi B’s Publicist

While Foster cannot forget her Southern roots being born in Charlotte, North Carolina, she credits her upbringing to Wilmington, Delaware, where she moved at the tender age of 7.

“The city of Wilmington has played a major role in my development as a person and as a professional. The fact that Delaware is the second-smallest state, makes Wilmington even smaller. There’s no radio station, sports team, little to no representation. We are often overlooked. It takes a certain consistency, determination, and tenacity to be visible, to be seen, to be recognized. It’s easy to feel defeated when you’re counted out, or always coming in last. Wilmington lent me a fearless mind, a tough skin, and a confidence I wouldn’t have been able to get from anywhere else.”

Leaving her job at Hertz to start a full-service salon is what led her to Cardi. Foster’s pivots may seem haphazard to some, but she had a clear vision.

“I left Hertz to open a full-service salon in 2013, Vixated. Vixated was able to fuel my ambitions and my journey to being a publicist by allowing me freedom, time, and funds to travel and take unpaid opportunities to build my resume and experience. It was in my second year of business (2015) that I was introduced to Cardi by a friend at the time, and now my partner. She needed hair and beauty services and my Wilmington salon location provided that. God made it so that we met again a month later during a Fashion Week PR internship, and it was then that I was hired. I went from working in Hertz, to building a business that paved the way to a career in publicity.”

On top of being a ‘small town girl’ who took a leap of faith to start her own business, Foster is also a single mother. This responsibility helped to mold her in a massive way,

“Being a single mother is a responsibility like no other. You can’t go out and a build a team to assist you, or ask just anyone to help you, or expect anyone to love and care for your child the way you do. That baby is yours, and yours only, your responsibility and forever obligation. Nothing is about you anymore, everything is about your baby. Every decision you make is for that baby. Every goal you make and plan you execute has one end goal, that baby, and the baby’s future.

“That mindset has become the fuel that burns my fire, it has become the motivation and intent behind every decision I make. It has made me a more aware woman, a more direct woman, a more assertive woman. There’s no time for question, doubt, or error. I have become a more decisive woman. I have to go get what I want, and ask for what I want, and make what I want happen–not for me anymore, but for the future, and well-being of my child.”

Millennials Changing the Game

Foster, a Millennial herself, does not buy into the dialog that Millennials are lazy and entitled.

“I believe that we are in a new era of new approach. How the generation before us achieved success, and the paths they took has changed. Times have changed.

“I believe that this generation is innovative, fearless, doesn’t hear the word ‘no’ [and] will make something out of nothing. This generation has been revolutionary. We have single-handedly changed the world as they once knew it. This generation has changed the digital age, how we listen to music, how we purchase items, how we socialize, how we look for and obtain jobs. This generation has given the power to individuals in becoming whatever they want to be.

The Cream Agency

Foster is so grateful in what she has been able to accomplish. “[I’m] so humbled to be a part of one of the greatest, most consistent teams in the game. My contributions, my work, and my results have allowed me to build one of the fastest-growing PR and creative marketing/branding boutique agencies in the business. The Cream Agency has only begun to make its mark. The impression we make will be one that will last to the end of time. I’m standing on that!”


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

 

New Reality Show Mines Family Albums for Black History

Marcus Garvey once said that “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” If you’re scratching your head wondering who Marcus Garvey is, then you’re in need of a black history lesson, and you might start by watching the PBS debut of Family Pictures USA on PBS Aug. 12 and 13.

The brainchild of filmmaker and artist Thomas Allen Harris, Family Pictures USA is the latest outgrowth of an award-winning body of work from this director who has always been driven by a desire to bring the largely hidden and neglected history of black people in America into the light.

An entirely new type of reality show, this new television series reconstructs the histories of resilient communities such as Detroit and Durham, North Carolina, through the memories of longtime residents and the treasured family photographs they share.

Black History Narratives 

The result is a compelling and educational show that highlights not only individual family stories, but the weaving together of those stories over the course of generations into the history of a larger community, a city, its economy, its culture, and its hopes. The show stands apart for its simple elegance and narratives that, unlike most reality shows, don’t feel contrived.

When the descendants of Frank Wall, a second-generation Duke University janitor who bequeathed $100 to the school for use in the advancement of black men, share their photos and memories alongside the descendants of George Washington Duke, the white tobacco industrialist for whom Duke University is named, the history of those families, the city of Durham, and its most famous institutions, takes on a whole new meaning.

black history

(Family Pictures USA/Flickr)

Centered on pictures of people who are long dead, the storytelling of their descendants is very much alive, honest, and intimate and Family Pictures USA’s approach to mining these stories also stands apart for its inclusiveness. Says Harris, simply, “You can’t tell American history without including African American history.”

While Harris, who teaches film and African American History at Yale, is always motivated in part by a desire to educate, he admits to being surprised by how much he learns in doing the show. “The stories of black business people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps that you never heard about or had an image for were pretty amazing. The series helped me understand how towns were formed and how they developed and how people of means and employers shaped culture and people’s lives.”

Breaking Down Stereotypes in Country’s Current Political Tone 

Harris, who stepped out from behind the camera to host the series, says it has been the most financially ambitious project he’s directed to date. Leveraging the success of his 2014 award-winning documentary, Through the Lens, Darkly, he and his partners raised $2.3 million largely through grants from the Ford Foundation and others. PBS, which is eager to compete more dynamically with other networks, invested about $250,000. A small network of high net worth African American businesspeople also contributed. In order to complete the series, Harris is still looking to close a $125,000 gap.

Harris, a Harvard graduate who began his career in public television, first produced award-winning shows in his native New York for WNET. He says that even 30 years later, raising money for new film projects remains a challenge.

black history

Thomas Allen Harris (Family Pictures USA)

“Artists are used to networking with other artists, but I don’t know if we’re used to networking with people who think radically differently than we do, who may be business or finance people,” he says. No matter what your background is, to successfully finance a project, Harris adds, “You have to be able to tolerate rejection without any kind of resentment. Persistence and finding those sweet spots of commonality are key.”

Family Pictures USA certainly offers those sweet spots. Especially given the tone of the country as the 2020 election nears; Harris says he hopes the show will help break down the stereotypes and other barriers that divide us, and that through the show’s all-inclusive spectrum of photos, we will come to see ourselves in each other more and lean more into our commonalities.

As he says in a promo, “Once you see our history through family pictures, you’ll never see this country the same way again.”

More articles by Caroline Clarke: 

  • UNPACKING THE WENDY WILLIAMS EXPERIENCE
  • BAD ASS BLACK WOMEN: TIME TO CLAIM YOUR PLACE IN HISTORY
  • This Woman May Have Been the First Black Woman Manager in the Fortune 500

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Story of Emmett Till’s Mother is Coming to ABC, Thanks to Jay-Z and Will Smith

Following a five-year delay, the story of Emmett Till’s horrific murder told through the eyes of his mother will come to life. On Monday, ABC announced that Mamie Till-Mobley will be the focus of the first season of Women of the Movement, a new anthology series that chronicles the civil rights movement “as told by the women behind it,” according to reports by Vulture. The series will be executive produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will Smith.

The first eight-episode season is loosely based on the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by author Devery S. Anderson. It will center on Mamie Till, who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son after he was brutally murdered in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. He was then kidnapped, beaten, shot in the head, and thrown into the Tallahatchie River by white men at just 14 years old. During his funeral, Till’s mother insisted on an open-casket so that the world could see the severity of his attack through images of his mutilated body. Although Till’s killers were acquitted by an all-white jury, his murder was a key catalyst in the launch of the civil rights movement.

Carter and Smith initially pitched the story of Mamie Till-Mobley to HBO as a six-hour miniseries years ago, but the project was stalled at the network. Once it left HBO, the producers modified the pitch to focus on multiple women who played a pivotal role in the fight for equality during the civil rights era. According to Deadline, Rosa Parks will be the subject of the second season in the anthology series.

This won’t be the first time that Carter and Smith have teamed up. The megastars previously partnered to produce the Fela Kuti-inspired Broadway musical Fela! as well as the 2014 film remake of Annie.

Janelle Monae Marries Art, Food, and Tech to Imagine ‘A Beautiful Future’

True to her calling card as one chosen to liberate the oppressed, singer/actor/activist Janelle Monae is back at it again (as if she ever stopped). Her aim? To empower women and those who identify as such via art, music, mentorship, and education. In partnership with Belvedere Vodka, Monae hosted ‘A Beautiful Future’ dinner—a sensory bouquet immersing guests in music, art, dance, and tech at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art on the eve of her Lollapalooza performance.

“This collaboration is a convergence of our shared beliefs: optimism and the power of ‘the we, not me’ to bridge divides,” said Rodney Williams, president of Belvedere Vodka. It was the next level up from the Hidden Figures starlet’s Fem the Future grassroots organization and similarly-named series of brunches previously hosted in Berlin, London, and New York.

Janelle Monae

(Image courtesy of Belvedere)

“I think it’s important whenever you work with brands that they understand your vision,” says Monae, who in addition to playing an abolitionist master teacher in Harriet Tubman’s life story, was also recently announced to replace Julia Roberts as the headlining character in the psychological thriller, Homecoming. “When Belvedere heard that I wanted to highlight voices and put more opportunities in the hands of women they said, ‘How can we help?’”

Janelle Monae

(Image courtesy of Getty)

Aside from debuting a metallic collage-designed, limited edition bottle of Belvedere’s super-premium vodka—inspired by Monae—the event zeroed in on art, food, and the celebration of four individuals from Chicago whose work aligns with the theme of diversity, inclusion, self-expression, and “access to explore one’s passions freely,” explained Monae.

Janelle Monae

(Image courtesy of Belvedere)

The honorees included sexual assault activist Scheherazade Tillet, co-founder and executive director of A Long Walk Homea nonprofit that uses art and film to raise awareness and end violence against girls and women; Nikki Roberson, fundraising director and community outreach liaison for Kicks 4 the City; LaForce Baker, founder and CEO of Moon Meals; and celebrated visual artist and architect, Amanda Williams.

“She believes in positivity and elevating other’s voices and these are ideas that as a brand we can champion and get behind,” said Carlos Zepeda, VP of Belvedere Vodka US.

Baker, the founder of Moon Meals, is one of those voices. Currently, his product is sold in 188 grocers across Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa and he projects it will be available in over 1,000 stores, including Whole Foods, CVS, and Walgreens by the end of 2020.

Moon Meals, he says, builds upon Monae and Belvedere’s Beautiful Future motif in three ways: by increasing access to quality meals on the South and West sides of Chicago, where food deserts are prevalent; by generating revenue for economically depressed neighborhoods; and by hiring and servicing women of color. “Our products empower our customers, which are predominately women, by giving them the nutrition they love, on the go, and without much sacrifice.”

The dinner was served at a stunning 90-foot-long table, attended by 80-plus cultural tastemakers, social justice influencers, and key Chicago business stakeholders with rousing music from DJ Rae Chardonnay. It featured five courses by Jason Hammel, chef of Marisol, a restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Janelle Monae

Technology also took a center seat at the table. Running down the center for the full length of the table was an LED display monitor pumping messages of encouragement and inspiration. The first course of the five-course dinner included a plate with brightly lit headphones playing a special message from Monae’s alter ago, Cindy Mayweather, an android from the year 2719.

“Tech is a powerful tool. But I want to make sure that the bias is not there. That’s been a big concern of mine,” says Monae, who stresses that as technologies like artificial intelligence or voice and facial recognition are developed further, Silicon Valley should bring women and diverse voices to the table on the front end.

“Because when we’re not in the room and there is only one type of person in the room making these decisions, I think that it won’t be a beautiful future.”

Son of Suge Knight Aims to Become Multimillion-Dollar Real Estate Agent

Suge Jacob Knight, the son of Death Row Records co-founder, Marion “Suge” Knight is attempting to make a name for himself in the real estate industry. In the new show, Love & Listings that recently premiered on VH1, the 23-year-old is paving a new lane for himself in the real estate industry with hopes of closing on multimillion-dollar homes under the guidance of Tai Savet, a long-time real estate professional, who owns the extremely reputable firm, Agents of LA.

Although he still has a strong love for music, Knight struggles to break out of his father’s shadows by creating a stream of revenue that he feels will clean up his name and make him reputable. When asked why he chose real estate during a deleted scene he stated, “because I want the business respect of people. I need to know that people know that I can handle business on my own.”

There is one caveat. Although Knight is working under one of the biggest agents in L.A. he has yet to secure his real estate license and it seems that a lot of that is fueled by his unresolved relationship with his father.

During the premiere episode, Knight set down with a long-time friend and fellow real estate agent, Taylor Schwartz who encouraged him to study but he was extremely distracted by the thought of his father returning to his life after a three-year hiatus. Marion “Suge” Knight was sentenced to 28 years in state prison in 2018 after a hit-and-run that left one man dead and another severely injured.

Based on the stream of previews for future episodes, it has yet to be revealed if Knight will make it as an agent but, during the season, we will watch as he attacks his new endeavor.

Love & Listings airs Monday at 10 p.m. on VH1.

 

 

 

Judge Orders Katy Perry To Pay Gospel Rapper $2.78 Million for Copyright Infringement

Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” earned her a Grammy nomination and the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for four weeks. Now, however, the chart-topping single is costing the pop star millions. A federal court jury ruled on Aug. 1 that “Dark Horse” illegally copied a 2009 Christian rap song called “Joyful Noise.” As a result, Perry, her team, and record label must pay gospel rapper Marcus “Flame” Gray more than $2.78 million, reports The New York Times.

The gospel rapper filed a $20 million lawsuit back in 2014, arguing that Perry took his song’s opening chords and electrifying beat. Attorneys for Gray said “Dark Horse” earned $41 million in revenue and that Gray should get a cut of that since the songs’ beats were identical in length, rhythm, and pitch. His lawsuit was met with multiple court challenges before it finally went to trial in Los Angeles in July, where Gray faced off against Perry’s top-notch attorneys and the music-industry heavyweights who wrote her song. Perry’s team and she, herself, testified during the trial, asserting they never heard of Gray or “Joyful Noise” and that the similarities between the two songs are “commonplace.” (Other musicologists agree.)

Nevertheless, the court found Perry, co-writer Sarah Hudson, the song’s producers, and Capitol Records liable for copyright infringement due to the single’s similarities, The Associated Press reported.

“We weren’t here seeking to punish anyone,” said Gray’s attorney, Michael A. Kahn. “Our clients came here seeking justice, and they feel they received justice from a jury of their peers.”

The jury determined that Gray is owed 22.5% of the profits from “Dark Horse,” amounting to nearly $2.8 million. Perry will have to cough up a little over $550,000, while Capitol Records is responsible for paying $1.2 million. The remaining balance will be paid by Perry’s various producers and collaborators on the song.

Following the ruling, Gray’s lawyer released a statement praising the verdict. “Our clients filed this lawsuit five years ago seeking justice and fair compensation for the unauthorized taking of their valuable creation. It has been a long and arduous path to this day, but they are quite pleased to have received the justice they sought.”

Meanwhile, Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera, said they will vigorously fight the decision, saying, “The writers of ‘Dark Horse’ consider this a travesty of justice.”

“Dark Horse”



“Joyful Noise”



How Important Is SEO For Internet Marketing?

Have you anytime thought about an outlet that does not have signage onto it? You can be more or less sure that nobody would ever know about the existence of such an outlet even if it stocks and sells some of the best quality products and services. On the other hand, if you have an outlet that has colorful signage and hoarding and other such attractive things, a number of customers or visitors would walk into it, at least for curiosity sake. The first example is about a website that does not have the right SEO campaign supporting it. You can be reasonably sure that such websites will die a slow death because of the lack of traffic, footfalls, and visitors. Hence, there is no denying the fact that even if you are a small or medium-sized outlet in Oklahoma and surrounding areas, you can be sure that search engine optimization continues to play a big and positive role.

 Why Is SEO Important In Digital Marketing

 SEO is a time-tested and proven process whereby it is easy for information seekers to easily find a website. It makes it easy for search engines to crawl and makes it easier for them to be categorized properly. When you have thousands of companies, you need a search engine optimization tools and techniques to help find the right website located in the right place, selling the right products or services. It is therefore quite obvious that SEO continues to be an integral part of any digital marketing strategy in OKC. It is considered to be a complete and holistic approach for driving more traffic to your business using the various online platforms. To make this possible, it is important that your website ranks quite high in the search engine result page or SERP.

 SEO Helps In Online Advertising

 There is no doubt that for any online business advertising is of paramount importance. However, the conventional brick and mortar forms of advertising in electronic and print media may not have the desired impact. Quality digital marketing efforts are those that result in increased traffic to a website. Additionally, visitors to various websites must also have reasons to spend time in it rather than just visiting and moving out. To make this possible a good SEO campaign accompanied by other digital marketing techniques is certainly vital, to say the least.

 How Does It Work On The Ground?

 At the end of the day, we have to understand that search engines are not human beings. They are software solutions that have been programmed to crawl to the contents of various web pages. Search engines are therefore fully text-driven. Additionally, they also complete a number of other activities that could help with the right search results. These include crawling storing and scanning or even indexing. They also help in measuring pertinence and recover data and information whenever needed. They also help in suggesting the next course of action.

 Finally, we need to understand that there is nothing significantly different between digital marketing and SEO in Oklahoma City. Both are designed and developed to execute the same functions and need the use of the same skills.

Contact US:

Modern Influence

Address:10 N Broadway Edmond, OK
Phone: 888-379-2604

‘We Have a Long Way to Go:’ Descendants of First Black Americans on Race Relations

HAMPTON, Va. (Reuters) – Four hundred years after the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived on the coast of Virginia, the descendants of one of the first black American families say race relations in the United States still have “a long way to go.”

The Tucker family, who trace their ancestry to the 1624 census of the then British colony of Virginia, has experienced every chapter of African-American history.

From captivity on ships to slavery on plantations, to the 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War waged over legal slavery, 20th century discrimination laws and lynchings, the civil rights struggle and to the Black Lives Matter movement, racial disparities course through life and politics in the United States.

black Americans

Lakeika Davis and Kelly Preston-Davis, of Durham, North Carolina, visit the 1619 exhibit at the Hampton History Museum, commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans on the coast of Virginia, in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 28, 2019. Picture taken July 28, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

 

“The race issues have always been here,” said Vincent Tucker, the president of the William Tucker 1624 Society who believes he is nine or 10 generations removed from William Tucker, born in Virginia in 1624 after his parents were transported from present-day Angola in 1619.

“We have a long way to go,” Tucker, 57, said.

Brenda Tucker, 77, another descendant of William who serves on the family society’s board, said she supported efforts by some Democratic lawmakers to have the federal government issue reparations to black Americans who were economically affected by slavery.

 

black Americans

Shirley Petteaway, a descendent of William Tucker whose parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619, pays respects to a family member buried at the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

“Reparations, I think, would be very appropriate because we, as hard as we worked and continue to work, we were not able to establish businesses to grow other businesses in mass, and that’s what it’s going to take to grow our economic state,” she said.

Issuing reparations to all living people who are descendents of slaves or who have suffered racial discrimination has been estimated to cost trillions of dollars. The U.S. government has never approved reparations.

black Americans

A flower lays on a grave in the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia U.S., July 27, 2019, 400 years after William Tucker’s parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

Some Democratic candidates seeking the party’s nomination to run against Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election support reparations for African Americans who for generations were held back by legal discrimination and general prejudice.

Trump, from his days as a New York businessman, in his 2016 election campaign and as president, has been criticized for making inflammatory statements that stoke racial tensions.

In July, Trump lashed out in Twitter posts against four minority Democratic first-term congresswomen and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a black longtime civil rights activist. The statements, including saying the congresswomen should “go back” to the countries they came from, were widely viewed as racially divisive, underlining the extent to which those divisions have persisted through the centuries.

[RELATED: [WATCH] JOY REID BREAKS DOWN TOXIC POLITICS – THE BLACK ENTERPRISE INTERVIEW]

Brenda Tucker said she believed Trump fanned racial divisions through his rhetoric.

“As far as whether or not he’s fueling racism, he’s fueling it,” she told Reuters.

Trump has repeatedly denied that racial animus drove his comments, telling reporters last week, “I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.”

black Americans

Verrandall Tucker and Brenda Tucker, descendants of William Tucker whose parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619, gather at the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 27, 2019. Picture taken July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

Tucker spoke in front of her ancestors’ graves in a cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, less than a mile from the plantation where her ancestors were enslaved.

Some Tuckers have left Hampton over the years, but many have stayed, intent on preserving the family’s oral history.

“People can look at us and say, ‘Hey, they made it,” said Vincent Tucker. “‘They’re still making it.’”

(Reporting by Angela Moore; Writing by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)

Barack Obama Weighs in on Mass Shootings

Former President Barack Obama’s silence during the turbulence of Donald Trump’s presidency has been almost deafening. “Obama has largely stayed silent since leaving office in 2017, opting not to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary and only occasionally weighing in to criticize Trump,” reported Reuters. Now, he has taken to social media to issue a statement on the two most recent American mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio:

From Barack Obama’s official Facebook page:

Michelle and I grieve with all the families in El Paso and Dayton who endured these latest mass shootings. Even if details are still emerging, there are a few things we already know to be true.

 

First, no other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States. No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do. Every time this happens, we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; that they won’t stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.

 

Second, while the motivations behind these shootings may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend: troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy. Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet. That means that both law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups.

 

But just as important, all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy. We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people. Such language isn’t new – it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.

On Saturday, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius fatally shot 20 people and injured 26 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Crusius has since been identified as an extreme right-wing white nationalist with a vendetta against immigrants.

Approximately 13 hours after that mass shooting, Dayton, Ohio, suffered its own active shooting incident. Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male, killed nine people and injured 27 outside of a popular bar in Dayton.