Powerful Black Business Owners and Executives Push Black Economic Agenda

Heavyweights from the world of black business, politics, and corporate America are teaming up to make sure blacks in America get a piece of the economic pie.

Black Economic Alliance, a political action group made up of black business and civic leaders that launched last month, announced today the advisory board that will direct the group’s efforts for this year’s mid-term elections and beyond.

“The promise of America is that regardless of where you’re from or the challenges you were born into, if you work hard you can achieve your dreams. But far too many people in the black community continue to be disproportionately disadvantaged by economic policies that don’t take into account our unique needs and potential,” says Essence magazine co-founder Ed Lewis.

“By shining a light on these issues and elevating elected leaders who are committed to making change, we can build a different, better future for black Americans for generations to come.”

The 22 members of the inaugural, non-partisan advisory board are:

  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley
  • Caretha Coleman, a Silicon Valley trailblazer who formerly consulted for early-stage ventures
  • Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence magazine
  • Chris Lyons, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who manages its Cultural Leadership Fund
  • Dick Parsons, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner who was just named interim chairman of CBS
  • Sheila Marcelo, the Filipino-American founder, chairman and CEO of Care.com
  • Troy Carter, co-founder and managing partner of Cross Culture Ventures, who just stepped down from his daily role at Spotify
  • Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity
  • Kneeland Youngblood, co-founder of private equity firm Pharos Capital Group L.L.C., a former BE 100s company
  • Bennie Wiley, a talent management consultant and the former president and CEO of The Partnership Inc.
  • Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee
  • Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas and U.S. Trade Representative under President Barack Obama
  • Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan
  • Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Steve Schmidt, Republican communications and public affairs strategist
  • William Cohen, Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton
  • Robert E. Rubin, Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton
  • Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina legislator and political analyst
  • Carol Sutton Lewis, attorney; Founder, Ground Control Parenting
  • Robert Raben, Democratic strategist
  • Heather McGhee, former president of progressive think tank Demos
  • Spencer Overton, policy expert

“Hardworking Americans power our economy, but they need the opportunity to learn 21st-century economy skills to keep up with the rapidly changing world that we live in,” said Harris in a statement. “I’m pleased to work with the Black Economic Alliance to promote policies that will help develop our workforce, ensure that each American can contribute to and benefit from the economy, and create meaningful change that helps black families access the opportunities they deserve.”

The mission of the Black Economic Alliance, according to its website, is threefold:

  1. Advance an economic policy agenda focused on improving economic outcomes in three core areas: work, wages, and wealth
  2. Support candidates for office who are aligned with that agenda by providing endorsements and funding key elections
  3. Hold government officials across the political spectrum accountable to that agenda

“As treasury secretary, I saw firsthand the direct impact that smart policy can have on people’s lives,” Rubin said in a statement, “and I know if we have an economy that works for everyone, including our black communities, America will thrive.”

“We need to address the issues which hold both black families and our broader economy back,” Rubin continued. “Policies like increased funding for vocational and technical training, eliminating pay discrimination, and increasing access to loans for small businesses will help every American to have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”

The Alliance has already raised millions and endorsed 14 candidates running for Congress or governor who will “be champions for advancing progress in the economic sphere in the black community,” according to Executive Director Akunna Cook.

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Airbnb Hosts Africa Travel Summit to Boost Community-Led Tourism in Africa

Recently Airbnb hosted the Africa Travel Summit in Langa/Cape Town, South Africa, at Guga S’thebe. It was the first three-day event to discuss how technology will overarchingly help more people to benefit from tourism.

The Summit included over 200 Pan-African founders, CEOs, influencers and politicians to explore how technology and tourism can support greater economic and social empowerment. It opened up to a keynote from Chris Lehane, head of Global Policy and Public Affairs at Airbnb, who revealed a new report on how the Airbnb platform is promoting travel that is local, diverse, and inclusive in South Africa. Other key figures in attendance were Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala, BBC Africa editor Larry Madowo, and the entire event was hosted by the founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei. The summit is a part of Airbnb’s $1 million investment to boost community-led tourism projects in Africa.

“We want to discuss how we can learn from what is working so as to best leverage technology and innovation to empower more local families and their communities to benefit from the economics of African travel,” said Lehane. “Long-term, as we become that aspirational and end-to-end platform, [we are trying to figure out], how does that play out in Africa, which I think is really exciting.”

Africa Travel Summit, Chris Lehane, Head of Policy and Communications (Image: Airbnb)

Africa Travel Summit, Chris Lehane, Head of Policy and Communications (Image: Airbnb)

Airbnb’s overarching theme is Tourism for All. Under the moniker, “Healthy Tourism,” the goal is to help tourism deliver economic empowerment in communities across the continent and the tech conglomerate is doing just that by making a massive mark in several African countries, Cape Town included.

Airbnb Experiences 

Since Airbnb’s inception into the South African community, host and guest activity on the platform has resulted in an economic impact of $678 million in the past year, supporting over 22,000 jobs, which is enormous growth for the community. A part of this growth can be attributed to Airbnb Experiences. Hosts are allowed to create experiences, excursions, and other activities to give guests unique access to places and communities in their city and 30% of those experiences are deemed social impact, which provides nonprofits a way to fundraise and promote their mission.

Myself and several other journalists were offered the opportunity to partake in these excursions and I can vouch for each one of them. Highlight experiences include visiting Mandela’s last prison home, tasting Malay dishes with a home chef and exploring the townships into towns with our host Bongani.

Mandela’s Last Prison Home

This experience was led by Jack, a warder for the correctional services during the time of apartheid who looked after Nelson Mandela at Victor Verster Prison, cooking his meals on the daily basis. He took us through the entire prison-home where Mandela rested his head until the day he was released.

(Image: Airbnb)

(Image: Airbnb)

Taste Malay Dishes with a Home Chef

This experience was led by third-generation Malay cook, Fayruza. She was super accommodating considering I’m a vegetarian and made special dishes in order to meet my dietary restrictions. The food is unique, tasty, and authentically Cape Malay. On the platform, she has accumulated over 100 reviews for her services. 
(Image: Airbnb)

(Image: Airbnb)

Townships into Towns 

This experience was hosted by Bongani, an art enthusiast, and programme coordinator. He took us around the Langa Township and where we interacted with different artisans and learned historical narratives behind their craft and each of their pieces. He even attempted to teach us the traditional language of the Xhosa people spoken in Langa, which was also the language used in the Blockbuster movie, Black Panther. 

(Image: Airbnb)

(Image: Airbnb)

To learn more about Airbnb’s Africa Travel Summit and how you can get involved in the experiences provided, click here.

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Study: Black Hair Products Contain High Levels of Toxic Chemicals

A new study found that hair products marketed to black women contain high levels of toxic chemicals, which may be linked to illness and disease that disproportionately affect black women.

The study, which was conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and published in the journal Environmental Research, examined 18 different products geared towards black women, like hot oil treatments, anti-frizz hair polishes, leave-in conditioners, root stimulators, hair lotions and hair relaxers. The results found all of the products tested contained hazardous chemicals, including parabens, a type of preservative that can interfere with a woman’s natural estrogen level and has been linked to breast cancer, and phthalates, which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.

“Chemicals in hair products, and beauty products in general, are mostly untested and largely unregulated,” said Jessica Helm, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a scientist at Silent Spring, in a statement. “This study is a first step toward uncovering what harmful substances are in products frequently used by Black women, so we can better understand what’s driving some of the health issues they’re facing.”

The study’s findings are consistent with data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found black women have higher levels of some phthalates and parabens in their bodies compared with white women. The findings could help researchers understand why black women may experience early puberty and have higher rates of hormone-related issues such as uterine fibroids, infertility, and pre-term births. “We know from previous research that black women suffer disproportionately from hormone-related health problems,” said Helm.

“Black women are over-exposed and under-protected from toxic chemicals,” says Janette Robinson Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness. Black women also purchase and use more hair products than other groups. In fact, a Nielsen study found African Americans spent $54 million on ethnic hair and beauty products last year.

Helm also shared advice for black women looking to find safer options for hair products. “Look for opportunities to use fewer products,” she said. “When choosing a product, know which products are made with plants or that are fragrance-, phthalate- and paraben-free.” Furthermore, you women of color can download the Detox Me app for more tips on how to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals in personal care products.

Here are other highlights from the study:

  • All products tested contained fragrance chemicals
  • 78% contained parabens
  • 72% of products contained parabens and diethyl phthalate
  • 84% of the chemicals detected were not listed on the product label
  • 11 products contained seven chemicals prohibited in the European Union (EU) or regulated under California’s Proposition 65
  • Hair relaxers marketed at children contained the highest levels of five chemicals prohibited in the EU or regulated under Proposition 65
  • Parabens, fragrances, nonylphenols, and diethyl phthalate were commonly found in root stimulators, hair lotions and hair relaxers.
  • Cyclosiloxanes were more frequently detected in anti-frizz products and at the highest concentrations of any chemical measured.

Meanwhile, check out 5 BLACK-OWNED NATURAL BEAUTY AND MAKEUP BRANDS and the ULTIMATE BUY BLACK GIFT GUIDE: HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND BEAUTY . 

 

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Former AG Eric Holder Weighs In On Rod Rosenstein, Calls Him ‘Person of Integrity’

On Tuesday, appearing as a guest on SiriusXM’s Joe Madison Show, former Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on Rod Rosenstein’s fate as Deputy Attorney General in the tumultuous Trump White House. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“I’ve known Rod for maybe 20 years. He’s a person of integrity. My advice to him would be to not resign. To do the job as he has done. We disagree on policy on a lot of different things.

But, I think he’s done the job in an honest way. He has allowed the Mueller investigation to proceed. And, if that is going to result in his being fired well, so be it. Don’t give them the satisfaction of a resignation.”

…“This is a like a two-act play. First act is, does Rod Rosenstein leave the Justice Department and the second act is who takes his place and what does that person do with the power that he or she has.

I think we just have to wait and see. If Rod leaves, will his replacement be as committed as Rod has been to the continuation of the Mueller investigation, give the Mueller investigation the resources and the independence to do the job the way in which I know Bob Mueller can do…But you cannot allow somebody to replace Rod, if he leaves, who will have a negative impact on the investigation or even potentially shut it down.

That is unacceptable and if something like that happens, the American people have to really raise their voices.”

Rosenstein has been embroiled in controversy since last week. The New York Times reported last Friday that Rosenstein suggested he should secretly record President Trump to “expose the chaos consuming the administration,” and that he discussed recruiting White House cabinet member to use the 25th amendment to oust Trump from office.

The Deputy Attorney General called The New York Times piece, “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” However, many are speculating about how long he will keep his job in the Trump administration.

On Monday, Axios reported that Rosenstein had offered his verbal resignation. Since that news broke, however, the news company updated the story to state that is was “unclear whether his resignation has been accepted.”

Rumors have been circulating that Trump is furious with Rosenstein because the Deputy AG is cooperating in the Russian collusion investigation headed by Robert Mueller, and over The New York Times article. Speculation abounds that Trump wants to fire Rosenstein.

Trump has also made his displeasure with Rosenstein’s boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, very public. On the Sirius show, Holder also spoke about Sessions when asked if he thought Sessions will remain with the Trump administration.

Joe Madison with Eric Holder

“That’s for Jeff Sessions to try to figure out. I can’t imagine what it’s like to serve as an Attorney General when you have a President who is consistently and constantly attacking you. It clearly wasn’t the experience I had as AG. The concern I have is about a Justice Department leadership that’s in turmoil. If Rod Rosenstein is removed, if Jeff Sessions is removed after the election you would have a Justice Department that could be led by people who are only there in an acting capacity. Not having a Senate-confirmed Attorney General and Senate-confirmed Deputy Attorney general is not for the Department or for the administration of Justice and that would be a very serious thing.”

Since serving as AG under President Obama, Holder has remained quite active. Last year he was hired by Uber to review sexual harassment allegations by a woman who worked at the ride-sharing company as an engineer.

Also in 2017, California lawmakers hired Holder as a legal adviser as they geared up to go to battle with then President-elect Donald Trump, to take on issues in court regarding the federal government for the next four years.

Listen to the entire Joe Madison Show featuring Eric Holder:



 

 

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Tokenization: The Wave of the Future

Tokenization is the wave of the future. Banks are already pushing for this technology to be globally instituted as part of their industry, and other industries are sure to follow suit. The management of sensitive data is…sensitive, and regulated policies and strict guidelines can only protect the consumers and companies that engage in internet purchases from fraud and malfeasance. This is where tokenization fits in. While consumers are becoming more comfortable with making online purchases and sharing personal data online, the threat of this information falling into the wrong hands is a viable risk. Tokenization reduces this risk.

Tokenization is the process of replacing information with a proxy. Instead of a client’s credit card number being stored in a company’s database for hackers to possibly retrieve, the proxy number is used, which protects both the consumer and the company from underhanded activities. As technology changes and progresses, cloud based transactions will take center stage, since storing information in the cloud requires less of a financial investment from a company. Tokens are stored off-site, so the protected information is not available to someone who might break into the business’ records, so a client’s credit card number would never be accessible. The crook would wind up with a nonsensical number; one that would be worthless. This type of forwarding thinking is projected to be the possible business norm by 2020.

Already, tokenization is widely becoming the solution of choice for many businesses who operate online. By replacing personal data, including credit card numbers, birthdates, social security numbers, and other guarded information with a unique token, businesses can comply the standards set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, also known as PCIDSS, and even HIPAA standards, for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Tokenization is already used by government entities, healthcare, and retail, just to name a few.

Tokens come in two forms—format preserving and non-format preserving. The former mimics the information it is standing in for, so a social security number consisting of nine numbers would be replaced with nine characters complete with dashes. A non-format preserving token would be a series of numbers, and letters that do not correspond to the original information; it just replaces it so that the true information can’t be compromised.

The newest technology in credit card and debit cards has been the embedded microchip which has all but replaced the magnetic strip on the cards. While it is difficult to extract information from these cards, the recent breach at both Target and Experian has called for more stringent restrictions to safeguard client’s information. To illustrate how tokenization would work at either a point of sale transaction or an online purchase, the credit card number is entered and the number is sent to an off-site tokenization system. At that point, a random token made up of either numbers, letters or a combination of both is used to replace the credit card number. Both numbers are stored in a data vault. The proxy is returned to the point of sale or website where the transaction originated to represent the client’s credit card number in the system. This all happens instantaneously, so there is no down time while the token is generated and retrieved.

The biggest benefit to all involved is that the credit card data model, in this example, is protected from various threats and can only be deciphered by the payment processor. The widespread use of tokenization will dramatically reduce the amount of online fraud from unsavory characters trying to steal personal information. The tokenization process works for the information recipient, regardless of the industry. In addition to credit card numbers and social security information, tokenization is used in safeguarding medical records, usernames, and customer account information and can be used for various forms of payment, like gift cards and Apple Pay. Previously this information could be stolen if a merchant’s system was hacked; with tokenization, they are no longer required to store this information in their system and the use of tokenization meets Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards for the merchant. Since the information is saved in the off-site location, the company charging the card can access it again if the customer makes another payment or would like to set up reoccurring payments. Tokenization is easier and safer for all parties involved in a transaction, even if that just involves sending personal information to your dentist!

While the concept of tokenization isn’t necessarily new, it is still in the beginning stages for many industries. As with the adoption of any new protocols for regular business, it takes time for people to get acclimated. Businesses are slow to try new concepts in fear that they may fail, or, worse yet, that someone will find a way to navigate through a backdoor and be able to compromise information. Tokenization has yet to fully be embraced, but it is becoming accepted as the “next new thing”, much like the credit cards with the microchip embedded in them. A real plus for customers is that they will do nothing differently at the point of sale or when they send information online; it is essentially the same process for them with better safeguards.

How do you know if the use of tokenization will benefit your business? If you have any monetary transactions, either point of sale or web-based, tokenization would be advantageous for your liability protection. Even if you just correspond with patients, from a doctor’s or dentist’s office, tokenization can protect your patient’s vital information, which also protects your business. By implementing this standard of operation, you will not have to make many adjustments to your current payment or information gathering systems; tokens are formatted as the information they represent, so minimal changes are required by the vendor who uses them. If you do decide to use tokenization to protect sensitive data, formulating a relationship with a trusted third party tokenization solution provider is a must. This outside entity will be the one that houses all the data for you and your customers, so it is important that you find someone compliant and reliable. The wide-spread use of tokenization will soon be mainstream, so it is definitely something for your company to explore in advance.

Activists to NFL: ‘Deposit Funds Into Black-Owned Banks’

The Seattle Medium is reporting that activists in Seattle are calling for the NFL and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, to deposit 10% of all revenue as well as one-third of the funds making up player pensions, into black-owned banks.

The demands are reportedly spurred by the recent news that Allen, who also co-founded Microsoft, donated $100,000 to the Republican Party to help it retain control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. According to Federal Election Commission findings, it is the largest political donation Allen has made to an individual or committee.

“I have been out here protesting the economic injustices that have occurred in professional sports and to add insult to injury the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, Paul Allen donated $100,000 to the Republican Party so they can maintain control of the House of Representatives,” said activist Eddie Rye Jr. to The Seattle Medium.

“ESPN, CBS, were bidding over $1 billion dollars to have the broadcast rights of NFL games. So out of all the money being generated and the NFL being 70 % black, none of that money is coming back to the black community,” he said.

Rye and several retired NFL players are part of the movement, NFL/Black Community Revenue Sharing Program, to reap benefits for the black community from the economic windfalls black athletes’ talents have provided sports leagues and team owners.

Many black athletes have been inspired to engage in activism since Colin Kaepernick shook up the sports scene by protesting racial injustice with his #TakeaKnee campaign.

In what many considered a bold and risky public relations move, Nike recently made Kaepernick the face if its newest “Just Do It” ad campaign. The decision to use Kaepernick was financially advantageous to the sports apparel company. Ten days after the ad debuted on social media, Nike stock rose to an all-time high on Sept. 13 at $83.90 and then closed at $83.49 on Friday afternoon. That’s a 4% increase since the ad’s release on Sept. 3, according to CBS News. In addition, Nike’s online sales jumped nearly 31% from Sept. 2 through Sept. 4, which is nearly double the profit that the company garnered during the same period in 2017, according to a research report by Edison Trends.

—Selena Hill and The Shadow League contributed to this report. 

 

 

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Sixers’ New GM Elton Brand Will Bring Prestige, Trust Back To Position

Duke University produces some of the greatest basketball players, but the thread of intellectual prowess that runs through generations of these true student-athletes is even more remarkable. Duke basketball players become college and pro coaches, NBA executives and even General Managers.

Elton Brand is an African-American who not only took advantage of his opportunity to play ball at one of the nation’s flagship universities but parlayed a potent education into becoming one of two African-American general managers — three of color — in the NBA today.

The Twitter burner account scandal that led to Bryan Colangelo’s resignation — a scandal draped in the attempted character assassination of African-American employees and franchise players — has manifested itself in Brand, a person of color, getting a rare opportunity to lead one of the NBA’s 30 franchises. He joins Knicks GM Scott Perry and Toronto’s Masai Ujiri as men of such distinction.

Choosing Brand is a shrewd move for a franchise that needs to capture the moment that the city is in. Philadelphia has become the center of sports blackness, from the triumphant struggle of rapper Meek Mill to avoid unjust incarceration to the outspoken, politically conscious players on the Eagles Super Bowl-winning team, to the burgeoning wave of interest created by young NBA Kings Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. An infusion of young, freakishly-talented blood has made Philly an elite franchise again and the poster child for why tanking wins, having accumulated a roster of captivating all-world talent for the first time since the Allen Iverson Era.

Brand, who already proved his savvy as VP of Basketball Operations and GM of Philly’s G-League affiliate, replaces Brett Brown, who was serving as interim GM.

“He spent two years in this organization and has been around this organization,” said NBA TV analyst Steve Smith. “When (he was a player in Philly) and they wanted to bring a vet back for those guys… they brought in Elton Brand to be at the end of the bench and console them in tough moments and consult with those guys and be a big brother type.

Read the full story at The Shadow League.

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Kevin Hart Talks Diversity in Hollywood at ‘Night School’ Premiere

Comedy wasn’t the only thing taking center stage during the premiere of Kevin Hart’s new movie, Night School. The star, and members of the all-star team behind the film, kicked off the 22nd Urbanworld Film Festival with messages about the importance of continuing the push for diversity in Hollywood.

“This is yet another labor of love that is produced, directed, written, and starring folks that look just like you and me and I’m very proud,” producer Will Packer said as he introduced the film.

“I’m so honored to be here. I’m somebody that has been supported by festivals like this and people like you. You’re my peers, you are the next generation of filmmakers that are coming up,” Packer said to the audience packing the SVA Theater on opening night of the festival.

“I win because you win; when you win, I win. I want to thank you so much for being here, for being in the room. If we’re not in the room, we can’t influence what happens and help take things to the next level.”

The importance of black film festivals to the careers of black filmmakers and to the effort to advance diversity in Hollywood was underscored by the movie’s director, Malcolm Lee. It was a homecoming of sorts for Lee, who got his start at Urbanworld almost two decades ago.

“Nineteen years ago at this festival I launched my first movie, The Best Man,” Lee said. “And it was the word of mouth of this festival that propelled us to a No. 1 ranking at the box office—a whopping $9 million. That’s what was success back in 1999.”

Packer and Lee were joined onstage by some of the Night School cast: comedian Tiffany Haddish, rapper Fat Joe, and Hart, who produced, wrote, and stars in the film.

“As he told you this is our seventh movie,” the star said of frequent collaborator Packer. “We’ve had a lot of success together. Four number ones, two number twos. We’re hoping to have another No. 1.”

‘Night School’ producer Will Packer, director Malcolm D. Lee and stars Tiffany Haddish, Fat Joe and Kevin Hart at UrbanWorld promoting their new film ‘Night School.’
(photo: NuBuzz Photography)

Hart also gave credit to Lee, a “new addition to my entertainment career, but a very valuable one,” calling him “an amazing director, a guy who understands comedy at a very high level and understands an ensemble cast and brings the best out of everybody.”

Haddish not only received praise from her co-star, but a standing ovation from the crowd. “I’m very fortunate to get this woman in this movie, especially when we got her—as the star continues to rise. I just want to take time to celebrate this woman the way she should be celebrated because success is earned, it’s not given. And the opportunities that she now has have been earned.”

“I know where you came from and I know the work that you put into your craft and I know what you have coming,” Hart told Haddish, congratulating her on her recent Emmy award.

But Hart saved his most passionate commentary for last, as he spoke of the work that’s being done to solve the problem of diversity in Hollywood.

“We’re in a business where people of color have asked for opportunity. We’re now in a position where people of color are not only getting these opportunities, but we’re getting recognized. I can say that this road to equality is a long road that we’re fighting for but, that we’re seeing progress.”

“When you see people in a position where they’re winning, and they’re one of us, celebrate those people and don’t choose to tear them down, because you become a part of the problem,” Hart continued. “Celebrate us when we see us winning. We can’t win as people if we don’t allow us to open up the doors for more of us. It’s that simple.”

Haddish, with her perfect comedic timing, then chimed in to add “And if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.”

For more on the premiere, check out Urbanworld’s video recap:

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Twitter Sounds Off On High-Fashion Homeless-Looking Sneakers

New sneakers are a luxury not frequently afforded to many people living below the poverty line. As a result, taping, stitching, and wearing old, holey shoes is an unfortunate norm, not a fashion statement, for those struggling to make ends meet and afford basic life necessities. While poverty is an epidemic that many try to escape, it also appears to be a source of inspiration for some fashion designers selling high-end derelict-looking items.

Social media users blasted Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, an Italian high fashion sneaker brand, for its new $530 “Superstar Taped” sneakers, which are covered with duct tape across the toe and heel. Nordstrom’s website describes the “distressed leather sneaker” as having “crumply, hold-it-all-together tape” and a “grungy rubber cupsole.” Twitter users, however, said the scuffed, battered-looking shoes are offensive and make a mockery of the poor.

There are people in the world wearing plastic bags as shoes because they can’t afford any but these HIDEOUS things are selling for $500, one person wrote in a profanity-laced tweet that’s been liked more than 49,000 times.

Others tweeted that the shoes are distasteful and represent the epitome of capitalism.

One user said paying hundreds of dollars for worn-looking shoes is a waste of money.

Another user said that the sneaker, which is part of Golden Goose’s new fall ’18 collection, is glorifying poverty.

On the other hand, some defended Golden Goose, noting that the Venice-based brand is known for selling vintage clothing since its launch in 2000. “Why are people acting like Golden Goose making beat-up sneakers is new? They’ve BEEN around. People in Italy actually enjoy that distressed look in everything,” wrote a private Twitter account user, according to The Independent.

Profiting Off The Poor

This is not the first time that Golden Goose has come under fire for its shabby-looking merchandise—nor is it the only luxury designer selling products like this. Back in 2016, the brand was blasted for a similar style shoe that included ripped laces and silver duct tape. In response to critics, Golden released a statement, calling itself a pioneer in pre-distressed footwear and clothing.

“[Our] company is proud to highlight its pioneering role in the booming of the distressed look, one of the current biggest trends in fashion,” the Venetian label said in a statement to Us magazine. “The duct-tape reinforcements appearing on the [Superstar sneaker] style pay homage to the West Coast’s skater culture — professional skaters, who have inspired the brand’s shoe collections from the beginning, repair their shoes with the same kind of tape,” reads the statement, reports FootwearNews.com.

Maison Margiela, a French luxury fashion house, also currently has scruffy-styled sneakers on the market. The brands leather “Fusion Sneakers” are decorated with glue, duct tape, and stitches. They’re being sold for over $1,600.

(www.neimanmarcus.com)

Likewise, hip-hop star and fashion designer Kanye West caught a lot of flak with the release of Yeezy fashion collection, which featured dilapidated merch that he, himself, described as “ripped homeless sweaters.” It was priced at over $2,000.

Meanwhile, a Canadian restaurant owner was slammed last summer for opening a bar in Brooklyn, New York, that featured a wall decorated with bullet holes. Critics accused the owner of glamorizing the violence and poverty that existed in the Crown Heights neighborhood back when it was largely populated by working-class people of color, before being gentrified.

The post Twitter Sounds Off On High-Fashion Homeless-Looking Sneakers appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Member of First All-Black Group to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Recounts Feat in Fascinating Blog Post

In June, a group of black travelers scaled 19,341 feet to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The adventure was organized by Outdoor Afro, a “network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature,” according to its website.

One of the hikers, Leandra Taylor, provides an account of the experience to wellandgood.com. Here is an excerpt:

“We were headed to the Lava Tower [15,000 feet] that day, and the hike was finally catching up to me. This was one of our longer hikes and the distance that we were planning on going should have taken us 4-6 hours, but at the 7 hour mark, we were only about half way. I was on my period, so I felt cramp-y and emotional during our lunch break, but I was also just physically exhausted.

Eventually, we had to descend a rock wall, and it was a worst-case scenario for me because of my fear of heights. When I tried to get down, I could feel a panic attack brewing: I thought, ‘I could lose my footing and fall down.’ All of my teammates were well aware of my anxiety by this point, and they were just behind me and supporting me. But as the light started to die down, I was getting more and more panicked. I just kept repeating to myself, ‘I am strong. My body’s strong. My legs are strong.’ I ended up making it to camp, and setting up my tent with the help of my troop.”

The team’s rigorous expedition schedule is on Outdoor Afro’s site:

Day 1:  Pick up from the Kilimanjaro Airport and drive to hotel in Arusha.

Day 2: Set off climbing gently through the south-western slopes of the mountain. This is old growth montane forest, carpeted with unique “busy lizzie” flowers, begonias and ferns. First camp among the giant heather at 9840 feet. A 3,936 foot ascent and six hours walking.

Day 3: Emerge from the forest into the giant heather zone and onto fine open moorland. There are fascinating geological features in the old volcanic caldera. After 3,000 foot ascent and 4-6 hours walking, the team will arrive at camp 2 by the Shira Cave at 12,500 feet.

Day 4: On this day, the team will climb to almost 16,000 feet, but will end the day around the same elevation they started. This helps with acclimatization.  They will climb towards the main peak Kibo, with the western glaciers clearly visible across the rugged high-altitude desert of volcanic rocks and boulders.

Day 5: Climb steep to the Barranco wall with some sections of very easy scrambling and then drop down again to the Karanga Valley.

Day 6: Climb above Barafu Hut perched high on a rocky bluff at 15,580 feet. There will be fantastic views of Mawenzi peak in the distance.

Day 7: An early 2-3 a.m. alpine start to climb the steep frozen scree. They will aim to reach Stella point at 18,600 feet, on the crater rim for a rest and hopefully sunrise, then continue another hour to the highest point on the continent at 19,345 feet; usually in warm sunshine.

Day 8: A descent of approximately 4,600 feet  and 4-5 hours through the forest to Mweka Gate.

One of the hikers spoke with ABC News about how he prepared for the daunting climb. “I would go on 6.5 to 10.5-mile hikes carrying packs with weights on my back once per week,” said Olatunde (Ola) Gholahan.

The number of black people traveling has steadily increased the last several years. Millennials of color are particularly interested in exploring the farthest reaches of the globe. Several travel startups have emerged; many of them catering to Millennial wanderlust.

Evita Turquoise Robinson is the the 34-year-old founder of Nomadness, an organization with the purpose to “show the world that travel has no racial, gender, religious, economic, or interest limitations.” The Nomadness community is 20,000 members strong across social media.

Sister Traveling Solo is a company founded by Coleitha Banks to assist and encourage women of color to travel solo. Haywire Weekend is a luxury travel site targeted to diverse Millennials.

Read Leandra Taylor’s entire blog post at WellandGood.com.

The post Member of First All-Black Group to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Recounts Feat in Fascinating Blog Post appeared first on Black Enterprise.