Serena’s Good Deed! Builds School in Jamaica

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Fresh off the Australian Open, Serena ditched her tennis skirt for a hardhat today in Jamaica.

The 21-Grand Slam winner got her hands dirty alongside Jamaican sprint stars Warren Weir and Yohan Blake to build Salt Marsh Primary School in Treelawny, Jamaica–birthplace of the real Flash aka Usain Bolt.

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Guess he was to busy preparing for Rio to join in on the fun.

No matter, Serena wasn’t solo in accomplishing the mission. Which took a few days with the help of her nonprofit–Serena Williams Fund–support, and partnership with Helping Hands Jamaica, a Christian non-profit that funds desperately needed community projects.

Serena posted a video of the ribbon cutting ceremony on Instagram.

 

Captioned, “After all the hard work, the school is finally finished!”

This is the third school Serena built through her nonprofit.

When does this chick sleep?

Woman Crush Wednesday | Beyonce Starts Flint Kids Fund

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Queen Bey has officially got our attention. As if you could ignore her Black power themed Super Bowl 50 performance. Or Mrs Carter’s Flawless call for ‘Formation’ in her latest video.

The Bey swarm is in full effect this week. In between preparing for another world tour (y’all get your tickets?) and dropping another surprise album–Any day now. Any day now–she started a fund for Flint, Michigan kids affected by the water crisis.

Through Beyonce’s charity BeyGOOD, she’s partnering with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to “create a fund that will address long-term developmental, education, nutrition and health needs of the children affected by the Flint water crisis,” Live Nation released in a statement.

The BeyGOOD initiative will also continue its support of United Way. Just laser focus it on United Way of Genesee County, in helping to distribute water filters and bottled water to those in Flint.

Last week Jay Z made headlines for donating $1.5 million to a variety of Black Lives Matter orgs and social justice groups. The money was raised through a Barclay’s Center concert in October–featuring Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Usher and Damian Marley.

Cementing their place as the power couple of the world.

 

 

Happy Birthday Trayvon! Our 21 Wishes for You

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Today is Trayvon Martin’s birthday. He would’ve turned 21 today. Likely to swap those Skittles and Iced Tea for a ceremonious Corona. Sadly we’ll never know because the last time he blew out his candles (at 17) a full month hadn’t passed where he could feel the full weight of them.

And with each milestone that passes we feel the anger and trauma. Yet, it can’t blind us from fulfilling the wishes Trayvon had and others just like him–Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, Freddie Gray and Mike Brown. But guide us to create our own wishlist in their honor.

1. We wish you an eternity of peace. Freedom from judgment and harassment for being who you are.

2. We wish you could see how strong your parents are coping, with you gone.

3. Our wish is that you’re an angel. A guardian angel protecting innocent lives and shielding them against evil in all its many forms.

4. We wish you have a never ending supply  of candy and Arizona Iced T wherever you are.

5. We wish you knew that you’re a history maker and tide changer. A symbol to a historic movement–not a statistic.

6. We wish your birthday, your life will never be forgotten.

7. We wish you could have made it to space, for real. But, we’ll settle with seeing you amongst the stars.

8. We wish football and snowboarding is as much fun in heaven as it is down here.

9. We wish you are roaming freely with your hoodie up.

10. We wish you are among good company.

11. We wish your life mattered more

12. We wish justice was served in your murder

13. We wish you could see the impact of your foundaton.

14. We wish you can see your brother grow into the man you should have been.

15. We wish your life mattered

16. We wish your life mattered

17. We wish your life mattered

18. We wish your life mattered

19. We wish your life mattered

20. We wish your life mattered

21. We wish you were here to keep wishing.

 

 

Wom-Er, Girl Crush Wednesday | This 11-year-old Wants to Expand Your Bookshelf

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As the old saying goes, if you don’t see what you’re looking for in stores, create it. That’s just what eleven-year-old Marley Dias did.

The sixth grader was tired of reading about “white boys and dogs.” In other words, stories and characters that she couldn’t relate to. Sadly that invisibilty is more pervasive than you think.

So her mom, Janice Dias, asked what she was going to do with her frustration?

That’s when Marley launched #1000BlackGirlBooks, a book drive for black girls as main characters not sidekicks or background pieces, in November.

Partnering with her mom’s GrassROOTS Community Foundation, Marley has collected 700 books–nearly at her goal of 1,000 books for black girls.

 

With her visit to  Ellen today it’s safe to say not only will she meet her goal but surpass it. Watch what gifts Ellen Degeneres gives to help Marley’s book campaign here.

And if you’re wondering where all those books are heading? To Jamaica mon.

On February 11th Marley will visit St. Mary, Jamaica (where her mama hails from) to host a book festival. The New Jersey res will also donate the collected books to schools and libraries. In hopes of inspiring more black girls to read more after seeing images of themselves.

“I know there’s a lot of black girl books out there, I just haven’t read them,” Marley tells Huffpost.”So if we started this I would find them and other people would be able to read them, as well.”

Marley’s #1000BlackGirlBooks is just one do-gooder deed the pre-teen’s taken part in. According to Huffpost, last year she won a Disney grant to empower young girls to follow their passion. Then followed that up by feeding orphans in Ghana.

Did we also mention Marley started a nonprofit, BAM, with her friends? They frequently volunteer at local soup kitchens.

No wonder she’s pegged supergirl–step aside Melissa Benoist– with her superpower being writing. She’s gunning for a job as a magazine editor. Or as Toni Morrison.

Either way Marley knows the weight of the written word.

“[Representation] definitely matters because when you read a book and you learn something, you always want to have something you can connect with,” she told Huffpost.

Adding,”If you have something in common with the characters, you’ll always remember and learn a lesson from the book.”

To learn more about the literary activist and how you can help click here

 

Man Candy Monday | Russell Simmons and Snoop Dogg Visit Flint, Michigan

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On the heels of Russell Simmons diagnosing the Flint, Michigan water crisis “environmental racism”–where low-income or minority communities are disproportionately affected by a major environmental disaster, like dumping toxic waste–on The Real Friday, he visited the city today.

Going door-to-door to deliver 200,000 water bottles. Plus offering a listening ear to people like Nakeyja. She has three kids and two tested positive for lead poisoning. The 3-year-old suffers from seizures and Nakeyja’s other child doesn’t speak.

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The story brought tears to Russell’s eyes. Like most of the stories coming out of Flint recently.

To add insult to injury, the water filters the govt passed out don’t work; they do nothing to decontaminate the poisoned water.  Take note govt officials…

imageedit_7_4767175301Russell Simmons next stop was a rally where he met the whistleblower of Flint water crisis, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

The media mogul followed that up by dropping by Classical Academy to chat up the kids and Principal Tate. RHOA’s Phaedra Parks was also there. No sign of Ayden though….damn.

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Rounding out his trip was playing waterboy once again to Flint residents.

It’s the same role Snoop Dogg had when he visited Flint Saturday for a water drive.

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Decked out in a ‘Flint Lives Matter’ tee the rapper had a one-on-one with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. To offer help and to exploit his celeb status for this necessary cause. Snoop made this vow to the crowd.

I have a lot of information to take back to my celebrity friends and people around the world who want to help, but mainly we’d like the governor to step up and do what’s necessary to make sure Flint is taken care of.

Don’t we all. Don’t we all. Keep your prayers up for Flint.

 

Happy Black History Month

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To celebrate the first of Feb that kicks off  Black History Month (a whole 29 days this month because of the leap year.) I want to highlight an often overlooked writer and poet: Mr. Langston ‘What Happens to a Dream Deferred’ Hughes.

For two reasons. One, he’s my favorite poet  (Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou are tied for my book-loving affections, TBH.) And because today is his birthday. No brainer there.

Other than that it’s not hard to appreciate the Joplin, Missouri-bred turned Harlem transplant’s pen. For instance, he wrote “The Negro Speaks Rivers” when he was a teenager. How often does a seventeen year old capture a whole race’s struggle using a body of water as a focus. Don’t believe me? Watch him recite the powerful poem below.

After hearing that poem it’s no mystery how Hughes became one of the legendary artistic architects behind the Harlem Renaissance. Building literary masterpieces–“I,Too” “Mother to Son” and “As I Grew Older”— of the Black experience like Gehry constructs buildings.

The wordsmith died in 1967 from complications treating prostrate cancer. He’s interred at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in (where else?) Harlem. As a lasting reminder of his legacy his epitaph reads “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

Doesn’t it give you chills?

Who are some of your favorite Black American heroes and sheroes? How will you celebrate Black History Month this year? Let me know in the comments below.

Feel Good Friday | Two Chi-Town Brothers Take Road Trip Mission to Flint

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Chi-town brothers La’Mont Williams, 27, and Nate Williams, 20, were so struck (as we all should be!) by the tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan they took a four-hour roadtrip to help.

After filling their wallets with funds from family and friends, the Williams brothers hopped in their car with cases of water riding in the back. This was the motivation:

“These people need help, and it’s not what you see on the news, there is more to it. There is a human element–it’s not a black or white thing–it’s not a rich or poor thing–the city of Flint, no matter where you go people need water, you know?” La’Mont, an attorney, told Fox 32 News. “You can’t go three days without drinking water.”

Not to mention bathing, brushing teeth and cooking. Although I’m sure those in the know (*cough* state govt officials *cough*) last year already prepared for the Flint water crisis. So, I beg to differ on La’Mont’s stance on it not being a race or class issue. And adopt Russell Simmons’ approach: “If this happened in Beverly Hills–first of all they would’ve found out in two minutes, and everybody would’ve been in trouble.”

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Anywho, the Williams brothers arrived in Flint on Saturday and quickly ran out of their clean water supply. But that was a hurdle easily cleared when they made their way to a local Walmart to restock.

The Huffington Post reports the brothers were getting so much H20, store workers thought they were with a charity. Nope, the two-man operation delivered 100 cases of bottled water, just doing their part to help.

“I could not imagine having to live my life one bottle of water at a time,” La’Mont told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m just happy to help.”

Thursday, the Michigan legislature approved $28 million to go towards bottled water and nurses for local schools.