IYB Woman Crush Wednesday | Giving Back to Homeless Vets

jaspenboothe

In honor of Veterans Day (I’m a proud sister of one, thank you very much) I want to highlight not only a phenomenal woman, but an inspiring Army vet–who still wears the leave no comrade behind mantra on her sleeve even when it’s not a camouflaged one.

Chi-town native and 15 year army vet, Jaspen Boothe, founded Final Salute Inc., an org dedicated to providing homeless women vets with shelter, employment, business clothes, and financial literacy courses to get them back on their feet. A position Jas was forced in when she lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. Followed by a grim cancer diagnosis that was close to getting her discharged from the Army. With no home, job or health care to depend on she turned to her Hoo-rah brothers for help. Uncle Sam told her welfare was a more viable option because there were no social service programs for female vets with children.

Aha Moment!

Jas changed that in 2010–five years shy of becoming cancer free and regaining a position in the armed services–by developing a very valuable resource for her sister veterans.

Accepting an award from the American Veterans Center, Jas explained the importance of her organization.

According to the org’s site, Final Salute has assisted over 900 women and children across the country. Generous donations of $25 or more provide food and clothes to female vets in need (hint hint). For those wiling to help click here.

I took an oath to never leave a fallen comrade behind. Final Salute is my commitment to that oath.

Mission Accomplished!

‘Empire’ Creator Lee Daniels Receives Humanitarian Award from NAN

leedaniels

I’m on top of the world, ma

Brace yourself, Tavis Smiley.

The National Action Network held their ‘Keepers of the Dream Awards’ last night. An annual celebration to commemorate

Dr. King’s death, and support those that keep his principles alive. The honoree this year was Lee Daniels. The writer/director/producer/creator of the biggest show on network TV–Empire, as if you didn’t know– was given the Humanitarian award by Dame Helen Mirren, Martin Luther King III and Rev Al himself.

Don't you wish Cookie could have stepped in for Lee? Her speech knocked it outta the park for Lucious. Next time... Photo Image: Instagram

Don’t you wish Cookie could have stepped in for Lee? Her speech knocked it outta the park for Lucious. Next time…
Photo Image: Instagram

According to the NAN press release, Daniels was honored for bringing the usually taboo topics of mental illness and homophobia within the black community out of the shadows and into the sun.

Yet, it’s no secret that some people feel burned by the show’s impact.This week it’s Tavis Smiley. During an interview with Larry King, he hints at the show re-enforcing negative stereotypes–“crime, drug dealing”… Here we go again. Then goes on to say that he hopes more positive characters will pop up in season two.

In response, Lee told ET that Smiley was entitled to his opinion and thinks he’s very smart. However, he doesn’t think the Lyon family is no different to the Kennedy’s with their ambition.

This is no different than what Joe Kennedy did when he came over here with the Kennedys. And the idea that black people should be any different from white people says that we’re different. We’re the same.

I’m not sure that’s what Dr. King had in mind with his ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ but I commend him for displaying all facets of the Black experience. NEWS FLASH!! Not all of them are in a positive light. Just like The Sopranos doesn’t encompass the full tapestry of Italian Americans. Empire is no different for black people. It’s just a soap people, get over it.

Co-creator and writer Danny Strong received the Cultural Award for the Empire series. Judge Greg Mathis was awarded with the NAN Media Award.

IFYOUBLINKED Woman Crush | ‘Scandal’s’ Kerry Washington Tackles Homophobia in Black Community

Kerry at this year's GLAAD Media Vanguard Awards.  Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Kerry at this year’s GLAAD Media Vanguard Awards.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Image

Just when you think Gaga has the LGBTQ community cornered, Olivia Pope..ahem Kerry Washington threw her white hat into the mix. Accepting the GLAAD Media Vanguard Award earlier this week, she took the opportunity to get some “stuff” off her chest in regards to gays, lesbians, trans… a whole crop of “others” consistently blackballed in media. The Scandal star demands more of them be brought to the forefront to have their stories told. Because without them expressing their journey “in front of and behind the camera” the palette of diversity is incomplete.

To say she had the crowd–including How to Get Away with Murder‘s Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Ellen Degeneres, Portia DeRossi and Glee‘s Alex Newell aka Unique–on their feet is an understatement. K Dub had them eating out of the palm of her hand. And rightfully so. There are so many varying perspectives in the world in regards to sexual orientation, identity and race that are just now, like it’s 2015, people, being explored on the large and small screen.

Choosing Kerry Washington as this week’s Woman Crush was not only based upon her advocacy for LGBTQ rights, but also for her outspokenness when it comes to homophobia in the Black community. It’s a topic akin to airing out a family’s dirty laundry. You just don’t do it. But, Kerry did and I applaud her for doing so.

On Black people not accepting gay marriage:

The first thing that I say is please don’t let anybody get you to vote against your own best interests by feeding you messages of hate.

She continues:

And, you know, people use to say stuff like that about you and your love. And if we let the government legislate love in our lifetime, who do you think is next?

Just to give background, Kerry has being fighting the LGBTQ and Race fight loooonnnng before she became a Shondaland darling. Two years ago she did Q&A with Advocate.com about her personal experiences in the gay community. She talked about growing up in a progressive household with gay and lesbian friends floating in and out. And working among the gay community in theater camps and mentoring workshops.

When asked if she came across closeted actors, this was her response:

Sure. I’ve actually talked with friends about the similarities between being closeted and the idea of passing in the black community. Those in the black community who could pass for white often did so to get more opportunities in life, but it came at such a great cost. When you buy into the cultural idea of what’s acceptable and unacceptable, you reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices. That wouldn’t work for me.

What does work is her need to speak out on Twitter–against anti-gay laws in Russia and support for marriage equality–to enforce change.

I urge you to watch her full GLAAD Media Award acceptance speech below. It will be worth your while.

APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE |Ludacris Honored by Georgia Lawmakers for Charity

In black in white..er..okay orange and white, Luda is officially on Georgia's lawmakers' minds. Photo courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

In black in white..er..okay orange and white, Luda is officially on Georgia’s lawmakers’ minds.
Photo courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

Ludacris goes to Washington. Not quite, but he did cozy up to a Bush (Jeb, if you’re interested) right after being honored at the Georgia state Capitol for the Ludacris Foundation’s work with kids.

Lawmakers patted the Rollin Out rapper on the back for inspiring at-risk children to look beyond their circumstances with his philanthropy.

Ludacris told Fox News his Foundation teaches kids to not wait on “government institutions, social programs and politics alone” to solve community issues.

Following Luda on the podium was 2016 presidential candidate–and brother to George Bush who the rapper once called “mentally handicapped” in a song–Jeb Bush.

He took advantage of the opportunity to snap a shot with the rapper and tweeted this:

Also there to stand by her hubby was Eudoxie. Awww her pregger bump is starting to show.

Ludacris surrounded by lawmakers and pregnant wife Eudoxie. Photo Courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

Ludacris surrounded by lawmakers and pregnant wife Eudoxie.
Photo Courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

The Bridges have a lot to celebrate.

Halle Berry, Pink and Zendaya Saluted for Good Works

halleberry

A long-haired Halle Berry stepped out in Bev Hills last night rocking a little black dress. Ms. Berry may be flirting with 50, but she still can slay like a 20-year-old ingenue.

Halle received the creative conscious award from Variety magazine’s Unite4Humanity benefit that recognizes charitable endeavors. Halle was spotlighted for her work with the Jenesse Center that caters to victims of domestic violence.

Queen Latifah presented Halle with the honor.

25DBA0A600000578-0-image-m-129_1424412303128

In her acceptance speech, she shared her own experiences with domestic violence. And it hit close to home.

Disney star Zendaya was also awarded with the young Luminary statue. Pop star Demi Levato presented her with the same award she received last year for her anti-bullying campaign.

On Instagram Zendaya wrote, “There’s no age limit to being able to help people…thank you
unite4good I plan on doing so much more.”

zendaya1

Pop singer Pink was also there to bring the crowd to tears with her rendition of “Time After Time.” Check it out below, but first grab a hankie.

Kudos well deserved for their kind acts.

Yankees CC Sabathia and Shark Tank’s Daymond John Honored at Annual RUSH HeARTS Education Valentine’s Luncheon

 (l.to r.) C.C. and Amber Sabathia, Russell Simmons, Angela Simmons and guests attend the RUSH HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon today.

(l.to r.) C.C. and Amber Sabathia, Russell Simmons, Angela Simmons and guests attend the RUSH HeARTS Education Valentine’s Luncheon today.

Celebs BRRaved the Alaskan-like temps in New York City to attend Russell Simmons’ 12th annual RUSH HeARTS Education Valentine’s Luncheon, held at the Plaza Hotel, to raise money for his philanthropic arts foundation fostering children’s creativity.

Of course Russell’s niece Angela Simmons, the supreme socialite, appeared on the red carpet.

angelaredcarpet

Not far behind was Angela’s bestie track and field star Sanya Richards-Ross.

sanyarichardsross

Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon reclaimed her hosting duties for the event.

cynthianixon

DJ Cassidy, Miss Universe and Law & Order SVU‘s Tamara Tunie also made an appearance.

djcassidymissuniverse

tamaratunie

And Marsha Ambrosius, draped in feathers, performed at the benefit honoring ABC Shark Tank’s Daymond John, founder of FUBU fashion line, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley for their career efforts and philanthropic efforts.

marshaatbenefit

Grammy nominated soul singer Marsha Ambrosius singing at the benefit.

To give a brief snapshot, Daymond is not only known as the shark in suspenders, he also mentors up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

daymond

Daymond was honored at the RUSH HeARTS Valentine’s luncheon. He’s holding up a painting kids did of him.

CC and Amber Sabathia are celebrated for their Pitcch In Foundation that empower inner-city kids with sports programs.

And Cynthia Rowley participates in several charities benefitting breast cancer awareness and community outreach.

Jamie Foxx Honored by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America

Image Courtesy Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Image Courtesy Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Singer/actor Jamie Fox adds another shiny trophy to his glass case, mantle, closet or where ever he’s storing ’em. The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recognized Jamie’s love of the children by honoring him with The Common Good Award at their annual award benefit.

The Good Award is given to a person that aligns themselves with the org and creates services that benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters non-prof. If you recall Jamie used his Spiderman role (despite being the bad guy) to influence kids to service their communities through his BE AMAZING! Campaign last spring.

Jamie with little brother of the year Amir. Courtesy Jamie Foxx Instagram

Jamie with little brother of the year Amir.
Courtesy Jamie Foxx Instagram

The Oscar winner has been the national spokesperson for the mentoring org since 2012 and even hosts “littles” at his home. In his award speech the crooner gives credit to his granny (his go-to-woman for many acceptance speeches) for his commitment to following his dreams and helping kids achieve theirs through guidance.

And it wouldn’t be a Jamie Foxx celebre without music. He launched an impromptu duet with NBC News’ Kate Snow. Watch them rock out to “Lean on Me,” below.

Fun times.