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.

CAP ‘N GOWN ROUND UP: John Legend, Jill Scott, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Cop Honorary Doctorate Degrees

Mead Graduates Hey guys, did you miss me last week? I got a freelance gig that pulled me away from you, but don’t think you weren’t missed. Now that we’re all here, cue pomp and circumstance and grab that D.I.Y cap ’cause marching season has come ’round for the class of 2014.

Turn up Raise up those diplomas for all to see. Wait! Before you do, let’s honor our second annual tradition by giving a nod to speakers doling out their pearls of wisdom on success, dreams and perseverance. Admittedly, I only tuned into four commencement speeches this year, but it was enough. The speakers honesty and push for great things outta this young bunch was enough to make me wanna press the rewind button and reawaken my former college grad days of passionate motivation.

So, let’s flip the lid and start with Jilly from Philly. The soul singer got a doctorate of humane letters from Temple University this month. She admitted working two jobs and holding down a full load at Temple. Beating all the odds she faced, she found her light of purpose. Takeaway: “Light up the darkness.”

John Legend copped an honorary doctorate of music from his alma mater UPENN. The crooner waxed poetic about the virtues of love (what newlywed wouldn’t) in life. He also made sure to give social issue shoutouts to Trayvon Martin and the 300 kidnapped Nigerian girls. Takeaway: “Love yourself. Love your work. Love the people around you. Dare to love those that are different from you, no matter where they’re from, what they look like and who they love.”

Whether you wanted him or not, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs stepped behind Howard University’s podium in a fresh collar to symbolize his doctorate of humanity and held up his honorary degree. What the speech lacked in articulation it made up for in motivation. Most especially the mogul’s insistence on youngins harnessing their power. Takeaway: “Thought I told ya that we won’t stop, Thought I told ya that we won’t stop.”

Finally, a model of inspiration to several people (including me) is former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, who became paralyzed in 2010. He told his 2014 class to continue to persevere like he does every morning when attempting to walk despite failing each time. And offers support and guidance to those suffering similar paralysis through his Team LeGrand FoundationTakeaway: “Please continue to believe in me. Believe in yourselves because we’re all going to change the world together.” Check the link below for the full speech. http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01447&video=196835

AP RUTGERS GRADUATION A USA NJ

GALA OF GRATITUDE: Common’s Foundation Honors Danny Glover and Kerry Washington’s Hubby Nnamdi Asomugha Philanthropic Efforts

Common hobnobbing with Jesse Jackson, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Image Courtesy: kimworldaccess

Common hobnobbing with Jesse Jackson, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Image Courtesy: kimworldaccess

Chi-Town rolled out the red carpet Saturday to give  ’round of applause to screen legend Danny Glover and Mr. Kerry Washington Nnamdi Asomugha at Common’s annual fundraiser/award gala for his Common Ground Foundation. The stars and politicians descended on Millennium Park Hotel where MCs Malik Yoba and…Ed from New York Undercover *sike* Just an early April Fool’s Joke. But, seriously, who else misses this dynamic ’90s crime fighting duo? ABC news anchor Cheryl Burton was guest host alongside Yoba.

Malik Yoba, MC Lyte, Common, Veranda Dickens (honoree) and Nnamdi Asomugha without Kerry Washington. Image Courtesy: kimworldaccess

Malik Yoba, MC Lyte, Common, Veranda Dickens (honoree) and Nnamdi Asomugha without Kerry Washington.
Image Courtesy: kimworldaccess

But Common got to deliver the special honor of introducing Danny Glover to the stage to receive the lifetime trailblazer accolade. For those who don’t know, Danny is more than the sidekick to Mel Gibson in Letal Weapon or the abusive husband of Celie in Color Purple, he’s led numerous union protests to promote workers’ fair treatment rights. And who can forget his public disgust turned formal complaint against NYC yellow cab drivers that vow never to pick up a brown face. As a New Yorker, it didn’t change much, but it definitely sparked a nationwide conversation. Overall, Danny, we hope you never get to old for “this” shit. Next up is a guy you may not see very often or hear to much about outside these phrases: Mr. Kerry Washington, Olivia Pope’s Man, Olivia Got Hitched, Kerry let him out tonight…okay, enough, people. I know what you might be thinking, is Nnamdi Asomugha deserving of the global impact award Common laid before him? My vote is YES!!! The former NFLer has proved himself worthy with The Asomugha Foundation, an org that equips young disadvantaged kids in the US with opportunities in education annnnd aims to empower widows and orphans in Africa by giving them a  chance at an education. Now do you agree? Well, are you on the fence at least?…okay, we’ll keep trying. The real winner of the evening was Common, because all the money raised will go to his Common Ground Foundation that aids in supporting kids in the arts. Hey, he even included some for the festivities: Would it really be a Common event without him spitting on the mic? Nope.

Congrats to all that you do.

Family of Avonte Oquendo Attend 1st Annual HollyRod Foundation Honors

Holly Rob Peete, Vanessa Oquendo and family, L.A. and Erica Reid. Image Credit: Holly Rob Pete IG

Holly Rob Peete, Vanessa Oquendo and family, L.A. and Erica Reid.
Image Credit: Holly Rob Pete IG

Actress and autism activist Holly Robinson Peete has supported the Oquendo family once young Avonte went missing in October. And despite the unhappy ending we were all hoping wouldn’t come to be, the family returned the favor by attending the Super Kids Honors presented by HollyRod Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Image Credit: Erica Reid IG

Image Credit: Erica Reid IG

The Super Kid Honors was held at Joe’s Crab Shack in Harlem to honor Anthony Starego, an autistic football player from Brick, NJ. Not only did he win the Super Kid Award, but was also surprised with a trip to Super Bowl 48. Lucky, kid. Well, unless he was rooting for Denver Broncos hehehehe (oh, too soon?)

Image Credit: Holly Rod Peete IG

Image Credit: Holly Rod Peete IG

Super producer L.A. Reid and family also made an appearance to support Holly.

Photo Credit: Peete IG

Photo Credit: Peete IG

Kevin Liles showed his support for the first annual HollyRod Honors that will celebrate an autistic kid that has an impact on athletics.

Image Credit: Peete IG

Image Credit: Peete IG

And famed sax player Mike Phillips made the event sexy.