LL Cool J and Russell Simmons Visit Incarcerated Teens for Anti-Violence Initiative

Image Courtesy: New York Daily News

Image Courtesy: New York Daily News

The two legends of the recording industry unify their star power to promote anti-violence programs that will protect youth. LL Cool J and Russell Simmons visited a Queens (where they both hail from) housing project hit hardest by the violence.

The GOAT rapper and hip hop mogul chatted with kids about their defense against violence: LIFE Camp, a group of local based-peacekeepers that act as “violence interrupters” when tensions begin to escalate. Their job is to lead raging teens in a more positive and peaceful direction.

To hear what LL and Russell Simmons told the crowd click here

After leaving their old stomping grounds they visited Rikers Island to offer encouraging words to incarcerated young people that could also benefit from the LIFE Camp. LL and Russell revealed their upbringings could have easily led them right where they are now. But, told them not to give up on the fresh start that awaits them later. Simmons preached to them about focusing on their inner thoughts.

The LIFE Camp is funded through Russell Simmons’ prepaid debit RUSH Cards. The millionaire philanthropist already donated $100,000 to the community initiative.

It’s nice to see influential celebs being hands on with this overlooked issue. Kudos, guys.

Barneys Releases the Shawn (Jay Z) Carter Holiday Collection

So, if you haven’t already heard Jay Z has decided to stick with Barneys, despite the uproar over racial allegations in the upscale boutique. Wanna see my surprise face?

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But, the rap mogul added one condition to the deal: He will serve on a “council” that will put him in a leadership role to discuss racial profiling. Hmph. Okay, the details are pretty vague, but we’ll see what will come of it. Jay also managed to wrangle an increase (originally 25%) of 75% of sales for his Sean Carter Foundation, along with 100% of sales from the collabo to the Foundation that grants underprivileged kids a college education.

As nasty as this debacle got, and it’s  still getting heated, we should give props to Jigga for making his charity a priority, which was the main impetus for the deal.

And for those who have $800 baseball caps and $33,000 watches on their Christmas list, take a peek below. Santa may be good to you. Well, you would have to be nearly a saint to get everything on that wishlist.  Santa, baby…

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BTW, the Barneys release party may have been canceled, but it didn’t stop Jay and Bey from visiting the luxe store to take a peek at the collection . Baddie Bey even held an impromptu photo shoot to support her hubby’s collection, well I guess we know what are her favorite things from hubby’s line.

Photo credit: Beyonce IG

Photo credit: Beyonce IG

Photo credit: Beyonce IG

Photo credit: Beyonce IG

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Park Five & Shawn Carter College Scholarship Foundation

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It’s very rare to have a movie stay with you–have its images, dialogue and message tattooed on your brain. For me it’s happened only a few times (and I’m a huuggeee movie fan-action, suspense, horror, romance, independent, etc. you name the genre, I’ll watch it.) the most recent was when I saw “The Central Park Five.” A Ken Burns documentary about five black and latino teenage boys falsely convicted of raping and torturing a white woman in Central Park in the late ’80s. No movie has stirred me like this one, not even Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” and I’m always so livid when Radio Raheem gets murdered at the end.

Despite the similar vein of injustice both films travel down, the big difference is one is scripted and fictional and the other an actual event that my mother remembers reading about in the newspaper as a seven-year-old version of myself was propped on her lap. The Central Park Five is real. It’s documented, not just in news stories but on the faces of these four boys (The fifth boy didn’t want to be filmed in the doc, viewers only heard audio) that rapidly transformed into men while incarcerated, but the anguish of time lost, a childhood not fully realized and abuse by authority, that pain is still visible in their eyes. And justified considering their wrongful conviction lawsuit against New York City remains unsettled.

But what I’m most impressed about was their will to be better. They managed to push past what reporters, cops, lawyers and native New Yorkers’ labeled them as: psychopaths, thugs and a ‘wolf pack’ and plan for an uncertain future. They each completed GED programs that were offered in the prisons. Received high school diplomas. Fast forward Six to 13 years later they are free. Their convictions were vacated in 2003, due to DNA evidence that linked someone else to the crime.

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When labeled an undesirable it’s never easy to find a new path or someone or something that is willing to pave one. Shawn (Jay Z) Carter wanted to create one. The Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation was conceived in 2002 and its mission is to offer college scholarships to students who have been previously incarcerated but want to rise higher in their educational pursuits. Along with single mothers, students that attend alternative schools, those who earned a GED and have a grade point average of 2.0.

The foundation’s organizers–made up of Jay Z’s mother Gloria Carter, educational workers and community activists, say they highlighted this group of students because they are usually ignored by the Board of Education.

Interested applicants must complete the online application by May 31st 2013. Click here to apply.

Sources:

Bed-Stuy Patch

PBS