President Obama To Rename Africa Program For Nelson Mandela

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A program designed to foster a new generation of young African leaders will be renamed after former South African President Nelson Mandela.

President Barack Obama, who has said he was one of the untold millions of people around the world who were inspired by Mandela’s life, is set to announce the name change at a town hall-style event Monday in Washington with several hundred young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa.

The youngsters are participating in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of the broader Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010 to support a new generation of leadership there. The fellowship is being renamed as a tribute to Mandela, who died last December at age 95.

Obama announced the fellowship during a stop in South Africa last summer. It connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at top U.S. universities.

In remarks at Monday’s event, Obama also was announcing new public-private partnerships to create more programs for young African leaders, including four regional leadership centers across Africa, online classes and other resources, the White House said.

Mandela spent 27 years in jail under apartheid, South Africa’s former system of white minority rule, before eventually leading his country through a difficult transition to democracy. In 1994, he became the first democratically elected leader of a post-apartheid South Africa.

This week’s events with the next generation of young African leaders are a lead-in to the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, being held Aug. 4-6 in Washington. About 50 African leaders are expected to attend what the White House says will be the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government.

article by Associated Press via newsone.com

Los Angeles Lakers Hire Byron Scott as New Head Coach

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Former New Orleans Hornets Coach Byron Scott, left, shares a laugh with referee Pat Fraher during a game against the Seattle SuperSonics in 2005. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

The Lakers have officially hired former Laker Byron Scott as their next coach, ending a search of almost three months by choosing a familiar name to Lakers followers.  Scott comes with a built-in advantage over the last two Lakers coaches because he didn’t replace Phil Jackson in 2011 and wasn’t chosen instead of Jackson in 2012.

He also has a solid relationship with Kobe Bryant and the Buss family, not to mention familiarity with Lakers fans who remember his role on three championship teams in the 1980s.

Scott, 53, has a four-year deal for $17 million, with a team option for the fourth year. The Lakers will formally introduce him as their coach at a news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday.

“I am ecstatic to once again be a Laker and to have the opportunity to work alongside [Lakers General Manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and the Buss family,” Scott said in a statement released by the Lakers. “I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in L.A. and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are. I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves.”

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Doc McStuffins Merchandise Garners $500 Million in Sales, Record for Toy Line Based on African-American Character

Natalie Elisabeth Battles, 3, of Arkansas, with her Doc McStuffins toys. She sometimes wears a doctor’s coat to preschool. (Credit: Jacob Slaton for The New York Times)

Jade Goss, age 2, looks as if she just stepped out of the wildly popular “Doc McStuffins” cartoon.  “She has the Doc McStuffins sheets. She has the Doc McStuffins doll. She has the Doc McStuffins purse. She has Doc McStuffins clothes,” said Jade’s mother, Melissa Woods, of Lynwood, Calif.

“I think what attracts her is, ‘Hey, I look like her, and she looks like me,’ ” Ms. Woods said of the character, an African-American child who acts as a doctor to her stuffed animals.

With about $500 million in sales last year, Doc McStuffins merchandise seems to be setting a record as the best-selling toy line based on an African-American character, industry experts say.  Its blockbuster success reflects, in part, the country’s changing consumer demographics, experts say, with more children from minority backgrounds providing an expanding, less segregated marketplace for shoppers and toymakers.

DocMcStuffinsBut what also differentiates Doc — and Dora the Explorer, an exceptionally popular Latina character whose toy line has sold $12 billion worth of merchandise over the years, Nickelodeon executives say — is her crossover appeal.  “The kids who are of color see her as an African-American girl, and that’s really big for them,” said Chris Nee, the creator of Doc McStuffins. “And I think a lot of other kids don’t see her color, and that’s wonderful as well.”

Nancy Kanter, general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, which developed “Doc McStuffins” — and who suggested the character be African-American in the first place — said Doc’s wide-ranging fan base could be gleaned from a spreadsheet. “If you look at the numbers on the toy sales, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t just African-American families buying these toys,” Ms. Kanter said. “It’s the broadest demographics possible.”

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BUSINESS: 20 Black Angels Worth Knowing For Minority Startups

FUBU Founder and "Shark Tank" Investor Daymond John

FUBU Founder and “Shark Tank” Investor Daymond John

Daymond John helped revolutionize urban fashion in the 1990s as founder, president, and CEO of FUBU (“For Us, By Us”). He guided the iconic brand into a multimillion-dollar business, placing it at the same table with such designer sportswear labels as Donna Karan New York and Tommy Hilfiger.

These days, John is known for being a “shark” on the hit reality series “Shark Tank”. Every Friday night, some seven million viewers tune in to the ABC show that features a panel of investors, or “sharks,” that consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking capital. John, a member of the cast since the show’s premiere in 2009, along with four other prominent chief executives listens to business pitches (a contestant’s one-hour pitch is edited down to a 10-minute segment) from everyday people hoping to take their company or product to new heights. Using their own money, the sharks have invested more than $20 million, having completed more than 30 deals with an average valuation of $250,000. John is the show’s second leading investor.

Studies show that African American-owned firms are less likely to receive angel investment. In the first half of 2013, only 8.5% of startups pitching to angels were minority-owned; 16% were women-led, according to a report by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. Only 15% of those minority-owned businesses successfully got funded, while 24% of the female entrepreneurs received angel investments. Moreover, ethnic minorities account for less than 5% of the angel population.

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New Wave of African Writers with an Internationalist Bent

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the premiere, in Lagos, Nigeria, of the film “Half of a Yellow Sun,” based on her novel. (Credit: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

More than a decade ago, when the young Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was struggling to get her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” published, an agent told her that things would be easier “if only you were Indian,” because Indian writers were in vogue. Another suggested changing the setting from Nigeria to America. Ms. Adichie didn’t take this as commentary on her work, she said, but on the timidity of the publishing world when it came to unknown writers and unfamiliar cultures, especially African ones.

These days she wouldn’t receive that kind of advice. Black literary writers with African roots (though some grew up elsewhere), mostly young cosmopolitans who write in English, are making a splash in the book world, especially in the United States. They are on best-seller lists, garner high profile reviews and win major awards, in America and in Britain. Ms. Adichie, 36, the author of “Americanah,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction this year, is a prominent member of an expanding group that includes Dinaw Mengestu, Helen Oyeyemi, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Taiye Selasi, among others.

The Ethiopian-born novelist Dinaw Mengestu in 2010, when his book “How to Read the Air” was published. (Credit: Ed Ou for The New York Times)

There are reasons for the critical mass now, say writers, publishers and literature scholars. After years of political and social turmoil, positive changes in several African nations are helping to greatly expand the number of writers and readers. Newer awards like the Caine Prize for African Writing have helped, too, as have social media, the Internet and top M.F.A. programs. At the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, black writers with recent African roots will make up more than 10 percent of the fiction students come September. Moreover, the number of African immigrants in the United States has more than quadrupled in the past two decades, to almost 1.7 million.

And publishing follows trends: Women, Asian-American, Indian and Latino writers have all been “discovered” and had their moment in the sun — as have African-Americans, some of whom envy the attention given to writers with more recent links in Africa.

“People used to ask where the African writers were,” said Aminatta Forna, author of “The Hired Man” (2013, set in Croatia). “They were cleaning offices and working as clerks.”

Some writers and critics scoff at the idea of lumping together diverse writers with ties to a diverse continent. But others say that this wave represents something new in its sheer size, after a long fallow period. (There were some remarkable exceptions, like Wole Soyinka’s 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature and Ben Okri’s 1991 Booker Prize.) And it differs from the postcolonial wave, roughly beginning in the 1960s, which brought international acclaim to writers like Chinua Achebe and Nuruddin Farah, among others.

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NBA Star Carmelo Anthony Co-Founds Venture Capital Firm M7 Tech Partners

Atlanta Hawks v New York KnicksBasketball star Carmelo Anthony got his max contract from the New York Knicks, now he’s looking much further ahead.

ESPN is reporting that Anthony announced the creation of M7 Tech Partners, a venture capital firm whose partners are Anthony and the former CEO of Bertelsmann, Stuart Goldfarb, who heads the world’s largest direct marketer of music, video and books.

“M7″ reportedly stands for “‘Melo Seven,” Carmelo’s nickname and jersey number with the New York Knicks.  The sports network also notes Anthony is intrigued with wearable and connected devices. A media statement says M7 will be an early-stage seed fund for digital media and consumer technology.

Anthony also tells them he’s been interested in tech devices “for as long as” he can remember and his firm will be on the lookout for ventures focused on leadership that resonates with clients.

Both Anthony and Goldfarb reportedly haven’t decided how much cash they will use to back ventures in the near future, however, news of the company’s creation came with another announcement; their firm is now an an equity partner with Hullabalu, an interactive children’s story company.

The Wall Street Journal says, “M7 will not have any limited partners or other outside investors, and does not plan to take a lead position in any future portfolio companies.”  Hullabalu was founded by Suzanne Xie in 2012. Biz Journal reports the company raised a $1.8 million seed round last year.

Anthony agreed to a $124 million deal with the Knicks a little over a week ago.

article by Richard Spiropoulos via blackenterprise.com

Former NASA Employee Katrina Parrott Launches New Diversity-Filled Emoji App

 

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What do you do when you become frustrated with Apple’s lack of diversity within their emojis? Well, Katrina Parrott, a former NASA employee, took it upon herself to create her own app filled with a variety of over 900 diverse emoticons.

According to Katrina, after her daughter noticed the lack of diversity within the system she knew it was time to take it into her own hands to do her best in launching her own system. This is when the birth of iDiversicons happened.

Katrina stated, “We wanted all people to be able to find an emoticon that looked like them.” Since Apple doesn’t seem to be in a major rush to implement the ethnicity update, we respect those who have taken it upon themselves to do their part in raising the bar to equality.

RELATED: African Company Oju Africa Beats Apple to Release First Black Emojis

smileyface_box3-1It’s not JUST an emoji, but has evolved into a big part of our societies culture used by many of us from coast to coast. When I reached out to Apple previously they told me, “Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

So then why are we still seeing the same emojis with no race update? We hear the rumor of the middle finger coming, or even a thermometer (WTF) emoji, but no diverse emojis! Come on, Apple, listen to the people and update this already!

Support Katrina’s mission by heading on over to iDiversicons to learn how to get started!

article via act.mtv.com