American Girl’s “Girl of the Year” for 2017 is African-American Doll Gabriela McBride

The new American Girl doll Gabriela McBride is a dancer and poet, inspiring girls to use their voice to help others. (COURTESY OF AMERICAN GIRL )

article by Constance Gibbs via nydailynews.com

Dollmaker American Girl named its “Girl of the Year” Friday, revealing a new African-American doll named Gabriela McBride.  She’s the first Girl of the Year doll since 2011 who wasn’t white. American Girl, a Mattel-owned company, sells the popular — but expensive, at $115 a pop — 18-inch dolls that aim to teach young girls about different historical eras and perspectives. The dolls also come with books, outfits, and accessories to personalize each one.

American Girl dolls have always been hot sellers, but there has been resurgence in popularity in the last few years. Mattel said in October that American Girl sales were up 15% in the last year.  Gabriela McBride, the company’s newest addition to its “Girl of the Year” line — dolls that are sold just for one year — has a back story in which she dances, teaches children about poetry, and wants to save her community center.

Gabriela comes with a book and dance related accessories.

Gabriela comes with a book and dance related accessories.  (COURTESY OF AMERICAN GIRL)

“The goal has always been to be able to create mirrors and windows for girls to see either a direct reflection of themselves or a window into a life or a culture that may be different from their own,” Stephanie Spanos, an American Girl spokesperson told The Daily News.  Gabriela follows previous diverse “Girls of the Year” Marisol, a Latina girl (2005), and two Japanese-American dolls from 2006 and 2011.

It’s also the first time three black dolls — Gabriela, Melody, the Civil Rights era doll introduced this year, and Addy, a former slave — are on the market at the same time.

“Overall, we’re just really proud to feature a diverse and inclusive set of dolls,” Spanos told the News.

Other permanent dolls of color include native Nez Perce girl Kaya and Mexican Josefina. An African-American and a Chinese-American doll were both archived in 2014.

To read full article, go to: American Girl diversifies with new African-American doll – NY Daily News

NFL MVP Cam Newton Surprises 10 Year-Old Heart Patient Taylor Deckard with Hospital Visit

Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old Taylor Deckard during surprise visit before heart surgery (photo via charlotteobserver.com)

Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old heart patient Taylor Austin Deckard during surprise visit before high-risk medical procedure (photo via charlotteobserver.com)

article via blackamericaweb.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — There’s no doubt Cam Newton has a soft spot in his heart for kids.

That was never more evident than this week when the Panthers quarterback surprised a 10-year-old Taylor Austin Deckard, a boy who suffers from advanced pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that requires a high-risk medical procedure to save his life.

The league’s reigning league MVP visited Deckard in an Atlanta children’s hospital Tuesday. Taylor was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time.

When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of bed and hugged him. During the long embrace, Newton said, “I feel your heart. It’s going 1,000 miles an hour.”

Newton appeared touched by the moment in the video posted by Auburn. He twice said, “Aw, man.”

Taylor initially pouted after his parents told him to turn off his tablet. Then Newton walked in saying, “What’s going on buddy?”

Newton spoke about the encounter at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked into the boy’s hospital room.

“I read a lot of things about him and what he likes,” Newton said. “Then when I go in there he hugs me. And it’s the parent touch. You can’t explain it. You can’t really explain it. My heart falls for a child in any situation. I was just there to comfort him. It was something that happened naturally.”

Newton described the boy as full of joy and full of energy, which made him sad to know that he’s battling a heart problem.

Newton said he was blown away by the strength of the boy’s family, most notably his father Timothy.

“You have a strong man who will not let his son see him bat an eye,” Newton said. “He has all the right words to say and all the comfort to give. And the mom is just as strong as he is and they are just there for him. And it inspires me because I have kids. … When (Taylor) looked at his dad and he looked at his mom, he just knew everything was going to be all right.”

To read more, go to: https://blackamericaweb.com/2016/12/28/cam-newton-scores-with-visit-to-boy-battling-heart-condition/

Black Santa, For the First Time Ever, Comes to Mall of America in Minnesota

Larry Jefferson is the first black Santa in the 24-year history of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (STAR TRIBUNE SCREENSHOT)

article by Monique Judge via theroot.com

For the first time in its 24-year history, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., had a black Santa on hand to help spread holiday cheer Thursday.

“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, which has run the intimate photo studio at the mall for years, told the Star Tribune. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

Customers at the Mall of America have two Santa options to choose from: They can wait in line with everyone else at the mall for the free Santa, or they can book an appointment with the Santa Experience. The Star Tribune reports that Luther conducted a national search last spring for a Santa to whom children of color would be able to relate. Santa Sid, who has worked at the Mall of America for 20 years, met Larry Jefferson of Irving, Texas, at a Santa convention in Branson, Mo. Of the 1,000 Santa impersonators in attendance, Jefferson was the only black one.

“It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Luther said.

Jefferson, dressed as Santa Larry, will greet children, pass out candy and pose for photographs by appointment only from Thursday to Sunday.

To read more, got to: For 1st Time Ever, a Black Santa Comes to Mall of America in Minn.

Junior Olympian Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year

(photo via Sports Illustrated)

article by Rachaell Davis via essence.com

This week, young track and field stars Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard were announced as the recipients of the 2016 Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year award for their athletic accomplishments and unwavering dedication in the face of extreme hardships. ESSENCE caught up with the young track stars and their proud mother Tonia Handy for a quick chat just as they were preparing for the SI SportsKids of the Year announcement.

The girls first took an interest in track and field when their babysitter signed them up for a track meet in January of 2015. When the family fell on hard times and relocated to a homeless shelter that September, the encouraging spirit of those around them played a big role in helping to keep them going.

My coach really inspired me to try hard and to really put everything into it,” 9-year-old Brooke told ESSENCE. “Also, my babysitter Sharon Davis, who introduced us to track and field and really helped us work as hard as we could to get us where we are now.” Brooke also credits Olympic champion Alex Felix with inspiring her to push forward. “My inspiration is Alex Felix,” she adds. “She really inspires me to work really hard like her.”

To read full article, go to: Sheppard Sisters Named Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of The Year Essence.com

Magic Johnson Pledges $250,000 to Aid Flint, MI Schools, Inspires Kids at Local Holiday Event (VIDEO)

Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)

Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)

article by Roberto Acosta via mlive.com

FLINT, MI — Earvin “Magic” Johnson helped load up meals in the back of vehicles lined up outside Flint Northwestern High School on a snow Saturday morning, but he also delivered an assist to Flint children ahead of the giveaway.

In the Vehicle City for the Holiday Hope Flint event that provided meals, clothes, and toys to families, the NBA Hall-of-Famer told kids seated in the gymnasium to chase their dreams.

“We want you to understand dream big. Get your education and you’ll be able to do anything in life you want to do,” he said. “I was once just like you. A little kid from Lansing, Michigan right down the street. I grew up poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams.”

Johnson stressed to children “Nobody defines who you are going to be but you, but you must get a good education so it starts in school.”

He pledged $250,000 toward Flint Community schools during a September visit that will be used to establish three walk-in clinics within the district and athletic facility improvements and told people he would return to the community.

The NBA Hall of Famer returned to the Flint-area on Friday night for a fundraising event titled “An Evening with Magic Johnson” at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre.

SodexoMagic, Johnson’s food service company, was approved for a $3.36 million contract with the school district in June. The company also holds a contract with the Saginaw School District.

 To read more, go to: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/11/magic_johnson_tells_flint_chil.html

21st Century Fox and Pepsico Team Up to Offer STEM Scholarships with “Hidden Figures” Contest for Girls and Women

hidden-figures-750x315_orig

Are you a real-life “hidden figure” on her way to changing the world? You could win a scholarship to help make your STEM dreams come true! PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox are partnering to find the next generation of girls and women who will lead the way in STEM. Sound like you? Enter the Search for Hidden Figures contest by Dec. 10!

Prizes are awards of $200,000 total in scholarships to 12 standout finalists. Winners will also receive exclusive opportunities and more from PepsiCo and Hidden Figures.

For more information and contest rules, go to https://searchforhiddenfigures.com

EDITORIAL: What I Want To Be Able to Tell My Children About Their Next President

Xavier and Lori Hutcherson (screenshot via youtube.com)

Xavier Hutcherson and Lori Lakin Hutcherson (PrioritiesUSA ad screenshot via youtube.com)

by GBN Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson

by GBN Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson

I know everyone wants this election to be over already – you’ve seen every debate, every news clip, every “shocking revelation”; been inundated in your social media feeds for what seems like an eternity with everyone’s thoughts, opinions, screeds, salvos and takes on who is or isn’t a worthy presidential candidate and why.  So here, in these last days, I’ll weigh in with what my choice ultimately boiled down to for me: When the final results are in, what do I want to be able to say to my 9 year-old and my 7 year-old about who their next president is?

In 2008, this moment was revelatory: I was bathing my then almost 2 year-old son Xavier (who since birth has been negotiating the challenges of cerebral palsy and epilepsy) when Barack Obama was officially proclaimed the future 44th President of the United States.  I looked at Xavier… he smiled.  I teared up, my heart swelled and I told him it was just proven without a doubt that the impossible IS possible, that his own potential was limitless and he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up.

In 2012, more of the same – but now I got to say it to my then 3 year-old daughter Phoebe too, who in her lifetime has never known a president OTHER than Barack Obama. Wow.  And now in 2016 she has the potential to see a woman rise to the top post of our nation for the first time in U.S. history – which will also be a truly awesome milestone of possibility to celebrate.

But even more than that, I want to be able to tell my children whether or not I or their father agree with the politics of our next president, that our next president is worthy of our respect and support.  That our president at her or his core is a decent human being who is doing her or his best to make our country stronger and create more opportunity for the majority of Americans.  That our president values and respects women, the LBGTQ community, people with disabilities, people of color and people with varied religious beliefs.

For me, it is glaringly obvious that there is only one candidate in true contention for the Presidency who fits that description: Hillary Clinton.  Which is why my sister and our Lifestyle Editor Lesa Lakin produced the ad below and why I agreed to have me and my children take part in the political ad below (we are at the :12 mark).  I wanted Xavier and Phoebe to know who I supported, and why it was worth putting ourselves out there to do so.

As difficult and divisive as our current times can be, as I do here on Good Black News, in everyday life I work hard to stay focussed on the positive (and some days, as we all know, that is REALLY REALLY hard).  I always want my children to live in a welcoming atmosphere of possibility, encouragement and hope.  Of civility and decency.  Of responsibility, fairness, and a willingness to admit one’s mistakes and do better.  I want the same values they are learning to live by at home and school – to listen, be polite, not name call, take turns, share – to be values I can say our nation’s leader lives by as well.  Come Wednesday morning, if Hillary Clinton has won, I can say that to them.

But if she doesn’t win… frankly, I don’t know what I’m going to say.