Shariah Harris, 19, Becomes 1st  Black Woman to Play in U.S. Polo’s Highest League

Shariah Harris just became the first black woman to play high-goal polo, the top tier of U.S. polo. (Photo credit: KERRY MCCANN)

by Taryn Finley via huffingtonpost.com

A 19-year-old is making history and disrupting the wealthy white male-dominated sport of polo at the same time. On June 30, Shariah Harris of Philadelphia became the first black woman to play high-goal polo, the top tier of polo in the U.S. This summer, the Cornell University sophomore hit the field at the Tony Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut to play for the Postage Stamp Farm team in the Silver Cup tournament. Harris told HuffPost that she’s excited about this barrier-breaking opportunity. “It’s great. Everything’s going by really fast, actually so it’s been great. This is something I’ve always wished I could do but never thought would happen. It’s pretty amazing.”

Harris became interested in the sport at age 8 or 9 after her mom took a wrong turn while driving. The wrong turn led them to grounds where other black children were riding horses. Harris and her mom were intrigued and found that the stables were run by a non-profit called Work to Ride. The program allows underprivileged inner-city kids to work in the stables and care for the horses. In return, the kids learn about horsemanship and equine sports. “As a mother of three children on a single income, I saw it as an opportunity to make their lives better,” her mom, Sharmell Harris, told the Hartford Courant. “Instead of a soccer mom, I became a barn mom.”

Shariah Harris (far right) and her team. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SHARIAH HARRIS)

Harris would report to the stables early in the morning to feed the horses, clean the barns, do maintenance work and other tasks. Though she admits that she wasn’t that good at riding in the beginning, she found a sense of comfort being on the horses. At 12, she joined the organization’s team and found a passion in polo. She would watch videos of the best players in the world and aspire to play at that level. So she incorporated some of their moves into her sport and challenged herself by playing with the boys of the program.

She carried her practice into college and became a force on Cornell’s polo team. In 2016 Harris was named the Polo Training Foundation’s 2016 National Interscholastic Player of the Year. The animal science major helped lead Cornell’s arena polo team into the finals this year. She credits much of her success to Work to Ride. Through Work to Ride, Harris was able to travel to play in different cities in the country as well as Nigeria and Argentina. While in Argentina in December, the teen met the owner of the Postage Stamp Farm team, Annabelle Garrett.

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Dr. Dre to Donate $10 Million for Compton High School’s New Performing Arts Center

(photo via latimes.com)

by Gerrick Kennedy via latimes.com

Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School, the Compton Unified School District. “My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” Dre said in a statement. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

The complex will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater. The performing arts center will also be a resource for the Compton community at large, officials say. The hip-hop mogul and Compton native will be directly involved in raising the remaining funds needed to complete the center, which is expected to break ground by 2020.

“The support that Dre has shown to Compton over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees. Micah Ali, vice chairman of the district’s board of education, said the new high school will be the most modern public school complex ever built.

To read more, go to: Dr. Dre to donate $10 million for Compton High School’s new performing arts center – LA Times

Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost

Super Soaker Inventor Lonnie Johnson Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams

Discbots at FRC 2017 World Championships (photo via Facebook.com)

by Gabe Gutierrez via nbcnews.com

He created one of the most popular toys on the planet — but the inventor of the “Super Soaker” isn’t done making a splash. Lonnie Johnson is now focusing on new battery technology, but his most rewarding pursuit may be sharing his knowledge with a new generation of engineers.

The mild-mannered Johnson grew up in Mobile, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. “There was a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress,” he remembered. “When I was a child the ‘White-only’ bathrooms were still very prevalent.” He turned that fear into motivation — and a career as a NASA rocket scientist.

But his “a-ha” moment came unexpectedly while he was designing a water pump. He had built testing the pump out in a bathroom when he noticed something.”I thought to myself, ‘Geez, this would make a neat water gun!'” he said. “At that point I decided to put my engineering hat on and design a high performance water gun.” That idea would change his life.

He built the first prototype for what became “The Super Soaker.” The toy, which first went on sale in the early 1990’s, eventually topped $1 billion in sales. Johnson also went on to come up with the NERF gun and other toys. “It’s interesting that the Super Soaker gets so much attention,” he said. “I really like to think of myself as a serious engineer!”

Now, he’s getting serious about giving back. His nonprofit helps fund high school robotics teams. One of them — the DISCbots from the DeKalb International Student Center — is made up of refugees from nine countries. Kalombo Mukuca fled the Central African Republic a year ago. “Even babies — they kill them,” he said. “So we don’t want to get killed.” Emanuel Tezera came to the United States from Ethiopia. “I want to fix something in this world,” he said.

Incredibly, in just its second year, the DISCbots qualified for the world-wide robotics competition in Texas. For Johnson, this idea may be his most rewarding. “If I can have a positive impact,” he said, “clearly it’s something I want to do.”

Source: Super Soaker Inventor Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams – NBC News

Outstanding 17 Year-Old High School Student Jahmir Smith Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships

Jahmir Smith (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Zahara Hall via huffpost.com

As a kid, high school junior Jahmir Smith never had a dream college. But for a number of universities, he’s their dream student. The 17-year-old North Carolina native has already been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and has received 33 full-ride scholarship offers, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.

While Smith has a 4.43 GPA at Lee County High School and an impressive ACT score, as well as enough credits to graduate a year early, The News & Observer reported that he’s also constantly being contacted by college football recruiters for his athleticism, receiving hundreds of texts from Division I coaches. Smith, who started playing football in middle school, has a composite three-star rating out of five on the sports website 247sports.com.

Additionally, he was chosen as 2016’s News & Observer’s Metro Football pick after scoring 41 touchdowns and running 2,130 yards in one season. Smith told HuffPost that while he doesn’t plan on making a career out of football, he’s certainly willing to give the NFL a shot. “It’s fast money,” he said. “But I don’t want it as a career because it would take a toll on my body.”

He added that if he doesn’t make the NFL, he wants to explore the medical field, specifically anesthesiology. In whatever he pursues, Smith is aware he’ll face challenges because of his race. But that’s not stopping him in the least bit. “I know the odds are against me because of my skin tone and all, but I don’t really let it get to me,” he said. “I just stay to myself and try to help those around me. I’ve always understood since I was little that people would see me different.”

To read more, go to: Outstanding High School Junior Already Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships | HuffPost

“Raised By Krump” Documentary by Director Maceo Frost Makes Worldwide Debut on Vimeo (VIDEO)

(courtesy vimeo.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Raised By Krumpa 22-minute documentary film that explores the Compton/South Central, Los Angeles-born dance movement “Krumping,” and the lives of some of the area’s most influential and prolific dancers, is making its exclusive, worldwide debut as a #staffpickpremiere on Vimeo today, May 24th.

Raised by Krump blends the art of movement, music, and personal interviews together to tell the story of finding solace within an underground movement and the community that it creates. The film, directed by award winning filmmaker Maceo Frost, focuses on how Krumping has helped young people deal with the emotional issues that come with growing up in one of L.A.’s toughest neighborhoods — a place where showing emotion is often considered a sign of weakness.

Perhaps most notably depicted in David LaChappelle’s documentary Rize, Krumping came to be via Tommy the Clown, who invented the dance movement “Clowning” in response to the happy façade he depicted when performing as a clown at childrens’ parties. Clowning, and eventually Krumping, allowed the dancers to express the everyday struggles of living in their neighborhoods.

Raised by Krump shows the next evolution after Rize. In the film, the dancers explain that they are who they are today because of the dance movement. Instead of joining a gang or turning to violence, they turned to movement, dance, and self-expression, and passed this ability on to their children and others’ children, creating a more creatively-stimulated younger generation. Krumping founders Tight-Eyez and Marquisa “Miss Prissy” Gardner – who were also featured in Rize – are in this film as well. They are older, wiser, and have experienced the full impact that Krumping has had on their lives.

As Miss Prissy says in the documentary, “I think Krump symbolizes every piece of what we went through growing up in our neighborhoods, from being chased by gangbangers to being harassed by the police for just being who we are and what we are. It was about us going through the shit that we just couldn’t control anymore, and I feel that’s what birthed Krump.”

Or as Tight Eyez plainly puts it, “We make the ugly part of our lives beautiful. We make it good.”

Frost’s film is also visually arresting, featuring a mesmerizing ebb and flow of movement, almost forming a visual poem about Krumping.

Go to Vimeo.com/staffpicks picks to watch the film, or watch above.

These Black Graduates Swag Surfing are the Epitome of Black Joy

(photo via twitter.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffpost.com

You may think your graduation was lit, but did you and every one you know swag surf? No?Well, sit down and read on. Graduates at Howard University and Langston University decided to dance themselves into post-grad life by celebrating with a group swag surfin’ session. And the videos are truly glorious. Take a look at these from a Howard U ceremony that appears to have gone down on May 12:

To read more, go to: These Black Graduates Swag Surfing Are The Epitome Of Black Joy | HuffPost