Airbnb Unites with NAACP to Combat Discrimination and Expand Room at the Inn

(image via npr.org)

by Karen Grigsby Bates via npr.org

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Airbnb has faced questions from people of color as to whether the company’s worldwide “vacancy” sign really applied to them. The company has been plagued by allegations and several lawsuits, predominantly but not exclusively from African-Americans, claiming discrimination.

Now, as part of its attempt to turn that image around, Airbnb has announced a partnership with the NAACP. The goal is to put teeth in the home-sharing company’s anti-discrimination efforts and to expand the number of people of color who are hosts on the site. The company has revised its policies and introduced more stringent penalties for hosts found to discriminate.

A settlement in California this year involving an Asian woman resulted in the discriminatory host being banned from the site for life. A similar incident in North Carolina involved a black would-be guest. Earlier this year, Airbnb hired Laura W. Murphy, the former director of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s Washington legislative office, to help shape the new policies and put practices in place that would make Airbnb more inclusive.

The announcement comes amid the NAACP’s attempts to bring the organization closer to the younger activist audience that it hopes will be its next generation. While it continues to fight for things traditionally associated with the NAACP — voter enfranchisement, equal opportunities in education and housing — the 108-year-old organization is also stretching in new directions. The NAACP describes the Airbnb partnership as “a landmark national agreement” that will encourage more people in communities of color to consider becoming Airbnb hosts.

“Our fastest-growing communities across major U.S. cities are in communities of color and we’ve seen how home sharing is an economic lifeline for families,” Belinda Johnson, Airbnb’s chief business affairs officer, said in a statement. And it’s not just host families who benefit: the company says Airbnb guests spend money in the neighborhoods where they’re renting.

The partnership is notable in another way: Airbnb has committed to sharing 20 percent of the revenue from its community outreach efforts with the NAACP. It will also work with the NAACP to educate communities of color on the benefits and mechanics of home sharing as part of its planned outreach.

Airbnb also seeks to expand its employee base nation-wide, and has been working with the NAACP to increase the percentage of employees from underserved populations, from its current 9.6 percent to a target goal of 11 percent by the end of the year.

To read full article, go to: Airbnb Unites With NAACP To Expand Room At The Inn : Code Switch : NPR

Rozetia Ellis, Former Seamstress at now-Bankrupt Bridal Store, Becomes Hero for Brides-To-Be

Rozetia Ellis (photo via cbsnews.com)

by David Begnaud via cbsnews.com

Alfred Angelo‘s slogan “your dream, your dress” became “your loss” when the bridal giant abruptly closed last month, declared bankruptcy and left brides-to-be lined up and stood up. “I thought we’re never gonna see ’em again. Let’s not even bother. They’re gone,” said Stephanie Huey. And they were gone. Both of Stephanie Huey’s bridesmaids dresses, as well as the dresses of the other heartbroken women who purchased at an Oklahoma City store.

Rozetia Ellis took them home. “Loaded in my car, front, trunk, back seat, side panel, on the floor board, until they stacked all the way up to the top,” Ellis said. She was a contracted seamstress of the store who had lost her job but rescued those dresses. “At that point we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you.’ You know, we were so grateful,” Huey said.

But Rose, as she’s known, had one more surprise. At her home in Tulsa, she was working on a special wedding gift. Stitch by stitch, she is altering more than 80 dresses for free. “I was dumbfounded. Honestly dumbfounded,” Huey said. “My integrity says I have to, ok? So, you have standards for yourself then you live up to those standards,” Ellis said.

Once a week, Ellis fills her car with dresses and drives 110 miles to an Oklahoma City hotel to deliver them. Motivated to do something, Huey has raised at least $5,600 for Ellis through a Go Fund Me page. “It’s going down fast — I’ve been just a busy bee,” Ellis said. The Oklahoma grandmother says she will continue working 15-hour days and making those weekly drive to meet the brides, until the 20 or so gowns that are left fit just right.

To read full article and see video, go to: Former Alfred Angelo seamstress becomes hero for desperate brides-to-be – CBS News

Halima Aden is 1st Hijab-Wearing Woman to Cover any Edition of Vogue

Halima Aden covers Vogue Arabia (photo via colorlines.com)

by Kenrya Rankin via colorlines.com

The Trump Administration is doing its best impersonation of a trash bag as it tries to keep Muslims outside its borders, but Vogue Arabia highlights the beauty and hustle of Muslim Somali-American model Halima Aden on the cover of its June issue. Mic.com reports that she is the first hijab-wearing model to cover any edition of Vogue.

Aden described the moment as “surreal” in an Instagram post yesterday (June 1). In a video on the magazine’s website, she talks about why it’s important for her to appear on the cover. “Every little girl deserves to see a role model that’s dressed like her, resembles her or even has the same characteristics as her. I think beauty is for everyone,” the 19-year-old model says.

To read more, go to: LOOK: Halima Aden Slays as First Hijab-Wearing Woman to Cover Vogue | Colorlines

Chicago Mother Keesha Hall Helps Moms Help Children With Special Needs Through Educare

Keesha Hall, Chair of the Educare Alumni Network (photo via essence.com)

by  via essence.com

Chicago-based mother Keesha Hall is changing lives for the better by helping moms help their kids.

After learning that her fourth child began showing signs of developmental disability, Chicago-based mother Keesha Hall changed her life for the better. After becoming unemployed, broke and on the brink of poverty, being a mother, she was determined to learn how to become a champion for her son. Through the help of non-profit organization Educare, she learned how to accept her son’s diagnosis and strengthened his social, emotional and behavioral health. This is her advice for young mothers who faced similar challenges and how she turned an unfortunate situation into a gift for many other mothers too.

To read full article, go to: Network: Chicago Mom Changing Lives | Essence.com

iBuyBlack Card Launched in Philadelphia to Offer Discounts to Supporters of Black-Owned Businesses 

(photo via twitter.com)

by Nigel Roberts via newsone.com

African-American business owners in Philadelphia gathered last week to launch a discount card to encourage the community to spend their money at local Black-owned businesses, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.With an iBuyBlack card, which costs $10, shoppers receive discounts up to 15 percent at participating Black-owned businesses. About 80 companies currently participate in the program, which has the support of a wide coalition that includes local elected officials.

Earl Harvey, sales director of iBuyBlack.org, said the organization’s goal is to recruit 500 businesses and 10,000 cardholders by the end of this year. About 1,500 people have already signed up for the card, The Inquirer reported.

A primary goal of the effort is to build wealth in the community, former president and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas Michael Rashid told the audience on Tuesday.

“Economists say the average dollar earned by Blacks stays in our community for just six hours. Compare that to the White community, in which dollars circulate for 17 days. That’s wealth-building,” he said, according to The Inquirer.

To read full article, go to: Philadelphia Black-Owned Businesses Launch iBuyBlack Card | News One

BEAUTY: LUX HAIR Wigs by Sherri Shepherd Offers Stylish, Fun and Affordable Wigs

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Harvard Design School Graduate Dana McKinney Merges Architecture and Social Justice

Architect Dana McKinney (photo via news.harvard.edu)

article by Christina Pazzanese via news.harvard.edu

When Dana McKinney was a girl, her family drove every week from their small town in Fairfield County, Conn., to Sunday dinner at her grandmother’s home in Newark, N.J. To a child who loved dance and art, the changing scenery on those trips revealed stark contrasts that stung of economic inequality.

“I was going back and forth between a very comfortable lifestyle in Connecticut to a very depressed environment in Newark and became really inspired to look at how people can affect the built environment,” McKinney said. “I want to be able to fix this! — That was my immediate reaction — I’ll be an architect!”

After studying architecture at Princeton University, McKinney went to Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) to earn master’s degrees in architecture and urban planning. It’s an unusual and demanding course of study, but one McKinney felt would merge her design work with her interest in social change, social justice, and the power of architecture to transform people’s lives.

“I want to make beautiful spaces and buildings, but I don’t want … the pitfall of only working with elite clients, and I think a lot of times architects end up serving a very high-income population. A majority of housing is done by developers in the U.S., [so] good architecture barely reaches outside a certain economic class,” McKinney said.

Much of her academic work has focused on institutional change: improving elderly housing and studying the effects from the abrupt closure in 2014 of a large homeless facility in Boston. But with one in four Newark residents likely to spend some time in prison, McKinney’s thesis focused on “sensible and sensitive” design alternatives to prison that would help break the cycle of incarceration and poverty.

It was an unconventional choice. When she put her idea before her faculty advisers, “I could hear the crickets in the room,” she said. But “by the end of it, they were all about it.” While McKinney doesn’t believe architecture alone can end homelessness or poverty or incarceration, she does believe the field has something important to offer.

“Everyone has a role in social development and in making sure that our society is a reflection of what we want it to be.”Indeed, though “spatial justice” is often thought of as an enterprise in the public realm, like the construction of parks and community centers, it’s not as frequently addressed in the private realm. Because housing is essential to well-being, McKinney hopes to eventually create spaces that promote not just equality, but equity. “Your self-worth and what you need to do well as a person starts with the safety and comfort you feel in your own home,” she explained.

Outside the classroom, McKinney has been active in bringing together African-American students at GSD and shining a spotlight on black women and men in a field where only 1 percent of architects are African-American. Having sometimes found herself one of only two black students in a class of 80, McKinney was among the earliest members of the African-American Student Union five years ago, serving last year as its president.

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