Tag: California

#BBQBecky Called the Cops on Kenzie Smith and Now He’s Running for Oakland City Council

Oakland City Council hopeful Kenzie Smith (photo via Facebook)

by  via motherjones.com

Kenzie Smith, one of two men who had police called on him by the woman the internet dubbed #BBQBecky, is running for a City Council seat in Oakland, California.

Back in April, as you may recall, “Becky”—since identified as Jennifer Schultecalled the police to report that two African American men were barbecuing with a charcoal grill in a lakeside area designated for gas grilling only.

The #BBQBecky affair—which went viral thanks to a video posted by Smith’s wife—was part of a recent string of “doing X while black” incidents that lit up the internet. The Oakland encounter prompted memes and local protests, as well as #BBQingWhileBlack events—organized, in part, by Smith—in the very spot where Schulte sought to shoo the men away.

Not long after Smith’s run-in with Schulte, an Oakland council member nominated him to a position on Oakland’s Park and Recreation Advisory Committee. Smith, 37, now says he has also filed the paperwork to vie for council in District 2, where he’ll face an uphill battle against incumbent Abel Guillen and local housing activist Nikki Bas Fortunato.

But Smith, the brother of Bay Area rap legend Mistah F.A.B., has strong local connections. He and his wife, Michelle Snider, are the co-founders and co-owners of Dope Era Magazine, a local music and culture magazine. Through Dope Era and his work with other community groups, Smith, a lifelong East Bay resident, has helped organize a range of initiatives, including resource drives for the homeless, backpack drives for Oakland schoolkids, hygiene kit drives, and STI testing events. He recently helped raise more than $14,000 for a local homeless man targeted in another viral incident—a video showed a jogger throwing the man’s belongings into the trash and the lake. (Smith told Mother Jones he is now trying to help the man find an apartment.) He and his friend from the barbecue encounter, Smith says, also hope to launch a nonprofit that will focus on youth job and leadership training.

Since announcing his council ambitions in June, Smith has officially declared his candidacy, begun collecting the signatures he needs to accept campaign donations, and started building a campaign staff. His platform, he told Mother Jones, will focus on homelessness and renters’ rights—key Bay Area issues—as well as education and jobs for youth.

Smith campaigned publicly for the first time on Sunday at the most recent #BBQingWhileBlack event in Oakland, where he shook hands and mingled with residents in a T-shirt that read, “Kenzie Smith: City Council for District 2.”

Read more: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/07/bbqbecky-called-cops-on-kenzie-smith-now-running-for-oakland-city-council/ 

Jay Z Reportedly Expands Empire with Launch of Marcy Venture Partners, a New Investment Firm in CA

Jay-Z performs on stage during the “On the Run II” tour opener at Principality Stadium on June 6, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Parkwood Entertainment)

by Michelle Darrisaw via essence.com

Jay Z is adding venture capitalist to his burgeoning resumé.

The rapper-entrepreneur, who is currently on a global tour with his wife, Beyoncé, reportedly filed paperwork in the state of California last month to launch an investment firm. The news of the venture fund comes just one week after the legendary rapper and  Beyoncé surprised fans with a joint album called Everything Is Love.

According to Business Insider, Jay Z is creating a fund called Marcy Venture Partners, which could be an ode to Marcy Houses, the Brooklyn housing projects he grew up in as a kid. In addition to Jay Z, Walden Venture Capital’s managing director, Lawrence Marcus, and Roc Nation’s president, Jay Brown, will also spearhead the founding venture capital firm.

However, this isn’t the first time the “Marcy Me” rapper hedged his bets in Silicon Valley. In 2017, he immersed himself in the venture capital world by launching investment platform Arrive to aid start-ups and businesses with branding support.

Notably, Jay Z’s angel investments also include funding for luggage company Away, premium sock company Stance, the stock-trading app Robinhood and private-jet company JetSmarter.

By adding more investment opportunities to his business repertoire, it looks like the hip-hop mogul, who, per Forbes, has a net worth of $900 million, is well on his way to becoming “the next Black Bill Gates in the making.”

Source: https://www.essence.com/celebrity/jay-z-launches-new-investment-firm-marcy-venture-partners

Author Octavia E. Butler Honored with Google Doodle

Illustration of Black woman in multicolored clothing in front of dark blue skies outlined with neon and brown books with blue characters in front of white background
Screenshot of the Google Doodle featuring Octavia Butler, taken from Twitter on June 22, 2018.

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Octavia E. Butler’s name trends on Twitter today (June 22) in recognition of what would have been the late science fiction and fantasy author’s 71st birthday. Google celebrated Butler’s influence on literature by featuring her likeness on its homepage Doodle.

Per biographies on her website and Google’s blog, Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California. Social anxiety prompted her to spend a lot of time in the library, where she developed an appreciation for science fiction. She began writing when her mother bought her a typewriter at age 10 and carried her passion into her education at Pasadena Community College, UCLA and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop.

Butler, who wrote in various fiction formats, is best known for novels and short stories like “Kindred,” ”Bloodchild,” and the “Xenogenesis” trilogy. Her canon uses otherworldly scenarios to tackle racism, sexism, class conflict and other forms of real-world oppression. Fans cite her development of fictional alternative communities with Black leaders as a key influence on Afrofuturism. Her legacy lives on, well beyond her death from a stroke in 2006.

“Our family is grateful and honored by the opportunity to invoke the memory of Octavia E. Butler,” her family said in a statement on Google’s blog post. “Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised. She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/google-doodle-honors-octavia-e-butler

Planting Justice: Urban Farming Nonprofit in Oakland Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society

Anthony Forrest spent 25 years in prison before joining Planting Justice. “Working in the garden calms me down,” he said. (Credit: Jason Henry for The New York Times)

by Patricia Leigh Brown via nytimes.com

OAKLAND, Calif. — Even by the standards of the Bay Area, where sourcing local, organic chicken feed is seen as something of a political act, the spectacle of 30,000 fruit and nut trees being tended by formerly incarcerated orchardists is novel.

The green thumbs are there because of Planting Justice, a nine-year-old nonprofit that combines urban farming with environmental education and jobs for ex-offenders. From its headquarters in a pair of salvaged shipping containers on a dead-end street in East Oakland, Calif., Planting Justice has forged a trail in which revenue-generating businesses help subsidize the group’s core mission: hiring former inmates, many from nearby San Quentin State Prison, and giving them a “family sustaining” wage, along with health benefits and a month of paid leave annually. About half the total staff of 30 have served time in prison.

Two years ago, the group’s founders — Gavin Raders, 35, and Haleh Zandi, 34 — established an orchard on a weedy, vacant lot in this area of stubborn poverty, where the pruning is serenaded not by birds but droning trucks from the adjacent freeway. Planting Justice’s Rolling River Nursery now sells and ships some 1,100 varieties of potted trees and plants — among them, 65 different kinds of pomegranates, 60 varieties of figs, and loads of harder-to-find species such as jujubes (Chinese dates), Japanese ume plums and rue, an aromatic herb used in Ethiopian coffee. Signs warn visitors that they have entered a pesticide- and soda-free zone.

Though still young, the organic orchard generates roughly $250,000 of Planting Justice’s yearly $2 million operating budget. Another $250,000 comes from an edible landscaping business, in which roving horticulturalists hired by well-off clients install beehives, fruit trees, chicken coops, massive barrels for harvesting rain water and “laundry to landscaping” systems that funnel used washing machine water into the garden. The money helps subsidize pro bono edible landscapes in low-income neighborhoods.

In addition, there are the 2,000 or so “subscribers” who make monthly pledges to Planting Justice, which brings in another $450,000 annually, and grants from a variety of nonprofit organizations, among them the Kresge FreshLo program, the Thomas J. Long Foundation and Kaiser Permanente’s community benefit programs.

Planting Justice cultivates metaphors along with the food. “We’re composting and weeding the things in our lives we don’t need and fertilizing the parts of ourselves we do need,” Mr. Raders explained, sitting on a eucalyptus stump.

The guiding principle: kale, not jail.

Continue reading “Planting Justice: Urban Farming Nonprofit in Oakland Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society”

Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, Receives Her Own Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms
(Image copyright: KENSINGTON PALACE)

via bbc.com

A coat of arms created for the Duchess of Sussex that reflects her Californian background has been unveiled. It includes a shield containing the color blue, representing the Pacific Ocean, and rays, symbolising sunshine. The duchess worked closely with the College of Arms in London to create the design, Kensington Palace said. The lion supporting the shield relates to her husband, the Duke of Sussex, and dates back to the House of Stuart’s ascent to the throne in 1603.

The songbird supporting the shield on the right relates to the Duchess of Sussex. Traditionally wives of members of the Royal Family have two – one of their husband’s supporters on the shield and one relating to themselves. Beneath the shield is California’s state flower – the golden poppy – and Wintersweet, a flower that grows at Kensington Palace and was also depicted on the duchess’ wedding veil. The three quills illustrate the power of words and communication.

The duchess has also been assigned a coronet bearing fleurs-de-lys and strawberry leaves.

Meghan Markle arrives for the wedding ceremony to marry Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
Wintersweet also featured on the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding veil (Image copyright: PA)

Garter King of Arms Thomas Woodcock, who is based at the College of Arms said: “The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design. Good heraldic design is nearly always simple and the Arms of The Duchess of Sussex stand well beside the historic beauty of the quartered British Royal Arms.”

“Heraldry as a means of identification has flourished in Europe for almost nine hundred years and is associated with both individual people and great corporate bodies such as cities, universities and, for instance, the livery companies in the City of London.”

Coats of arms date back to 12th Century and were traditionally worn over armour in tournaments so participants could identify their opponents.

Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music for His Grammy-Winning Album ‘Damn’

Kendrick Lamar onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio on April 23, 2017.
Kendrick Lamar (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Compton native and acclaimed hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album “Damn.” It is the first time work outside of the classical and jazz genres has been recognized in that category.

In today’s announcement, the Pulitzer board described the album as a “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.”

“Damn,” released on April 14, 2017, is Lamar’s fourth studio album following 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “Section.80,” released in 2011. In January “Damn” won the Grammy for best rap album and was among the nominees for album of the year.

Review: Beyoncé is Bigger Than Coachella | New York Times

(photo via instagram.com)

by Jon Caramanica via nytimes.com

INDIO, Calif. — Let’s just cut to the chase: There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Saturday night.

It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction.

And not unimportantly, it obliterated the ideology of the relaxed festival, the idea that musicians exist to perform in service of a greater vibe. That is one of the more tragic side effects of the spread of festival culture over the last two decades. Beyoncé was having none of it. The Coachella main stage, on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club here, was her platform, yes, but her show was in countless ways a rebuke.

It started with the horns: trumpets, trombones, sousaphones. For most of the night, the 36-year-old star was backed by an ecstatic marching band, in the manner of historically black college football halftime shows. The choice instantly reoriented her music, sidelining its connections to pop and framing it squarely in a lineage of Southern black musical traditions from New Orleans second line marches to Houston’s chopped-and-screwed hip-hop.

Her arrangements were alive with shifts between styles and oodles of small details, quick musical quotations of songs (Pastor Troy’s “No Mo’ Play in G.A.,” anyone?) that favored alertness and engagement. As always, one of the key thrills of a Beyoncé performance is her willingness to dismantle and rearrange her most familiar hits. “Drunk in Love” began as bass-thick molasses, then erupted into trumpet confetti. “Bow Down” reverberated with nervy techno. “Formation,” already a rapturous march, was a savage low-end stomp here. And during a brief trip through the Caribbean part of her catalog, she remade “Baby Boy” as startling Jamaican big band jazz.

She does macro, too — she was joined onstage by approximately 100 dancers, singers and musicians, a stunning tableau that included fraternity pledges and drumlines and rows of female violinists in addition to the usual crackerjack backup dancers (which here included bone breakers and also dancers performing elaborate routines with cymbals).

Common Brings Message of Redemption and Hope to Inmates at Folsom State Prison

Common (photo via bet.com)

by Kai Miller via bet.com

Fresh on the heels of kicking off his Hope & Redemption TourCommon is bringing his social activism to center stage. The “Glory” rapper recently paid a visit to the Folsom State Prison in California, where he treated the inmates to a concert in part with his Imagine Justice initiative.

Imagine Justice took to social media to share the photos of Common’s inspiring trip through its “Faces of Mass Incarceration” photo series. The photos capture the men captivated by the MC, smiling with raised fists as the Chi-Town native performed. Other photos show Common heading down to the crowd of inmates to greet them.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to connect with my brothers inside Folsom State Prison and perform for them to inspire them and spread a message of hope, redemption, justice, love and compassion,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post.

The multi-hyphenate star recently documented his four-day prison tour visits in a YouTube web series titled The Hope & Redemption Tour, giving viewers the opportunity to hear the heartfelt stories of the women and men facing lengthy prison sentences and what their lives are like behind the prison walls.

To see first in series, click below:

To read more, go to: Common Visits Inmates At Folsom State Prison

Black Students Make Gains in Eligibility for California State Universities

University of California system map (image via frc.edu)

via jbhe.com

A new report by Research Triangle International finds that Black high schools students have made tremendous progress in qualifying for admissions to the California State University System and the University of California System.

Under the state’s master plan for higher education, the top 12.5 percent of all high school students qualify for admission to the University of California System and the top 33 percent of the state’s high school students are eligible for admission to the California State University System. The report found that the percentage of all high school graduates qualifying for California State University admission has increased from 29.6 percent in 1996 to a record high of 40.8 percent in 2015.

California State University system map (image via qph.ec.quoracdn.net)

The percentage of Black students who qualified for admission to CalState schools more than doubled during the period. In 2007, the eligibility gap between White and Black students was 13.1 percent. But by 2015 it had declined to 9.8 percent. In 1996, only 13 percent of all Black high school students in California qualified for admission to the California State University System. In 2015, the rate was 30 percent.In the University of California System, the eligibility gap between White and Black students dropped from 8.3 percentage points in 2007 to 5.4 points in 2015.

In 1996, only 2.8 percent of all Black high school students in California qualified for admission to the University of California System. In 2015, the rate was 6.5 percent. Of course, qualifying for either state university system does not guarantee admission to a particular campus. Students must compete for places at these schools. And due to state law, race cannot be taken into consideration in admissions decisions at all public colleges and universities in California.

Source: Black Students Making Significant Progress in Eligibility for California State Universities : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Morgan Freeman Wins Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman (photo via variety.com REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Morgan Freeman has been named the 54th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Freeman will be presented the accolade at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.”

Freeman has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Academy Award, HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Image Awards, a Silver Berlin Bear and a Kennedy Center Honor. SAG-AFTRA made the announcement Tuesday. “I am thrilled to announce Morgan Freeman as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Some actors spend their entire careers waiting for the perfect role. Morgan showed us that true perfection is what a performer brings to the part. He is innovative, fearless and completely unbound by expectations… It has been a privilege to see his genius at work.”

Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor for “Million Dollar Baby.” He was nominated for Oscars for “Street Smart” (1987), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) and “Invictus” (2009). He also won a SAG Award for “Million Dollar Baby.”

He has nearly 100 feature film credits including “The Dark Knight,” “The Bucket List,” “Glory,” “Lean on Me,” “Se7en,” “Amistad,” “Bruce Almighty,” and “Along Came a Spider.” Recent credits include “Going In Style,” “Ben-Hur,” “Now You See Me 2” and “London Has Fallen.” Freeman’s upcoming films include “Villa Capri” and Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

To read full article, go to: Morgan Freeman Wins SAG Life Achievement Award | Variety

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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