Thursday, May 31, 2007

A New Workout Plan

The National Center for Health Statistics has recently released figures that show 50% of all African American women are obese. In response to these statistics, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and its foundation are spearheading the 2007 Black Health Empowerment Project Tour, which aims to increase awareness of the detrimental effects of obesity, and encourage healthy living and eating.

CBC chair Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) states: "This event gives families an opportunity to learn about important health issues, speak with experts and explore available resources. It also empowers them to make informed choices that will affect them for a lifetime."

The tour begins in Detroit on June 16, 2007 and travels to Atlanta, Cleveland, Virgin Islands, Dallas and New Orleans.

Best of all, it's free and a fun family activity!


Another tour coming to a city near you is the 50 Million Pound Challenge. The challenge is a national effort spearheaded by Dr. Ian Smith, a physician, journalist and author (pictured on left-you may recognize him from Vh1's Celebrity Fit Club). The challenge is aimed at taking control of our lives and good health by getting fit and losing weight.

The website states that the number one health challenge facing African Americans is being overweight (80% of adult women and 67% of adult men). Equally worrisome is that 20% of African-American teenagers between the ages 12-19 are overweight, and this number appears to be rising.

Being overweight, which can lead to obesity, affects life expectancy, and can cause diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Numerous celebrities have joined this effort, including Patti LaBelle, Steve Harvey, Omarion, Biz Markie and other African American leaders.

Visit the website to get tools, tips, a personal weight tracker and to find out where you can pick up your own Challenge kit from your local State Farm Insurance office, the sponsor for this initiative. Upcoming tour cities are Memphis, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta and St. Louis.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Used to Love HER

I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me... I see her in commercials, she's universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip
And on some dumb sh*t...

Excerpt of lyrics from I Used to Love HER by hip hop artist and actor, Common.

This is one of my fave hip hop songs of all time. Common wrote this song in 1994, and it very well reflects the state of hip hop today. Common used the metaphor HER, not referring to a woman, but to hip hop. The lyrics of the song talk about Common's early love and experiences with hip hop and how it has changed throughout the years.

But hey, you gotta love hip hop for all of its bling and conspicuous consumption. Just kidding.

The Don Imus controversy has caused the African American community to examine our language used in hip hop. Russell Simmons called for a ban of the n-word in the broadcast industry, and so far, two rappers have come forward--Chamillionaire(at left) and Master P.

Chamillionaire, a Houston rapper best known for his #1 hit Ridin' Dirty (which is another one of my fave hip hop songs), says “on my new album I don’t say the word n***a, I don’t curse nowhere on my whole album.” He told, “I don’t get caught up in the actual this word is bad because with everything you take away there’s gonna be something there to replace it...everybody needs to focus their direction on these younger kids that are looking at them. If we help raise them right this is gonna be the new generation and this new generation is gonna be more like me maybe and just don’t curse or brag about being a gangster."

No Limit Records CEO and founder Percy "Master P" Miller (on right with son Lil' Romeo), has announced that he will launch a profanity-free record label, Take A Stand Records, with his son. "Personally, I have profited millions of dollars through explicit rap lyrics," Miller told in a statement. "I can honestly say that I was once part of the problem and now it's time to be part of the solution. I am ready to take a stand by cleaning up my music and follow my son's footsteps and make a clean rap album."

"Take A Stand Records is about arming our communities with knowledge and putting money and real estate back into our communities. I am collaborating with the NAACP to do my part," said Miller, who commended fellow rap tycoon Russell Simmons on his efforts to clean up rap. Proceeds from album sales will go to scholarship funds for underprivileged youth.

In 1989, the record Self Destruction was released with big name 80's hip hop artists: Heavy D, MC Lyte, KRS-One, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Moe Doe and others. The song spoke about the societal ills facing the black community, specifically black on black violence. It is still a fave song of mine.

I think its time for Self Destruction Pt. II -- 2007 style that can address today's societal ills: the 50% high school dropout rate, the AIDS epidemic, poverty, Katrina...... and I know just the person to produce it -- where you at Kanye?!?

Self Destruction Video:


Monday, May 21, 2007

Dr. Oprah Receives Humanitarian Award

On May 20th,Oprah Winfrey was honored in New York by the Elie Wiesel Foundation with their Humanitarian Award. The award honors individuals who dedicate their time to fighting indifference, intolerance and injustice and whose accomplishments are consistent with the goals of the Foundation. Past recipients include First Lady Laura Bush in 2002 and Senator Hilary Clinton in 1994.

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Oprah with Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation's mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality. Source:

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Oprah, Elie Wiesel and wife

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The $14.98 Shoe

New York Knicks NBA player Stephon Marbury will appear on theOprah show today to feature his tennis shoe line, the Starbury.

The show, titled "Fab Without A Fortune", features ways to look great without spending a lot of money. What's so special about the Starbury sneaker? It retails for $14.98.

Now I'm sure you may have heard tragic stories about youth being robbed or killed over a pair of shoes. Not only is the price tag affordable (especially for lower income families), but it just might deter these senseless acts of violence.

"You see kids that don't know any better," Stephon says. "They know that the shoes cost [a certain] amount, and it's like, Okay, well, I'm going to take his sneakers and I'm going to sell them."

Stephon remembers as a youth, his family couldn't afford expensive sneakers. He tells Oprah, "My mother always said, that's grocery money. So for me, allowing kids now to be able to go to the store and spend their money on sneakers and to be able to buy it themselves, it's a movement. We've created something that everyone across the world is benefiting from."

However, Lebron James, another NBA player who has a 90 million dollar endorsement with Nike, took a cheap shot at Marbury recently saying he couldn't imagine endorsing a product that cheap and will never have a discount line. "Me being with Nike, we hold our standards high."
Whatever LeBron.

When Marbury heard about LeBron's remarks, he said "I'd rather own than be owned".
Good comeback.

On the Starbury website, there are many comments from people that are excited and thankful that Stephon has launched this venture. On the show he says:

"One lady, I felt her soul when she hugged me. She hugged me so tight, and she was like, 'You just don't know what you've done for my family, for me, for people across the world, and for me to be able to sit here and buy a pair of sneakers, it makes me feel great to be able to spend my money.'"
Source 1:
Source 2

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Jay-Z's Mother Honored for Charity Work

Rapper and businessman extraordinaire Sean Carter (aka Jay-Z) watched as his mother Gloria Carter was honored by the New York City Council for her outstanding contributions to the community.

Ms. Carter oversees the Sean Carter Scholarship Fund, a charity founded in 2003 to assist those generally not serviced by traditional scholarship means. The Fund assists non-traditional high school graduates, such as GED recipients in an opportunity to fulfill their goal to attend college.

In 2005, she and others from the fund traveled to Houston to distribute toiletries and other items to displaced Katrina victims.

"Very proud of her" Jay-Z said as they left the ceremony.


Event: Cornel West CD Listening Party

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Steve McKeever, Bishop Noel Jones, Dr. West and Clifton West

Dr. Cornel West held a listening party on April 7 in LA for his CD Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations. The CD, to be released this June on Hidden Beach Recordings, includes artists such as Prince, Talib Kweli, KRS-1, Rhymefest, and the late Gerald Levert.

The grandson of a preacher, Dr. West's passion for civil rights was evident at an early age-he marched in demonstrations and organized protests at his high school demanding black studies courses. He enrolled in Harvard University at the age of 17, eventually earning a Ph.D. Primarily known as a philosopher, Cornel West is a world renowned African American scholar and currently is a professor of religion at Princeton University. He has been involved with the Million Man March and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

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Malcolm Jamal Warner and Dr. West

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Bishop Noel Jones, Tavis Smiley and Dr. West

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Dr. West and Omarosa

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Steve McKeever, Founder and CEO of Hidden Beach Recordings

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Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Esq.

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Tavis Smiley

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Here is the tracklisting for the album:

"Bushanomics," featuring Talib Kweli
"America," featuring Black Thought, Rah Digga, Iriz & Lucky Witherspoon
"Still Here"
"Dear Mr. Man," featuring Prince
"N Word," featuring Tavis Smiley & Michael Eric Dyson
"Welcome to Chi," featuring Rhymefest, Neo-Abassy & Malik Yosef
"Mr. President," featuring KRS-One & M-1
"Keep It PI," featuring Killer Mike, Doey, Roc & Lucky Witherspoon
"Chronometrophobia," featuring Andre 3000
"Gonne Be Alright," featuring Dave Hollister & Chuckii Booker
"Matter Of," featuring Lenny Williams
"Soul Sista," featuring Daryl Moore
"The Man's Gonna Getcha," featuring Gerald Levert

Photos by Malcolm Ali

Monday, May 7, 2007

Event: Rush Philanthropic East New York Arts Center Benefit

The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation

Founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as providing exhibition opportunities to under-represented artists and artists of color.

In its first 11 years, Rush Philanthropic has served over 700,000 urban youth; has directed millions in funding from donors including individuals, foundations, and leading corporations to underserved youth, and established two exhibit and education facilities.

On April 11, Rush Philanthropic hosted a cocktail party benefiting their East New York Brooklyn Arts Center that is set to open in fall 2007. The building for this arts center was a gift from Ron Hershco of United Homes. In addition, Time Warner underwrote the event, allowing for all proceeds to directly benefit Rush East New York. Lisa Quiroz, Time Warner senior vice president for corporate responsibility stated ”we’re thrilled to help launch the Rush Arts Center, the new center will help broaden access to the arts, engage youth and nurture new and diverse voices which is at the heart of our arts giving.”

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Dr. Ben Chavis, Russell Simmons and Stephen Hill of BET

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Kevin Liles, Jamel Shabazz and Russell Simmons

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Al Sharpton and Russell

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Russell and Denise Rich

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Danny Simmons

East New York, Brooklyn is a neighborhood in crisis, with an unemployment rate of more than twice New York City’s average, and more than three times higher than the national average. The high school graduation rate is less than 45%. Rush East New York will become an Arts Oasis for this often overlooked neighborhood.

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Danny with Kimora Lee Simmons

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Tangie Murray

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Art work from the youth

The Brooklyn Steppers, a Rush Community Grants Recipient organization performed:

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Russell and daughter Aoki

Photos by Johnny Nunez