UMBC leadership, listen to Black voices

Photo courtesy of Briscoe Turner, Vice President of UMBC’s Black Lives Matter.

As the Black communities of this country have been tirelessly organizing, protesting and educating in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, we, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Black Lives Matter, feel it’s vital to highlight the pivotal role that academic institutions play in failing the Black community as a whole. Whether it’s through denying us access to resources and facilities, teaching us revisionist history lessons or discounting our experiences, the education system at large has perpetuated the myth that Whiteness is the superior standard we must aspire to.

Black people are all too familiar with the cycle of defending our humanity just to be ignored, and that has to end now. While we value many of the positive attributes of UMBC, there is still room for improvement, and addressing the need for change should not fall solely on the shoulders of Black students.

Therefore, we cannot entirely accept UMBC as the pillar of inclusive excellence that it claims to be. Inclusive excellence requires the university to continuously engage in critical self-examination and commit to adequately addressing instances of racial inequality and injustice, no matter how tedious it may seem.

Black students, faculty and staff should be able to hold the university accountable and feel confident that they will attain tangible action rather than backlash. The Black community should never have to question if they are truly supported, valued and celebrated by UMBC.

As a reminder, real change does not come from carefully crafted statements of support, superficial policy changes or handpicked “diversity and inclusion” committees that lack Black voices. We see through those surface-level initiatives.

Real change requires those in power to sit with discomfort and do the work to confront the problem head on.

It is unacceptable to stay complacent because you think racial injustice is a complex or hard issue to tackle. Being Black is complex and hard, yet we manage to wake up and face the world every day.

Alongside accountability, many of the Black students at UMBC have expressed their desire for a mentorship program with the Black Faculty and Staff Association.

As a Black student, it can be difficult navigating college without having someone you can identify with and look to for guidance, so UMBC Black Lives Matter is drafting a plan to jumpstart this mentorship program. We feel that this mentorship program will offer tailored support to Black students pursuing educational, professional and personal endeavors, and we would love to see the BFSA and UMBC as a whole prioritize the development of this program, as it would aid in uplifting the Black community.

Equally important, UMBC could extend more support to its Black community by working to maintain the Africana Studies department. This includes, but is not limited to, increasing the number of Black faculty and courses offered within the department, which would be achieved through a greater allocation of funds.

As the majority of the UMBC Black Lives Matter e-board is involved in the Africana Studies department, this department is a vital educational tool for those of the African diaspora to learn more about their roots and is also integral for nonmembers of the African diaspora to enlighten themselves to our rich cultural history.

But above all, the Africana Studies department plays a fundamental role in challenging our education system’s Eurocentric patterns of thinking and teaching by providing an imperative narrative that expands our understanding of the world.

Beyond the classroom, there are also several other Black Student Organizations and student activists on campus fighting for a change and validating Black experiences.

Some of these active Black Student Organizations on campus include: the Black Student Union, the African Student Association, the Caribbean Students Council, the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association, Curl PWR, the Association of Black Artists, the Black Graduate Student Organization and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. While these are only a few of the Black Student Organizations working to empower the Black community, each organization is equally deserving of support.

Additionally, Black Involvement Fest, which started last fall, is a great opportunity for incoming and current Black students to familiarize themselves with these organizations, and moving forward, we challenge everyone to listen to and support them.

At the end of the day, we love being Black. We love our culture, our stories, our talents and our accomplishments. That will never change. It’s the institutions that uphold racism that need to change.

Written by UMBC Black Lives Matter

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Doritos Seeking Fans To Create Ad For Chance To Air During Return Of NFL Kickoff Weekend

PLANO, Texas, July 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — For a decade, Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” gave consumers the opportunity to create Doritos Super Bowl commercials — which opened doors and elevated careers for countless aspiring filmmakers. Doritos is today reviving that same spirit with “Crash from Home,” an opportunity for consumers to be part of the highly anticipated NFL Kickoff weekend during Week 1 games on Sunday, September 13… with $150,000 on the line.

Doritos is asking fans to create its first TV commercial since the pandemic and plans to air it during one of the most hotly anticipated events in recent memory — NFL Kickoff Weekend. See highlight video here.

“Doritos has a long history of handing over its brand to consumers, building the brand together and elevating fans to get to that next level,” said Marissa Solis, SVP of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “Crash from Home embodies that same spirit, with the goal being to elevate and reward creative work in a way that’s appropriate for the times.”

How to Enter
The contest is open to U.S. residents 18+ years of age. Top entries will be highlighted on Doritos social channels, while Doritos will create a compilation of the very best content to air in a TV commercial during the first Sunday of the NFL season. The deadline to enter is July 28 and winners will be announced August 3 on Doritos social accounts. To enter and for full details and terms and conditions, visit Crashfromhome.com.

Crash the Super Bowl Legacy
Crash from Home is an evolution on Doritos’ iconic Crash the Super Bowl campaign, which ran for a decade and saw numerous consumer-created commercials rank in the top five of the USA TODAY Super Bowl Ad Meter, including four spots that landed No. 1. Doritos handed out more than $7 million in prize money and elevated the careers of countless aspiring filmmakers, a handful of whom have since created major films and television shows.

Doritos & PepsiCo Support Efforts
Doritos and PepsiCo are doubling down on communities and populations in need of support. In addition to Crash from Home, Doritos recently announced its initiative to #AmplifyBlackVoices by handing over its out-of-home advertising to local African American artists in the push for racial equality, which includes a partnership with Black Lives Matter and $1 million in resources toward the movement (more info here). Additionally, parent company PepsiCo recently announced a more than $400 million set of initiatives over five years to lift up Black communities and increase representation at PepsiCo (more info here). PepsiCo and Frito-Lay have also focused efforts and more than $60 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including targeting the disproportionally affected Hispanic and African American communities. Visit PepsiCo.com for more info. In addition, the NFL Family announced at the end of April it had surpassed $100M in COVID-19 relief efforts and recently expanded its support in areas of racial and social justice through a 10 year, $250M commitment.

About Doritos
Doritos believes there’s boldness in everyone. We champion those who are true to themselves, who live life fully engaged and take bold action by stepping outside of their comfort zone and pushing the limits. Doritos is one of many Frito-Lay North America brands – the $17 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, NY. Learn more about Frito-Lay at the corporate website, http://www.fritolay.com/, and on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/fritolay.

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $64 billion in net revenue in 2018, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. “Winning with Purpose” reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of the business. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com.

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SOURCE Frito-Lay

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

How Kendrick Lamar, Marvin Gaye and ‘Black genius’ inspired a jazz/hip-hop supergroup

Of all the cries of Black fury released during the protests around the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, none arrived as quietly as Dinner Party’s single “Freeze Tag.”

The song, released in late June, is from a new supergroup of bicoastal jazz and hip-hop luminaries: L.A.’s Kamasi Washington and Terrace Martin, Houston’s Robert Glasper and North Carolina producer 9th Wonder (Patrick Douthit). It barely rises above a whispered falsetto and the daydreaming-on-a-fire-escape vibes of ’70s soul. If you wanted, you could definitely put it on as you open a second bottle of wine while chopping vegetables tonight.

But the scene it sets in the lyrics is just seconds away from a murder by cop.

“They told me put my hands up behind my head / I think they got the wrong one,” sings guest vocalist Phoelix. “I’m sick and tired of runnin’ … Then they told me if I move, they gon’ shoot me dead.”

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The quartet wrote the tune well before these protests heaved in city streets for ongoing weeks. But sadly, there’s never a month when it wouldn’t have been salient in America.

“Everything happening has been going on since before we were born,” Washington said. “The feeling that the society you’re a part of, the people you think are your neighbors, feel that our lives are so disposable — it’s hard to really explain it. Breonna Taylor was in her own home, a first responder who risked her life every day at her job, and someone comes and kills her, and society says it’s not a crime?”

In a year rent with despair over the COVID-19 pandemic and a long-overdue reckoning with America failing its Black citizens, Dinner Party’s self-titled debut arrived July 10 with all the skill and care that four master musicians could marshal to make an album as a balm.

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But in the spirit of their mutual hero Marvin Gaye — whose “What’s Going On” lamented brutality over immaculate arrangements — it’s also a quieter way of telling that cop in “Freeze Tag” to put his gun down.

“An artist’s job is to reflect the times, but I feel for Black artists, there’s a deeper responsibility,” Martin said. “This is a conversation we’re been born into, and we’re born into f— up times.”

The four members of Dinner Party — all in their late 30s to mid-40s — go back decades as friends and collaborators. Martin and Washington met as high schoolers playing saxophone in elite L.A. arts schools; Glasper came into their orbit at a youth band camp. Each have titanic solo albums and productions to their catalogs: Washington’s triple- and quadruple-albums for Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label; Glasper’s three-time Grammy-winning “Black Radio” albums and Emmy-winning composition for Ava DuVernay’s “13th”; Martin’s productions for Stevie Wonder and YG and his Sounds of Crenshaw label; 9th Wonder’s tracks for Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Erykah Badu, Rapsody and Anderson .Paak.

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But their collective work with Kendrick Lamar helped cohere a new model for jazz and hip-hop in the 2010s. Martin, Glasper and Washington are all over Lamar’s 2015 opus “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and 9th Wonder produced the three beats that form “Duckworth,” the zenith of Lamar’s 2017 Pulitzer-winning LP “Damn.”

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Their shifting roles within those projects — globally renowned writers and performers but also eager to help build another artist’s vision — set the template for Dinner Party after the sweep of “Damn” through the American ivory tower.

“That’s the beauty of this group, every member was humble enough to play their part,” Douthit said. “We wanted it to feel free and slow, not like ‘put big ‘ol solo here,’ ” Washington added. “Not to make it soft, but to let vibe be the star of the show.”

Martin, who on the day of an interview was wrangling his young children while also trying to run a studio session, was the de facto bandleader for the project, steering the free-flowing jams from L.A. in late 2019. Douthit would begin most tracks with a beat idea and send it to Martin, who worked with Washington and Glasper in studio to write fleshed-out songs and arrangements.

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After a career at the top of Lamar’s fold of producers and writers, his reimagining of jazz and hip-hop’s blend in the American canon is indisputable. But the success also left him wary about who, exactly, is listening anyway.

“The world always loves what we give, but a lot of [listeners] don’t embrace us wholeheartedly,” Martin said. “I’ve grown to know that, and I’m very careful with who I talk to in music. I’m talking to people who understand self-doubt, suicide, prison, single mothers and fathers. People dealing with real life.”

In forming Dinner Party, he was almost subversive in that respect. The band made a smooth-sipping jazz-soul LP which, if coffee shops ever reopen, would be on a constant loop at Hot & Cool in Leimert Park. The band name is definitely a little tongue-in-cheek but also completely accurate.

Fans used to the dozens-strong bands on Washington’s LPs, or the fast-spinning pivots of Lamar’s albums, might be shocked at just how peaceful this seven-song album sounds. There are few moments anyone would call a solo, and it’s just as sample-driven as it is a showcase for the group’s arranging prowess. “Sleepless Nights” and “First Responders” nod along with warmhearted balladry and fizzy psychedelia; “Luv U” ends the album on a vocodered jazz-fusion jam halfway between Steve Arrington’s funk and late-’90s hip-hop.

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But just beneath that reassuring glow, there are hard looks at what Black brilliance is worth in a society that won’t let Black people live.

“It’s a protest album but also not, you can listen to it and not feel like you’re watching the news,” Glasper said. “When people write songs about police brutality, often it’s more of a hardcore rap where you can feel the anger. We came from a Marvin Gaye standpoint where the music and vibe is calm, but the message is ‘What are you doing? Come on.’ You can do it in a way to let people know ‘I’m just trying to live life and make it to next summer.’ ”

In different ways, all four of them needed this clandestine jam with old friends, walking out of the studio with a short, modest album that wears its collective talent lightly. The constant news scroll of Black grief, combined with a pandemic that shut down the music industry, left them needing a respite.

“We’re chipping away at a mountain,” Washington said.

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But the last few months have also made them angry. Martin also released one of the most acidic protest singles of the George Floyd era, “Pig Feet,” with Washington, Denzel Curry, G Perico and Daylyt. It’s everything Dinner Party isn’t — the song is packed with furious lyrics and skronking noise, released like a firework shot back at a phalanx of police.

“Something flipped a switch,” Martin said. “When we dropped that song, a lot of our peers were silent, and people didn’t know what to do, so I said ‘I’m gonna fire off this shot and hope people follow.’ ”

But he’s also pretty jaundiced about what music can even do right now.

“I only give a f— about staying alive. I worry about my Black sons and father staying alive,” he said. “We’re people before we’re musicians. I look at artist interviews that make people think that being an artist is like a being a superhero. But guess what, coronavirus don’t give a f—, and if you’re Black, police don’t give a f—.”

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At a moment when the movement for Black lives tries to translate popular momentum into real policy changes, however, much of the small scene that forged these musicians’ careers is on life support. Nonprofit clubs like the World Stage in Leimert Park and Smalls in New York City allowed these young artists to find a sound that would eventually win them Grammys and Coachella gigs.

“I moved to New York for those clubs where you learn to be musician, where you stay out until 7 a.m. and sit next to Roy Hargrove and talk to him and then go straight into college classes. I hope somebody comes around to keep them alive and not turn them into condos,” Glasper said. “We should be able to get through quarantine without losing parts of society that we love,” Washington added. “We shouldn’t be in a position to choose between our lives or our lives.”

That’s a dilemma Black artists have been asking their whole lives — what to do with a society that loves your music but doesn’t seem to love you in return. Dinner Party’s four members may differ on some means to fight back. But the album they made together was an intentional choice to wear their brilliance gently. All the sadness and anger and confusion will still be there, just beneath it.

“Black genius is very important in this time,” Douthit said. “Now more than ever, millions and millions of Americans are listening to what we’re saying and applying it. It’s the best time for people to pay attention to Black struggle, Black culture, Black everything.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Young people of color with preexisting conditions face elevated COVID-19 risk

Age-adjusted hospitalization rates are highest among minorities.

By Laura Romero and Dr. Jay Bhatt

Communities of color have been bearing the brunt of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and as multiple states across the country are seeing record-breaking spikes in COVID-19 cases, doctors are seeing a new trend: Young people of color with underlying medical conditions are being hit harder by the virus than their peers.

But for younger people of color, who are more likely to experience chronic health conditions associated with poor outcomes from COVID-19 at higher rates, the reality is particularly grim.

“You combine long-standing health inequities and a health system with essential worker status and with underlying conditions, it is a perfect storm for a population we really need to look out for,” said Dr. Atul Nakhasi, a primary care physician and policy adviser at the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest health system that serves a low-income area.

As of mid-June, age-adjusted hospitalization rates released by the CDC were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic Black persons, followed by Hispanic or Latino persons, suggesting minority groups regardless of age have higher rates of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic white persons.

A recent ABC News state review found that while the majority of hospitalized patients remain older Americans, and nationally the death rate in the younger age group remains extremely low, several state and hospital officials across the nation are increasingly reporting that young people are not just contracting the virus, they are getting sick.

And because several states across the nation are seeing more and more youths come through hospital doors, it’s people of color with underlying conditions who are at an increased risk of getting the novel coronavirus and experiencing severe illness.

For Latinos, who already bear a disproportionate share of coronavirus cases, the data is particularly alarming since they are among the youngest racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., according to a study from Pew Research Center.

Several experts told ABC News that the issue stems from the link between health and wealth in the United States.

Dr. Matthew G. Heinz, a hospitalist (hospital physician) and internist in Tucson, Arizona, who said he has been admitting younger patients at an alarming rate, said that health and social inequities are putting younger minorities at higher risk.

“I think a lot of it could derive from decades long of leftover health disparities,” said Heinz. “Just a lack of consistent access to good primary care, medical care, regular checkups. When you lack that as a population, you will see a lot of underlying medical conditions which makes you ever so much more attractive to COVID. It loves diabetic, obese, hypertensive patients.”

In an analysis of data released by the state’s Department of Health, Florida Today found that as of early May, of the 25 people age 40 or younger who had died from the coronavirus in Florida, most suffered from asthma, chronic bronchitis, morbid obesity and hypertension — conditions that disproportionately affect people of color.

These underlying medical conditions are highly prevalent in low-income Americans, according to a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2018, Hispanic/Latino Americans accounted for 19% of total people living in poverty in the U.S., Black Americans accounted for 22% and Asian/Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander accounted for 11%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Clinic in California, said many of those preexisting conditions are driven by the social conditions.

“Some of the structural factors are like environmental racism because of residential segregation and zoning ordinances,” Boyd told ABC News. “These populations are also disproportionately exposed to toxins and pollutants. And studies show that chronic exposure to air pollution increases COVID-19 mortality rate.”

Nakhasi said improving access to health care for minorities should be a priority.

“We have a long way to go in this country to improve health inequities and health care access to underserved communities, low-income communities, urban communities,” Nakhasi told ABC News. “If it’s harder to show up to the doctor, if it’s harder to build that rapport to your primary care physician, if it’s harder to get health care, access and insurance, it’s going to be harder to to diagnose you and treat you effectively, quickly and efficiently.”

Asheville City Council Paves Way For Reparations For City’s Black Community

Asheville city council Tuesday evening unanimously approved a resolution supporting reparations for the city’s Black community.  Details of what shape those will take will come over the next year.  

A commission will be created over the next year to make “short, medium, and long-term recommendations.”  Councilman Keith Young helped craft the resolution.  “The blood capital that we have banked to spend today to fight for significant change came predominantly not from our allies, but from black men, women, and children who died,” said Young as the resolution was introduced.  Supporters, including the Racial Justice Coalition, pushed for the resolution to be added to Tuesday’s agenda. 

READ THE RESOLUTION HERE 

Over the next year, a ‘community reparations commission’ will be created ‘to to make short, medium and long term recommendations that will make significant progress toward repairing the damage caused by public and private systemic racism.’  Among the specific issues mentioned in the resolution that the commission would have budgetary authority to tackle are increasing minority homeownership and business ownership, as well closing gaps in health care, education, employment and pay.   Councilwoman Shaneika Smith says that shows the resolution is more than just flowery language.  “This would mean any report generated by a commission or anyone tasked within the Asheville city staff will come back with tangible programs that have real line-item monetary resources,” Smith said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Such goals are similar to what the group Black AVL Demands outlined in June at the end of a week protests following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.  The group called for 50% of the city police budget to be diverted to Asheville’s Black community, including grants for Black businesses and entrepreneurs and money toward the city school system to close its racial achievement gap, which is the worst in North Carolina.  City council put off finalizing a budget for the next fiscal year until September to address those concerns.  Black AVL Demands also called for the removal of Confederate monuments in downtown Asheville.  Both Asheville city council and Buncombe County commissioners approved the removal of two monuments (the second of which was taken away Tuesday), while creating a task force to determine the future of the Vance Monument, the 65-foot high obelisk named in honor of North Carolina’s Civil War governor and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction who fought against civil rights for Black Americans.

The reparations resolution approved Tuesday also contains a formal apology from the city of Asheville for its participation in ‘the enslavement of Black People’ and for enforcing ‘segregation and its accompany discriminatory policies.’  It also apologizes for the city’s urban renewal program from the 1960’s the decimated Black communities in Asheville, particularly the South Side neighborhood.

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