Black Man Running for NC Governor Says Black People Owe Reparations, but Wait.. There's More Foolishness

Black Man Running for NC Governor Says Black People Owe Reparations, but Wait.. There’s More Foolishness

North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson has an unconventional proposal to end the reparations debate once and for all. What if instead of Black Americans being compensated for the atrocities of slavery — Black people paid reparations?

Robinson, who is Black, is currently running for North Carolina governor.“If you want to tell the truth about it, it is you who owes,” said Robinson during the 2021 North Carolina Republican Party Convention, seemingly referring to Black Americans. “Why do you owe? Because somebody in those fields took strikes for you. After those fields were ended and slavery was ended, somebody had to walk through Jim Crow for you. Somebody fought wars and died for you. Somebody lived less than because they didn’t have what you have, and they did it for you. There are people in their graves right now, and they are there because they were willing to stand up and fight for you.”

Robinson, who former President Donald Trump once compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has made a habit of casting Black people as the real villains of the slave trade. In a 2017 Facebook post about why he doesn’t call himself “African American,” — Robinson placed the primary blame for the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Africans.

It was AFRICANS who fought wars against AFRICANS and then enslaved the losers. It was victorious AFRICAN warriors who sold defeated AFRICAN warriors to European slave traders in exchange for cloth, guns, and money. It was AFRICANS that facilitated the kidnapping of other AFRICANS to be marched off to the slave forts on the AFRICAN coast. It was AFRICANS who watched as AFRICANS were sailed away in the belly of slave ships toward the brutal system of chattel slavery. It was AFRICANS who increased their power through the enslavement of AFRICANS. And today it is AFRICANS who are still doing this to AFRICANS.

Now I ask you. Why would I want to put the name of the culture that fought to sell black people into slavery, in front of the name of the culture that fought to FREE black people from slavery? As far as I’m concerned, the moment the long lost ancestor that created my bloodline here in AMERICA was sold in AFRICA my ties to that continent were CUT.

Robinson’s other greatest hits include the time he compared slavery to abortion and the time he said that white laborers had it just as bad “if not worse than Black slaves.” In more recent advertisements, Robinson repeatedly claimed that he has freed himself from the Left’s “welfare plantation.”

The North Carolina primary election is only a couple of short weeks away. And despite Robinson’s history of “colorful” commentary, polling still shows him as a strong contender for the Governorship.

Black designers who popularized fan gear 20 years ago struggle as white designers leap ahead

Black designers who popularized fan gear 20 years ago struggle as white designers leap ahead

These new successes show how hard it is for small, independent creators to break into sportswear-as-womenswear — especially Black designers, who popularized and innovated it two decades ago.

It started as a fun project. A white bodysuit, emblazoned with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning’s number and initials.

Taylor Damron had made it for her cousin, Browning’s girlfriend Stephanie Niles, to wear to the Jan. 7 game against the Cleveland Browns. Then, the outfit went viral.

“The next day, I woke up, and the world had kind of fallen in my lap,” Damron, 29, says.

Damron’s design rocketing to internet fame is just one story of how women’s fan apparel has found itself in the spotlight. Just a few days later, Taylor Swift would don a red puffer jacket with boyfriend and Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce’s number for his game against the Miami Dolphins. Within a month, that jacket’s designer, Kristin Juszczyk, would score a NFL licensing deal.

These meteoric success stories have illustrated the potency of a market for women’s sports apparel that merges fashion and fan culture. They have also highlighted how hard it is for smaller, independent creators to break into the business — especially Black designers, who popularized and innovated sportswear-as-womenswear two decades ago.

Before Swift catapulted Juszczyk’s clothes to a new level of attention, the 29-year-old designer built a following online by repurposing jerseys into more high-fashion pieces — corsets, suits, skirts — for herself as she attended San Francisco 49ers games to support her husband, fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Her NFL chic couture has spread to other players’ partners and supporters across the league, including Simone Biles, Taylor Lautner and Brittany Mahomes.

Before Juszczyk sent Swift and Mahomes jackets for the Jan. 13 game, she had about 100,000 followers, according to Social Blade. Within a month, she had more than 1 million.

With her official license in hand, Juszczyk designed puffer vests commemorating Super Bowl LVIII, sported by celebrities. One such vest sold for $75,000, with proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Juszczyk herself wore a jacket stitched from jerseys, an ode to her husband’s football career, for Sunday’s big game.

While players’ wives and girlfriends have long represented their partners with custom designs, adopting team colors, logos and numbers, the interplay of fashion and gameday apparel was energized in the ’90s and early aughts, when Black artists were “pushing the needle of what was cool and trendy,” says Tayler Adigun, a culture and style writer.

“A lot of up-and-coming entertainers in the Black sphere maybe had difficulty getting larger names or fashion houses to want to outfit them or costume them for events and award shows and performances, so they kind of had to be a little bit more innovative in their approach,” Adigun says. “It’s something that was definitely born out of necessity.”

It led to a fusion of sportswear, fan merchandise and cutting-edge design, she says. And, of course, iconic looks: Mya’s blue North Carolina jersey dress was one. Then there was Mariah Carey in a floor-length Washington Wizards dress. Carey’s dress prompted a surge of interest and the NBA increased the designs they had in their NBA4her collection, according to a 2003 Baltimore Sun article.

When Larena Hoeber began doing research on women and sports, she didn’t set out to study apparel. But women kept bringing up how difficult it was to find something they actually wanted to wear to rep their teams. A decade ago, licensed women’s merchandise was often made with three key principles: “pink it, bling it, shrink it,” Hoeber says.

Sports leagues not taking risks on smaller creators is to their own detriment, says Hoeber, a University of Regina professor who has written about women’s sportswear and its perceptions. Smaller designers sometimes understand the market, and women’s varying desires, better.

“What’s really critical for women, I think, as sports fans, is they want the official logo, like they want it to look like, ‘This is it. I’m supporting my team,’” she adds. “So they want that, but they want it in clothing that matches their style.”

Women have wanted variety, and sports leagues have often underestimated the market, leading to innovation. Damron, who designed Niles’ viral bodysuit, launched a new collection of themed clothing that nod toward league teams after an outpouring of interest.

At Frankie Collective, employee Sara Gourlay saw a chance to rework vintage jerseys that weren’t selling — they became women’s streetwear, including corsets and crops, says Zak Miller, head of operations. The mission of the company is sustainability, and even without licensing deals, they’ve partnered with big brands like Adidas and Nike, or even the National Hockey League, to keep clothes from ending up in landfills.

“I thank Kristin just for the fact that, like, hey, she’s brought some visibility to an industry that has been around for a period of time right now,” Miller says.

Her high-fashion pieces stand out among other NFL license holders, which include powerhouse companies like Nike, Under Armour and Fanatics. (Juszczyk isn’t alone, though: Kiya Tomlin, a designer whose husband Mike Tomlin is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has a license for her high-end apparel.)

Juszczyk did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A spokesperson for the NFL said that the league has a standard application process for all partners, like Juszcyzk. A number of programs seek to make it easier for smaller companies to partner with the league, he added.

Twenty years ago, when fashion like this was taking shape, there weren’t the same partnerships and opportunities, Adigun says.

On one hand, Alexis Robinson, 32, is glad to see Juszczyk got a license.

“I’m glad more of this stuff can start being made,” Robinson, a Black designer who runs Boujee Basics, says. “And then on the other hand, it’s like it sucks because it’s been getting made for a long time and it’s just the process has been nearly impossible.”

Robinson started by making cropped denim jackets for herself. As they caught on, she started looking into licenses. It kicked off applications to all major leagues — from basketball, to football, to hockey and baseball. While it was a relatively simple process, with fees for all of them, she never heard back about her application to the NFL.

The upfront costs were too steep for another Black designer, De’fron Fobb, 45, who wanted to craft items when the New Orleans Saints made the Super Bowl in 2010. Since then, the Louisiana native has focused his apparel on college sports. He’s followed Juszczyk’s work for a while, he says.

“She does great work. Her designs and custom stuff is amazing,” he says. “But again, she’s fortunate enough to be in that field. So it’s a different lane for her than it is for most small business, like myself.”

Hoeber hopes the attention will open the door for more creators.

“Women are not a homogeneous group or a homogeneous market,” she says. “I think we’re starting to see cracks with recognizing that, it wasn’t just an offering of, ‘We’re going to take the men’s stuff and shrink it down to women.’”

The post Black designers who popularized fan gear 20 years ago struggle as white designers leap ahead appeared first on TheGrio.

 

As 1994 crime bill turns 30, Secure DC Act fuels worry of repeated racial harms

As 1994 crime bill turns 30, Secure DC Act fuels worry of repeated racial harms

The measures in the anti-crime bill raise concerns about its adverse effects on Black residents in the District of Columbia.

In a few weeks, the D.C. Council will undertake a final vote on legislation that would establish new laws and policies intended to address the rise of homicides and other violent crimes in the nation’s capital. The Secure D.C. Act, which was unanimously supported by the council in a preliminary vote, seeks to address public safety concerns in Washington, D.C. However, the provisions in the anti-crime bill raise concerns about adverse effects on the sizeable Black population in the district. “The Secure D.C. Act, to a very minor degree, makes some investments and adjustments that make it easier for us locally to meet some of the government’s responsibilities, in terms of public safety,” said Markus Batchelor, national political director at People For the American Way and a candidate for the D.C. Council seat representing Ward 8. He added: “I don’t think overall the Secure D.C. Act is what it’s being billed as.”

The comprehensive public safety omnibus bill contains 100 measures, including provisions that would give the police chief authority to declare “drug-free zones” prohibiting the congregation of two or more people on public property, extend pretrial detention for adults and youth accused of violent crimes, and fine transit passengers who fail to provide their real name and address to issue a notice of infraction. The legislation also would ban the wearing of face masks to commit a crime or threaten another person, enhance sentencing for crimes committed against elderly and other vulnerable adults, plus expand law enforcement’s ability to engage in vehicle pursuits of a suspect who poses an “imminent threat” to safety. “I don’t think it effectively addresses the need to hold the guilty accountable,” Batchelor said of the crime bill. “It’s full of pretty dangerous proposals that threaten our civil liberties that unnecessarily put the innocent at risk.” Washington, D.C., elected leaders, however, have championed the Secure D.C. Act as vital to keeping streets safe. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has taken political hits for the district’s crime, urged the 13-member council to “act swiftly” and hold its needed second vote this month. “We must work with urgency to implement commonsense legislation that will rebalance our public safety ecosystem [and] make our communities safer,”

Bowser said in a statement on X. D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto, who introduced the Secure D.C. Act, said she believes the bill “will help turn the tide on the crime trends that have overwhelmed our communities.” Pinto said the council is scheduled to vote on the Secure D.C. Act on March 5. However, the bill approved during the first vote may not be the final legislation, as the council could still make additional amendments before passing it into law. Advocates are hoping there’s enough time to persuade council members to make needed adjustments to avoid causing greater harm to Black residents, who have historically been over-policed and over-incarcerated. The Council Office of Racial Equity, an office within the D.C. Council, explained in a report last month that several provisions of the crime bill — such as expanding minimum sentencing for organized retail theft and theft of a car key to steal a nearby vehicle — would “exacerbate” racial inequities for Black residents.

The office also said several provisions are “not substantiated by evidence-based research.” “Further, research shows that several of these provisions are especially harmful to Black residents who are involved, or likely to be involved, with the criminal legal system,” the report reads. Batchelor, who expressed concerns about the provision to establish drug-free zones, said, “The danger that it poses is that it does really provide a slippery slope for these abuses that we see in these policies all the time when we talk about issues like stop and frisk, when we talk about issues of over-policing in communities of color and communities that are poor.” The D.C. Council hopeful said the district already has existing laws that allow the police chief and mayor to combat illegal drug activity. “If we want to enforce the drug laws in our city, we have every capability to do that,” Batchelor contended. “But we don’t need to create new laws to do that.” The city’s crime issues, he said, are a result of insufficient investments in communities that are driving “the largest gaps in income and wealth, in health outcomes, in life expectancy [and] in joblessness.” Crime is also a hot-button political issue nationally. As President Joe Biden and national Democrats seek reelection to office this November, they are fighting against accusations from Republicans that their policies are leading to more violence and criminal activity. Last year, Biden signed a bill pushed by Republicans and supported by some Democrats overturning reforms to the district’s criminal code established by the council –  like lowering penalties for carjackings – to the ire of district residents and advocates for statehood.

President Joe Biden and his administration did not comment directly on the Secure D.C. Act, but the White House press secretary told theGrio that Biden “respects D.C.’s right to pass measures that strengthen both public safety and public trust.” (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When asked if the White House had a position on the Secure D.C. Act, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told theGrio that while the administration would not comment directly on the proposed legislation, the president “respects D.C.’s right to pass measures that strengthen both public safety and public trust.” “We’re going to let D.C. go through their process … And we’re going to do everything that we can to continue to lower crime here in the U.S.,” Jean-Pierre noted. How certain criminal laws intended to end crime and their potentially harmful impacts on Black and brown communities in Washington and elsewhere has been a growing concern for area advocates and progressive policymakers, who have long argued that data shows increased policing and sentencing do not end the existence of crime. Candice C. Jones, a violence intervention expert who serves as president and CEO of the Public Welfare Foundation, told theGrio that lawmakers should learn from the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 — best known as the 1994 crime bill — which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. “What we see in research is that we are literally still paying, pun intended, for the choices that we make,” said Jones, “and they didn’t make us safer.”

The legislation, which was passed 30 years ago, was the largest crime bill enacted in U.S. history, authorizing funding for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons, and mandated life imprisonment for a third violent felony, also known as the three-strikes rule. Ironically, Biden, then a senator from Delaware, drafted the Senate version of the 1994 crime bill. “On the basis of that federal legislation, many state and local jurisdictions replicated the things proposed,” said Jones, who said the wave of laws came with a “tenor of getting tougher on crime, increasing penalties [and] increasing incarceration.” While the criminal measures were intended to end crime, she maintained, “when you look historically, that is not what it has yielded.” In order for lawmakers and policymakers to truly make a difference in public safety, according to Jones, leaders have to “target communities and people at the highest risk” by offering them something “tangible,” like cognitive behavioral therapy, access to jobs, “deep investments” in education, “supportive services” for youth and young adults and access to small business loans. “Something that feels like a real incentive to make different life choices than they had,” she explained. “The kinds of investments that we know we put into affluent communities every day to ensure those communities thrive.” “For a long time,” said Jones, “policymakers haven’t done it in communities of color in a meaningful way.”

The post As 1994 crime bill turns 30, Secure DC Act fuels worry of repeated racial harms appeared first on TheGrio.

 

 

WATCH: Vince Staples On Scriptwriting And Breaking Stereotypes With New Netflix Series

WATCH: Vince Staples On Scriptwriting And Breaking Stereotypes With New Netflix Series

Created by Vince Staples and executive produced by Kenya Barris comes a limited series of satirical tales full of comedic tension, pulling inspiration from his own life as a rapper from Long Beach, California, and filtering it through his irrefutable point of view.

“In 2019, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to make a television show,” Staples said in a statement. “After years of researching, brainstorming, global pandemics, and breakthroughs, we are finally here! I am honored to share with you the fever dream that is The Vince Staples Show. Created at the crossroads where David Lynch meets Dave Chappelle, this slow burner forces you to find the humor in life’s little things. I hope you have as much fun viewing as we did creating it.”

In addition to Staples and Barris, The Vince Staples Show is executive produced by Ian Edelman, Maurice Williams, Corey Smyth, and William Stefan Smith.

The post WATCH: Vince Staples On Scriptwriting And Breaking Stereotypes With New Netflix Series appeared first on Essence.

This Consulting Firm Is  Making Sure Black Athletes Don’t Fall Prey To The ‘Broke Curse’

This Consulting Firm Is Making Sure Black Athletes Don’t Fall Prey To The ‘Broke Curse’

 American football player in a haze and rain on black background. Portrait. Athlete dissecting white smoke and water drops. Sportsman shines in the rays of light By Jasmine Browley ·Updated February 16, 2024

In 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that around 80% of retired NFL players go broke in their first three years out of the League. Back then, the income in the NFL was about $750,000, yet many footballers found themselves in dire financial straights, and often seeking refuge in bankruptcy protection filings.

Michael Ledo doesn’t want the current generation of players to face the same fate.

He was inspired to launch his business consulting firm Rise Advisors, after watching his high-powered NFL agent uncle, Eugene Parker, shape the careers of seven Hall of Famers including Deion Sanders, Emmett Smith and Rod Woodson among others.

“I got to see Black excellence in close proximity that me know a career doing what I love the most, helping people build wealth, is possible,” Ledo tells ESSENCE.

Although he didn’t think he’d be doing what he’s doing right now, his uncle gave me an entrepreneurial identity. Now, his firm is managing a client portfolio worth $100M+ that includes the likes of Jessie Bates III, Matt Judon, Jaylon Smith, and Blake Fisher, who is expected to be the 2nd overall pick in the NFL.

Rise Advisors plays the role of a fairy godparent, so to speak, for its clients. Not only does the team identify fitting business opportunities, it brokers, oversees, and manages them alongside its clients. It also provides agents, managers, publicists and a myriad of other pros that the player may need in their quest for financial viability.

“Our success depends on the success of our clients,” Ledo says. He explains that as opposed to his firm taking a commission from every successful project they broker, the firm is paid bottom line of its clients’ net worth, “not off of their pay.”

He gives the example of an agent getting paid 3% of a $100 million contract they helped broker on behalf of a client.

“We get paid on the bottom line of what they’re worth in investments,” he says. “So, how much do you have in real estate? How much do you have in equities and stock and bonds? How much do you have in venture? How much do you have sitting in the bank? We aim to grow that worth because if it grows, our pay grows.”

Ledo says he created this compensation structure for the company because many athletes, particularly Black athletes, aren’t given guidance to properly allocate a new influx of cash. But most importantly, he provides mentorship when it’s needed the most, When asked if he feels like he also takes on a paternal role in addition to consultant he responds in the affirmative.

“I do,” he says. “I take a strong responsibility in protecting them and educating them. I don’t ever desire to control them because I don’t want to be controlled, but that’s very much true. That’s very much true. And it feels good to know I have a part in helping their futures remain bright.”

The post This Consulting Firm Is Making Sure Black Athletes Don’t Fall Prey To The ‘Broke Curse’ appeared first on Essence.