February 10th, 2012
06:47 PM ET

Black in America entrepreneurs update: Angela Benton

Editor's note: Angela Benton currently runs  Black Web Media, which publishes BlackWeb20.com and was featured in CNN's documentary "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley."

Angela recently relocated  to Silicon Valley with her family. See what's next for this full-time mom and entrepreneur.

"Black in America: The New Promised Land, Silicon Valley" re-airs on CNN, February 11 and 12 at 8p.m., 11 p.m., and 2a.m. ET. Keep the conversation going on Twitter with #BlackinAmerica.

By Angela Benton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Since the initial broadcast of Black in America 4 in November we’ve received more than 300 applications for the newest cycle that begins on February 20th.  By now you’re probably wondering, ‘So who the heck is in the next class?!’  We have selected seven new dot com entrepreneurs to make up the next NewMe class – five African American men, one white woman and one Latina.

We thought it was going to be hard to outdo ourselves in terms of support from speakers, mentors, and sponsors, but we were wrong.  In addition to having folks like Mitch Kapor, Ben Horowitz (who was a mentor last year but was not shown in the Black in America documentary), Navarrow Wright, and Vivek Wadhwa involved again, some pretty impressive individuals have been added to the roster.

I can’t count the number of people who’ve asked me how we are able to pull off this type of program at the level we are doing it.  Aside from having a team that hustles hard, the companies that support the program financially are doing more than just cutting a check. They believe in what we are doing and are putting in sweat equity and resources too.

For instance, when we decided that it would be best for the Founders to work out of the city this time around (instead of the suburbs) so that we didn’t have to incur transportation costs, Google, our presenting sponsor for 2012, stepped up.  Not only were they fine with changing the location from the Googleplex in Mountain View to San Francisco, they also made it possible for us to work out of the HUB SoMA for the year.  The HUB SoMA is an amazing co-working space in the heart of one of San Francisco’s bubbling start-up districts that caters to organizations who are setting out to do good and change the world; the synergy couldn't be better.

Tagged is throwing the Founders a welcome party, HP is hosting the mid-way checkpoint (which is the beginning of the push for Founders to get ready for Demo Day), Wilson Sonsini is allowing us to send Founders that need it to their long standing Entrepreneurs College, and Gunderson Dettmer is providing regular weekly legal office hours.  NewMe would not be such a strong program without things like this that directly add to the Founders being successful.

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Filed under: Black in America • Documentaries • Technology
February 10th, 2012
02:23 PM ET

Black in America entrepreneurs update: Anthony Frasier

Anthony Frasier, founder of Playd, a Foursquare-like app for video gamers, participated in the NewMe Accelerator and was featured in CNN's documentary "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley."

Anthony hasn't received any funding since pitching his idea to investors, but in December his app was selected 8 best new apps of the week on mashable.com. See what Anthony is doing now.

"Black in America: The New Promised Land, Silicon Valley" re-airs on CNN, February 11 and 12 at 8p.m., 11 p.m., and 2a.m. ET. Keep the conversation going on Twitter with #BlackinAmerica.

New doll line aims to empower girls of all races
Kimani, Valencia and Dahlia are multicultural dolls created by former Barbie designer Stacey McBride-Irby.
February 10th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

New doll line aims to empower girls of all races

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) – When Stacey McBride- Irby, a long-time Barbie lover and designer, noticed that her 4-year-old daughter wasn’t playing with dolls, she became concerned.   

“As a little girl my Barbie dolls were all Caucasian. But, that didn’t really bother me because I was looking at her as my fantasy world. She was the actress, she was in soap operas, she was getting dressed up to go to a party,” McBride-Irby said. “But times are changing.”

McBride-Irby realized at age 13 that she had a passion for doll design, and years later, she made it her career.

While working for Mattel, she created designs for Barbie and the iconic doll’s friends, Disney princesses, rock star Barbies and her own innovation, “So In Style” Barbie, a line that features African-American Barbies that that resemble those of black women - different skin tones, fuller lips, one doll with curlier hair.

Her “So In Style” creations will be shown with some unique hairstyles at the Bronner Bros. Hair Show in Atlanta this month, but after 15 years, McBride-Irby is now on to another adventure: Her own doll company.


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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Gender • How we look
Opinion: Don't be fooled, housing segregation is still a reality
Race and class still matter in terms of residential housing patterns.
February 9th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Opinion: Don't be fooled, housing segregation is still a reality

Editor’s note: Kris Marsh is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is on Facebook  and on Twitter @drkrismarsh.

By Kris Marsh, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Recently, the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank released a study, "The End of the Segregated Century." Highlights of the study hit the press like wildfire. Headlines like “Segregation hits historic low” jumped off the page, and articles declared the findings to be proof that “the legacy of the civil rights era is still strong.”

Given that one of my areas of emphasis as a sociologist and demographer is racial residential segregation, I was saturated with emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets asking for my reaction. Above all, my main response is that we must be careful as consumers of information; in this case, readers who stop at the headlines are in danger of overlooking the fact that race still maters and that blacks are still highly segregated in the United States.

As social scientist, we employ three overarching theories to explain the existence and persistence of racial residential segregation: economics, preferences and discrimination.


Historically, there was a time when only the small population of free blacks were able to own property.  This set the groundwork for the wealth disparities between blacks and whites that persists today.  In general, unlike potential white home seekers, potential black homebuyers often do not inherit wealth from the previous generation. In most cases, blacks do not have the flexibility to borrow money from parents to purchase their homes. This potentially limits blacks’ ability to purchase homes in certain locations causing middle class blacks homeowners to live in close proximity to the black poor and reside in suburban areas less substantively white and affluent than their white middle class counterparts.

By way of illustration, consider Baldwin Hills, California. Baldwin Hills is a predominantly black area in Los Angeles County. This area encompasses both multi-million dollar homes and a housing project with a reputation so dangerous that during the 1980s and 1990s, it was commonly known as “The Jungle.”  In the 2001 Denzel Washington film Training Day, this housing project was used as the location for a scene in which a police detective engages in a midday gun battle. That same year, the director of the film Love and Basketball chose a multi-million dollar home in the same area to represent the residence of a former professional basketball star.

This divergent cinematic representation of Baldwin Hills illustrate the propinquity of the black middle class and the black poor and provides a dramatic example of a widespread phenomenon: that the black middle class is a spatial and social buffer between the white middle class and the black poor. FULL POST

'Opportunity gaps' for African-Americans smallest in the U.S. South and West
A recent report says an “opportunity gap” separates Latinos and African-Americans from whites in the Midwest and Northeast.
February 8th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

'Opportunity gaps' for African-Americans smallest in the U.S. South and West

By Alex P. Kellogg, Special to CNN

(CNN) - By just about every measure, life is significantly better for African-Americans and Latinos in small and medium-sized cities and towns in the South and West, according to a recently released report by Urban Institute.

The Washington, DC-based think tank found that the “opportunity gap” that separates African-Americans and Latinos from whites is the largest in the Midwest and Northeast and the smallest in the South and West.

Its study examined factors such as residential segregation, the quality of public schools, neighborhood home values, employment rates and rates of home ownership.


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Filed under: Black in America • Economy • How we live • Race
Patricia S. Due, leader of nation's first jail-in, dies at 72
Patricia Stephens Due, with her husband John D. Due Jr., is pictured at the University of Florida last year.
February 7th, 2012
09:45 PM ET

Patricia S. Due, leader of nation's first jail-in, dies at 72

By Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) - The stories we tell often leave room for only one hero.

In America, our civil rights hero is Martin Luther King.

But even he recognized the sacrifice of heroines like Patricia Stephens Due.

"Going to jail for a righteous cause is a badge of honor and a symbol of dignity. I assure you that your valiant witness is one of the glowing epics of our time and you are bringing all of America [to] the threshold of the world's bright tomorrows,"  King said in a telegram to Due and fellow students.

Patricia Stephens Due stayed in jail for 49 days, refusing to pay bail after she was arrested for sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter in Tallahassee, Florida.

“We are all so very happy to do this so that we can help our city, state and nation. We strongly believe that Martin Luther King was right when he said, ‘We’ve got to fill the jails to win our equal right’,” she wrote in a letter to the Congress of Racial Equality’s James Robinson.

She, her sister, six other Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University students and one high school student were jailed after participating in the peaceful sit-ins, a defining symbol of America’s civil rights movement.

Due, a 20-year-old student then, led the first jail-in, and received global attention from leaders like King.

Today, Patricia Stephens Due died after a two-year battle with thyroid cancer, and more than 50 years of activism.


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Filed under: Black in America • History • Who we are
Opinion: Beyonce belongs in the classroom
February 7th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Opinion: Beyonce belongs in the classroom

Editor's Note: James Braxton Peterson is the Director of Africana Studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University. He is also the founder of Hip Hop Scholars, LLC, an association of Hip Hop generational scholars dedicated to researching and developing the cultural and educational potential of Hip Hop, urban and youth cultures. You can follow him on Twitter @DrJamesPeterson.

By James Braxton Peterson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I don’t think that anyone would consider me a fan of Beyonce’s music. Any of my students will tell you that generally speaking, R&B is not my musical genre of choice.

That said, I feel compelled to speak to some of the unspoken issues regarding university courses revolving around prominent pop cultural figures. There has been a bevy of media coverage on this kind of course, most recently directed towards Kevin Allred’s “Politicizing Beyonce ...” course in Rutgers University’s Women and Gender Studies department. Coverage of Allred’s course seems to be garnering more overall positive support than some previously taught courses like Michael Eric Dyson’s Jay-Z class at Georgetown University, but I still think that many folk outside of the academy, particularly those who dismiss this kind of coursework, do not fully appreciate the war zone the academy has become.

We are at war. We are fighting for the right to reach students, especially students frustrated with the homogeneity of the educational curriculum, especially students whose lived experiences are not reflected in the curriculum as it is currently constructed. We are fighting for innovation in the Humanities but also in the social and so-called "hard" sciences.

Too many college classrooms are like mausoleums. For all of our smart technology and tentative embrace of the digital age, too many courses are not willing to integrate currency into the classroom space. And that is part of what this war is about. Allred’s course speaks to young people, especially young people of color, women, and the LGBT community, in ways that too many other courses simply will not and some others simply cannot.


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Filed under: Black in America • Education • Pop culture • What we think • Women
February 6th, 2012
05:52 PM ET

Opinion: Eddie Long still has more apologizing to do

Editor’s note: Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer and writer in New York City. She writes about social issues, parenting and relationships on her blog, Carolyn Edgar.

By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN

Now that Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for a service at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church that purported to crown him a “king,” one has to wonder what Long was thinking.

With all the scandal that has surrounded him recently, Long and the New Birth leadership should have anticipated that the video of the New Birth service would attract a great deal of attention, including from Jewish groups. Even if Long were unfamiliar with Jewish rituals and traditions, he might have guessed that having himself wrapped up in a Torah scroll might be considered controversial. Long rightly apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for misusing the holy Hebrew scriptures and Jewish rituals in his “coronation” ceremony.

However, Long still owes some apologies.

First, he owes his New Birth congregation an apology. Long should have apologized to his church a long time ago for the scandal that originally rocked New Birth. When four young men who were former members of New Birth accused Long of coercing them into sexual relationships as teens and young adults, Long vehemently denied the charges. Later, he quietly settled with the plaintiffs. He has not admitted guilt, but he also has not refuted the charges in a way that removes even the most basic doubt. Long should have stepped down from his position as head of New Birth. Instead, he returned after a brief hiatus, and sought to restore his congregation’s belief in his leadership by subjecting his church to a ritual without foundation in either the Christian or the Jewish faith – in which it was claimed that Long has a “king chromosome,” among many outrageous assertions. It is clear that those who remained faithful to New Birth wanted to see their disgraced leader returned to his former power and authority. Long could have orchestrated a service that uplifted him spiritually and gave his members reason to cheer without including made-up Jewish rituals. Instead, Long perpetrated a fraud on the people who stuck by him and his church long after many others, including Rev. Bernice King, a daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., left.

Second, Long owes an apology to Christians. As offended as members of the Jewish community may have been by the New Birth service, it was equally offensive to Christians. Many people noted that Jesus Christ refused kingship, yet Long had the hubris to participate in a ceremony that claimed to make him some kind of king. In his apology, Long retreated by saying he is “a mere servant of God,” but he needs to do more, and apologize to the Christian community for a service many Christians also found abhorrent. FULL POST

February 6th, 2012
09:53 AM ET

Long-lost identities of slaves uncovered in old Virginia papers

By Michael Martinez and Athena Jones, CNN

Richmond, Virginia (CNN) - A historical society in Virginia, where slavery began in the American colonies in 1619, has discovered the identities of 3,200 slaves from unpublished private documents, providing new information for today's descendants in a first-of-its-kind online database, society officials say.

Many of the slaves had been forgotten to the world until the Virginia Historical Society received a $100,000 grant to pore over some of its 8 million unpublished manuscripts - letters, diaries, ledgers, books and farm documents from Virginians dating to the 1600s - and began discovering the long-lost identities of the slaves, said society president and CEO Paul Levengood.

The private, nonprofit historical society, the fourth-oldest in the nation, is assembling a growing roster of slaves' names and other information, such as the slaves' occupations, locations and plantation owners' names, said Levengood.

Read the full story

February 3rd, 2012
06:18 PM ET

Opinion: Terrie M. Williams: Depression does not discriminate

Editor's Note: Terrie M. Williams is the author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting" and the co-founder of The Stay Strong Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @terriewilliams.

By Terrie M. Williams, Special to CNN

Trouble in mind, that's true.
I have almost lost my mind.
Life ain't worth livin.
Sometimes I feel like dyin'.

–"Trouble in Mind," a 1926 Blues standard by Richard M. Jones

We are all mourning the loss this week of "Soul Train" creator and cultural icon, Don Cornelius. An American success story, Don left us with a 35-year history lesson in business acumen, cultural exportation, and community uplift. We need only call the first names of the greats who performed on Soul Train’s multi-colored stage since it premiered in 1970 - Stevie, Gladys, Tina, Aretha, Michael - while we pop locked along in front of the TV screen in our polyester silk with a hair full of Afro Sheen. Thanks to traditional and social media, we’ve been able to share and celebrate these memories from friend to friend, generation to generation, and across the world. It was, indeed, the “hippest trip in America.”

That’s all good. We should take some time to measure and celebrate Don’s legacy. Don dreamed big. He changed our lives and, more importantly, changed overnight how the world saw us. We cannot say enough about this pioneer. The doors he opened. The life he lived. That’s easy. What’s not easy is to say, is how and why he died. Yes, he hid his demons well. But, clearly they were there because this 75-year-old icon with a body of work most of us will never achieve, chose to end his own life with a gunshot to the head.

“Private. Guarded. All business.” These are reoccurring words that people close to Don - his son, his long-term business partners, former dancers and employees - have used to describe him. I experienced that myself on those few occasions when I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with him in person. Though reports say he didn’t seem despondent or upset in the weeks before his suicide, this silent warrior was clearly suffering. We don’t know for sure if it was a long-standing disenchantment with the entertainment industry, residual pain from a brain surgery, a bitter divorce, or all of the above that led to his obviously depressed mental state. Said his son Tony yesterday on "CBS This Morning", “My father was extremely private. Unfortunately, when you’re a private person, you keep things inside.” And, that “people all over the world” is what this is all about. We did not have to lose Don this way. This silence – which kept us safe during slavery times – is now killing us. Depression is real. It is deadly. And, it does not discriminate.


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Filed under: Black in America • Health • How we live • Race
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