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Emotional OITNB Stars, Regina King Among Essence Honorees

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw arrives at the 8th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw arrives at the 8th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Nekesa Mumbi Moody, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Award is a guarantee of big stars and lots of tears.

Thursday kept to tradition as Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong’o, director Ava DuVernay and others presided over an emotional luncheon that gave awards and affirmations to standout black women including members of the cast of “Orange is the New Black,” actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw and actress-director Regina King.

“I promised my sister I was going to keep it together. I lied,” quipped a misty King — whose vast credits include “Southland,” “Shameless,” ”Boyz in the Hood,” ”Ray” and “Jerry McGuire” — as she accepted the Fierce and Fearless Award.

The Essence luncheon, which will be televised for the first time Saturday by the OWN network, has become one of Oscar week’s most prestigious events. It started eight years ago to recognize the achievements of black women — key in an industry where they are underrepresented in mainstream roles, from acting to directing. Most of the honorees shed tears, as did some in the audience.

One of last year’s honorees, Academy Award winner Nyong’o, came back this year to pay tribute to the black actresses of “Orange is the New Black,” which has been lauded for the rich roles for all kinds of women. It’s the first time Essence has honored a group instead of an individual.

As Emmy winner Uzo Aduba and castmates Laverne Cox, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley and Vicky Jeudy looked on, Danielle Brooks — who plays Tastee on the show — summed up why being singled out for the Vanguard award meant so much to them.

“It’s really challenging to be a ‘blacktress,'” said Brooks, who talked about the rejection black actresses often face. “There are not a lot of roles for us.”

She praised the creators of the show for allowing the women to explore complex characters and said she learned something as well: “We are enough just the way we are and don’t need to change for us.”

Mbatha-Raw, who had breakout roles last year in the period piece “Belle” and in the musical drama “Beyond the Lights,” was honored by “Selma” star David Oyelowo. He brought out his own toddler daughter, who is biracial, to thank Mbatha-Raw for presenting a positive image of biracial women.

Mbatha-Raw, who is British, acknowledged the challenges of being both black and white in Hollywood.

“I think I always felt, ‘Black Women in Hollywood’ — do I even qualify to be here?” she said, to which someone shouted “Yes!”

“To be embraced so joyously means so much to me,” she added.

She spoke of a harrowing experience of being mugged at gunpoint while filming “Beyond the Lights” and credited it for helping her live a more rewarding life.

“What it gave me was a sense of letting go of the fears that stop us from doing what I want to do,” she said.

King, who started in acting as a child on the sitcom “227” and has added directing to her resume, talked about the power of Essence and how as a child, it shaped her future, affirming that she could be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer: “I decided to be an actress so I can be all of those.”

DuVernay, whose “Selma” is nominated for best picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards, honored costume designer Ruth Carter with the Visionary Award.

Carter is nominated for her work on “Selma” this year. She said when she dressed Winfrey for “Lee Daniel’s The Butler,” Winfrey told her art was prayer, and God speaking through her. She thanked Winfrey for opening her eyes.

“I have been seeking a deeper spiritual connection all my life and I didn’t know I was already doing it,” she said.

Among those in attendance were John Legend and Common, who performed their Oscar-nominated song “Glory”; model Chanel Iman; “Selma” star Carmen Ejogo; and TV powerhouse Shonda Rimes.
___

Follow Nekesa Mumbi Moody at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

Online: http://www.essence.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Black History

COMMENTARY: New Las Vegas Raiders President is Female, Black, AND Asian

We have never been comfortable with mixed-race kids and what to call them. But since 2010, the multiracial population has grown from 9 million to 33.8 million people, a 276% increase according to the 2020 Census.

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Sandra Douglass Morgan is the new president of the Las Vegas Raiders. Twitter photo.
Sandra Douglass Morgan is the new president of the Las Vegas Raiders. Twitter photo.

By Emil Guillermo

I confess to being a Raiders fan from a very early age.

Even though I was born and raised in San Francisco, as a young boy I cheered Clem Daniels at Frank Youell Field. Old School. Then Daryl Lamonica. Then Kenny Stabler. Warren Wells. Gene Upshaw. Hewritt Dixon. George Atkinson. George Blanda. I loved them all. When they left Oakland the first time, they broke my heart. When they came back, I bought season tickets and broke my bank. And then they left again and broke my heart for good.

I started rooting for the 49ers. I know, blasphemy.

But I always keep an eye on the Las Vegas Raiders. And on July 7, 2022, when they announced a new president, I took a double take.

She looked like a Filipina. To me, she clearly had some Asian blood.

But then they announced her, Sandra Douglas Morgan, and all the stories had some variation of this line: “Morgan becomes the first Black woman in NFL history to ascend to the title of team president.”

Almost every story I found heralded her Blackness. Hooray.

Only it was partially true. From what I found, only NBC News with California homeboy Lester Holt had the story with all the facts.

Morgan was Black. But as my Asian radar suggested, she was also Asian. Not Filipino, but Korean. NBC showed a picture of her mother.

We’ve been here before.

When something great happens to a mixed-race person, why do we ignore the mix?

The Raiders in Las Vegas are trying so hard to be modern and “progressive” (for the NFL). You’ll recall the team gave Colin Kaepernick a tryout.

So why doesn’t a forward-thinking team in Las Vegas, one of the most diverse cities in the nation, just come out and announce that Morgan is both Black and Asian?

Is it because we don’t want to see the Asian parts? Is it the wrong suit in a game where Black trumps?

As I’ve said, we’ve been here before. Kamala Harris is from the East Bay. Her Black father was mostly absent from her life, and her mother, an Asian-Indian UC cancer researcher, was dominant in her upbringing. Still, Harris publicly identified as Black most of her life.

Through her time as a politico in San Francisco, to her rise as attorney general for the state, to her announcement in Oakland seeking the nomination for president, Harris was always Black first. I always noticed. And wrote about it in the Asian American media.

When did things change? When she was selected as the vice-presidential running mate of Joe Biden. And then, of course, when they won and were inaugurated.

How many times did you see the phrase, “First African American, first Asian American, first woman to be vice president of the United States.”

It was American diversity history. Reporters stumbled over how to get it right.

And now, because human nature is what it is, most people have stumbled back to convention. Kamala? Oh, she’s Black.

But it’s not just Kamala. Tiger Woods has always had this problem. When he came on the scene with his first Masters victory in 1997, stories hailed him as the “Black man in a green jacket,” or “the Black man in a white man’s game.”

The column I wrote, published later in my book “Amok,” pointed out calling Tiger “Black” is once again, just half right. His mom is from Thailand. Tiger described his mix as “Cablanasian.” That made people smile but never stuck.

And now as he slumps back from missing the cut at the British Open, Tiger is back to Black.

Why is this all important? There’s accuracy of course, but it shows we have never been comfortable with mixed-race kids and what to call them. But since 2010, the multiracial population has grown from 9 million to 33.8 million people, a 276% increase according to the 2020 Census.

I know mixed-race kids. I made a few of them. I prefer they say they are Asian because they are. But their mom is white. But that doesn’t show. They get passed over and face both subtle and not so subtle discrimination all the time.

The Jewish faith offers a guide. It believes that what defines you passes by way of your mother. Hence Kamala, Tiger, and yes Saundra Douglas Morgan would be Asian.

But in America, the Census uses a “you are what you say you are” basis. Is it just easier to say Black and leave it at that? And ignore Asian? Maybe until someone points it out.

Here’s a vote for being accurate and fair. When Saundra Douglas Morgan made history, we all should honor our diverse America where we can be Black and Asian and anything else. Proudly.

Especially when we make history together.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. His work is on www.amok.com

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Advice

A Wedding and Evening Sail on the Matthew Turner

This mock wedding shows “how sometimes we are so caught up in the celebration, and full of elation that we don’t make sure this partnership will contribute to our elevation,” said Gregory. The event heightened “the awareness of the right-Ship, relation-Ship, and friend-Ships so you won’t be emotionally Ship-wrecked and can sail together to your destination of purpose.”

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By Godfrey Lee

Sharika Gregory hosted an evening program on July 9, 2022, encouraging adults to develop healthy relationships. The program took place on the tall ship Matthew Turner owned and operated by Call of the Sea, the nonprofit that also contributed to the cost of the event.

Sailing on the ship becomes an analogy of how a husband and wife can make a marriage work. The captain and his first mate on a ship are like a husband and his wife in a marriage, Gregory said.

The single man and woman need to know if they are the best fit for each other before they get married. The couple will also need to know how a marriage works, like how the captain, his mate, (and the crew) need to know how the ship works in order to safely sail it. The married couple needs to trust each other, like the captain and the mate need to trust each other in order to sail their ship.

Top: Sharika Gregory, Neferttiti and Bronchè (Photo by Sierre Salin); Neferttiti and Bronchè arguing; Kee-Beez, Sierre Salin, Diamond, Chase Banks, Aleta Toure, Chris Ragland. Oshalla Diana Marcus, Johnetta Newton, Trevor Palacio, Raul Cedeno III. Bottom: The Matthew Turner ship (From modelshipworld.com).

Top: Sharika Gregory, Neferttiti and Bronchè (Photo by Sierre Salin); Neferttiti and Bronchè arguing; Kee-Beez, Sierre Salin, Diamond, Chase Banks, Aleta Toure, Chris Ragland. Oshalla Diana Marcus, Johnetta Newton, Trevor Palacio, Raul Cedeno III. Bottom: The Matthew Turner ship (From modelshipworld.com.

The event started in front of the Bay Model Visitor Center with a mock wedding between Nefertiti and Bronchè Steward, where Bronchè suddenly realized that he needs to be committed to his wife. The second half of the program began on the ship with Nefertiti and Bronchè arguing, and Nefertiti runs away to the front of the ship.

This mock wedding shows “how sometimes we are so caught up in the celebration, and full of elation that we don’t make sure this partnership will contribute to our elevation,” said Gregory. The event heightened “the awareness of the right-Ship, relation-Ship, and friend-Ships so you won’t be emotionally Ship-wrecked and can sail together to your destination of purpose.”

Around 40 people attended and enjoyed the event, which offered food and drinks donated by the Strawberry Village Safeway. The ship sailed to the middle of the Bay with its engines and then the crew hauled up two of the sails. But there was not enough wind to sail the ship.

The Matthew Turner, a brigantine, is a tall ship owned and operated by the Call of the Seas. She will be used to help the crew on her sister ship, the Seaward, teach sailing and marine environmental programs to adults and middle school-aged youth. The Matthew Turner was designed after the ship Galilee, which was built in the late 1800s by the ship designer and builder Matthew Turner. The length of her deck is 100 feet long, and has a total of 7,200 square feet of sails. She is docked at the Bay Model Visitor Center’s Pier in Sausalito.

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Bay Area

County Fair Sees Over 25 Percent Jump in Revenues Compared to Last Year Pre-Pandemic

The fair wasn’t entirely back to “normal” in that competitions usually held in the exhibit hall were done remotely, which meant no food was judged, but hobbies, crafts, creative writing and art were all judged and given ribbons.

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The Marin County Fair Sees Over 25 Percent Jump in Revenues Compared to Last Year Pre-Pandemic
The Marin County Fair Sees Over 25 Percent Jump in Revenues Compared to Last Year Pre-Pandemic

By Bay City News

The results are in: People in Marin County were ready to have fun at the fair after taking a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Revenues for this year’s Marin County Fair increased by over 25% over 2019’s numbers, according to the county.

The fair, which ran from Thursday, June 30 through Monday, July 4, generated nearly $1.9 million compared to 2019’s numbers of $1.5 million.

This year’s theme was “So Happy Together,” with live performances from Pablo Cruise, Sheila E., Sons of Champlin, and Digable Planets.

The fair wasn’t entirely back to “normal” in that competitions usually held in the exhibit hall were done remotely, which meant no food was judged, but hobbies, crafts, creative writing and art were all judged and given ribbons.

It wouldn’t be a county fair without amateur entertainment, and the county noted that four drag queens, 18 folklorico dancers, 22 ukulele players and 34 bagpipers performed on the community stage.

Proof of COVID-19 and masking were not required. If the event shows an increase in infections, the numbers could show up in Marin’s case data, which is released every Tuesday and Friday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has rated Marin County as “high” for community COVID-19 levels, according to a June 30 report.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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