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New Orleans A City of Traditions

NEW ORLEANS DATA NEWS WEEKLY — Carnival 2019 is in full gear and Mardi Gras Day is steadily creeping upon us.

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By Data Staff Edited Report

It’s Carnival Time

Carnival 2019 is in full gear and Mardi Gras Day is steadily creeping upon us. It is a time where a city steeped in the spirit of festiveness is taking it to a higher level. There are Mardi Gras Balls and Parades going on throughout the city; for it is an amazing spectacle for all to see.

Additionally, much of the festivities come from a rich and vibrant history; much of which come from the Black Cultural Heritage of New Orleans. It is often thought of as the secret ingredient that gives the city its unique flavor. Data News Weekly, in its role of telling the story of the Black contributions to the city and being a window into the most international, city is featuring four groups that are part of the great tradition of New Orleans Carnival Culture.

ZULU SOCIAL AID AND PLEASURE CLUB

For over a century, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club has been at the forefront as one of the preeminent Mardi Clubs where their throws are coveted by many most notably their hand decorated Coconuts. In addition to their annual ball that is a must go to event.

KING ZULU 2019 GEORGE RAINEY

This year is a special year as longtime club member, joining in 1972, George Rainey is the reigning King of Zulu.

He is a man with so much history in the organization and in the City of New Orleans.

He was part of the first graduating class of Booker T. Washington in 1949. He also is part of the great culinary history of the City as the owner of Rainey’s Restaurant and Catering, one of the premiere African American-owned eateries in the city for five decades.

In 1978, Mr. Rainey earned the title “Zulu Big Shot.” In addition, he secured Zulu its first corporate sponsorship – the largest donation of any corporate sponsor. Mr. Rainey has secured more than 40 sponsors under his leadership.

He served as a Zulu Board Member from 1978 to 1993. He served as Vice-President from 1991-1996. Again, reelected as a board member from 1996-2007. Mr. Rainey has received many awards during his days. He was recognized by President George W. Bush and The Jefferson Award Foundation for his community services.

In 1983, Mr. Rainey spearheaded the production of Zulu’s 1st Poster Series. In 1993, Mr. Rainey founded New Orleans’ world re-known Zulu Lundi Gras Festival!

He is also a great humanitarian. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the city, many families had no place to get food. Led by his Pastor, Bishop James Nelson Brown of Fisher Community Church, along with the 82nd Airborne Division cooks, Mr. Rainey returned home to serve and feed over one thousand people for 2 months daily and for free. But his services to the community don’t end there. In 2006, Mardi Gras was in jeopardy. Mr. Rainey co-authored a speech before the New Orleans’ City Council that saved Mardi Gras.

A dedicated family man, Mr. Rainey has three daughters, one son, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Mr. Rainey would like to thank the City of New Orleans and the supporters that helped him become Zulu King 2019. Last but, certainly not least, a very special Thanks to, his son, Oscar Rainey, and friend, Larry Hammond for organizing a ‘Great Committee’.

ZULU QUEEN

This year’s Zulu Queen is Kailyn Lilly Rainey was born on the 8th of March in 1999 to Michelle Patterson and Oscar Rainey. She is the beautiful granddaughter of Leontine Winding Dennis and the late Herman L. Dennis and George V. Rainey, King Zulu Elect 2019 and the late Jeanne Robinson Rainey. She had one sister, Kelsey La’ Jeanne Rainey. Kailyn is the stepdaughter of Joan Cooper-Rainey.

Kailyn graduated from St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School in 2017 with honors and was included in the top 5 of her class. During her time at Prep she served on both the Principal’s Honor Roll and the Presidential Honor Roll. She was also the President of the St. Katharine Drexel Kiwanis International Key Club, a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Co-Captain of the Tall Flag Marching Unit, Student Ambassador, Editor- in-Chief of the Yearbook, and a member of Bee Legacy. While being active in her school’s community, Kailyn completed 20 credit hours as a dual enrollment student at Delgado Community College.

Presently, Kailyn is a sophomore at Louisiana State University where she studies Finance. There is an abundance of goals that she wishes to accomplish prior to graduating from LSU. Besides being a full-time student, Kailyn is an active member in LSU’s Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. Growing up in a family filled with entrepreneurs, Kailyn was inspired early on to one day have a successful business of her own. Post-graduation, Kailyn would like to get a Master’s in Business Administration and possibly attend Law School. She has spent the last 3 summers as a student worker in the Chambers of the Honorable Judge Edwin Lombard and Judge Paula Brown in the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.

“To the girls of New Orleans, don’t let what you’ve been through, determine where you are going and don’t let anyone try to stop you from achieving your dreams. You can do anything. I never would have thought in a million years that I would be crowned Queen Zulu at only 19 years old,” Kailyn said in a press statement.

Kailyn would like to give special thanks to her grandfather, George V. Rainey, King Zulu Elect 2019 and the members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Inc. for giving her an experience of a lifetime. She plans to continue honoring the Zulu traditions as she reigns as Queen Zulu 2019.

Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale

Founded by Ms. Gwendolyn Rainey, in 2013 the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale continues in the spirit that the ladies of MKFF, “will always empower, encourage and uplift,” according to the krewe’s President, Mrs. Sharlayne Prevost.

This year they are planning another amazing extravaganza with an imaginative wonderland filled with mystery, fantasy and fun. The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale will celebrate its sixth year of incorporation on Friday, February 22, 2019 in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with the theme, “MysticKrewe of Femme Fatale Presents Story Time.” They will also have their parade that rolls on the traditional uptown route on Sunday, February 24th.

This year’s queen is Mrs. Pamela Prout Foxworth-Carter, daughter of the late Mr. Clifford Prout and Mrs. Jeraldine Prout. The queen has one son James Cardriche, III, and two grandchildren, James IV and Ireyan.

A native New Orleanian, Mrs. Pamela Prout Foxworth-Carter is married to her life partner, Karen Foxworth-Carter, and she has always loved her city. Pamela grew up in the Upper Ninth Ward and graduated from George Washington Carver Senior High School and, later, Southern University at New Orleans. She is currently employed as a Project Manager with the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

Maids to the royal court are Mrs. Karen Foxworth-Carter, Mrs. Vonda Rhea Copes Dunn, Miss Ruth Hayes and Mrs. Trellis Thompson-Stevenson.

The 2019 Grand Marshals are Grammy Award Winner R&B and Blues Recording Artist Irma Thomas, and Gina Charbonnet, a New Orleans native and Essence Festival Empowerment Executive Producer.

Young Men Illinois

Founded on March 23, 1926 by a few Black male workers of the Illinois Central Railroad.

The Young Men Illinois Club, Inc. (YMI) was formed in 1926 to present eligible young ladies to society during New Orleans’s Carnival Season.

Mission of members is to promote closer social relationship among its members and enable them to perfect any movement that will be for the mutual benefit of the community in general.

YMI’s Ball varies from year-to-year but its ball date is always in close proximity to Mardi Gras; usually on the Friday 1-2 weeks prior to Fat Tuesday. This year’s ball was held on Friday, February 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Empire Ballroom.

Ronald Vigee, a member of the organization, whose daughter Taylor Nicole Vigee, was the ball’s 2018 Queen. “Our organization, YMI, gives young ladies the opportunity to showcase their successes to their family and community. The debs participate in various activities that builds their social character as well as the awareness and importance of giving back to the community.”

Ravi Bates echoes some of these same thoughts regarding YMI and its mission, “For me it helps to showcase and present to the world young African-American women and all their achievements before they take a step into adulthood. As a father of two girls I can’t think of a better way to help empower them. I also enjoy the camaraderie amongst all the brothers in the group who also have daughters and share similar interests.”

Bunch Club

Established in 1917 the Bunch Club is one of New Orleans oldest Carnival Clubs in the City. Unlike others it is less of a Carnival Krewe and more of a Fraternal Organization. But it has come to be known for the Bunch Club Carnival Dance. Held on the Friday before Mardi Gras, the members of the Bunch Club and their guests celebrate the carnival season with music, dancing, refreshments, and revelry.

At the stroke of midnight, they escort their wives or sweethearts in a Grand March. Clad in tuxedos, crimson capes, plumed hats, white gloves, and club medallions, the Bunch Club’s members reenact a Mardi Gras Tradition that has lasted nearly a century. The music and libation start promptly at 10:00 pm and lasts well into the morning.

The club members represent educators, university presidents, bankers, government workers, notable attorneys, doctors, writers and entrepreneurs whose professions keep them involved in the well-being of the city. The Bunch Club was among the first clubs to boycott Mardi Gras during the integration crisis of the 1960s. Unlike many other Mardi Gras affairs, the Bunch Club does not present debutantes.

Black Mardi Gras and Celebrating the Culture of New Orleans

Mardi Gras is a wonderful time for the city as people from around the country come to re-unite with relatives or simply engage in the amazing culture of New Orleans. There are so many more traditions that exist in our beautiful city. Not just during Mardi Gras, but year-round. We at Data News Weekly asks of our citizens and those who love New Orleans to go out and enjoy this beautiful city and all it has to offer.

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly

Activism

Through Ads and Advocates, Battle Over Calif. Gambling Propositions Heat Up

A statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), conducted between Sept. 2 and 11 and released on Sept. 15, revealed that 54% of California voters would vote “no” for Prop 27, while 34% would vote “yes.” Twelve percent of the respondents were “unsure.” The survey’s authors wrote that a strong majority of Republicans wouldn’t vote for the proposition, compared to half of Democrats and independents.

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The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November.
The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November.

By McKenzie Jackson | California Black Media

Clint Thompson, a Santa Monica resident in his 30s, wouldn’t say he has been inundated with advertisements supporting or denigrating Propositions 26 and 27, but he sees an ad focused on one of the legislations each time he turns on his television.

“I usually watch the news during the day — NBC — and on NBC, Prop 26 or Prop 27 comes on every other commercial break per show,” said Thompson, an actor, who admitted he hasn’t researched the sports gambling propositions. “Both of the props seem to have good things with them. The commercials seem to have reasons why you should say ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’”

Prop 26 would legalize roulette, dice games, and sports betting on Native American tribal lands if approved by voters in the Nov. 8 election. It is backed by over 50 state Native American tribes.

Prop 27, supported by sportsbooks DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Fanatics, PENN Entertainment, and WynnBet, would give those sports betting companies the reins in sports gambling in the Golden State and allow online gambling.

If people like Thompson feel the advertisements from the campaigns for and against the propositions seem to be flooding the television and radio airwaves — and to be ever-present on social media (Watched a YouTube video lately?) — they might be right.

The dueling propositions have raised a combined $400 million for advertising leading up to Election Day this November. That has led to ads backing and slamming the two propositions to be front and center in all forms of media Californians consume.

Dinah Bachrach of the Racial Justice Allies of Sonoma County, a group supporting Prop 26, said the proliferation of ads supporting Prop 27 is concerning.

“They are all over the place,” Bachrach said. “Gambling is already a pretty big business, but to be able to do sports gambling online is dangerous because it hurts what tribal casinos have been able to do for their communities in the state.”

According to Bachrach, Prop 26 protects the sovereignty of native tribes. “It’s a really important racial justice issue,” she said. “Indian casinos provide a tremendous amount of financial support for the casino tribes and the non-casino tribes, and they contribute a lot locally and to the state.”

Bachrach’s organization is one of several civil rights or African American organizations that have thrown its support behind Prop 26.

Santa Clarita NAACP spokesperson Nati Braunstein said in an email, “The NAACP supports Prop 26, which would legalize retail sports betting at California tribal casinos only and opposes Prop 27 which would allow online sports betting via mobile sportsbooks.”

Kathy Fairbanks, speaking for the Yes on 26/No on 27 coalition, composed of California Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and other partners, said winning the approval of every potential voter, including Black Californians, is their goal.

Yes on 27 – Californians for Solutions to Homelessness, the campaign arm of Prop 27 backers, had not returned California Black Media’s requests for comment for this story as of press time. Prop 27 proponents say in ads and the Yes on 27 website repeats that the initiative would help solve California’s homelessness crisis.

Prop 27 imposes a 10% tax on adjusted gross gaming revenue. Eighty-five percent of the taxes go toward fighting California’s homeless and mental health challenges. Non-gaming tribes get the remaining 15% of tax revenue.

Organizations such as Bay Area Community Services, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness, and individuals including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Bay Area Community Services CEO Jamie Almanza, and Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians Chairman Jose “Moke” Simon are listed as Prop 27 supporters on the Yes on 27 website.

On the campaign’s Facebook page, commenter Brandon Gran wrote under an advertisement photo that voting for Prop 27 was a “no brainer.”

“People are already gambling using offshore accounts,” he typed. “Why not allow CA to get a piece of the pie … money that will (hopefully) go to good use.”

However, a statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), conducted between Sept. 2 and 11 and released on Sept. 15, revealed that 54% of California voters would vote “no” for Prop 27, while 34% would vote “yes.” Twelve percent of the respondents were “unsure.”

The survey’s authors wrote that a strong majority of Republicans wouldn’t vote for the proposition, compared to half of Democrats and independents.

“Regionally, majorities in the Inland Empire, Orange/San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area would vote ‘no,’ while likely voters in the Central Valley and Los Angeles are divided,” they wrote. “At least half across most demographic groups would vote ‘no.’ Likely voters age 18 to 44 (52%) and renters (51%) are the only two demographic groups with a slim majority voting ‘yes.’”

The survey, titled “PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government,” did not ask participants about Prop 26. The Yes on 26/No on 27 coalition, said in a news release that the PPIC’s research confirmed what Prop 26 supporters have said for some time.

“Despite raising more than $160 million for a deceptive advertising campaign, California voters are clearly not buying what the out-of-state online gambling corporations behind Prop 27 are selling,” the statement read.

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Bay Area

Kaplan to WNBA: Bring New Team Here!

Support to bring a WNBA team extends past a solid fanbase, as local regulating agencies have also taken key votes to prepare for a WNBA team in Oakland. With the leadership of Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, in July 2021, both the Oakland Coliseum Authority and the Oakland City Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted in favor of a term sheet to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.

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@PaulCobbOakland @NNPA_BlackPress @BlackPressUSA @Kaplan4Oakland @WNBA
Ray Bobbitt, President of African American Sports and Entertainment Group, who purchased the Coliseum as part of its East Oakland Development Plan, thanks Rebecca Kaplan for providing the City Council leadership in 2021 for the AASEG to bring a WNBA Franchise along with jobs, housing, businesses and sports enterprises to Oakland. Photo by Jonathan “Fitness” Jones.

By Post Staff

Oakland Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan will introduce a resolution on Sept. 20, 1:30 p.m. to the Oakland City Council urging the Women’s National Basketball Association (“WNBA”) to approve the City of Oakland as the home for a new WNBA Team.

The WNBA has discussed plans to expand the number of WNBA teams on its roster for the past number of years. Kaplan said, “the City of Oakland must make it clear that not only are we supportive of bringing a WNBA Team to Oakland but are excited to be partners and collaborators with the WNBA during the expansion. This resolution, therefore, extends our strong support towards this effort and urges the WNBA to make Oakland the home for a WNBA team.”

When asked by the Post whether she had heard that San Francisco might be a potential WNBA competitor, even though Oakland started first with its bid, Kaplan said, “Oakland is ideally suited for a WNBA team because of our fervent and rooted fanbase, existing arena space and shared core values with the WNBA. The Bay Area has the fourth-highest number of WNBA fans among U.S. markets without a WNBA team — 418,816 WNBA fans, higher than eight current markets with a WNBA team. More than a half million Bay Area market adults play basketball, and the Bay Area ranks in the top 30 markets in household delivery for the WNBA Regular Season.”

In October of 2021, it was announced that WNBA Champion and four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard, who spent 15 years playing the WNBA and earned back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Attorney Jade Smith-Williams, of the law firm Baily & Glasser, LLP, a local Oakland women’s basketball legend and who played professionally overseas, would join in the leading efforts by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (“AASEG”) to have an Oakland Black and Women WNBA Team ownership process.

In addition to a strong fan base, Oakland already has a world-class arena at the center of a multimodal corridor ready to house a WNBA team. The Oakland Arena is easily accessible by both highway and public transportation, complete with a pedestrian bridge that allows fans direct access from the Coliseum BART station. The arena sits on 132 acres with 10,000 on-site parking spaces. It is also airport accessible, and a stone’s throw away from the Capitol Corridor rail line. This multimodal connectivity will allow not only Oaklanders to conveniently attend games but also fans from across California. From former Monarchs supporters to women’s basketball enthusiasts, Oakland will draw fans from the Bay Area megaregion and beyond.

Support to bring a WNBA team extends past a solid fanbase, as local regulating agencies have also taken key votes to prepare for a WNBA team in Oakland. With the leadership of Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, in July 2021, both the Oakland Coliseum Authority and the Oakland City Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted in favor of a term sheet to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.

Kaplan states, “Oakland is a community that values social justice, equality, and women’s rights. These principles align with those of the WNBA, and we are ready to move forward as a partner in advancing those goals as the home for a new WNBA team.”

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Black History

AI-Generated Rapper Controversy Spotlights the Need for More Blacks in Tech

While A.I. technology is making massive strides, it is still limited to processing massive amounts of data based on parameters set by the programmer, according to Josh Lovejoy at Google’s Privacy and Data Protection Office. Consequently, A.I. is not an independent entity but an extension of its creators and thus inherits their biases.

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Media watchers say FN Meka is modeled after rap artists like Lil Pump and Travis Scott and was voiced by real-life rap artist Kyle the Hooligan.
Media watchers say FN Meka is modeled after rap artists like Lil Pump and Travis Scott and was voiced by real-life rap artist Kyle the Hooligan.

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Almost as quickly as it began, the music industry may have seen the end of the infamous Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) rapper referred to as “FN Meka”, a computer-generated character being widely condemned for appropriating Black culture and saying the N-word.

The A.I. rapper was developed by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, co-founders of Factory New, a Metaverse media company. Some critics claim that the creators who are not Black are trivializing Black art and the Black experience, tantamount to what some are calling “digital Blackface.”

“In many ways, digital Blackface is an example of … the ‘digital afterlife of slavery’ and Jim Crow, where you have real people and virtual characters engaging in a kind of machine-automated minstrelsy that disrespects and disregards the artistry and production value that goes into the creation of Black culture,” Dr. Faithe J. Day, Assistant Professor of Black Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), told California Black Media.

Media watchers say FN Meka is modeled after rap artists like Lil Pump and Travis Scott and was voiced by real-life rap artist Kyle the Hooligan.

Kyle the Hooligan says that he will be suing the company responsible for the A.I. rapper. The Houston-based artist says he had not been paid for his work and he wasn’t aware that his voice had been sold to Capitol Music Group (CMG) until he saw it in the news.

CMG terminated its contract with Factory New less than two weeks after they signed it amid the controversy surrounding the A.I. artist’s lyrical content and depiction of rap culture.

One of the A.I. rapper’s questionable lyrics is in the song ‘Moonwalkin’. It says “boom, police on my back, hot pursuit (Skrr)/ Know that they mad that this A.I. gettin’ [inaudible],” along with several uses of the N-word.

The A.I. project attracted more criticism when Factory New posted on its Instagram account an animated video depicting the program’s avatar on the ground being assaulted by police.

The post’s caption read: “POLICE BRUTALITY?? What Should I Do ?!?! This Guard keeps beating me w/ his BATON because I won’t snitch. I ain’t no RAT. Life in Prison is so Depressing…. I wish I could get out so I could start making music again.”

CMG issued a formal apology for its involvement with Factory New saying, “CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately. We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing this project without asking enough questions about equity and the creative process behind it.”

Martini suggested that critics of his A.I. rapper have taken a hypocritical stance.

“If you’re mad about the lyrical content because it supposedly was A.I., why not be mad about the lyrical content in general?” Martini was quoted saying to the New York Times.

Prof. Day found that comparison grossly oversimplifies what some people are concerned about.

“In the case of FN Meka, comparing what an A.I. [character] does to what an artist does is a false equivalency and misses the point of why so many people are upset about the representation of this A.I. rapper,” Day said. “The real issue is that FN Meka is an example of what Adam Clayton Powell called ‘high-tech Blackface’ and what more recently has been called ‘Digital Blackface’, a phenomenon that we have seen for decades in video games, chat rooms, and social media.”

Day said there is an extensive history in music and entertainment of appropriating Black culture without compensating the African American originators of various art forms.

“Due to the fact that within America and the Western world, there is a history of those in power freely benefitting from the cultural and material production of BIPOC individuals, it only makes sense that the same ethos would continue in the digital realm,” Day said.

“And, in this case, the popularity of FN Meka and other virtual artists might make it easier for creative industries to forgo actually increasing the diversity and inclusion of their artists’ roster and production teams in favor of creating their own caricatures of Blackness, or any other combination of identities,” Day continued.

Martini is no longer associated with the FN Meka project and Factory New. In his announcement, he sided with Kyle the Hooligan.

“In the past few days, I’ve learned of Kyle the Hooligan’s experience with Meka which is deeply at odds with my core values. I believe that artists must always be at the center of the creative process and must be compensated fairly,” Martini stated.

While A.I. technology is making massive strides, it is still limited to processing massive amounts of data based on parameters set by the programmer, according to Josh Lovejoy at Google’s Privacy and Data Protection Office. Consequently, A.I. is not an independent entity but an extension of its creators and thus inherits their biases.

“In addition, while it is important to stay aware of racist A.I., we also have to think about intersectionality and the fact that A.I. isn’t just racist, it can also be sexist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, and many other things that speak to the fact that oppression acts in a matrix,” Day said.

Day is still optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence as more Black and other minority-led projects become a reality, such as NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (NSAF) from Hyphen Labs, a global team of women of color doing pioneering work encompassing art, technology, and science.

“By drawing on both speculative and liberatory approaches to art and design, I believe that there are many artists that are poised to build a more diverse and justice-oriented future within, and outside of, the creative industries by using technology and artificial intelligence for social good,” Day emphasized.

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