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“We Don’t Feel Safe”: Fort Worth Residents Demand Change Following Atatiana Jefferson’s Murder

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“If you were awarded $150,000, would any of that money go to maybe retraining officers how to not pull triggers?” Citizens of Fort Worth, Texas arrived at the first city council meeting following the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson to demand change. The 28-year old Black woman was gunned down in her home by Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean while caring for her 8-year old nephew.

Concerned residents are determined to have their voices heard and demand action from sitting officials. During the first city council meeting to take place since Atatiana’s death, Fort Worth City Hall was filled to capacity with residents looking for answers. Despite City officials conducting typical business before hearing residents speak, their outraged calls to action were not received. Meeting attendees who attempted to discuss their misgivings were escorted out by City Marshals. With fears of weak sentencing stoked by the outcome of Amber Guyger’s trial, protests have ensued in what one official calls a “Black state of emergency.”

Declaring the Dallas/Fort Worth area to be in a “Black state of emergency”, McKinney Councilman La’Shadion Shemwell has asked prospective Black travelers to refrain from visiting. Monday, LaShadion shared that Black and brown lives are in danger by visiting and he “cannot sit idly by” as war continues on Fort Worth’s citizens. Mayor George Fuller called the narrative dangerous. However, he still allowed Shemwell to read his proclamation which calls out the pattern and practice of discriminatory policing.

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Harriet Tubman Debit Card Causes Dissension

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Any attempt to highlight historical black figures will always be welcomed by the black community. Especially during Black History Month. However, what is appreciated is the honoring, not some nuanced interpretation.

Perhaps, that’s where the largest black-owned bank, OneUnited, went wrong. 

On Thursday, social media users came across a OneUnited tweet promoting a Harriet Tubman themed debit card. The problem? It shows Tubman’s hands across her chest in what appeared to be the widely famous “Wakanda Forever” sign that was a part of Marvel’s blockbuster movie, Black Panther.

That sparked a huge social media backlash and sent Black Twitter into a frenzy.

Later, OneUnited Bank, clarified that the symbol Tubman is displaying on the debit card is the symbol of love as depicted in the painting “The Conqueror” by Miami-based Black artist Addonis Parker. 

If you recall, a Tubman design of the $20 bill was announced back in 2016 by former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The redesign was postponed. As reported by CNBC, the redesign was to be unveiled this year to “coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.”

The stalled effort to put Tubman on the $20 bill played a role in OneUnited Bank’s decision to honor the Underground Railroad conductor. According to their website, “Harriet Tubman not only escaped slavery, she made nineteen missions to bring 300 others, including family and friends, to freedom. She also served as an armed scout for the Union Army and was an activist in the struggle for women’s voting rights. Given her profound impact on American history, she deserves to be placed on the $20 bill.” They went on to say, “We have the power to place Harriet Tubman on a global payment device in celebration of Black History Month and in tribute to the many others who freed enslaved people. This symbol of Black empowerment in 2020 will pave the way for the Harriet Tubman design on the $20 bill.”

Despite all of the backlash OneUnited has received, they are doubling down on the release via their twitter account. 

Tubman is a real-life freedom fighter who did the selfless work of freeing slaves at the risk of her freedom. We believe what people are offended by is that a black-owned bank felt it necessary to add a fictional or non-historical element to her likeness when who she is, is enough. 

What are your thoughts?

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Vanessa Bryant Shares Heartbreaking Post As She Grapples with The Loss of Her Husband and Daughter

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It’s been over a week since the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven other passengers on board his private helicopter. As the rest of the world has begun to move on, the Bryant’s are faced with an unbearable new normal. 

Today, Vanessa Bryant shared a heartbreaking Instagram post that gives us a little insight into how she’s coping with the deaths of her husband and daughter.

In her post, she expressed her reluctance to put her “feelings into words.” Bryant went on to state how difficult it’s been to process both losses at the same time. 

“It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me,” she writes. She goes on to explain how difficult each day has become. “Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri.” 

Following her post, several celebrities and fans have commented and expressed their condolences or offered words of encouragement.

Let’s continue to keep Vanessa, the entire Bryant family and all of the families affected by this unimaginable tragedy in our thoughts and prayers.

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Black Women Shine At The 13th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

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Often, black women feel overlooked and marginalized. Events like The 13th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon brings them one step closer to becoming self-actualized. From the fashion to the comradery and upliftment from fellow melanated visionaries, it’s the place where we get to polish our diamonds and watch them shine; fully! On a chilly day at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the majestic black women of Hollywood brought the warmth of truth and sisterhood. 

Yesterday, Essence honored “Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian, director and producer Niecy Nash; DGA nominated director and two-time Grammy Award-winning music video director Melina Matsoukas; actress Lashana Lynch; and trailblazing cast and co-executive producer/director/writer of Pose (Janet Mock, Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross and Hailie Sahar).” as previously reported by Essence.

As these trailblazers were applauded for their achievements in Hollywood, it was the rest of us who were blessed with affirmations of self-love and acceptance. 

Niecy Nash

Nash’s passionate declaration, “I have never been better in my entire life, and I don’t belong to nobody but myself,” following her 2nd divorce reminded women to see themselves as more than the object of a man’s affection. 

“The struggle for black people must include black trans and queer people, period,” proclaimed Mock as she reminded us that we all have a plight and a story that we must give voice.

Melina Matsoukas

Matsoukas shared how collaboration with Beyoncé empowered her personally and professionally. “She taught me not only how to be a revolutionary but how to be the revolution,” she explained.

On a night filled with a lifetime of lessons and quotables, Lynch added, “The true essence of humanity lies in the sacrifice of black women.”

Hosted by talk show host, rapper and actress, Eve, the event also paid tribute to the iconic Diahann Carroll. Some of the attendees were Ave DuVerney, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Issa Rae and Alfre Woodard. 

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