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Michael Jordan Forms Nascar Team With Bubba Wallace As Driver

Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin are teaming up to form a Nascar team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a decision that’s being regarded by the community as a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at Nascar’s highest level. 

The two announced their partnership this past Monday night in a coordinated social media post that both Jordan and Hamlin uploaded. Wallace added his own comment to both owners’ posts, which showed a picture of Jordan and Hamlin in a motorhome at a race track, already fitting right into their new “playing field.” Jordan also recently released a statement about the milestone for him and Nascar. 

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“Historically, Nascar has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners, the timing seemed perfect as Nascar is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”

Nascar hasn’t had a Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own races from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s win at the 1964 Jacksonville 200 is the only time a Black individual has won in cup history. Jordan wants to change that complete lack of representation on the track, and has made running this team a part of his $100 million 10-year pledge to fund initiatives that combat systemic racism and help the country achieve true racial equality. 

“I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”

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Besides Jordan there’s only one other Black Nascar team owner who also happens to be a former NBA player, Brad Daugherty, who’s a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing. The two are the only Black owners at Nascar’s elite Cup level. 

Hamlin, on the other hand, is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and a top contender for this year’s cup title. He initially met Jordan 11 years ago at a Charlotte Bobcats game, where the two supposedly “became fast friends.” Hamlin joined the Jordan Brand to be the first Nascar athlete to represent Jordan on the track, and the two have been friends ever since. When it came time to create a new team for Nascar, the two knew there was only one driver they wanted, Bubba Wallace. 

Wallace is currently the only Black driver in the Cup series and this season has used his platform to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and speak up against racial injustices that Black individuals in America face every day. Recently he was able to get Nascar to ban the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events due to its historically racist representation/use. 

While Wallace has never won at a Cup series, he has six victories in the Truck series, and both Hamlin and Jordan can see that he’s ready to take his career to a higher level. Nascar recently also released a statement expressing their excitement over the creation of this team and Jordan’s specific involvement with racing now, claiming that “his presence at Nascar’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around the sport.”

Jordan and Hamlin recently purchased a charter for their new team that will guarantee Wallace a spot in the 40-car field every week.

Football Player

Colin Kaepernick Calls Out NFL’s Black Lives Matter ‘Propaganda’ On Opening Weekend

Athletes across the US have been protesting against racial inequality for the past month, but many are starting to wonder how genuine these organizations are in their message.

Target Store

Target Announces Diversity Plans To Increase Number Of Black Employees By 20%

Companies all across the country have been put under fire in recent months as the Black Lives Matter movement has been mainstreamed, prompting consumers to call on their favorite brands to step up their inclusion and advocacy for racial justice. 

This Thursday, Target pledged to increase the amount of Black employees across its entire workforce by 20% over the next three years. Target has around 350,000 employees in America, a majority of which are white, especially in their executive and leadership positions. 75% of its leadership team is White and 8% is Black; based on data from 2019. 

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When it comes to the retailer’s overall workforce – including part-time employees – 50% are White, 25% Latino, and 15% are Black; making up the top three groups. Within their pledge, however, Target also mentioned their many previous initiatives to increase representation within their stores and in their corporate offices. They claimed to have doubled their representation of non-White officers in the past five years; equating to about 30%. However, only 5% of that population is Black. 

Target also mentioned how now more than half of their stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color, however, during a movement that is heavily focused on the injustices Black individuals face on a daily basis, consumers aren’t satisfied with the minimal effort they believe Target has put forward. Chief human resources officer for Target, Melissa Kremer, recently posted a news release regarding Target’s new pledge for inclusivity. 

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team. We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment creates a stronger team.”

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Kremer went on to claim that Target would be emphasizing its recruitment and hiring of Black employees and look for new ways to advance their careers once they join the company. Anti-racist training will be implemented as well as new diversity programs that will focus on things like technology, merchandising and marketing; all aspects of Target’s corporate culture that’s mainly run by White individuals. 

Target is no stranger to publicly advocating for issues of social justice. They’ve made public statements telling customers not to carry guns in stores and welcomed all transgender customers to use their bathrooms and changing rooms whenever they need; which caused conservative groups to boycott the brand. 

After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell and other top executives released a statement expressing their pain over Floyd’s death, and made a call for change. He joined a subcommittee of the Business Roundtable to look for new policy recommendations that would directly address the issues with US law enforcement as well as create more opportunities for individuals who were previously incarcerated and looking for work. 

Other retailers joined target in this initiative by donating to civil rights causes and setting new standards when it comes to hiring and recruiting employees in the future. 

Police

Rochester Police Chief And Command Staff Resign Following Death Of Daniel Prude

Chief La’Ron Singletary and the entire Rochester Police command staff resigned this past Tuesday after public outrage over the death of Daniel Prude; a Black man who suffered from mental health issues who was killed after police put him in a “spit hood” and restrained him in March of this year. 

After 20 years on the force the chief announced his resignation with a news release from the department, which described his decision to depart as a retirement, which would allow him access to retirement packages. The other officers who resigned will also be able to draw from their pension and health benefits in the coming months. 

“The members of the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for. The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

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Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements while Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor, announced they would be moving to a lower ranking lieutenant status. The mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, suggested that there “may be a number of others that will decide to leave as well” in the coming weeks. 

Tameshay Prude is the sister of Daniel Prude who sued the city of Rochester along with some members of the police department who were present the evening Daniel was killed. Singletary is included in that list of officers being sued, and in the official legal complaint it claims that Prude died as a result of “unlawful force and the deliberate disregard for his medical needs.”

Other members of Prude’s family recently released police footage of the incident that occurred on March 23rd that took Prude’s life. The family claims that the footage clearly depicts officers using excessive and unnecessary force, and the autopsy that the family commissioned revealed the cause of death to be “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The drug PCP was also listed as a contributing factor. 

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Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, stated to the media that his brother had mental health and drug problems that were getting especially bad in March. On March 22nd, Joe called the police and Daniel was hospitalized for three hours while he received a mental health check. Around 3 in the morning on March 23rd, videos show officers finding Prude naked in the middle of a residential street. 

Prude is then seen complying with officers demands to get on the ground face down with his hands behind his back. While he was handcuffed, Prude is seen speaking to the officers in a “nonsensical manner,” according to reports. It’s at this point that officers put the spit hood on Prude after he supposedly claimed he had Covid-19. He then stopped breathing, prompting paramedics to try to revive him; he was put on life support and died a week later. 

Mayor Warren also announced on Tuesday that seven officers have been suspended in relation to the incident and Attorney General Letitia James has been empowered by a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death. The protests that have been occuring in Rochester as of late have made headlines due to the public’s outrage after it was discovered that the department delayed releasing information about Prude’s detainment and death for months. The city council will also be reviewing the timeline of incidents that occurred that night, and will be analyzing the chiefs response as well.

Police Car

French Reporter Joins Police Force To Expose Systemic Racism And Violence 

Valentin Gendrot is a french journalist who recently infiltrated the country’s police force as a means of observing what types of racist and violent patterns occur within the force behind-the-scenes. He claimed the violence was so frequent that it almost “became boring,” describing an incident in which another officer forced him to help falsify evidence against a young adult who had been severely beaten by an officer. 

“It really shocked me to hear police officers, who are representatives of the state, calling people who were black, Arab or migrants ‘bastards’, but everyone did it. It was only a minority of officers who were violent … but they were always violent.”

One of the biggest takeaways Gendrot claimed to gain from his time on the force was the discovery of how poorly trained and paid police recruits are, and how the stress of the job is so constant and hostile that it makes sense there’s such a high rate of depression and suicide for police officers. 

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Gendrot spent about six months in a police station in Paris in an area that’s known for having extreme tensions between law enforcement and citizens. He wrote a book on his experiences titled Flic (cop), which was published this past Wednesday. Within the book he revealed that he was given a uniform and gun after about three months of training, and was later sent out on patrol. He recounted often witnessing officers assaulting younger individuals; many of which were minors. He claims these assaults occurred every single day, but the “clannish system ensures officers close in rank can protect their own.” 

“They don’t see a youngster, but a delinquent … once this dehumanisation is established everything becomes justifiable, like beating up an adolescent or a migrant.”

The officers always had the attitude that they were untouchable, and knew they could choose when they wanted to be violent at their own will if they pleased. In Gendrot’s specific commissariat he recounted being surrounded by “racists, homophobic, and macho comments every day.” 

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Genrot’s book, Flic, was published in extreme secrecy due to the sensitive undercover nature of the narrative. Only a few media publications have been granted access to the books manuscript before it was published, and Genrot wants future readers to understand that the book is “not anti-police. It’s a factual account of the day-to-day life of a police officer.” He made it a point to remain objective in his narrations and simply state what he witnessed and heard on a daily basis. 

After his three months of training, Genrot finished 27th out of a class of 54 and was issued a uniform and pistol. He immediately was stationed to a Paris district with over 190,000 residents; this particular area is known for having a problem with juvenile drugs and prostitution as well. During one of his first patrols he recalled an officer beating up a teenage migrant in the back of a police van, after which the officer turned to him and said: “what happens in the van stays in the van.” 

The beaten up teenager ended up filing an official complaint against the police, however, Gendrot’s colleagues made up a story and insisted the adolescent boy gave false information and evidence, which then caused the teen to get charged with falsifying evidence; something that’s punishable by a large fine and potential time in prison.  

The book itself is not for the faint of heart, as it’s filled with countless stories like the one above that Gendrot personally witnessed on a daily basis. In a time where law enforcement and political tensions are running high all around the world, Gendrot believes now is the perfect time to publish this book and raise some awareness about what goes on behind-the-scenes with the individuals who are meant to protect and serve the public.

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

John Boyega Claims Non-White Roles Are ‘Pushed To The Side’ In Star Wars Franchise 

British actor John Boyega recently spoke with the media and criticized the treatment of all non-white actors on the set of the most recent Star Wars film. Boyega claims that all POC actors may have been marketed as important and crucial elements to the storyline, but the reality was they were “ultimately pushed to the side.” Boyega specifically mentioned how his role as stormtrooper Finn had more of a crucial story line in his first film, but his character’s relevance faded in the latter episodes of the trilogy.  

“What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

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Boyega went on in the interview to claim that his fellow non-white actors Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac all agreed and had their characters suffer similar fates as the trilogy progressed. However, white actors Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley had taken more of a leading role playing Kylo Ren and Rey. 

“They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.” He discussed how one of the biggest issues that always arises when POC speak up about injustices within their industry, they often are accused of “making it up” or being “overly sensitive,” when the reality is they’re expressing a very real issue within the industry. 

His biggest claim that in general, Star Wars just didn’t know what to do with non-white characters after having strictly white casts for a majority of the franchises existence. 

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“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you.”

Boyega recently went viral for expressing his thoughts on racial injustices in the world in a video that spread around social media in June. In the video Boyega is emotional and angry as he gives a heartfelt speech at an anti-racism demonstration in London following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police. 

Boyega may not have been in the industry for that long, however, in his short time working in Hollywood he’s managed to make a major impact. Not only was he involved in one of the largest film franchises in the world, but he also was never one to shy away from speaking up against the injustices he faced and witnessed on a daily basis. 

In his speech at the Black Lives Matter rally in London, one of the most memorable quotes regarded the actual meaning of BLM: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”

Boyega has remained diligent in his efforts to expose the racial issues in Hollywood while also trying to help the Black Lives Matter movement as much as he can from quarantine. If one thing’s for sure based on his most recent interview, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Open Book

Yusef Salaam Explores Institutional Racism In New Novel ‘Punching the Air’

Yusef Salaam was just 15-years-old in 1989 when he, along with four other black and brown teenagers, were charged for the rape of a white investment banker who was left for dead in Central Park, New York City.

Whitney Museum NYC

Whitney Museum Cancels Exhibit Highlighting Work Around ‘BLM’ And Covid-19 Amid Controversy

The Whitney Museum announced this week that they would be cancelling an exhibition that was meant to center around the Black Lives Matter movement as well as Covid-19. They made this decision after the public learned that the museum had taken a lot of the artwork that was done predominately by Black artists without their permission and at an extremely discounted price. 

The many different art pieces were intended to be in a collection titled Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change, and was acquired by the museum at a See In Black print sale. See In Black was a photography fundraiser meant to aid many Black organizations and charities. However, the artists who had their work bought by the museum claim that none of them were properly consulted or paid for the transaction. 

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This came to light after the Whitney director of research resources, Farris Wahbeh, emailed all the artists informing them that the museum acquired their work for its special collection. The collection was going to be scheduled for September 17th to January 3rd, 2021, and in the email Wahbeh also informed the artists that they would receive a lifetime museum pass in exchange for their personal information. 

The See In Black fundraising began on Juneteenth this year with its first print sale. Each piece for that fundraiser was priced at $100, and helped get the world out on what the organization was doing. The Whitney museum then acquired works from 79 different artists for its collection. Antwaun Sargent is an art critic who helped expose the Whitney for their lack of communication and compensation with the artists. 

She noted that museums normally take months to go through the process of acquiring new artwork as it has to go through several committees before receiving approval. However, the Whitney can technically skip all those steps when curating pieces to be in a limited collection. See In Black responded to these actions by the Whitney with extreme disappointment and claimed they completely went against their mission of “investing materially in Black communities.” 

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“The Whitney’s use of the works acquired through See in Black constitutes unauthorized use of the works to which the artists do not consent and for which the artists were not compensated. Furthermore, See in Black is not affiliated with the Whitney’s exhibition.”

Many of the artists also took to Twitter to express their extreme frustration in the Whitney’s use of an acquisition loophole to get out of properly paying Black artists for their work, while also using it to profit off potential ticket sales. Shortly after See In Black made their public statement the Whitney responded by announcing the preemptive closing of the exhibition. 

The statement claimed that the museum would be careful in the future when it came to giving artists their proper dues for their work, however, many of the artists and museum-goers in general aren’t so convinced, as this is not the first time the Whitney has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. 

Last year, the Whitney was under fire for its association with Warren B. Kanders, who was a former board member for the museum. Kanders ran a company that also manufactures tear gas to be used by federal police and border control. The museum also is one of many culture institutions that received a PPP loan between $5-$10 million, despite laying off 76 staff members the same month. 

As of right now the Whitney is expected to reopen on September 3rd.

Basketball going into Net

NBA Players Discuss Boycotting Playoffs Following Jacob Blake Shooting

Many players in the NBA are pausing their celebrations for making it into the next round of playoffs and are instead thinking of boycotting the games following the shooting of Jacob Blake and countless other black individuals in America at the hands of the police. 

Blake underwent surgery this past Tuesday, and his family updated the world by stating that he is alive, but now paralyzed from the waist down; doctors think it’s unlikely he’ll be able to regain motion. His shooting further fueled the hundreds of ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests that have been occuring every day in America since April following the murder of George Floyd. 

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Toronto Raptors point-guard Fred VanVleet recently confirmed ahead of his teams first game against the Boston Celtics that he and his fellow players had a private meeting where a boycott was brought up several times, sparking the interests of many players. 

“We’re the ones who always have to take a stand. Is it cool to wear Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wear a T-shirt. Like what does that really mean? Is it really doing anything? I’m in a different place today just emotionally-speaking.”

The Raptors are still set to face-off against the Celtics this Thursday in Orlando. Marcus Smart, who is playing in his sixth season with the Celtics agrees with VanVleet, and recently told reporters that boycotting may be the only actual way they can make a difference. He claimed that they tried all the peaceful methods and “it’s not working, so obviously something has to be done.” Jaylen Brown who also plays on the Celtics said that everytime he looks at his Number 7 jersey all he sees “is a Black man being shot seven times.” 

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“The reality is the majority of African Americans have a history with the police. It comes with the plagues of systemic oppression, lack of education, economic opportunity, housing, et cetera. And most people of color, most minority communities, have history with the police.”

The Republican National Convention also kicked off this week, and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers agreed with the many NBA players on their boycott stance based on how the convention was going. Rivers recently spoke with the media and claimed that what really stood out to him was the “spewing of fear.” 

Rivers personally doesn’t believe the police force needs to be completely defunded, but dramatically reformed in the ways in which officers are trained and hired. The fact that the National Guard and individual milita’s appear whenever protestors peacefully demand that justice be served for the countless black lives lost to police brutality is a major issue, says Rivers. He claims that he believes in good cops and just wants all cops to protect black people like they do everyone else. 

“That video [Jacob Blakes shooting], if you watch that video, you don’t need to be Black to be outraged. You don’t need to be American and outraged. And how dare the Republicans talk about fear?! We’re the ones that need to be scared.” The NBA has not commented in regard to what actions they would take if players did decide to boycott the remaining playoff games.

Basketball going through Net

Etan Thomas Wants Sport Team CEOs To Do More To Fight Against Racial Inequality

Etan Thomas played in the NBA from 2001 to 2011. Now, he’s a published poet, motivational speaker, but most importantly, an activist.