What Now, Kamala? Black Women Weigh in With Their Opinions and Hopes

What Now, Kamala? Black Women Weigh in With Their Opinions and Hopes


In the 11 months that Sen. Kamala Harris was running for president of the United States, virtually every time she spoke at a rally, she entered to Mary J. Blige belting “Work That” in the background.

“Feelin’ great because the light’s on me

Celebrating the things that everyone told me

Wouldn’t happen but God has put his hands on me…”

It would set a tone that would set her apart as a candidate—a proud woman of color candidate.

Last June, for Black Music Month, Harris even released a 46-song collection of favorites (Prince, Lizzo, Ella Mai, anybody?) on Spotify that launched a hitlist of headlines including Rolling Stone’s, “If Playlists Won Elections, Kamala Harris Would Be an Easy Frontrunner.”

If only running for president was that simple.

When Harris announced on Tuesday that she was exiting the race, she donned sober black and grey for her videotaped message to supporters and there was a decided absence of music. But the chorus of reactions from women—and black women in particular—is filling the void as they question what was gained during Harris’ run, what is lost with her leaving, and what Harris should do next.

“I believe in the issues she raised but I did not think this was her time to run,” says Felita Granby, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York. “I wanted her to stay in the senate and bring on the fire from that position of power.”

Calling All Truth-Tellers

Granby’s response seems to typify the sentiment shared by black women throughout the country: “She is smart, tough, and thinks on her feet. She can take on the male senators of both parties with finesse.”

The results of an informal Black Enterprise poll showed that while black women continue to champion Harris as a leader and only the second black woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate, they were less than enthralled by her attempt to level up.

Several women were unwilling to go on the record with what one called her “complicated thoughts” about Harris but agreed to express their positions on the condition of anonymity. “She can’t change her history with what she did as a D.A.,” said a Chicago math teacher, alluding to Harris’ prosecutorial record, which became a particular stumbling block with younger black voters.

“I wish the people that are close to her would’ve spent a little more time with her in the kitchen at the table telling her the truth,” said a San Francisco-based events planner.

A retired professor in San Jose, California, said, “I think she’s desperately needed in the Senate or as Attorney General. I never thought she was ready for a presidential prime time bid.”

Too Little, Too Late for Kamala?

Harris had anticipated the doubters. She even alluded to them when she officially launched her campaign in her Oakland hometown last January. “We know this is not going to be easy, and we know what the doubters will say,” she forewarned a jubilant crowd that included noteworthy numbers of black women. “They’ll say what they always said. It’s not your time. Wait your turn. The odds are long. It can’t be done. But America’s story has always been written by people who can see what can be, unburdened by what has been.”

Even as her campaign wound down, Harris seemed to ramp up her direct appeals to black women, still hoping to seal their unqualified support. Much of her signage echoed the colors of Shirley Chisolm’s 1972 campaign and she often invoked Chisolm and her “Unbought and Unbossed” slogan.

Less than two weeks before suspending her campaign, Harris placed black women at the center of her strategy in what would be her final debate in Atlanta. She didn’t mince words in noting before the live cameras that black women voters were tired of showing up for a Democratic party that wasn’t showing up for them.

“When black women are three-to-four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth in America, when the sons of black women will die because of gun violence more than any other cause of death, when black women make 61 cents on the dollar as compared to all women who tragically make 80 cents on the dollar, the question has to be, where’ve you been and what are you going to do,” she said, as her white male opponents nodded mutely.

Harris pulled even fewer punches at a Black Women’s Power Breakfast in Atlanta on that same campaign stop. The room fell silent when she said, “There is no one more fragile in terms of her safety and security than a black woman in America.”

What Will It Take To Win?

Despite her very presence preserving space in the democratic conversation for black women’s specific needs and cares, our poll not only showed general approval for her exiting the presidential race, some even expressed relief.

“She was valiant in her effort but, without the funding to continue, she did the right thing,” says Terri James, a Charlotte-based project manager. “I expect to see her continue to be a brilliant fighter in her Senate focus, especially with pending impeachment efforts.”

“I’m glad she had the fortitude and wisdom to step away before eroding more resources, so we can throw those resources behind a candidate who can win,” says Cathy Adams, an entrepreneur who is president of both Oakland’s Black Chamber of Commerce and head of the local chapter of 100 Black Women. “We all love her on a personal level, but this is not the friendship club. We support and uphold our black women, but this is the most serious election we’ve faced and we can’t afford not to be woke about what it is going to take to win.”

Adams is passionate in her hope that Harris will use her power and influence to secure a win for whoever secures the democratic ticket. Of course, several women expressed the hope that Harris might even be on it, as a vice-presidential candidate.

On Nov. 30, Harris tweeted birthday wishes to a woman whose courage and commitment she no doubt has a new and unique appreciation for: Shirley Chisolm, who died in 2005, would have turned 95. Three days later, her own run for the nation’s highest public office ended.

Whatever Harris decides to pursue next, her campaign was historic and not without lasting impact. “Kamala Harris’s candidacy credibly advanced the concept that a black woman can be president of the United States,” says Gwen Adolf, interim executive director of the New York-based Black Economic Alliance. “The possibility was conceived by Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm, believed because of Senator Harris, and will be achieved due to the courage, conviction, and example of both.”

Cue “We Shall Overcome,” the remix.

 





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Nick Cannon Announces Nationally Syndicated Radio Shows

Nick Cannon Announces Nationally Syndicated Radio Shows


Nick Cannon has announced his plan to develop Nick Cannon Radio and Nick Cannon Weekends to debut in 2020. The multi-talented businessman is producing this in partnership with Skyview Networks and Meruelo Media.

Nick Cannon is one of the most accomplished, creative and versatile entertainers in America and we are proud to be working with him and the team at Meruelo Media to launch Nick’s new syndicated shows,” said Steve Jones, president and COO of Skyview Networks said in a statement. “Nick is an influencer, whose connection with audiences makes him extremely attractive to advertisers and radio programmers alike.”

“I love connecting with Los Angeles every morning on Power 106. The response and support has been amazing and very special; the natural thing is to take it to the next level with a new nationally syndicated daily drive time and weekend show,” said host Nick Cannon. “The show will feature original comedy and conversations with the people driving pop culture. I am looking forward to working with Skyview Networks and my Meruelo Media family to now reach all of the U.S.”

“Our partnership with Nick Cannon on Power 106 is proof positive that we are committed to invest[ing] in the very best and most compelling entertainment in the world,” said Otto Padron, president and CEO of Meruelo Media. “This content strategy, coupled with our carefully curated portfolio of heritage audio brands and popular personalities in the key market of Los Angeles, gives Meruelo Media very exciting syndication opportunities. Having a like-minded syndication partner like Skyview Networks is the perfect storm!”

Nick Cannon Radio, which will be for afternoon syndication, will make its debut on Jan. 27, 2020, and Nick Cannon Weekends will start in February 2020.

Cannon has a long career showcasing his talent as a host, comedian, actor, producer, rapper, writer, director, deejay, philanthropist, children’s book author, and activist. The busy businessman currently hosts The Masked Singer on Fox, which debuted earlier this year and has already been renewed for two additional seasons, as well as his own variety-themed show on MTV, Wild ‘N Out, which is in its 13th season.

A launch date has been set for Nick Cannon‘s untitled talk show. Fox Television Stations will serve as the launch group for Cannon’s untitled show, which will be produced by Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury. The show expects to launch fall 2020 and will air twice daily on Fox-owned affiliates in some of the country’s biggest markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco as it is slated to appear in 17 major markets, including nine of the top 10.





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Michelle Obama Named on the 2019 People of the Year List

Michelle Obama Named on the 2019 People of the Year List


Along with other notable celebrities, Michelle Obama has been named one of the 2019 People of the Year. The former first lady joins Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, and Taylor Swift for People magazine’s top honor.

Obama has been on a tour for most of the year promoting her 2018 book, BecomingThe book, which was released on Nov. 13, 2018, has sold more than 11.5 million units worldwide across print, digital, and audio formats, including 7.5 million units in the U.S. and Canada alone, and has been published in 45 languages.

Obama’s most recent book, Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, was released on Nov. 19. It is a companion piece to her critically-acclaimed memoir, Becoming, and features an “intimate introduction” from Obama, herself.

According to People, “In 2019 Michelle Obama became the bestselling memoirist of all time, and the audio version of Becoming was nominated for a Grammy. In a Gallup survey, Mrs. Obama was named the most admired woman in the world, and it’s no wonder since she continues to do so much work to improve girls’ education both here at home and in countries like Namibia with her Global Girls Alliance.”

Michelle Obama people

Obama has stated that after being out of the White House for two years, she and President Barack Obama have “rediscovered” themselves since their youngest daughter, Sasha, went to college. “We’ve rediscovered all these little pockets of time, just me and Barack, that for a couple [of] decades have been filled with school events or sports practices,” she said. “We’re taking full advantage of this new normal, simply spending time with each other and remembering what brought us together in the first place.”

“Sometimes I’ll get a glimpse of him and just go, ‘Hey you! Where have you been for 21 years?’ ” she continues. “It’s been fun. The tough part, of course, is missing our girls. It’s an adjustment to see each other for a weekend here, a holiday break there, but the moments we do spend together feel extra special because of it.”

People‘s Editor-in-Chief, Dan Wakeford, explains the choices for this year’s People of the Year honor: “For the first time ever we are giving you four different covers in one issue. Our People of the Year issue celebrates the stars who have made an impact on our culture, the individuals who have moved us and entertained us. We wanted to see if we could soak up a little of their wisdom. When we sat down to look at who we thought deserved this honor, I wasn’t surprised that we ended up with an all-female foursome—this year has been dominated by strong women.”





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Serena Williams Builds Schools in Jamaica and Across Africa

Serena Williams Builds Schools in Jamaica and Across Africa


She not only builds on the tennis courts, but she also builds in other countries! Tennis great Serena Williams has built schools in Jamaica and Africa, according to Black Press USA.

Williams partnered with the nonprofit Helping Hands Jamaica to help build the Marsh Elementary School in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica. She has also built grade schools in Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe in conjunction with Build Africa.

Williams also has a role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She has partnered with organizations such as Beyond the Boroughs Scholarship Fund, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Caliber Foundation, and Build Africa Schools.

A world-class athlete, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Serena Williams knows what it takes to win. She’s come back from major injuries to win international titles and persevered to become one of the top tennis players in history. A savvy entrepreneur, Serena has pursued her love of fashion through designing and managing a successful line of clothing, handbags, and jewelry. Serena Ventures has investments in over 30 companies across multiple industries. including businesses that touch e-commerce, food & beverage, fashion, health & wellness, social good, and more.

“In 2014, I launched Serena Ventures with the mission of giving opportunities to founders across an array of industries. Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity,” Williams said in a statement posted on her Serena Ventures website.

“Serena Ventures focuses on early-stage companies and allowing them to be heard. As we grow, we hope to mentor young founders and take burgeoning entrepreneurs to the next level,” she stated. “Serena Ventures extends relationships, encourages collaboration among portfolio companies, and expands partnership opportunities across my vast network. Similar to many of the companies we have invested in, we are just getting started and are hoping to make a difference.”

Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. She has 39 Grand Slam titles. In 2016, she earned almost $29 million in prize money and endorsements making her the highest-paid female athlete in 2016. She did it again in 2017 with earnings of $27 million when she was the only woman on Forbes‘ list of the 100 highest-paid athletes. She was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine in December 2015. This year she was ranked 63rd in Forbes‘ World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list.





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Angela Medlin Is Cultivating The Next Generation of Black Woman Designers

Angela Medlin Is Cultivating The Next Generation of Black Woman Designers


In August, Footaction made an open call to over 85 HBCUs to participate in a six-week digital and in-person design intensive, No 1 Way Design program. Hundreds of students applied to be a part of the program by sending in their designs, but, only 10 students were selected to participate in the FAAS at PENSOLE online program to refine their designs. From there, the competition was cut in half and the top five finalists (who so happen to be five young women) relocated to Portland for a three-week, hands-on design academy at the FAAS Studio at PENSOLE.

As a part of PENSOLE’s strategic partnership with Footaction through Footlocker Inc., D’Wayne Edwards selected the founder of FAAS (The Functional Apparel & Accessories) at PENSOLE, Angela Medlin to lead the six-week intensive online course and onsite intensive in Portland.

This year’s challenge was to design functional apparel for the chance to win cash prizes, the opportunity to have their designs showcased at New York Fashion Week in February 2020, and the opportunity to have their designs sold at Footaction stores nationwide and online.

Medlin is a fashion industry veteran who graced the pages of BLACK ENTERPRISE in ’93 for her accomplishments at Cross Colours Inc as a fashion designer. Since then, she has made her mark on the industry at Adidas, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, Levi’s.

As you could imagine, navigating the fashion and design industry 30 years ago was no crystal staircase. Medlin entered the industry after working endlessly on her design portfolio after graduating from NC State with a degree in environmental design.

Related: 6 Black Fashion Labels to Know, Celebrate, and Support

Right before founding FAAS in 2017, Medlin was the design director for Jordan apparel at Nike. Now, she’s helping young creatives design their futures through FAAS and the No 1 Way Design program in partnership with Footaction.

HBCU

The top five contestants for the Footaction x PENSOLE No 1 Way Design with Angela Medlin, founder of FAAS. (Image: Footaction)

“With 30 years in the industry, I have officially covered every category you could possibly design in apparel. Be it streetwear, denim, outerwear, activewear, athleisure for women, men and children; and now dogs! I have a lot of experience seeing the industry from different angles. And, from one job to the next, it was the problem-solving that stuck with me throughout the entire movement of going from place to place. Fast forward 30 years, I founded FAAS because I really want people or designers who are coming into the next generation to be mindful of what they’re designing,” says Medlin.

FAAS is transforming the way people design and wear apparel

FAAS Studio instructs students on the best practices and processes that simulate the true apparel design experience as performed in global companies such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and others. In Partnership with PENSOLE Academy, students receive direction and mentorship from leaders with a combined 90 years of exceptional design experience and leadership in the apparel and footwear industry.

“What makes the Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio different from traditional apparel design programs is the operative word functional. Everything has a reason to be. Everything from color to material to construction. What they’re learning is to create product that either enhances your superpower or gives you that armor that’s going to protect you from day to day,” says Medlin.

As the instructor of the NO 1 Way Design program, Medlin has made it her goal to make sure that the students are able to learn the fundamentals of design and are able to get hands-on experience with the latest design technology.

In partnership with the Portland Apparel Lab, FAAS provides students the opportunity to learn cutting-edge technology. One of those technologies is the 3-D software, Browzwear, which the students used to create their designs.

Design

Students working at the Portland Apparel Lab (Image: Footaction)

The 3-D development is new to the industry and PENSOLE is the first career school to incorporate it into their programs. Browzwear is the leading provider of 3-D fashion design, development, and merchandising solutions. And according to the Sourcing Journal, Browzwear is helping brands to be more sustainable in the design process by developing the right products quickly while reducing waste.

“The software is efficient and eliminates rounds of prototypes in the pre-production process. The actual prototypes built through this provider will look close to a pre-production sample,” Medlin adds.

Medlin is also a mentor

“A lot of what I’m teaching is life skills. Once you have these skills, you can apply them to any anywhere in anything that you do. When I’m sitting and having conversations and giving the students the answers to all the questions I’ve already asked over the years—I feel like they’re starting at a higher place. They get to become amazing faster and in half the time that I did it or less,” says Medlin.

She went on to say, “It’s exciting for me to know that the person that I needed in my life at once upon a time now exists in me, and I get to give that to someone.”

When speaking to the contestants of the design program and competition, each of the young women expressed their gratitude for Medlin paving the way for them as one of the first and few black women within the industry.

“I lead by giving them the opportunity to learn while they’re doing things. They’re learning through conversation, they’re learning through making, and through designing. Just knowing them individually and leading them individually towards their goal is it’s exciting for me every time I talked to one person to the next. They’re problem-solving for their own life. And, I’m teaching them that skill for the industry. While they’re here, they’re actually like figuring out that there is no one way to do something,” says Medlin.

Under Medlin’s leadership, the young women participating in the program have been equipped with more skills than they arrived in Portland with.

Related: Pyer Moss And Other Luxury Black-Owned Labels Disrupting the World of Fashion

Representation matters

With less than 20 women leading in the design and apparel industry, Medlin and Edwards are increasing the probability of those numbers changing in the near future. And, Medlin says that was the plan.

As someone who is passionate about diversity and representation, Medlin created a blog on the FAAS website to highlight people of color within the industry.

“I had a very hard time finding representatives to interview for that blog. But now, those coming up in the industry have plenty of resources. They’ll (the young women) will have each other. Usually, when there’s an intense class like this, people will know each other for the rest of their career,” says Medlin.

To that point, “They don’t have to enter the industry in the mindset that you have to be super competitive with each other. They get to see the real version of the apparel world and take that back and do whatever they’re going to do next—knowing that they get to create how they navigate how they journey through the industry,” she adds.

The No 1 Way Design Program presented by Footaction has created a community for young black designers from HBCUs that did not exist before.

PENSOLE, FAAS, and Footaction are changing the narrative for designers. And the competition, no matter who wins or loses, will change the lives of the young women who have invested in becoming their best selves.





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This Chief Brand Officer Says Stop Feeling Guilty About Being an Ambitious Woman

This Chief Brand Officer Says Stop Feeling Guilty About Being an Ambitious Woman


As BLACK ENTERPRISE gears up for the 15th anniversary of our Women of Power Summit, we’re talking to the real women getting it done every day about the ways they claim, wield, and restore their power for our new series: Portraits of Power.

Portrait of Power:​ Joy Altimare

Title: ​Chief Engagement and Brand Officer

Employer:​ EHE Health, a 105-year-old preventative healthcare company

Backstory:​ Tennessee native with Jamaican roots; only child from large extended family; started in advertising; became a mom at 38, entered the C-suite at 41; Rosa Parks is her shero but Oprah is her BFF (in her head)

Her big bulging success: ​Altimare interviewed for a role at a startup when she was 8 months pregnant—and got the job!

What’s the best part of your current role? The ability to work in an agile environment across the entire organization. Being the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer means that I have responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, marketing. I am truly interested in how our customers and patients interact with our brand, products and services. I am not just interested in conversions, I’m interested in the conversations we’re having with each stakeholder. I’m looking beyond the transaction toward the engagement. I love that ability to go macro and micro in this role.

Has your career been shaped more by strategy or spontaneity?​ ​A bit of both—I have always wanted to be a marketer. Not sure if I planned on being a CMO, but I wanted to be a change agent who could also be compassionate and empathetic [and] open to a path that was a bit winding.

What’s the most significant decision you’ve made, and how intentional was it? I was very intentional about not having kids until I’d reached a certain flexibility within my career.

Best career decision you ever made? To remove guilt for being an ambitious woman in both my professional and personal life.

What’s been your hardest decision? Sometimes you have to remove yourself from toxic situations and people—that’s been hard. Sometimes you have to disassociate yourself with dream-stealers or angry people. It will begin to feed into your spirit and, when you want to soar, you cannot be heavy with other people’s doubts, distrust and negativity.

What is your process for making big decisions and how has it evolved? I’m in this game not just to be productive today but to have longevity and positive generational impact. So, when I’m faced with a big decision, I ask what does it mean for me, my family, but also my future grandchildren and their children. It’s so important to view life through that lens so that you can thrive, not just survive.

What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? Growing up in the South, I was often told that it was more important to be a lady who was liked, not heard, and who supported the lead of the man in her life. While I value partnership and marriage, as a 5’10”, self-aware and confident black woman, I do have a mind and a voice, both of which I like to use often. So, I have to constantly remind myself that it’s OK that people may not like me, what I say or how I say it. They may not like how I dress or look and they may even have a problem with me “being in the room,” but my ambition is to be respected and valued as a competent contributor to the team. Being liked is not my end game.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? Be present, lean into your life, and speak up for yourself.

Best advice you ever got? From my dad: “You better like yourself, not just love yourself, because you take yourself wherever you go.”

Proudest accomplishment? My favorite person, my 5-year-old daughter, Ella Helene. She’s named after my first favorite person, my grandmother—Ella Geneva.

Biggest disappointment? I don’t live in disappointments—in every defect, there’s a gem. It’s an opportunity to learn a lesson, or make a new friend or to take a step toward the right direction.

What you’re learning now? Everything. Literally. I’m learning the fundamentals of coding, which is like unlocking a whole new world. I am also learning a little Mandarin as I listen to my daughter’s tutoring lessons.

Do you believe in luck? Nope, I believe that I’m blessed to be prepared for when the opportunity presents itself so I can seize it.

Are you Type A? B? C? Definitely type A. Definitely.

How do you wind down? A glass of wine and some really good jazz or classic R&B.

What’s your biggest wellness challenge? I’ve managed to figure out the daily fitness (running home from dropping my daughter off to school) but I really love acupuncture and massages and I don’t do them as religiously as I used to before Ella was born. Well being is not just about fitness and nutrition—the cognitive piece is essential to creating positive lifestyle and behavior choices, so I need to double-down on finding time to include that part in my life.

Favorite self-care fix? Weekly facials.

Best stress management hack? Weekly Neti pot sessions—it really is a de-stressor, especially if you travel often or live in a congested city like NYC.

Who/what keeps you whole? I’m a Believer, so, 100% my relationship with Christ is what keeps me stable, sane and secure.





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