Amanda Seales Leaves ‘The Real’ After 6 Months

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/entertainment/amanda-seales-leaves-the-real/ along with the image used.

Amanda Seales, your favorite outspoken co-host on The Real has chucked the deuces to the popular show.

During an Instagram Live with actor, producer and advocate Brandon Dixon (Power, Jesus Christ Superstar), Seales revealed that her contract was up on the daytime gabfest and she decided not to renew it.

The hourlong conversation between the two not only touched on the intersection of consciousness and work, but also why Seales decided to pass on the opportunity to continue her gig on the Emmy Award winning show after six months. 

“I didn’t renew it, because it doesn’t feel good to my soul to be at a place where I cannot speak to my people the way they need to be spoken to. And where the people who are speaking to me in disparaging ways are not being handled,” Seales said unapologetically.

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Speaking on practical ways to move toward and embrace the mental elevation, economic independence, and political awareness needed for REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE!

A post shared by amandaseales (@amandaseales) on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:10pm PDT

“I’m not at a space where as a full Black woman,” she continued, “I can have my voice and my co-workers also have their voices and where the people at the top are not respecting the necessity for Black voices to be at the top too.”

Seales joined Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Tamera Mowry-Housley and Jeannie Mai as the fifth co-host in January 2020, replacing Tamar Braxton who was fired from the show. 

Fans tweeted their support for the comedian’s departure and some saw it coming because Seales is “vocal and passionate about Black community racial issues.”

I can’t say I didn’t see #AmandaSeales exit from #TheReal coming. She is too vocal and passionate about black community racial issues. She definitely elevated the social issue conversation. Her voice is very necessary all things considered. ❤💜 pic.twitter.com/bd9hAylwMY

— Gītūnio 🇰🇪 (@NiGitunio) June 3, 2020

Others were proud of Seales for protecting her space and deciding to rep Black folks “in the most truthful light.”

I’m so proud of @amandaseales for protecting here peace of mind and continuing to do her best to represent us in the most truthful light! I strive to have that level of integrity in my life! 🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎🖤🤎

— DEANDRE (@J_Buffy25) June 3, 2020

Check out the full conversation above. Seales shares her truth around the 40-minute mark. 

The post Amanda Seales Leaves ‘The Real’ After 6 Months appeared first on Essence.

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LGBTQA+ Black Beauty Creators to Follow on Instagram

This was originally posted on https://www.allure.com/story/lgbtqa-black-beauty-creators-instagram along with the image used.

In honor of Pride month and the Black Lives Matter protests, Allure editors compiled a list of their favorite LGBTQA+ Black beauty creators to follow on Instagram. Their bold hair and makeup looks are often bookmarked but not talked about enough. Some have even inspired beauty trends all over our feeds.

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Keke Palmer Asks National Guardsmen To ‘March Beside Us’

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/celebrity/keke-palmer-national-guardsmen/ along with the image used.

Keke Palmer led a peaceful conversation between protestors and National Guard soldiers at a Los Angeles protest on Tuesday. 

In a now viral video, the Good Morning America anchor addresses the soldiers directly and requests that they stand in solidarity with the people, who are protesting against police brutality. 

The actress began by denouncing social media posts sent by Donald Trump on May 29 that referenced harming protestors. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote in one tweet, referencing a racist mayor.

“You have a president talking about the Second Amendment as a use for people to come out here and use firearms against the people protesting. This is the message that we’re seeing,” she passionately said to the soldiers. 

Watch all of this. pic.twitter.com/YHq0QhXrnw

— Gadi Schwartz (@GadiNBC) June 2, 2020

“You have to pay attention to what’s going on! We have a president that’s trying to incite a race war, and when the borders are closed we can’t leave,” Palmer continued. “You have people in here that need your help. This is when you and y’all can stand together with the community, with society, to stop the governmental oppression. Period. We need you.”

One of the soldiers she was appealing to responded, “I agree with you.” He repeatedly nodded his head as she was speaking. 

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I can’t keep it in. Writing down how i feels really helps me gather my thoughts. What are y’all feeling like? ❤🙏🏾

A post shared by BIG BOSS 🔑🔑 (@keke) on Jun 1, 2020 at 12:09pm PDT

Palmer then asked the National Guard to march with the protestors.

“March with us. March beside us. Get your people. March beside us. Let the revolution be televised. March beside us and show us that you’re here for us. Let’s just do it. We start marching and you march with us,” she instructed. 

“Do it, do it please,” she pleaded. “Be the change!” 

Palmer’s fellow protestors filmed the scene from various angles and echoed her requests for a show of solidarity.  “March with us,” they chanted. 

Another one of the soldiers said that they were unable to leave their posts because they had to carry out their assignment of protecting property. 

“It will send a huge message,” said Palmer about leaving their posts to protect the protestors.

He offered to escort them down the block, but said that they couldn’t go further. Another protester requested that the soldier take a knee instead. He obliged and was met with cheers. Two of his fellow soldiers followed suit.

“I’m at a loss,” Palmer said. “I don’t know — that ain’t enough for me.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, hundreds of protestors took to the streets Tuesday.

The post Keke Palmer Asks National Guardsmen To ‘March Beside Us’ appeared first on Essence.

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New Orleans Rapper Marrero Desto Dead At 35

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/celebrity/marrero-desto-dead/ along with the image used.

As if we can take any more pain and suffering right now, New Orleans is mourning the loss of local musician and rapper, Marrero Desto.

The 35-year-old rapper was shot and killed by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy on Wednesday when Reyes allegedly pointed a weapon at deputies after a short chase.

A video recorded by a camera attached to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff deputy’s stun gun captured the encounter, where one the deputies shouts, “Move,” and another can be heard shouting, “Gun,” before the sound of gunfire rings out. 

Reyes’ family members and friends contend footage from other video cameras refutes Jefferson Parish Sheriff Office’s version of events, said Reyes’ little brother, Alfonso Rowland. They remain skeptical of the incident.

“I know in my heart and my mind, it couldn’t have happened like that,” Reyes’ sister, Librada Turner, told Nola.com. “To try to hurt somebody and shoot somebody, that’s totally out of his character.” 

Reyes’ family has been stunned by the news of his death, which occurred two days after a 45-year-old Black man, George Floyd, died at the hands of a vicious White police officer, who had a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Family and friends of the rapper held a peace walk near the site of his killing earlier this week while they await the results of the autopsy, which is scheduled for Friday, according to the Jefferson Parish Coroners’ Office.

The post New Orleans Rapper Marrero Desto Dead At 35 appeared first on Essence.

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Ella Jones: Ferguson Elects Its First Black, First Woman Mayor

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/news/politics/ella-jones-ferguson-black-woman-mayor/ along with the image used.

Ella Jones made history on Tuesday night, becoming the first Black and first woman to ever be elected as mayor in Ferguson, Mo.

As the New York Times notes, Jones, 65, won out over her opponent Heather Robinett with 54 percent of the vote.

Jones’ historic victory comes almost six years after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in the city that sparked protests across the nation. It also comes as the nation is rocked by yet another police-involved death of a Black man, George Floyd, which has also resulted in protests not only in the United States but across the globe as well.

“I’ve got work to do…because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart,” Jones said in a YouTube video posted by St. Louis Public Radio journalist James Rosenbaum. “I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”

Jones noted that the election and the goal of her administration would be to serve the people.

“If you go look in the budget the first thing you see is the organizational chart. When you look at the organizational chart in the budget at the top of that chart it says ‘citizens,’ and then…the elected officials,” she pointed out. “If the people are not in charge of what they’re doing, then you’re going to have chaos. And we done had enough chaos…”

This is not Jones’ first time making history. A member of the city council, Jones smashed ceilings in 2015 when she became the first Black woman elected to the city council.

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Miles McKenna Reveals How Severe Acne Affected His Trans Experience — Interview

This was originally posted on https://www.allure.com/story/miles-mckenna-hormone-replacement-therapy-acne-interview along with the image used.

YouTuber Miles McKenna tells Allure, in his own words, about his acne journey that he experienced during hormone replacement therapy. An LGBTQIA+ activist, McKenna discusses his feelings of imposter syndrome caused by his acne.

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Bridal Bliss: Leanna and Clifton’s Ballroom Wedding

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/love/weddings/bridal-bliss-leanna-and-cliftons-ballroom-wedding/ along with the image used.

Leanna and Clifton (also known as CJ) met in 2015 online. At the time, Leanna wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. But love struck at an unexpected time in her life. “CJ was so different and we clicked instantly,” she remembers. “I have never been able to be 100% myself around a guy, but he was giving me 100% back so it was easy.” After texting and FaceTiming for two weeks, they finally met for their first date. “He was clear on his intentions,” she remembers thinking. “He played no games and was an absolute gentleman, which is very attractive. We have been inseparable ever since.”

In true gentleman fashion, CJ proposed to Leanna during a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at an upscale steakhouse in Atlanta. After visiting ten wedding venues, their hearts chose the gorgeous Biltmore Ballrooms in Downtown Atlanta. Luckily, the couple’s wedding date was scheduled just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Atlanta and every city across the country. Though the virus did throw some things out of wack (like the arrival of their bridesmaids dresses), Leanna’s bride tribe and day-of coordinator Terrice Blackwell never let her stress. “Weddings are a lot of work, and we are so happy with how ours turned out,” says the beautiful bride.

Scroll through the gallery to see the most beautiful moments from Leanna and Clifton’s ballroom wedding.

Want to see your wedding featured in Bridal Bliss? Send your story and a link to your wedding photos to bridalbliss@essence.com for consideration.

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5 Years After ESSENCE’s #BlackOut, America Is Still In A Racial Crisis

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/articles/5-years-after-essences-blackout-america-is-still-in-a-racial-crisis/ along with the image used.

Today is déjà vu as black tiles flood social media in support of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, three Black Americans who lost their lives due to the systemic racism boiling in America.

Five years ago, Black America was mourning too. Although the 2012 death of Trayon Martin still felt fresh in our hearts, we were processing the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Tamir Rice—three Black men who had been killed by the hand of a White police officer in 2014.

News of Rice’s murder, which happened on November 22, came as ESSENCE was in production for its February 2015 issue. The theme was love and legacy and we were finalizing which hot couple we’d photograph. But the editors didn’t feel much like celebrating romance. We were in pain. We were angry. We were tired.

Then editor-in-chief Vanessa de Luca walked into her creative director’s office and threw out an idea. “What if we go black?” remembers Erika Perry, ESSENCE creative director in 2015. “It was Black History Month, and after she said it, we couldn’t have imagined doing anything else at that point.”

For the first time in ESSENCE’s 45 year history, we didn’t feature a person on the cover. Said Perry, “I only questioned whether we’d have a completely black cover or have cover lines to shape our message.” There was only one sentence we wanted to send far and wide: Black. Lives. Matter.

The cover, released in mid-January, went viral. Readers, organizations and media applauded our boldness. On MSNBC, de Luca explained our urgency to document our collective feeling. She said, “We wanted to make sure we captured this tipping point in our history, but not just Black history, but American history.”

Thought leaders, activists, celebrities, politicos, journalists and authors wrote essays on “What We Must Do Now.” Voices included: Angela Davis, John Legend, Michele Alexander, Rev. Al Sharpton and more.

As journalists, and more importantly as Black women, we declared America’s deep problem with racial injustice. Today, we’re still reporting how this country’s systemic racism kills people of color. Today we’re mourning new names of Americans murdered for being Black. Today we amplify George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Today, and every day, we shout Black lives matter.

The post 5 Years After ESSENCE’s #BlackOut, America Is Still In A Racial Crisis appeared first on Essence.

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Righteous Rage: Los Angeles Photographer Turns Lens To Social Injustice

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/news/bellamy-brewster-photographer-west-hollywood-protests/ along with the image used.

 “Chaotic and crazy.” That’s how photographer Bellamy Brewster describes the protest that led him to the streets of Los Angeles, California over the weekend. Brewster, who makes a living shooting beautiful clothes, models, and locales, said the demonstration stemming from the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement propelled him to turn his camera to another subject — social injustice. 

For the last several days the New York native has been grabbing his camera and heading out to West Hollywood to capture the righteous rage being experienced by so many in America right now. On the first day he expected to meet protesters moved to action. He expected to find people so fed up with the current state of the country that they were driven to demand change. But what he didn’t expect was a baton to the stomach and a hard look at the power of white privilege. 

Brewster’s first foray into social justice protests was quite naturally shocking. “At first everything was incredible because I saw familiar faces and friends handing out water bottles. I was like ‘this is awesome, this is great, this is fantastic,’” Brewster tells ESSENCE. “But  as I got closer and closer to the front, things began to feel different.” 

When Brewster made his way to the head of the protesters, he says the atmosphere began to feel hectic. “I got to the front of the march and the dynamics of the protest had changed,” he recalls. “It didn’t make sense to me that police were blocking the way in the middle of the street where people were trying to peacefully march. When I tried to go around on the sidewalk, I was immediately hit with a baton.”

Bellamy Brewster captures West Hollywood protestPhoto: Bellamy Brewster

Brewster shares that in the moment he was stunned. And on Instagram, he later described the incident as eye-opening. After protestors witnessed his abuse at the hands of law enforcement, a white woman who was attending the march, pulled him back and positioned herself in front of him.

“What happened next reshaped my entire perspective on race and this country,” Brewster writes on IG. “The same cop that hit me with a baton gripped his baton less tightly, less willing to harm the white people in front of me. This is white privilege. This is an illustration of what it means to be Black in our country.”

While the vast majority of the West Hollywood protestors were there to peacefully make a statement, Brewster says the scene turned chaotic when met by authorities. “It’s intense. It’s like you’re in this little realm. Things are happening around you and it’s literally like being in a war zone,” the creative director shares with ESSENCE. “Someone runs past me, I hear a sound. They’re running from rubber bullets. I shoot. I try to capture that as best I can in my frantic state. My shutter speed is blurry, I think quickly in my frantic state and I shoot.” Brewster says next to him is someone with shards of glass in their leg. Others are taken down by the projectiles coming from officers.

Bellamy Brewster captures West Hollywood protestPhoto: Bellamy Brewster

“People are trying to march. People want to be heard. People want to be seen. People want to be understood,” says Brewster. “But, what happens, as humans, when you’re trying to have a conversation and you’re not hearing me. I’m not being heard, my words aren’t being heard, eventually, things begin to boil over.”

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‘Dear White People’ Actor Griffin Matthews Calls Out Racism On Broadway

This was originally posted on https://www.essence.com/celebrity/griffin-matthews-racism-broadway/ along with the image used.

Due to the unrest permeating the country right now due to racism, Black creatives are feeling even more emboldened to call out racism when they see and experience it.

It’s why Dear White People actor Griffin Matthews shared his chilling experiences with racism on Broadway in a now viral video shared to social media Monday. The writer and composer said he was “triggered” after watching a White woman, Amy Cooper, threaten a Black man named Christian Cooper with calling the police after she was asked to follow leash rules in New York City’s Central Park.

In the black-and-white video, Matthews, who created the documentary musical Invisible Thread, which was later renamed to Witness Uganda after being sold to White producers, said there are people like Cooper permeating Broadway, creating a racist environment. The musical, which ran off-Broadway from 2014 to 2019, centers on Matthews’ real-life trips to Uganda and the humanitarian work he spearheads with his charity, the Uganda Project.

“A song in act one mentioned the fact that I was the son of slaves. Our producer in the middle of a creative team meeting said, ‘Slavery is over. Nobody wants to hear about that,’” Matthews recalled. “Not one single person put him in check and that is Amy Cooper.”

Matthews also accused producers of saying they would not “produce [his] show if you will not change the title” along with exit the show altogether; he accused the director of saying one actress “didn’t look Black enough” for a role; and called out New York City’s Second Stage specifically, claiming that they asked his cast to perform “for free” for their gala in exchange for a donation, “but the donation never came.”

Racism has been stealing our dreams, choking our stories, looting our talent…and then discarding us when we are no longer valued.

ESSENCE reached out to reps for Second Stage, but have yet to hear back.

The writer didn’t stop there. He also pointed a finger at White reviewers who referred to his Black actors as “Big Momma” and criticized the cast’s appearance for looking “too old.” Matthews compared those reviews to that of twenty-something actors starring in Broadway’s hit high school musical, Dear Evan Hansen. “White people get to play make believe onstage,” he deadpanned.

(Netflix)

“That is why Broadway is racist,” he continued, calling out directors, choreographers, agents, stage managers, casting directors, press teams and reviewers “pretending to be allies.”

“The thing about Amy Cooper is she is a liberal,” Matthews continued in his more than seven minute video. “She speaks eloquently about how much she cares about diversity and inclusion. She has made her entire career about that. She works with Black people. She believes she loves Black people. She buys their work, then behind closed doors she steals it.”

“Racism has been stealing our dreams, choking our stories, looting our talent,” he added, “and then discarding us when we are no longer valued.”

Matthews then observed that he “may never make it to Broadway for speaking out over the horrific treatment I’ve received,” but noted that women like Cooper usually aren’t negatively affected.

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