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What It Do With the LUE: Makeda Kumasi

By Lue Dowdy

Queen Makeda Kumasi is WHAT IT DO! Smart, talented, graceful, and beautiful are just a few words to describe Makeda Kumasi. I became a fan the moment I saw her perform in a play a few years ago directed by Revered Bronica Martindale. Please take a moment and read all about this talent.

Makeda Kumasi is a performing artist who has been featured on stages across the Nation, which include: The World Stage in Leimert Park (Los Angeles), the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, and the Ogdensburg Theater in New York. She has performed in several popular American musicals including a role as Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie” and Cha-Cha in “Grease.” Kumasi has also been featured on MTV’s “Starting Over” and BET’s “Fly Poet.” You may have seen her on several network’s shows as a background performer through Central Casting LA.

Ms. Kumasi is the founder of the Kumasi School for the Performing Arts and Co-founder of WE 3 PRODUCTIONS. She has also written two published books entitled, “I See Hip Hop Afrika” and “12 Days in Senegal: An Artist’s Journey.” She received her Master of Fine Arts in Theater from the University of Southern California and her Masters of Education from the University of Phoenix.

Kumasi has received numerous awards including the Phyllis E Williams’ Artist Grant, Top Spoken Word Artist Black Business Expo Urban Idol, Ida Mae Holland Playwrights’ Award, and California Art Scholar for Dance.

Open enrollment for Kumasi School for the Performing Arts is currently open. For more information please call (909) 217-7956 or email we3makedakumasi@gmail.com. Remember folks always stay TRUE to your CALLING!

Until next week L’z!

Youth Spotlight: Inland Empire Native, Tanai Smith, Launches Organic Lip Balm

Tanai Smithholding up her Crown Me Lip Balm. (Photo Credit: Tana Phelice)

Tanai Smithholding up her Crown Me Lip Balm. (Photo Credit: Tana Phelice)

By Naomi K. Bonman

Back in the day, as kids growing up, we were taught to do good in school, go to college, and then get a good job. However, those times have drastically changed. As more Generation X adults and Millennials are becoming more successful in their entrepreneurial endeavors and jumping ship from their corporate and day jobs, they are instilling in their children at a young age to claim their destinies and to make their side hustles work for them now verses later so that they will be well-off by the time they reach adulthood.

This is the case for 11-year-old Tanai Smith, daughter of San Bernardino native, author, and playwright T’ana Phelice. Smith will be launching her Crown Me Lip Balm on Monday, October 16. She was inspired to make Crown Me Lip Balm after she had made three ingredients for lip balms in her own spare time, so she decided why not make it into a profitable business.

“I researched how to make people’s skin feel smooth in a healthy way,” Smith stated on what made her decide to make an organic lip balm company over just any lip balm.

She has always been creative and has been heavily into arts and crafts. For her birthday this past August, her parents threw her an arts and crafts party.

“I see myself owning my own arts and crats store when I’m older,” she explains. “I want my Crown Me business inside my future store. I also want to play my clarinet.”

There is nothing better than when our youth are determined about what they want to do after childhood and are working diligently in achieving those tasks to ensure that their futures will be bright. This is also the aftermath of great parenting.

Smith stated that her parents are both her inspirations in achieving greatness. One of the most memorable lessons that they have taught her about entrepreneurship is that sometimes you must adjust to changes and make sacrifices.

For those interested in purchasing Crown Me Lip Balm, please visit www.tanaphelice.com/crownme and be sure to keep up with the Crown Me brand on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CrownMeOrganicStuff.

Black California Counts!

By Charlene Muhammad | California Black Media 

LOS ANGELES – New America Media, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Advancement Project California hosted a panel discussion at the Japanese Cultural Center on the stakes and risks of the 2020 Census, and why California counts.

The event was part a collaborative effort among statewide non-profit organizations convened to help educate policymakers and community leaders about the policies and government investments needed for a fair and accurate count in 2020, according to sponsors of the Oct. 6 gathering.

Decisions being made by Congress and the Trump Administration will determine whether planning and funding for the 2020 Census are sufficient for a fair and accurate count, but already, Trump’s 2018-2019 budget request was already woefully inadequate and unrealistic, the non-profit advocates charged in a Census and California fact sheet.

“Necessary testing has already been cut back due to lack of sufficient funds.  The window for the administration and Congress to prevent a failed 2020 Census is narrowing quickly,” the document indicated.

“California’s more than 2.5 million young children are especially at risk of being missed.  Black and Hispanic children have the highest undercounts of any age group. Sixteen California cities rank in the top 100 places with the highest number and percent of children under the age of 5 living in hard-to-count census tracts,” the fact sheet continued.

Advocates have prioritized ensuring there is sufficient funding in the 2018-2019 budget for outreach efforts, and that a committee of trusted, experienced organizational leaders is established to ensure hard-to-count populations are reached. They are also working to provide local governments with similar populations participate in a program established by Congress to improve the accuracy of the census address lists.

“We are at risk of losing federal funding for programs and political representation in the House in the decade after 2020,” said Dr. John Dobard, manager of Political Voice, Advancement Project California, which advocates for policy and systems changes that foster upward mobility in communities most impacted by racial and economic injustice.

Census data helps determine the allocation of over $600 billion in federal funding and programs to communities across the country, such as Medicaid, nutrition, housing, highway planning and construction, and children’s health insurance, to name a few.  It also determines the reapportionment of seats in the House of Representatives, so California needs all residents counted to receive its fair share, Dobard stated.

However, innovations in how the organization will administer the count, shifts in the federal landscape, such as a leadership void at the Census Bureau, and California’s demographics will make that difficult, said Dobard.

As she introduced presenters, Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, said it was an honor to partner with the groups to forge a better grasp of what’s at stake for California’s communities, and why it feels like the 2020 count is a riskier proposition than it as in 2020.

A threat to an accurate count in the Black community he’s served has been the ability to actually culturally identify Blacks in the state, particularly because of tremendous shifts out of Los Angeles to the Inland Valley of San Bernardino and Riverside County, and other areas, stated  Reverend Samuel Casey, executive director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement.

Another challenge was apathy and getting Blacks to participate, especially when it came to the federal government’s promise of more resources, he said.

Even the question format proves problematic, he said. “In each one of these communities in the Inland Valley, one of the challenges I know there’s going to be is African Americans explicitly identifying as African Americans or Black,” Casey stated.

“There are those who are multi-racial, who would probably prefer to identify as Latino or as Asian, or some other ethnicity, rather than identify as Black, even though we’re familiar with the “One-drop” rule within our nation.  If you have one drop of African blood in your system, you are by definition African American and/or Black,” Casey continued.

It will be important to pay attention to the cultural relevance of materials presented, he urged.

Other presenters were Ditas Katague (Chair, U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Race, Ethnicities and Other Populations), Ofelia Medina (Director of State Civic Engagement Policy with NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) Educational Fund’s Policy Research and Advocacy, Stewart Kwoh (Founding President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles), and Dr. Joely Proudfit (Director of California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center, California State University- San Marcos) concurred that distrust of the American government, whether federal, state, or local, would be a major hurdle in getting residents to participate in the count.

“The state quickly realized in 1990, we had a huge undercount of over 800,000 people here in California, and we lost billions of dollars, and we lost getting an additional congressional seat,” Katague stated.

After investing millions of its own money for outreach in 1999 and partnering with ethnic media, California outpaced the entire country by two percentage points in participation, according to Katague.

“California gained an additional congressional seat, which was great … but that was by just 18 people being counted,” she said.  She is most worried about the Census Bureau putting funding toward ethnic media advertising campaigns, which have had huge impacts.

Reverend Samuel Casey, Executive Director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, discusses challenges and solutions to counting Blacks for the 2020 Census.