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Unapologetically Delivering News To Communities Of Color in Westchester & Surrounding Areas


MARCH 2018







HIP-HOP SONGS that unlift & celebtate women of color BY AJ WOODSON











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MARCH 2018

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MARCH 2018

Celebrating and Honoring the Contributions and Achievements of Women. Congressman Eliot Engel


For information on Eliot Engel’s record in Congress, including co-sponsoring Equal Pay for Equal Work for Women legislation and working to Protect Women’s Health Care, go to Paid for by Engel for Congress

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FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK Founded in 2014 by DAMON K. JONES AJ WOODSON Published by URBANSOUL MEDIA GROUP 455 Tarrytown Rd., Suite 1318 White Plains, NY 10607 (914) 979-2093

As Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine (BW), I would like to thank everyone for their support of our efforts to bring information to the people of Westchester County. As we embark on a new chapter for BW, we hope to continue to empower the reader on issues in their communities. Independent media like BW has become more than a mere institution; instead, the independent media acts as a direct participant in the traditional three-branch system of governance. What many fail to realize is that independent media serves a fundamental role in making democracies run efficiently, even though there are frequent clashes. Independent media system thus often “reflects the political philosophy in which Democracy indeed functions”. This being said, BW will not be disregarded as a trivial player in the responsibilities of being a check and balance system in the political process of the Black Communities of Westchester.


BW’s purpose is not only to address the political process that affects the everyday lives of communities of colour in Westchester County. BW’s mission has also been to shine a light on the brilliant culture, morals, values and elegant lifestyle of Black people. It’s time to change the narrative on how Black people are perceived in media.


As Publisher of BW, our doors are open to the public. From the publication, the website, our radio show and now the newspaper; our doors are open to the people. We do not do this for any grander position or status; we do it for the people. Twitter: @BlkWestchesterM Instagram: @BlackWestchester Facebook: /BlackWestchesterMagazine

Publisher DAMON K. JONES @DamonKJones

Editor-In-Chief AJ WOODSON


Copy Editor Brenda L. Crump News Reporters/ Writers

AJ Woodson Lorraine Lopez (Latino Empowerment) Cynthia Turnquest-Jones Yasmin ‘Yas’ Husrton Terrie M. Williams Priscilla Echi Paul Feiner Rashad Bilal Entertainment Feature Writer

Samantha Hunter Photographers AJ Woodson Bart Stadnicki

Graphic Designers AJ Woodson Paula S. Woodson

For Advertising Rates Letters To The Editor

A FEW WORDS FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Here it is, bam in ya face.... the March 2018 Women’s History Month Issue of Black Westchester. First let me say thank you for all the overwhelmingly positive comments we recieved from our first Black History Month edition, we appreciate the feedback, keep it coming - email us at Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. This month we showcase Women’s History Month in our own special way. In this issue we celebrate the progress and accomplishments of Women Of Color, showcasing the trailblazers throughout history, especially here in Westchester County. In an effort to educate and inspire a new generations of young Women of Color. We look at Westchester Women of Influence (Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Former Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Greenburgh Superintendent Dr. Tahira Dupree-Chase, White Plains Councilwomen at large Nadine Hunt-Robinson, Lena Anderson, President of Greenburgh/White Plains NAACP, and County Legislator Virginia Perez who all shared with us the Women in History who Inspired and influenced them. To our young sistahs out there, after reading the accomplishments of those who came before you, the question is... Are you next? As you can see from the front cover we showcased the late Lois Bronz, Dr. Oliver Hooker, Sandra Blackwell and Terrie M. Williams celebrated the Life & Legacy of Marie Kearney Williams, four Westchester Women of Color who are all legends and deserved to be celebrated. We have several articles and stories about Women of Color written by Women of Color. Our resident Latino Empowerment Columnist and People Before Politics Radio Co-Host Lorraine Lopez spotlights a few Latino Women, Mexican Artist Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo (Frida Kahlo) and Argentina’s First Lady María Eva Duarte de Perón who influenced her and she showcases her mentor, the Honorable Symra Brandon. Check out Samantha Hunter’s 914 Business Spotlight on Yolanda Ayo, owner of the online retail shop called Unique Finds For Kids, and Louisa McTurner, owner of the Bronxvillebased Weezie D. Ladies Boutique. Ms. Hunter also shares a powerful and personable piece on her “Experience With Endometriosis,” in our Health & Wellness section letting other women of color know they are not alone. Yasmin ‘Yas’ Hurston, the newest addition to the Black Westchester family shared her blog post, Three Ways For Women To Dominate Their Work Place and the Social Butterfly herself, Priscilla Echi gives a few tips on her favorrite squats, to keep in shape. Plus our Financial Correspondent Rashad Bilal (The Money Man) share FiveEasy Ways To Cut College Cost In Half, Paul Feiner gives us The Greenburgh Report, Malcolm Clark discusses he legalization of Marijuana and there a few informative pieces on Women Who Helped Shape Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop Songs That Celebrate The Black Women and much much more. So without further ado.... Here it is the March 2018 Women’s History Month print edition of Black Westchester, enjoy! Peace and Blessings AJ Woodson Editor-In-Chief

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Job-seekers of all ages are invited to the Playland Job Fair, Saturday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. On-the-spot interviews will be conducted at this event for the first 300 candidates to arrive. Positions to be filled include cashiers, ride operators, lifeguards, EMTs, mechanics, custodial staff, I.T. technician and graphic designer. Playland’s seasonal employment runs from April through September. “The job fair is a great ‘one-stop shop’ for finding a great summer position at Playland,” Latimer said. “I want to remind job seekers that we continuously recruit for part-time and seasonal jobs at Playland and many of our other beautiful parks all season long, so if you can’t make it to the job fair, all is not lost.” Although no prior experience is required for most positions, prospective employees should have a positive attitude, enthusiasm, good communication skills and the ability to work a flexible schedule. Applicants must be a minimum of 16 years of age. Some positions require applicants to be a minimum of 18 years of age. Applicants under age 18 who plan to complete their application prior to the job fair must have the form signed by a parent or guardian to be considered for an interview. Those under 18 who wish to complete their application onsite at the job fair must bring a parent or guardian to the event to sign the form in order for an interview to take place. Eligible applicants who may wish to enroll for direct deposit must bring a voided blank check or a bank-issued direct deposit setup form that includes routing number and account number printed on the document. To apply during the job fair, bring a completed application, a valid photo identification, Social Security card plus contact information for three references. Applications can be obtained by calling (914) 813-7010, or at, where an application can be downloaded or submitted online. The County of Westchester is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


The city of New Rochelle is a finalist in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition from Bloomberg Philanthropies that encourages innovative problem solving and economic development. New Rochelle is one of 35 cities out of more than 300 applicants that will compete for a grand prize of $5 million. The city is working with IDEA New Rochelle, a public-private nonprofit partnership focused on developing a virtual reality industry in the city. New Rochelle plans to deploy virtual reality technology to allow city planners and residents to visualize development plans for buildings and public spaces. New Rochelle and the 34 other “Champion Cities” now enter a six-month testing phase where each city will create prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city. Each city’s proposal was judged on its vision, potential impact and whether it could spread to other cities. The selection committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, former Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns.

Tarrytown - School officials ordered lockouts at several schools in and around Tarrytown Tuesday, March 27th after police say a man shot and killed a woman on White Plains Road. Schools in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Hastings and Elmsford limited access to just students and staff for the day following news of the shooting. They were allowed to enter but not leave. Parents who had to pick up their children for appointments were allowed to enter only with a police escort. Tarrytown, Irvington, Elmsford, Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry public school districts serve thousands of students in 18 schools from preK through grade 12. Irvington alone says it has 7,000 student across its four schools, according to the district’s website. The schools went into lockout or lock-in mode for hours Tuesday as cops searched for a man who was thought to be armed following a deadly shooting at an apartment complex, authorities said. All five districts -- Irvington Union Free School District, Tarrytown Union Free School District, Elmsford Union Free School District, Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District and Dobbs Ferry -- had messages on their websites advising parents of the security measures following the shooting death of a 34-year-old woman at an apartment in the town. “It was nerve-wracking to hear there could be a possible gunman around, in these safe areas,” a student, Elizabeth Poccia, told News 12. “The panic inside of you, knowing your life could end so quickly, like those other students who have been in other shootings.” The Elizabeth Mascia Child Center in Tarrytown was also placed on lockdown, and police stationed an officer outside the building. Tarrytown Police Chief John Barbelet said officers were deployed to all of the schools. Barbelet says there is no immediate threat to residents, although the suspected gunman remains at large and may be armed. Mamaroneck dismissed students early based on the lockout. Students in Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Hastings, Elmsford and Tarrytown had regular dismissal.


POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The Poughkeepsie City School District closed Wednesday, March 28th due to a school shooting threat, officials announced Tuesday night. A message from the Superintendent was sent out to families and posted to their website. The closure was prompted by a social media post regarding the threat of a school shooting. The threat, along with dozens of others in the week following the deadly shooting in Florida, are all being taken seriously. Both the police department and FBI are investigating. We are working closely with the City of Poughkeepsie Police Departent and the FBI. The appropriate authorities are actively investigating this issue with the highest priority. Ther website safety of our staff and students is our number one priority, the PCSD posted on their website. .

BEE-LINE SPRING 2018 WESTCHESTER COUNTY GOLF SERVICE CHANGES ANNOUNCED Westchester County will be adding and adjusting service to meet ridership demand COURSES TO OPEN MARCH 14

and improve system performance, as part of our ongoing efforts to provide reliable service that meets the needs of our customers. Beginning Monday, March 5, 2018, service changes will go into effect on the following Bee-Line bus routes: Route 4 – To reduce overcrowding and improve on-time performance, a weekday southbound trip from Yonkers will be added at 6:22 a.m. The weekday southbound trips at 6:15 a.m. and 6:28 a.m. will be adjusted to start at 6:13 a.m. and 6:31 a.m. The weekday 5:43 a.m. northbound trip will start at 5:40 a.m. Route 7 – On Saturday, the 11:33 p.m. westbound trip from New Rochelle will start at 11:43 p.m. Route 14 –To improve on-time performance, the weekday 6:02 a.m. northbound trip from Elmsford will start at 5:57 a.m. Route 17 – The 6:25 a.m. weekday trip from Mohegan Lake will now begin at 6:20 a.m. Route 25 – To reduce overcrowding and improve on-time performance, a weekday eastbound trip from Yonkers will be added at 6:32 a.m. There will be minor schedule adjustments to early weekday trips beginning in the Bronx. On Saturday, the 6:35 p.m. eastbound trip will be adjusted to 6:30 p.m. Saturday westbound trips will be adjusted between 10:00 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. to start 2 to 5 minutes later. Intermediate times will be adjusted as necessary. Route 28 (BxM4C) – The 7:40 a.m. weekday trip from White Plains will begin at 7:45 a.m. Route 43 – The 8:05 a.m. weekday northbound trip will be adjusted to start at 8:00 a.m., with a scheduled arrival at Westchester Community College at 8:52 a.m. For more information, visit or call the Bee-Line at (914) 813-7777, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Automated info available 24 hours

The six Westchester County-owned golf courses are scheduled to open for the season on Wednesday, March 14, weather and conditions permitting. The courses are Mohansic in Yorktown Heights; Maple Moor in White Plains; Saxon Woods in Scarsdale; Hudson Hills in Ossining; and Dunwoodie and Sprain Lake, both in Yonkers. Reserve a tee time at or at Reservations may also be made by calling the individual courses. Walk up reservations will also be accepted at the courses. Westchester County Park Pass holders can make reservations seven days in advance starting at 9 a.m. Golfers without a park pass can make reservations six days in advance prior to play. Golfers are advised to check course status on the day of play. Greens fees for 2018 for all courses, except Hudson Hills, will increase by $2 on weekends and $1 on weekdays. The new fees for Westchester Park Pass holders are: weekends and holidays, $38; weekdays, $33; seniors and juniors (weekdays only) $26. Greens fees without the park pass are: weekends and holidays, $48; weekdays, $43. Twilight, super twilight and nine-hole discounts are available. Golf cart fees are separate and unchanged. The fee structure for Hudson Hills is available at Any remaining available E-Z Reserve spots will be sold at the courses. E-Z Reserve enables golfers with the park pass to block out a regular Saturday or Sunday tee time for a period of 25 weeks.


White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators gathered Monday, February 26, to honor community leaders in politics, journalism and the arts as part of the Board’s annual Black History and Heritage Celebration. Legislator Lyndon Williams presented a Board proclamation to Ruth Hassell-Thompson, former State Senator and current Special Advisor for Policy and Community Affairs for New York State Housing and Community Renewal. “Having served with her on the Mount Vernon City Council, I can attest to you her leadership, dedication and caring for her constituents, particularly those who are economically and otherwise disadvantaged,” Legislator Williams said. Hassell-Thompson served in the New York State Senate in the 36th Senatorial District from 2001 to 2016, representing parts of the Bronx and Westchester Counties. Legislator Kitley S. Covill presented a Board proclamation to photographer, writer, director and educator John Shearer of Katonah, whom Legislator Covill called “a national treasurer,” and “and unsung hero who is now being sung.” Shearer has won 175 national photography awards and has had his work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum, among other cultural institutions Legislator and Board Vice Chair Alfreda Williams and Legislator Catherine Borgia presented a Board proclamation to educator, activist and journalist Sandra T. Blackwell, publisher and editor of The Westchester County Press. Of Blackwell, Vice Chair Williams said she “can never receive enough recognition for the work that she’s done here in Westchester County in terms of running The County Press for these last nine years and teaching for over 40 FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: SANDRA T. BLACKWELL, JOHN SHEARER, years in the Westchester school system,” joking of Blackwell’s work at The Press, “I don’t know anyone who’d volunteer RUTH HASSELL-THOMPSON; PHOTO CREDIT: TERESA TOSCANO for nine years for a job that’s full time.”

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AFRICAN-AMERICAN JUDGES HONORED DERICKSON K. GEARS UP FOR SECOND ATTEMPT TO UNSEAT ELIOT ENGEL White Plains – Several African-American judges were honored and recognized at a special ceremony at Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains, Sunday February 18th. Judges Nichelle Johnson, Arlene Gordon-Oliver, Delores Brathwaite, Reggie Johnson, James Hubert, Janet Malone, and Adrian Armstrong received a Certificate of Merit from the Westchester Board of Legislators and a Certificate of Service from County Bottom left to right Nichelle Johnson, Arlene Gordon-Oliver, Delores Brathwaite, Reggie Johnson Top left to right Rev. Lee Trollinger, James Hubert, Janet Malone, Adrian Armstrong Executive George Latimer. “My colleagues and I were honored to receive the recognition bestowed upon us by Rev. Trollinger, County Executive George Latimer, and Chairman Ben Boykin of the County Board of Legislators,” Judge Adrian Armstrong shared with Black Westchester. “We all are committed to continuing to make certain that justice is served in our courtrooms daily, by showing care, courtesy and compassion to everyone that appears before us in the courtroom.’” Acting Supreme Court Judge David Everett joined his colleagues at this special ceremony. The presentations were made by Crystal Collins, Assistant to the County Exec.

COUNCILMAN ANDRE WALLACE TO HOSTS FIRST ANNUAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH BRUNCH As you are aware, March is Women’s History Month. It’s during this time we afford the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Women. It’s in that spirit that Councilman Andre Wallace will host the First Annual Women’s History Month Brunch, Saturday, March 10th from 1:00-3:00 P.M. to honor powerful Women Of Color, who have made exemplary contributions in civil service. The event aptly named The Women Of Essence Award Brunch will take place at the Embassy on First (28 East First Street, Mount Vernon). “I am truly honored to celebrate powerful women in civil service and fraternal organizations,” Councilman Wallace shares with Black Westchester. “There have been great strives in our conuntry, which have been made by and for Women of Color. As we reflect on the history of Women of Color, we should also examine the current state of Women’s issues and the struggles they continue to confront.” The event will recognize the contribution of Women of Color in Civil Service from different municipalities throughout the county and various fraternal organizations throughout the state of New York. The Honorable Judge Arlene Gordon-Oliver will serve as the event’s Keynote Speaker.

CHAIR OF EDGEMONT DEMOCRATS ENDORSES LAWRENCE Mt Vernon District Leader Derickson K. Lawrence will be making a second attempt to unseat incumbent Eliot Engel for his 16th Congressional District seat according to a press release. Lawrence announced his candidacy on his website; “I am pleased to announce that I am running to represent the people of NY 16th Congressional District. As someone who identifies with the “DREAMers”’ experience (emigrated from the Caribbean at the age of 13) I was inspired by parents who worked hard to create a better future for eight brothers and sisters..”

The 16th Congressional District spans across parts of the Bronx and Westchester County including the North Riverdale, South Riverdale, Fieldston, Spuyten Duyvil, Woodland, Wakefield, Williambridge, Edenwald, Baychester, Co-op City and Eastchester sections of the Bronx and several municipalities of Westchester including Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Scarsdale, new Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Rye, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Greenburgh, Ardsley (Greenburgh), Hasting-on-Hudson (Greenburgh) and Edgemont (Greenburgh). “I just recently met Derickson K. Lawrence, a Democratic district leader from Mt. Vernon at the regular monthly meeting of the Greenburgh Democratic Committee, and I was blown away,” Robert Bernstein, chair of the Edgemont Democrats, a Democratic district leader, a lawyer, and president of the Edgemont Community Council said. With the petition process set to begin on March 6, Lawrence says of the Edgemont Dems endorsement, “this endorsement from a standard bearer of one of the northern suburban enclaves of the 16th Congressional District is an early validation of our message.” “Watching Derickson K go head-to-head with our 30-year incumbent, I was filled with pride that there, right before my eyes, was a battle-tested David prepared to go to battle for us on the front lines, instead of sitting smugly on the sidelines with other long-time Democratic incumbents who think they can comfortably ride to reelection every two years because they’ve been gerrymandered into a “safe” Democratic district,” Bernstein continued. Preparing for the Primary on June 26, 2018, Derickson says; “Doing nothing, which is the same as getting A-score-card ratings, is no longer an option. The people of the 16th Congressional District deserve better. That is why I have stepped up to provide more innovative, proactive and passionate congressional leadership.”


The big issue facing the town of Greenburgh: Will Edgemont residents vote to incorporate as a village. If they do, what is the impact to the town and to the Theodore Young Community Center? The programs at the TDYCC are enjoyed by many African American residents. The Theodore Young Community Center (department of Community Resources) is a multi purpose facility that offers educational, cultural, social and recreational services designed to meet the needs of a diverse community. The history of the center is interesting. Beginning in the late 1960s, the residents of the town recognized the problems facing their predominantly low and moderate income minority neighbors living in the heart of a stereotypical wealthy Westchester County community. Working together with local officials, concerns residents facilitated the opening of the town’s first youth center. The Greenburgh Youth Center quickly outgrew the designated facility and community leaders, along with the town leadership,

submitted for the federally funded neighborhood facilities grant in 1969 to construct a multi use facility located within the urban renewal area of the Fairview section of Greenburgh. The Community Center opened its’ doors at the present location on Manhattan Ave in 1972 and serves children through senior citizens. Roller skating, an indoor pool, theater arts classes, dance programs, summer employment, after school programs, college tours, recreational sports leagues are all funded. An indoor pool was built in the early 1980s and is open at 5:30 AM. Adult and youth instructional swim, lifeguard training, scuba diving and arthritic swim, along with a swim team are some programs offered. A basketball gym, performing arts studio, computer lab’s and fitness center are also offered from 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM Monday thru Saturday. The town of Greenburgh appropriates a few million dollars a year to the TDYCC. If Edgemont incorporates the unincorporated section of town will lose as much as $17.5 million a year in revenue –which represents over a quarter of our property tax income. This will have consequences to residents and could impact programs. Obviously, if Edgemont does vote to incorporate we will have to aggressively look for new income streams and prudent controls and adjustments.

The TDYCC is a “Crown Jewel” of our community. We will do everything in our power to ensure continuity of service. We recognize the importance of the Theodore Young Community Center to the lives of those in our African American Community and will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the center remains the model for the humane, effective and efficient provision of social and recreational services it has always been. The few million dollars a year that the town appropriates for the TDYCC operations is paid for by unincorporated Greenburgh residents. Leaders of the Edgemont incorporation effort are claiming that they support the operations of the community center – but that they think the entire town (including the villages) should pay for the programs at the TDYCC. There are a few reasons why this can’t happen. In 2006 Bob Bernstein, leader of the Edgemont incorporation committee, filed a lawsuit against the town trying to move the funding of the community center to the budget that serves the villages. The court ruled against Mr. Bernstein and found that funding for the Theodore Young Community Center should be paid for by only unincorporated Greenburgh. Village leaders have advised the town that if the Town Board attempted to move the funding and charge village residents for the operations of the center

that they would go to court. I believe that the Edgemont incorporation proponents who are claiming that they want funding shifted to the A budget (including the villages) from the B budget (only unincorporated Greenburgh) are doing this for publicity purposes only. This is a nonsensical scenario because it meets their needs and fictitiously appears to reduce the damage inflicted by a potential Edgemont incorporation. Does anyone honestly think that six villages would find it acceptable to increase their taxes to pay for a center that most of their residents don’t use? Does anyone believe that if Edgemont would become a village and there was no need to present a less damaging scenario to its constituency, that the EIC and /or the new government of Edgemont would vote to voluntarily take on this additional cost? The disingenuous aspects of the EICs proposal is highlighted by two prevalent themes of t he Edgemont incorporation movement: why should we pay for services to Fairview? In addition, the client base of the Theodore Young Community Center averages about 6% of village residents. In the summer of 2017 I asked Andre Early, Commissioner to compile information related to those provided services by the TDYCC. He advised me that 3,100 people use the center –only 200 residents were from the six Greenburgh villages. There were about 39 users of the 3,100 total who we believe, based on zip code, reside in Edgemont. Most use the swimming pool during early morning hours. PAUL FEINER

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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A look at the history of Marijuana and the effect on Black and Brown bodies throughout American History If America wishes to legalize the use marijuana in this country, we must first recognize the need to reconcile the decades-long war that was launched to criminalize and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of minorities. Only when the black and brown bodies that have been disproportionately incarcerated for their non-violent use of marijuana are provided a clean record of these charges should the legalization of marijuana be mainstreamed. One of the greatest gifts that American Society has gifted to the world is its selective amnesia of the crimes against humanity it has created. The War on Drugs is one of the biggest crimes against that humanity and it made way for the third wave of oppression in the form of Mass Incarceration. To understand the current push for Marijuana legislation, one must first look at the brief history of Marijuana in the United States. In the early 1900s, Mexican immigrants introduced Americans to the recreational use of marijuana. Because of that introduction anti-drug activists began a prejudiced and fear-mongering campaign that would span three decades. As we reached the peak of the Great Depression, the fear of marijuana grew into a public threat. Slyly, the government instigated a flood of research that linked marijuana with violence, crime, and socially deviant behavior that was committed by “racially inferior” communities. By 1931 more than half the states had outlawed marijuana and Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that effectively criminalized marijuana use. Like the Tuskegee experiment and Internment camps, the


government knew that they were wrong in their assessment. In 1944 the LaGuardia Report issued by the New York Academy of Medicine extensively researched the use of marijuana and declared that contrary to early research the use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use. The LaGuardia Report, would be dismissed for decades and instead the Federal government moved to set forth mandatory sentencing in the 50s with the first offense of marijuana possession carrying a minimum sentence of 2–10 years with a fine of 20,000. This was one of the first salvos in the “War of Drugs” and its twin “Mass Incarceration”. In the 70s we saw Congress repeal those mandatory penalties citing and acknowledging that mandatory minimum sentencing had done nothing to eliminate drug use and the 60s saw the rise of the “peace-loving hippies” who shucked that narrative. Enter President Richard Nixon. The bipartisan Shafer Commission, which was appointed by Nixon at the direction of Congress determined that personal use of marijuana should decriminalized, Nixon rejected them. A decade later, President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instating mandatory sentences for drug related crimes and the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 which the policy of “Three Strikes” arose from which required life sentences for repeat drug offenders and death for drug kingpins. John Ehrlichman, Chief Domestic Adviser when the “War on Drugs” was

announced, stated: You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.” America must reconcile this great tragedy and they can start by offering a second chance to people convicted of almost any marijuana crime, from serious felonies to small infractions, with a chance to have their records cleared or reduced. Currently, this is happening in California where years of grassroots efforts have been put into reversing decades of convictions that made it difficult for people to be gainfully employed and disproportionately affected low-income minorities. California is the battleground for these new progressive ideas that have been slowly gaining traction. There are new reforms being carried out around this country to change the narrative around incarceration. (Continues on Page 21)


VILLAGE OF HEMPSTEAD RENAMES STREET AND SCHOOL FOR CIVIL RIGHTS ICON HEMPSTEAD - As Black History Month came to a close the Village of Hempstead took time to honor one of it own, renaming a street and school in honor of a civil rights pioneer and hometown hero, Tuesday, Febraury 26th. The Retired Major General in the United States Air Force, Joseph Alfred McNeil, a 50year Hempstead resident. He is best known as a member of the Greensboro Four; a group of African-American college students who, on February 1, 1960, led sit-ins at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest Jim Crow-era segregation. McNeil, who was a 17-year-old college freshman at the time, helped thrust the civil rights movement in the South into the national spotlight, when he and and three classmates were denied service at the segregated lunch counter but remained in their seats for hours, despite threats from the Ku Klux Klan. “Anger, pride, intense emotion and a


faith that goodness will win out in the end and prevail,” McNeil shared. Their peaceful protest continued for days, igniting a civil rights movement nationwide and resulting in the desegregation of Woolworth’s. McNeil says his fight for justice continues, despite his age. “If it’s not working today, I will be back tomorrow,” he said. “Maybe we’ll make it work better tomorrow.” Greeted like a rock star in his adopted

As it stands now, roughly 94,000 New Jersey residents are prohibited from voting because they are serving prison sentences or are on probation or parole, but that could change under a bill introduced Monday, February 26th by Democratic lawmakers. The legislation would repeal a law first conceived when slavery was legal in New Jersey and that supporters say drains political power from communities of color, which are disproportionately represented in the state’s prison population. “The fundamental problem is the linking of voting rights and a criminal justice system characterized by gross racial disparities,” said Sen. Sandra Cunningham, a Hudson County Democrat and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “It is that fundamental problem we must address.” New Jersey would be the third state nationwide to restore full voting rights to people with criminal convictions if the bill passes. Maine and Vermont already allow people to vote from prison. In New York you can vote from prison if charged with a misdemeanor but felons can only vote once they are off probabtion or parole. Legislators, including bill sponsor Senator Ron Rice (D-NJ), said the disenfranchisement of inmates disproportionately hurts black New Jerseyans. “Almost 150 years after the adoption of the amendment to outlaw racial discrimination in voting, a disproportionate number of black New Jerseyans are still denied the right to vote,” Rice said. “My bill seeks to realize the promise of the 15th Amendment by severing the link between the fundamental right to vote and involvement in the criminal justice system.”

hometown, 75-year-old McNeil, honored by his community, was overwhelmed with emotion, “I had tears in my eyes, too,” he told the crowd. First, the street he lives on was renamed in his honor. Then two hours later, the local elementary school, Franklin Street School. Having a street and school, renamed for him during his lifetime is an honor the civil rights pioneer says humbles him to his core.


BLM CO-CREATOR LAUNCHES BLACK FUTURES LAB AND BLACK CENSUS PROJECT TO BUILD AND MOBILIZE BLACK POLITICAL POWER Spearheaded by a team of leading Black sociologists and activists, Black Futures Lab will survey 200,000 Black people across 20 States in the largest survey of Black people in recent history. New York, NY — Alicia Garza, co-creator of Black Lives Matter, launched the Black Futures Lab (BFL), a new mobilization effort that will engage Black people, legislators and community-based organizations to build political power and push for policies that help strengthen Black communities. Launched in partnership with Demos, Color of Change, Center for Third World Organizing, Socioanalitica Research, and the Tides Foundation, the BFL will develop strategies that help Black people imagine the political, social and economic alternatives needed at the local, state, and federal level, while also building the political power needed to implement those alternatives. “If we’ve learned anything from this past election, it’s that Black folks drive the progressive political power in this country, but rarely benefit from the fruits of our labor. Today, we are launching the BFL as a way to mobilize around our needs, hopes and dreams,” said Alicia Garza, founder of The BFL. “For too long, people have spoken for us and perpetuated false representations of the issues that drive our votes.” As its first initiative, BFL also launched the Black Census project, a national data collection effort to hear directly from 200,000 Black people in 20 states about the issues directly affecting them in their communities. Designed by a group of distinguished sociologists and social science researchers, the Black Census will capture a more precise and holistic picture of the issues affecting Black communities. Unlike the U.S. Census, which polls only for population count, the Black Census will be conducted online as well as through a coordinated on-the-ground, door-knocking effort. The survey will collect information about key issues impacting Black communities, including: generational oppression, mass incarceration, police violence, and inequities in healthcare and economic access. This information will then help organizers better understand how to build and mobilize Black power within their communities and nationally. The 20 states the survey will be targeting include: Alabama, California, Delaware, Washington, DC, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. To access the Black Census survey, go here: The survey will be available online and in person through August, when the data will be compiled, analyzed and revealed by the end of 2018.

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MARCH 2018




MANHATTAN -- Councilman Jumaane D. Williams who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Midwood, Canarsie), announced he is throwing his hat into the race for NY State Lieutenant Governor, Friday, February 16, on the steps of New York City Hall in Manhattan. The announcement was made at a large rally attended by elected officials, activists, and community members in support JUMAANE WILLIAMS ANNOUNCES HIS CANDIDACY FOR of the Council Member’s bid for NYS LT. GOVERNOR PHOTO CREDIT: ERNEST SKINNER the position. “Today, I am proud to announce that I am running to become the Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York,” said Williams in his announcement speech before a crowd of nearly 100 community members. “The Lieutenant Governor position needs to be more than ribbon cutting and rubber stamping. I want to be the people’s advocate in Albany, pushing the Governor and the legislature to enact the progressive policies that are the promise of our state. I want to represent the diverse needs of the people of our state-- and by the way, our state government could use some diversity.” Several of Williams’ initial endorsers spoke out on his behalf at the announcement event, including State Senator Kevin Parker, Council Members Daneek Miller and Antonio Reynoso, and activists including Anthonine Pierre, Kirsten Foy, and Eddie Kay. Williams’ sister, Jeanine Williams, also spoke at the event. Council Member Williams represents a challenge to the present administration from the left. He has long been a critic of Governor Cuomo and other officials who he says “put on a progressive cloak” when it is politically expedient and “test the political winds” rather than acting on their core beliefs. In announcing his candidacy, Williams argued that the Capitol needs people who will help to “create those political winds.” “Since I announced a month ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that I was considering this effort, I’ve received an outpouring of support, both here in the city and across the state- from activists, elected officials, and everyday New Yorkers yearning for progressive change,” Williams added. “ Now I know that this race will be challenging, but I’ve never been one who backs down from a challenge- in fact, I seem to go looking for them. I believe that no matter who the Governor is, we’re going to need a person who will be the people’s Lieutenant Governor, always pushing forward. And I believe that I am that person.” Williams, a progressive Democrat who is currently serving his third term in the New York City Council, announced last month that he would explore a run for the position. Since then, he has visited a number of cities around the state, meeting with local activists and progressive organizations. He cited the energy and response that he has seen around the state as one of the reasons for his decision to formally enter the race.



“Clueless” star and former Fox commentator Stacey Dash is running for Congress in California. The actress and outspoken Republican filed paperwork Monday, February 26th to run in California’s 44th district, which is currently represented by Democrat Nanette Barragán. The district, which includes Compton, Watts, San Pedro and North Long Beach, has long been represented by a Democrat. It overwhelmingly voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, 83%-12%. While Dash has not publicly issued a statement, she did tease a potential run in early February.

If that’s true, she is being asked to run by the people, they are as Clueless (pun intended) as Dash is, but hey we thought Trump running was a joke too!

Portrait of Nigerian princess Tutu found recently in London flat after being lost for decades.

A long-lost portrait of a Nigerian princess described as the “African Mona Lisa” sold at a London auction on Wednesday, February 28th for £1.2m,

exceeding estimates and setting a record for the artist. The painting of Adetutu “Tutu” Ademiluyi, by Ben Enwonwu, a Nigerian artist, was expected to fetch up to £300,000 when it went under the hammer at Bonhams auction house. The 1974 painting of the Ife princess had recently turned up in a London flat after not being seen in decades. Bonhams described it as “rare and remarkable”. “The portrait of Tutu is a national icon in Nigeria, and of huge cultural significance,” said Giles Peppiatt, Bonham’s director of modern african art. Peppiatt uncovered the work after a family in


north London contacted him following recent lucrative sales of Nigerian artworks at auction. He said the family had been “pretty astounded” to learn it was “a missing masterpiece”. “It is very exciting to have played a part in the discovery and sale of this remarkable work,” he said. The Booker prizewinning novelist Ben Okri told AFP this month that the painting had taken on almost mythical status in his native Nigeria, where it was thought of as the African Mona Lisa. “It has been a legendary painting for 40 years. Everybody keeps talking about Tutu, saying: where is Tutu?” he

said after a viewing at Bonhams. “He wasn’t just painting the girl, he was painting the whole tradition. It’s a symbol of hope and regeneration to Nigeria, it’s a symbol of the phoenix rising.” Enwonwu, who died in 1994, is considered the father of Nigerian modernism. He made three paintings of Tutu, the locations of all of which had been a mystery until the recent discovery. The works became symbols of peace after the clash of ethnic groups in the NigerianBiafran conflict of the late 1960s. Enwonwu’s work Negritude, also painted in the 1970s, fetched £100,000 in the same sale.


The Fortune 500 American sporting goods retailing chain, Dick’s Sporting Goods is taking a stand against gun violence after mounting pressure following the deadly Florida high school shooting. The sporting goods retail chain, headquartered in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania in Greater Pittsburgh is raising the sales age from 18 to 21, while dropping assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines from its brands. “To think about the loss and the grief that those kids and those parents had, we said, ‘We need to do something,’” Chairman and CEO Ed Stack, whose father, Dick, started the business 70 years ago, explained. “And we’re taking these guns out of all of our stores permanently.” The move follows the revelation that Nikolas Cruz, the alleged gunman behind the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, bought a gun at Dick’s in 2017. It was not the gun nor the kind of gun used in the massacre, however. “We did everything by the book,” Stack said of Cruz. “We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun. When we looked at that, we said, ‘The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.’” What impact this will have on Dick’s bottom line is unclear, given that the flagship brand dropped the military-style rifles more than five years ago. The new measures went into effect Wednesday, February 28th. Aside from Dick’s, the Pittsburgh-based, publicly traded company also operates stores under the Gold Galaxy, Field & Stream, True Runner and Chelsea Collective banners. Dick’s announced a temporary suspension of assault-style rifles from its stores after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 elementary school students and educators. Assault-style rifles were later sold in the company’s Field & Stream stores, Stack said. When asked whether there is a chance the company will reverse its position on the newly announced ban, Stack replied, “Never.” “We’re staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment. I’m a gun owner myself,” Stack said. “We’ve just decided that based on what’s happened with these guns, we don’t want to be a part of this story and we’ve eliminated these guns permanently.” The painting of the Yoruba princess by an ethnic Igbo artist became a symbol of national reconciliation at a delicate time in Nigeria’s history. A brutal civil war had ended just four years earlier between federal forces and Biafran separatists wanting an Igbo homeland in the south-east. What is known about “Tutu” is that she was the granddaughter of the traditional ruler, Ademiluyi Ajagun, the Ooni (king) of Ife, who died in 1930.

Much like Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous portrait, finding out more about the woman in Ben Enwonwu’s Tutu has so far been elusive, even for her extensive extended family. Enwonwu was professor of fine arts at the university in Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yoruba people in south-west Nigeria, when he met Adetutu Ademiluyi and painted her in 1973 and 1974.

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MARCH 2018



T he Honorable Regent Judith Johnson, member of New York State’s Board of Regents serving the 9th District of New York State and a powerful force in improving

quality and access to education for diverse populations, was last year’s inductee into the Biondi School Black History Wall of Fame on Friday, February 10, 2017. The announcement was made by Dr. Angela White, Assistant Executive Director, Superintendent of Schools for Leake & Watts’ education programs. The ceremony took place at the Biondi School Auditorium on the Leake & Watts Yonkers campus. The Biondi School serves special education students K-12 whose ability to learn is affected by an emotional, cognitive, or other disability. Judith Johnson has devoted her professional life to public education—whether through her work in the classroom, leading local school districts, or helping to reshape national and local education policy. “Throughout her career, Regent Johnson’s focus has been on ensuring that children from all races and backgrounds receive the same access to high-quality education, and to encourage student achievement at every level,” said Dr. White. “She has been a powerful and vocal advocate, and is an inspiring role model for African-American youth.” Regent Johnson commented, “It is an honor to be inducted into the Biondi School Black History Wall of Fame, and to be recognized as a role model for the diverse student body here. I know students in this school arrive filled with hope and resilience. They face many challenges, yet they remain committed to becoming contributing members of our communities. Biondi students have an opportunity to excel in this supportive educational environment.” Emphasizing New York State’s goal to accommodate the needs of all students, Regent Johnson added, “This school has a distinctive mission for special education students—it is to ensure talents are recognized, nurtured, and celebrated. Every day each staff member enters the building, they are reminded of the importance of ensuring all students, without regard to race, socioeconomic status, home zip code, gender, or any protected class distinction, have the same educational opportunities available to every student in New York. In return, each Biondi student has the awesome responsibility to contribute to the ongoing narrative that defines the American story.” Regent Johnson’s induction marks the sixth year The Biondi School has commemorated Black History Month by honoring accomplished African-Americans who have made significant contributions to society. Previous recipients of the award include former head of the National Urban League Hugh B. Price; New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins; civil rights attorney Mayo Bartlett, co-founder of Safe Passage; and Biondi School Assistant Principal Al Grimes, a member of the first African-American college relay team to win the National Invitational Two Mile Event. This year’s induction will include remarks from Regent Johnson along with student presentations. Following the program, a plaque with Regent Johnson’s name will be hung on the Black History Wall of Fame in The Biondi School, where it will be visible to inspire students every day.

“Regent Johnson has consistently been recognized as an educational champion for struggling youth who can bring diverse groups together to innovate programs that help students rise to their potential, a commitment that mirrors the philosophy of The Biondi School, and every program at Leake & Watts,” Dr. White noted. Bio: Regent Johnson was appointed to a five-year term with the Board of Regents in 2015. Her educational career spans seven very diverse city and suburban districts and includes both teaching and leadership roles. From 1997-2000, during President Clinton’s second term, Secretary of Education Richard Riley appointed her to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and later as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. During her tenure, the department launched legislation that provided funds for initiatives that included Extended Day and School Choice Programs, Instructional Technology programs and Small Class Size initiatives. In addition, a major focus of the department’s work was the implementation of the 1994 authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which produced the first national effort to introduce a performance-based standards framework for teaching and learning. It is not our job as a media outlet to only write about the good things that happen in the municipalities of Westchester or anywhere else, or promote your propaganda and ignore what’s wrong, even if it has been wrong for so long, many think it’s right. Until we are all willing to have the hard conversation and deal with what’s wrong, we will never be able to move forward. It is the mission of Black Westchester Magazine to do our part in this process and to be the fourth estate informing our people. Regent Johnson also served as School Superintendent for the city of Peekskill from 2001-2011, becoming the first woman and African-American to hold that position. There, she was known for supporting initiatives that significantly improved the numbers of students graduating college and advanced career readiness. The district launched a dual language program aimed to graduate high school students fluent in two languages and saw enrollments in college level programs double from previous years. One of her most significant achievements was securing voter approval for over $70 million in bonds for construction projects, which resulted in a new state-of-the-art middle school offering advanced technology, swimming, science, and a wing devote to the Fine and Performing Arts. The project included renovation of high school science labs and the creation of a planetarium for K-12 instruction. In 2012, Regent Johnson took the temporary helm of the Mount Vernon City School district during the search for a permanent superintendent. There she introduced a multi-year restructuring plan that included a transition from textbooks to tablets, the curriculum transition to Common Core Learning Standards, and a literacy initiative to ensure all students were prepared to be proficient readers by third grade. An inspirational force for other educators, Regent Johnson has built a reputation as a trusted leader and mentor. She has served on many executive committees including the American Association of School Administrators, the New York State Council for School Superintendents, the Association of Small City School Districts, and the New Standards Project, a national initiative that launched the transformation to standards-based instruction, a concept that remains the framework for teaching and learning across the nation. About the Biondi School: Leake & Watts’ Biondi School serves students K-12 whose ability to learn is affected by an emotional, cognitive, or other disability. It is a fully accredited non-public school that provides year-round specialized education services. Through the support of small classes with an individualized curriculum tailored to each student’s needs, students who have not had success in their local public school thrive at The Biondi School and go on to achieve high school graduation. Regent Johnson was selected as one of the 100 Executive Educators in America in 1990. In 2008, she received the New York State School Superintendent of the Year award, making her the first African-American in the history of the New York State Council of School Superintendents to receive this honor. In 2009, she was honored as Alumna of the Year by Brooklyn College. In 2015, she was inducted into the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Regent Johnson has been tapped to offer testimony before state and federal legislative committees, has published many op-ed and professional articles, and presented the paper, “Energizing the Base: The Fight is not Over,” at the Black Women’s Political Caucus in 2011.

STEPHANIE VANDERPOOL: 1ST AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN COMMISSIONER OF ASSESSMENT AND TAXATION (CITY ASSESSOR) IN NEW YORK STATE Stephanie Vanderpool made history, Friday, February 5, 2016 as the first African-American Woman Commissioner of Assessment and Taxation (City Assessor) in the City of Mount Vernon’s history. She was the first AfricanAmerican woman in the State of New York to hold the position. Prior to her appointment, she served as the Deputy Commissioner of Assessment and Taxation for more than a decade. A lifetime resident of the City of Mount Vernon, Stephanie G. Vanderpool, has been employed with the City for over ten years having risen through the ranks to her current position. As Assistant Assessor, she helps administer and evaluate all properties and assessments and is responsible for administering property tax exemptions. Stephanie assists the Assessor in field inspections and measurements of properties for re-assessment of new construction; evaluates fire-damaged

property and demolition of existing structures. In addition she assists the Assessor in appraisal of real property for assessment purposes and balancing the City’s Assessment Roll. The Department of Assessment is the lifeblood of the City. It is responsible for the valuation of all the real property (real estate) and is managed by a Commissioner/Assessor who is assisted by a Deputy and two clerks. More than fifty percent of the city’s revenue is derived by the work of this department. Stephanie is a member of the Westchester County Chapter of the New York State Assessor’s Association. She is married and has three children. BW celebrates Stephanie Vanderpool achievements and congratulates her on her historic appointment as the first AfricanAmerican Woman Commissioner of Assessment and Taxation (City Assessor) in the State of New York.

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MARCH 2018




“This is a character I made as part of my “World of Non-Judgement” series and I created this artwork as a symbolization of women of color /people of color and the challenges they still go through on a daily basis. She has an old injury on her face that has affected her pigmentation and she defiantly gazes back at the viewer.” - Mecca Alim, an emerging illustrator and fine artist from the Bronx

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MARCH 2018

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MARCH 2018



BLACK PANTHER OPENING WEEKEND When the Wakanda box office report came in, Black Panther took in over $218 million in America over the 4-day holiday weekend, and another $169 million overseas. A global take of $361 million, or £257.6 million. Its $218 million domestic income makes it the fifth biggest opening American opening weekend for a film ever. The three best-performing films on an opening weekend are the two most recent Star Wars films, and Jurassic World. Black Panther comes in behind only Marvel’s The Avengers (released as Avengers Assemble in the UK) which was released in 2012. It has out-performed both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s also the biggest non-sequel US launch of all time. Westchester County showed up at the Box Office. The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon took 100 youth. Newly elected County Legislator Chris Johnson, Attorneys Justin Tolbert and William O.Wagstaff III provided an opportunity for many Yonkers Youth to see Chadwick Boseman as an African superhero, with the help of many community partners. We composed a pictorial display of Westchester residents who proudly posted their Black Panther pics on Facebook. The unprecedented box office performance continued unimpeded in its second weekend, earning an estimated $108 million domestically, for $400 million total in just 10 days. Globally, the film earned $704 million in its first ten days.



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MARCH 2018



Former Westchester County Legislator Lois Bronz passed away, Monday February 12, 2018. State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-35th District, said she was saddened by the passing of her friend and mentor. “As the first African-American and the first woman elected chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, she was a pioneer, trailblazer and role model for people throughout the county,” Stewart-Cousins said. “I am honored to have had the privilege to know and work with a woman of such outstanding character.” Bronz was a tireless volunteer philanthropist and activist. She championed many important causes and served her community well. In 1994, she became the first black woman to be elected to the County Board of Legislators, and became the first African-American to lead the county board in 2002. Current Board Chair Ben Boykin shares with BW, “We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of former Chairwoman of the Board Lois Bronz. Lois was a dear friend and colleague who was a trailblazer at the Board of Legislators, serving as the first woman and first African-American to be elected Chair by her colleagues.” BW is told Bronz died of nature causes and funeral plans have not been made yet. County Executive George Latimer said, Westchester lost a true friend in Lois Bronz. “Today, Westchester lost a true friend in Lois Bronz. Having served with her during my time at the Board of Legislators, I saw first-hand just what kind of impact Lois had on Westchester, County Executive George Latimer shares with Black Westchester. “Our time serving together resulted in meaningful legislation that changed the course of the County for the better, most notably the creation of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. Lois was the definition of a trailblazer in Westchester County, having been elected as the first and only woman, and the first African-American, Chair of the County Board of Legislators. She fought for civil rights, women’s rights and human rights. Lois leaves behind a legacy of commitment to the people of Westchester. I extend my deepest condolences to the Bronz family during this difficult time.” Bronz worked in education for 32 years and was elected to the Greenburgh Town Council in 1976. She was appointed Deputy Town Supervisor and served the town for 16 years. Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner shared with Black Westchester, “Greenburgh and Westchester County lost a giant today with the passing of Lois Bronz. Lois was trailblazer who made our community a much better place. An educator for 32 years, Lois was elected In 1976 to the Greenburgh Town Board—and was appointed Deputy Town Supervisor of Greenburgh. She served the town for 16 years. In 1994, Lois become the first African-American woman elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators and in 2002, she was unanimously elected to lead the Board—the first African American chair of the Legislature. In addition to serving on the board of the Lois Bronz Children’s Center, she has also served as Director on the boards of Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester Coalition, Westchester Community Opportunity Program, United Way of Westchester, Westchester Arts Council, and the Hudson Valley Council for Senior Citizens. Lois was honored by numerous organizations –many appreciated her hard work and dedication.” Black Westchester Publisher Damon K. Jones echoes Fiener’s sentiment, “We just lost a Giant among us, my High School Guidance Counselor, my County Legislator the Honorable Lois Bronz.” In addition to serving on the board of the Lois Bronz Children’s Center, she has also served as Director on the boards of Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester Coalition, Westchester Community Opportunity Program, United Way of Westchester, Westchester Arts Council, and the Hudson Valley Council for Senior Citizens. She was honored by numerous organizations –many appreciated her hard work and dedication, according to Feiner. Board of Legislator Vice-Chair Alfreda Williams added, “Lois was known all throughout Westchester for the important work she did and the issues she stood for. Always a fierce advocate for children and families, Lois’ work continued, in name, deeds, and in spirit. In 2006 the Union Child Day Care Center, in operation since 1968, was renamed The Lois Bronz Children’s Center, in recognition of Lois’ many years on the Board of Directors and her successful fundraising efforts on their behalf. The Center will always serve as a reminder of the person she was and the significant impact she had on the people of Westchester, and most especially the Town of Greenburgh.” “I would always get a call from Lois asking if I could spend some time making phone calls for the day care center,” Feiner said. “When Lois was first elected to the Greenburgh Town Board and to the Legislature it was much harder for African Americans to win election to positions of leadership than it is today. It took leaders like Lois to pave the way – making it easier for today’s generation of leaders to seek and win prominent positions in local, county, state and national offices,” Feiner said. “She will be missed. But, thousands of people will continue to benefit from her initiatives and dedicated service.” “Our sincerest sympathy and condolences are extended to the family and friends”, said Chairman Boykin. Lois Bronz was a Black Westchester legend and her loss will be felt


THE OLDEST SURVIVOR OF BLACK WALL STREET Dr. Hooker was just 6-years-old when the burning of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma occurred. Although, most people see what happened as a riot on Black Wall Street, Dr. Hooker refers to it as what it truly was a “planned desecration.” The “catastrophe,” as Dr. Hooker calls it, began when a black man named Dick Rowland came in contact with a white woman named Sarah Page in an elevator. It’s likely that he tripped and grabbed her as he fell, but the truth didn’t matter. Rowland was arrested, the story escalated, and the city’s white residents, emboldened by the Tulsa police, terrorized Greenwood. They burned homes and businesses, including Hooker’s father’s clothing store, and killed roughly 300 residents. Greenwood, known as “Black Wall Street” for its collection of black businesses and wealth, was decimated. As many parents did before the attack, Dr. Hooker’s parents shielded her from the racism and discrimination that blacks faced daily. “It was devastating,” Hooker says, “I did not know about people discriminating because of color. I didn’t know that there were people who hated other people for no reason. It was a distinct shock.” The night of June 1, 1921, Dr. Hooker’s eyes opened to the hatred White people felt toward Blacks. “It was the middle of summer,” Hooker recalled. “And I couldn’t understand how it would hail during the summer. And my mother said, ‘I’ll show you what’s going on’ and took me to the front window. It was there I saw a machine gun. And she said, ‘Look at that American flag. Your country is shooting at you.’” After the riots, Hooker’s family moved to Columbus, Ohio where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in 1937 from Ohio State University. While at OSU, she joined the Delta Sigma Theta sorority where she advocated for African-American women to be admitted to the navy. Later Dr. Hooker was a founder of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in hopes of demanding reparations for the massacre survivors. Dr. Olivia J. Hooker is the kind of person who’ll credit everyone else for her lifetime of achievements before she credits herself and her list of accomplishments is seemingly endless. She has two Coast Guard buildings named after her for being the first black woman to enlist. She advanced psychology for people with disabilities as one of the few black women in the field. She took the fight for reparations for fellow survivors of the Tulsa race riot in Oklahoma to Capitol Hill. She’s been called “fearless” and “an inspiration” by President Obama. Her professional expertise and personal activism came together with her work for the White Plains-Greenburgh NAACP. She helped students who were being under-served and mistreated by local schools receive the education they deserved. The Juniper Hill neighborhood of Greenburgh is where Dr. Hooker now calls home. She turned 103 years young on February 12th. Black Westchester salutes Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, a Living Legend!

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MARCH 2018





Sandra T. Blackwell is the President, Publisher and Editor of the Westchester County Press. That’s a mouthful huh? Well let me just say as the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester, I can truly appreciate the hard work and dedication of putting out a African-American Newspaper inWestchester County. You have to be much more than the aforementioned titles indicate, you have to wear several other hats many will never have an clue of all you do, to get the paper out and keep it running. The County Press is a weekly newspaper created in 1928 to serve the African American communities of Westchester County, New York. The 16-page paper addresses political issues affecting minorities and strives to educate and highlight positive news. They have held it down as the sole African-American voice in Westchester County for decades and have been in existence for 90 years. Without the road Blackwell and the County Press paved, there would be no Black Westchester newspaper and online news magazine, today. Sandra T. Blackwell, the eldest daughter of the late Reverend Russell and Mrs. Dorothy Tarleton Blackwell, is a native of South Carolina, where she attended Benedict College. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966, Ms. Blackwell moved to Westchester County, where she began a 40-year career as a special education teacher, earning her Master of Science degree from SUNY New Paltz, in 1971. Over the years, Ms. Blackwell has been a political force in Westchester, playing vital roles in many organizations including the Yorktown Democratic Committee, the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus and the Black Democrats of Westchester. In January 2009, after the passing of, M. Paul Redd, Sr., who joined the staff of the paper during the civil rights era and eventually became its owner and publisher, Ms. Blackwell took over as the publisher and editor of The Westchester County Press, the county’s only African-American newspaper at the time, crafting the paper into the format that it has today. Sandra Blackwell has been recognized by Governor Mario Cuomo, having appointed her to serve on the Advisory Council to the New York State Division of Human Rights in 1984 and 1986. Gov. Cuomo also appointed Ms. Blackwell to serve on the governing Council of the College of Optometry of the State University of New York. She also served on the Association of Council Members and College Trustees of the State University of New York. On June 26, 2016, both Black Westchester and the Westchester County Press were among the African-Americans In Media who were honored at the 32nd African-American Heritage Festival Celebration, Sunday at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, NY. When asked her plans for the future, Blackwell said, “My goal now is to continue serving the Westchester County African-American community by telling our story…” We are glad to be able to join her in carrying on the tradition of being the voice the black community. Sandra Blackwell, BW salutes you, a true Black Westchester Legend.



Marie Kearney Williams, was born on March 18, 1932, in Warrenton, North Carolina to Earlie Sr. and Laura B. Kearney Davis. The Kearney’s, were share choppers and had nine children: Helen, Earlie Jr., Willa Mae, William McKinley, Mary Celeste, Marie and Bobby (her twin brother), Ethel M. and Josephine and seven from Earlie’s previous marriage: Charlie, Essex. Lucy, Pearl, Lucille, Bessie, and Ruth. Marie attended and graduated from John Hawkins High School in Warren County, North Carolina on May 23, 1950. At a young age she realized the importance of obtaining an education. She would walk for miles to and from school each day through rain, snow and heat to attend school. Many children of share choppers worked the fields and were not afforded the opportunity to attend school let alone graduate. Sacrifices were made by the family so that she could attend school. She would be the first of her siblings to graduate from high school. In the early 1950’s, Marie moved to Westchester County, New York, where she met and married the late Charles Williams. The couple, with their two daughters, Terrie M. Williams and Yolanda Williams-Johnson lived in Mt. Vernon, New York. With her desire to stay actively involved in her children’s activities, she enrolled Yolanda in the first busing program at Pennington Elementary School. The administration took notice of her involvement and offered her a Bus Monitor’s position. Although it was only for two hours a day, that was enough to open the door of many great opportunities to come. Marie started her professional career as a community liaison worker in a dropout prevention program at Mount Vernon High School. She received her BA in Social Science from the College of New Rochelle in 1979 and her MA in Social Work from Fordham University in 1985. She was employed in the Mount Vernon school system for 34 years before retiring in 2002. For over three decades, Marie had been an active and supportive advocate for the children of the Mount Vernon school system. Her cadre of friends who reigned from every corner and ethnicity of the city devoted their lives to improving the quality of education in their communities. The goal was always to prepare young aspiring children to become, not only educationally astute, but model citizens wherever their careers took them. College graduates, many of whom she mentored, often stopped by to see Marie (affectionately known as “Mama Marie”) for a hug, or just to see how she was doing. Over her career Marie received numerous awards such as the March of Dimes Mother of the Year Celebration, the Mount Vernon P.T.A. Council Tribute, the New York Chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers, and the Queen of Sheba Award from The Afrikan Brotherhood. She has been featured in the College of New Rochelle Magazine; Live the Legacy CNR in the 21st Century, The New York Daily News, and The Journal News. Marie received letters of commendations from President Bill Clinton and Susan L. Taylor, former Editor of Essence Magazine for her tireless energy and commitment to the youth in our community. Terrie M. Williams and Yolanda Williams-Johnson established the Marie K. Williams Scholarship for the Mount Vernon High School Graduates. As a Mount Vernon resident and school advocate she worked tirelessly with the community to foster and maintain a positive image of the school system. Marie, was an avid reader—a warrior who fought alongside parent’s to demand that their children receive a quality education. She was active in the local, county, and state P.T.A. organizations and served in numerous official capacities. Her sensitivity and warmth, her willingness to help others, and her ability to relate to all the residents left an indelible legacy in the City of Mount Vernon, New York. The family welcome the public to join them for the Memorial Service and Celebration of Life for long-time Mount Vernon resident, Marie K. Williams on Saturday, March 17, 2018, 11:00am thru 1:00pm at Macedonia Baptist Church, 141 South 9th Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York 10550 – Rev. Dr. Darren M. Morton, Senior Pastor. BW salutes Marie Kearney Williams a Black Westchester legend!

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MARCH 2018





One of the most significant influences in my life and career was the late Lois Bronz, the first African-American, and the first woman, elected Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. As a tireless volunteer, philanthropist, and activist, Lois Bronz championed many important causes and served her community with distinction. Bronz pursued higher education in Louisiana and advocated tirelessly for the people of her community, eventually helping create the League of Good Government in New Orleans. She moved to New York in 1966 and worked as a math teacher for Greenburgh Public Schools. She ran for Greenburgh Town Board in 1973 and served her constituents with distinction for sixteen years. In 1993, she became the first African-American woman elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators. She committed herself to combating child abuse and domestic violence, fighting for affordable housing, creating shared and open public spaces, and serving as a responsive and accessible legislator. In 2002, she became the first African-American woman elected as chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. She served until 2009. Lois was a pioneer, trailblazer, and role model, and my personal mentor and friend.I am honored to have had the privilege to know and work with a woman of such outstanding character.




Often, we believe that we are inspired by a person, a moment, or a situation, but I think as our lives evolve, we find that there have been many people who have been a part of that inspiration; - who have at any given point boosted and raised us up so that we can reach our potential. They do not always know that is what they are doing, but somehow miraculously and phenomenally that occurs. For me there were three women of influence that served as my inspiration. The first of these women was Ms. Alice C. Scott, who will probably never make the history books, but historically in my life and in the lives of many other women and many of the progressive initiatives in the city of Mount Vernon, she was such a woman. While newcomers to Mount Vernon may not have heard of Ms. Scott, she was the earliest and greatest political influence in my life. She taught me the art of politics, the graciousness of politics and the humility of politics. From this foundation, I was ready then to go to the next step, and that step was to run for public office. These things have sustained me. My next two inspirations came from Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Congresswoman Chisholm taught me to be “Unbossed and Unbought”, to take a stand and to standby what I believe. From Congresswoman Jordan I learned to let my voice ring out against injustice, no matter where and against all odds. I would hope that they would be proud of me today, as I continue in the spirit of their teachings, with respect and reverence for their legacies.




I have always admired Shirley Chisholm, because she was “unbought and unbossed” and reminded us that “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” Further, I am eternally grateful to my mother who passed down the stories of the Maroon warriors and Queen Nanny, who successfully fought a mighty empire for freedom. I am shaped by these stories, coupled with those by the many women authors who wove inspirational stories of heroines to which I could relate, including Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker. My fortitude as a public servant comes from this rich legacy.

There are many women in our history that have inspired and influenced us into becoming the hardworking, dedidacted, fearless and daring women we are today. We have Amilia Earhart, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. From a young age I was told stories about women who broke the mold and paved the way for the following generation to shine. One of those facinating stories was about Florinda Muñoz Soriano known as (Mamá Tingó.) Born in 1921, she was a Dominican activist leader and defender of the rural farming community in Dominican Republic. Standing against the government, she knew her life was in danger but continued pushing her cause to defend the rights of local farmers until she was assassinated fighting against the unjust plunder of the resident farmers’ land. Despite her advanced age, she participated fiercely in directing the farmworkers movement. She worked on her farm for decades with her husband and later a landholder reclaimed the land. Although she was illiterate, it did not limit her and she fought for others like it was her who had lost her land. One fateful day, she returned to her farm to discover that an employee of the landholder had released her pigs. She went to gather them, but the foreman was hidding and shot her with a shotgun. Mamá Tingó tried to defend herself with a machete, but one shot to the head and another one to the chest, killed her. She was 52 years old. Mamá Tingó was the epitome of courage. A woman whose fearlessness and strength I can only hope to emulate. She answered the call to serve her community and fought till the very end to defend and protect their rights





Since the 1800s, thousands of people have sacrificed their lives to afford African-Americans the opportunity to be educated. It was the very belief and conviction of our ancestors that education is gateway to freedom and independence. With a strong commitment to education and advocacy for women’s rights, Mary McLeod Bethune is a woman in history who has profoundly influenced me. Born to former slaves, she worked tirelessly to educate herself. Realizing the importance of education, she eventually opened her very own school to educate young African-American women. This school later merged with an African-American male-only school, thus becoming Bethune-Cookman College. Mary McLeod Bethune held one of the most influential positions in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s cabinet. I am most inspired by the courage, resilience and perseverance of Mary McLeod Bethune. Her modest upbringing did not impede her determination to be her best self and use her influence to help others. She unselfishly committed her life’s work to improving the lives of others. As an educational leader, I aspire each day to improve the lives of the students I serve. In my 20+ year career as an educator, I have worked with thousands of students. My hope is that I have left an indelible impact on many of them and they will be a beacon of hope to others in need. Sister McLeod Bethune is the founding president of National Council of Negro Women. Her tenacity to empower women during a time of female oppression is admirable and courageous. When we empower women, we empower a nation. Her laudable activism influenced many women to pursue careers in education, politics and entrepreneurship. I am proud to identify Mary McLeod Bethune as a woman of influence I admire.



I stand on the shoulders of many freedom fighters who paved the way and shaped the vision and mission of my life’s work. I am the granddaughter of sharecroppers and the first generation college graduate in my family because of local heroes like Mamie Haynes and Rubelle Myers, two beauticians in my Bethel Baptist Church family. They would leave clients under the dryer or in the chair to go to City Hall and confront the Mayor when buildings were without heat, hot water, or other necessaries. They instilled the fact that we had to get up and get out if we wanted to be heard. They were not afraid. I stand on the shoulders of Mary Ramey, the first Black realtor in White Plains, who felt everyone should have an opportunity to own a home. She made sure Blacks had access to homes that White realtors would not show them. Of course, the great educators that invested in young women like Mary McCleod Bethune as well as movers and shakers like Shirley Chisholm were instrumental in creating the mind-set that I could do anything. Modern writers like Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou gave me a voice and acknowledgement of our spirit that permeates my heart to this day. Most important, each of us has courage and the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our people is to encourage courage.

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MARCH 2018




M alcolm X characterized Black people as politically dead footballs thrown in a game played

between conservatives and liberals. White liberals mastered the science of being an ally; i.e., posing as the friend of Black people and promising token gestures to win their allegiance whereas White conservatives were overt in their disdain of Black people. In his autobiography, Malcolm X explains that this political arrangement had Black people confined to ghettos, living for mere survival, and unable to aspire to higher ambitions in life. In the speech, “The Ballot Or The Bullet” hosted by King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan on April 12, 1964, Malcolm X urged Black people around the country to understand the urgency of their social, political, and economic standing. Malcolm argued, they had to absolutely “know what part politics play in their lives.” The Westchester Black Political Convention (WBPC), an exciting new political conference took place in Westchester County, Saturday, February 10th. The WBPC recognized that Westchester has become both a more diverse yet unequal county. To be recognized as one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, policymakers face the urgent challenge of confronting growing wealth gaps by race and ethnicity. The goal of WBPC is to create a more equitable and secure future for communities of color through public

policy. They believe, they must shift away from public policies and secure future for communities of color through public policy. They believe, they must shift away from public policies that fuel and exacerbate racial disparities in wealth, housing, education, economic development and criminal justice and mobilize their community to endorse and employ public policies that empower communities of color. Just under 100 community stakeholders, politicians, residents and members of several organizations such as the White Plains/Greenburgh, Peekskill, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Spring Valley, Nyack and New Rochelle branches of the NAACP, WESPAC, The Urban League of Westchester, Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence, Westchester Coalition For Police Reform, LHVPAN, Westchester Corrections Association, Westchester/Rockland Guardians Association, League of Women Voters, Peekskill Board of Education, The Nation of Islam, Indivisible Westchester, Indivisible New Rochelle, Indivisible NY, EffectNY, Westchester Chapter of The National Association of Black Social Workers, and the Westchester Children’s Association gathered at the WESPAC Office located at 77 Tarrytown Rd in White Plains to take part in the historical gathering. The WBPC was born out of the idea of the historical first National Black Political Assembly (NBPA), formerly known as the Gary Convention that was held on March 10, 1972, in Gary Indiana. The


NBPA gathered around ten thousand African-Americans to discuss and advocate for black communities that undergo significant economic and social crisis. Part of their goal was to raise the number of black politicians elected to office, increase representation, and create an agenda for fundamental change. The event consisted of two panels discussions that spoke on four policy issues; economic development, education, public policy and community engagement and a keynote address from Dr. Lenora Fulani. Panelists included Dr. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad (Eastern Representative of the Nation of Islam), Lena Anderson (President, White Plains/ Greenburgh NAACP), Ms. Sorraya E. Sampson (President and CEO of the Urban League of Westchester), Dr. Robert Baskervill (President, RISEUP) and Jumaane Williams (Councilman 45th District, Brooklyn), moderated by Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. The second panel consisted of Dr. David Holder (Founder, Senior Pastor, New York Covenant Church), André Wallace (Councilman, Mt Vernon), Christopher A. Johnson (County Legislator 16th District), and Minista Jazz (Activist, organizer and Political Strategist), moderated by Damon K. Jones. The conference was a call to action, “We’re not meeting just to meet anymore,” Tasha D Young one of the conference organizers tells BW. “We’re putting actions behind what we want and we’re going to hold people accountable until we get it.”

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MARCH 2018





In its early days somewhere around 1976, before it was even known as Hip-hop, before being recorded on vinyl and later music videos, it was a way of life, a form of expression in the urban cities, it was a total street entertainment experience. Beats and rhymes, 2 turntables and a microphone and ghetto superstars scratching were only one part of the hip-hop scene. There was also the defiant expressive street art that exploded on Subway cars and walls of the hood and the almost acrobatic street dance style known as  breaking, b-girling or b-boying.  In each of the four pillars of hip-hop culture females were heavily influential but are often overlooked and overshadowed by the fellows.  Female graffiti writers and street artists Lady Pink, Charmin 65, and  Tatyana Fazlalizadeh were some of the prominent ones to use murals, pieces, tags, and street art to display their artwork and make their voices heard just like the fellas. While Salt-N-Pepa are credited with being the first all-female crew, before them were The Mercedes Ladies in 1976, a crew made up of MCs DJs, breakdancers, and graffiti artists. They hosted parties, rocked mics and rocked the same fierce dance moves as their male counterparts— without exploiting their femininity or female physiques.

s Hip-Hop has grown from the expression of the day in urban America to a more mainstream medium, many documentaries, books, and even college courses have been manufactured, validating the genre’s place in the annals of American cultural. Like everything else in American, sadly, most historic reviews of hip-hop, fondly focus on the men who ushered in the movement. In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to document some of the most influential as well as the oft overlooked founding women of hip-hop.

The Mercedes Ladies who were the sister group to Grand Wizard Theodore  and the L Brothers are not well-know today, they recorded and released music—the most tangible legacy of hip-hop today. They were some of the early seeds of the Boogie Down Bronx movement that blossomed into a full-fledged cultural phenomenon. One of the first prominently femcees (female emcees) of the movement was MC Sha Rock. She first hit the scene in the late 70’s with the rap group Funky Four Plus One. Making hip-hop television history, Sha Rock and the fellas were the first hip-hop group to make a national television appearance. It was on Saturday Night Live in 1981. Progressive rock group Blondie—the featured performer on an episode of SNL—chose Funky Four and a 19-year old Sha Rock as their special musical guests for the last live music slot of the show. The group performed their song “That’s The Joint”. When the group disbanded, Sha Rock went on to form an all-female rap group, Us Girls—who were featured in the 1984 groundbreaking film Beat Street. Ushering the 80’s era of powerful ladies in rap was Roxanne Shanté from infamous Queensbridge Houses. After “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO was released, a talented, unknown 14-year old femcee boldly approached hip-hop producer Marley Marl with the idea of a rap response to the UFTO song. Not only was Shanté’s

song the first recorded “battle response” in Hip-Hop, the young artist fearlessly lead the charge in the “Roxanne Wars”. The creative debate went back-and-forth for years with nearly one hundred singles contributed to the Roxanne battle. Roxanne Shanté eventually moved on from the Roxanne saga by dropping the name altogether, going by Shanté and went on to pave the way for strong, fierce hip-hop female recording artists as part of The Juice Crew. The torch of warrior women in rap was passed from Shanté to the one and only MC Lyte on the microphone. Lyte broke barriers in the music industry, not only for being the first solo femcee to sell millions of singles and albums, but also for her progressive lyrics. Her songs helped evolve Hip-Hop from the feelgood party vibe of the late 70’s in to a socially conscious form of expression. In her work, she addressed issues like racism, sexism, and the drug culture that was consuming the neighborhood. Not only did MC Lyte school her male counterparts on the art of freestyle rap, she was the first rap artist to perform at Carnegie Hall, the first solo female rapper nominated for a Grammy, and the first rap artist to receive gold single recognition. Where most of Hip-Hop’s young performers faded after a few years of bad contracts and dated styles, Lyte has prove to be one of hip-hop’s most enduring success stories, regardless of gender. She still performs today, writes music for others, is a leader in the music industry, runs a scholarship foundation, mentors, acts, and keeps her work relevant.

The Smithsonian Museum has even added her diaries and turntable to their rap and hip-hop ephemera collection. MC Lyte’s presence during the golden era of HipHop lead the way for countless other women to enter and excel in the rap game with longevity. Likewise, Queen Latifah’s no-nonsense yet feminine artistry laid a foundation for women in Hip-Hop to embrace and celebrate their heritage, their curves, and their minds. Latifah also set a new standard for black women in the music business as an artist-turned-CEO, leading Flavor Unit Records and Management Company. She also proved to be a triple threat, earning an Oscar nomination for her acting, proving the sky’s the limit for women in Hip-Hop! Salt ‘N Pepa stepped things up, becoming the first female hip-hop group to go multi-platinum. Sister Souljah used her platform as a Hip-Hop artist to spark critical debates about race in America, and encouraged often-silenced black women to speak up—not only through music but also as activists in communities around the world. Lauren Hill is still has a perch in the top-selling Hip-Hop and rap albums of all time. The list goes on and on… While most of the literature and discussions around Hip-Hop focus on the accomplishments of men, many women in the history of Hip-Hop have played a significant role in its development and evolution. They deserve to be placed upon beautifully graffiti decorated pedestals, in American museums, researched, and documented so their stories are celebrated and not forgotten. BW salutes the women who helped shape the culture of Hip-Hop!


There has always been misogyny in music as long as there has been music, this systemic attitude expressed through music DID NOT START WITH HIP-HOP. If there was no more Hip-Hop tomorrow the objectification and denigration of women in music and in this country would continue. With that said, at its core, hip-hop is inherently derogatory and unapologetic ― especially when it comes to its women, who serve as both the muse and misused. Our sistahs are often being referred to as b*****s, h*es and gold diggers, she is treated as a sex object and plaything, being called all out of her name and being told to drop it, shake it and bounce it every five minutes in songs, in rap videos and on radio stations across the nation, where Hip-Hop lives. What’s worst is how many of our sistahs willingly ingested the toxic byproducts of this billion-dollar industry in the same vein that nicotine affects the lungs of secondhand smokers. Makes you wonder can Hip-Hop and femininity come to a resolve or can rap exist without misogyny. Malcolm X wrote about it in 1962’s “Who Taught You To Hate Yourself” when he said “The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black Woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America, is the Black Woman.” Abbey Lincoln also wrote on it in “Who Will Revere The Black Woman?” in 1966. Since the positive music in Hip-Hop doesn’t always get promoted and played in rotation at your corporatelyowned radio stations, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite songs that celebrate and uplift the Black Woman. Its my pleasure to point out my playlist of a plethora of positive expression toward our Black Women and Women of Color. These odes to women aren’t a new concept. Hip-hop has been through multiple changes since its golden era, but it hasn’t stopped giving the ladies their shine. Kendrick Lamar’s  To Pimp a Butterfly  was a packed and ambitious black consciousness statement

that felt even more complete when it included the female perspective. And of course, J. Cole, hip-hop’s poster boy for positivity, also has some words of encouragement for the ladies. Here are some Hip-Hop songs that uplift and celebrate the Black Woman. Some were big hits that you may now and others where underground joints that may only be known to the Hip-Hop Aficionado.  Without further ado I make my case that not every Hip-Hop artist goes out of their way to degrade Black Women in music. Some people have proclaimed their love for the Black Women and have done so in an eloquent manner. Although this list is by no means definitive; it  offers another way to examine a genre that isn’t as one-dimensional as critics make it seem. Take a look for yourself. One of my all-time favorites is ‘The Light’ by Common, one of the most powerful Hip-Hop ballads celebrating the Black Woman. Common’s uplifting lyrics puts his lady on a pedestal that was as well deserved as the Grammy, he received for the track. “It’s important we communicate/ And tune the fate of this union to the right pitch/I never call you my bitch or even my boo/There’s so much in a name and so much more in you.” The song puts females in a light (pun  so  intended) that other hip-hop songs dare not to. In a genre where it seems even the females can’t seem to say anything nice about other women in HipHop, Lauryn Hill rapped to women caught in the struggle and insecurity  urging them to rise above. L. Boogie urges women to respect themselves , by not playing into what men want in ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ on her inaugural debut album. “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem/  Baby girl respect is just the minimum.” Few female rappers have done more to inspire women’s empowerment than Queen Latifah. She demanded respect for Black Women in ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ (Who you calling a Bitch).  La strikes back

at men who abuse women verbally and physically. Then there was the feminist anthem of 1989-Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First” featuring Monie Love off of  All Hail The Queen, lets all the men know how great it is to be a woman. The Queen let’s the fellas know, “We are the ones who gave birth to a generation of prophets, it’s Ladies First...” No shots are fired at men who just don’t understand or any females who aren’t respecting themselves-it’s just Monie and the Queen going back and forth about the power of women, and not only did it make waves for women in hip-hop but it’s commercial success was groundbreaking for a rap song. Then there were the odes to the mothers. Kanye West’ 2005 ‘Hey Mama’ is one of the most beautiful HipHop tributes to mom; “And you never put no man over me/And I love you for that mommy can’t you see?/Seven years old, caught you with tears in your eyes/Cuz a brother cheatin, telling you lies, then I started to cry / As we knelt on the kitchen floor / I said mommy I’mma love you till you don’t hurt no more.” It’s heartbreaking to listen to Kanye’s “Hey Mama” after Donda West passed in 2007. Let’s not forget the classic, ‘Dear Mama’ by 2Pac. One of Pac’s signature musical triumphs was this ode to his mother’s strength, love and determination during his youth. It’s one of the most touching Hip-Hop songs ever written. One of 2Pac’s most celebrated and most famous songs. Super classic you here all day everyday in May around Mother’s Day like the 1973 single,  ‘I Will Always Love My Mama,’ by the  Philly soul  group  The Intruders.  ‘Dance,’ is Nas’ beautiful ode to his mother – who died of breast cancer while  Nas  was recording his sixth album God’s Son – is one of the highlights of  that album, and one of Nas’ most personal and emotional songs.  “I dream of the day I can go back to when I was born / Laying in your arms, wishing you was here today, Mom / (Continues on Page 21)

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MARCH 2018





The number of American students who study abroad before graduating from college has more than tripled in the last two decades, reaching a new high of more than 300,000 in 2013-14 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.3 But the vast majority spends only a semester or two abroad. To save some serious cash, you might want to consider packing your bags for all four years as it is sometimes less expensive to attend school overseas.


According to the College Board, tuition, fees and room and board for full-time in-state students averaged $19,548 at public four-year colleges and universities in 2015 and $43,921 at private nonprofit four-year colleges.1 But most students receive some form of financial aid, bringing the average net cost (sticker price minus grant aid and tax benefits) of tuition, fees and room and board down to $14,120 at public four-year institutions, and $26,400 at private nonprofits.2 A few well-played strategies can slash that college price tag further still.


Solid students who take tough classes, get good grades and excel in athletics or extracurricular activities are likely to get more merit aid, also known as nonneed-based aid, if they are willing to “level down.” High achieving students who opt for a less prestigious undergraduate school can often earn a degree for 50 percent less with the help of lower tuition fees and more generous scholarships and grants. The most sought after college students could even get a full ride. A 2014 study of college graduates by Gallup-Purdue University found that the type of institution they attended mattered less than what they experienced while in college – experiences that “strongly relate to great jobs and great lives.”

You can also save a bundle by getting your first two years of college credits at a local community college and then transferring to a four-year institution. The average published price for an in-district, two-year public community college in 2015-16: $3,435. That is a total of $6,870 for two full years.4 And since many students who attend community college live at home, they do not incur the additional expense of room and board. To fairly compare out-of-pocket costs, however, you will need to factor in the cost of transportation to get you to and from campus, including a car, train or bus. You do need to do your homework before you take the leap. You want to make sure that the courses that you take at the community college will transfer to the four-year program. Check with your community college and the fouryear school you are planning to research your options.


There is also much to be gained by getting “instate” tuition rates, but that does not necessarily mean you have to attend a school in your own state. Several states have reciprocity programs in place that allow eligible non-residents to pay the equivalent of in-state tuition at their colleges and universities. CHOOSE A ZERO TUITION SCHOOL Despite the rising cost of college tuition, it is still possible to If you really want to minimize your tuition earn a degree without driving yourself into debilitating debt. fee, as in, not pay a dime, more than a dozen U.S. colleges offer free tuition. Really. Generally, you will still incur the cost of room and 1 College Board, Tuition and Fees and Room and Board board, along with books and incidentals, and you over Time, 1975-76 to 2015-16, Selected Years may be required to work during the academic 2 College Board, Table 7, Average Net Price over Time for year, as some schools offering a degree for free Full-Time Students, By Sector, 2015-16 want their students to have some skin in the game. 3 Institute of International Education, Open Doors 2015, a free online financial aid resource, pro- 4 College Board, Trends in Community Colleges: Table 6, 2016 files each of the colleges offering zero tuition. Finaid. org notes that some new colleges, particularly professional schools, also offer free tuition to the first Provided by Rashad Bilal a financial representative with Bilal Group LLC, courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual year’s incoming class to generate publicity, which is The Life Insurance Company © 2016 worth investigating the year you apply for college. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, And for those with exceptional financial need, it re- Springfield, MA 01111-0001 CRN201809-204856 ports, more than 70 colleges have implemented zero FY1080 loans financial aid policies for low-income students.


No woman reading this article will be surprised that men are notorious for interrupting women. What may surprise you is that when women interrupt, they are interrupting other women a whopping 87 percent of the time (6). With such a gross amount of disrespect, women need someone to support their ideas and amplify their voices. Make it a point to look out for other women. When they are interrupted in the office, shine the spotlight back on them. When their ideas are stolen, pointedly acknowledge their contribution. Empower others with your presence and the knowledge that they have an ally in you.

W omen rock the workplace. In fact, MENTOR & CHAMPION women-led companies crush the competition Mentorship is a well-documented necessity for personal with annual returns that exceeded the average (1). Yet, women lead only six percent of Fortune 500 companies (2). There are more CEOs with the name John then there are women CEOs (3). It’s time for a change. Women have an opportunity to create more inclusive and fair organizations. Here are three ways for women (and allies) to help women dominate the workplace.


It may be hard to pat yourself on the back, but self-promotion is necessary to gain and maintain top leadership positions (4). In fact, the improbability of women to selfpromote is singled out as one reason that women make less, are assigned fewer career-boosting projects, and receive smaller bonuses and promotions. Women can help each other by giving public accolades for the amazing, female-driven work in their organization. The benefit of promoting other women is twofold. First, you promote the work of another person which improves their reputation and promotion potential. Second, sharing the spotlight is essential to lead thriving teams that outperform expectations (5).

and professional success. Women with mentors gain benefits that greatly outweigh those gained from male mentors (7). And women without mentors lag even further behind their counterparts. While one-on-one discussions to plan and implement one’s career goals are beneficial, mentorship should go one step further. Women must also champion for each other. As a champion, you put your name and professional reputation on the line for someone else. It’s a step that shows your dedication to ensuring that another woman moves toward her full potential. Act as a champion by suggesting and securing other opportunities for the women around you and by promoting their ideas and efforts. As you move up in your career, you create a path and resources for other women to follow in your footsteps, and you develop the leadership skills that will motivate other women to support you. Women need each other to thrive in a competitive workplace. The adage goes, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” The same can be said for a workplace where women are appreciated and engaged. As more people are valued, the better the workplace becomes for everyone. Use these techniques to support the success of women in the workplace and undoubtedly create a better workplace for yourself and everyone else.

Sources: Yasmin ‘Yas’ Hurston is the Exec Producer of OnPoint! Experience radio show and President of SAY YAS Prods., a multmedia production company that creates messages, conversations, views and opinions of the public through radio, film, television and public events. Check out Yas Hurston’s blog Single Mom Chronicle at

OnPoint! Experience is a two-hour radio show that is also streamed live every Saturday morning. Through conversations with leaders and professionals, we aim to empower and educate our listening audience on current events, lifestyle matters and political/community issues with a twist of humor, intellect and tough love. It is our intent to provide a unique platform for those professionals that are exceeding expectations and making a difference in our society – hence being OnPoint!

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MARCH 2018

BY LORRAINE LOPEZ In honor of Women’s History month, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to two of my most favorite women who I look up to and admire more than I can express. First, l would like to introduce Magdalena Carmen Caldianora Kahlo also known as Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist. Frida was born in Coyoarcån in Mexico on July 13th, 1954. She is known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by nature in Mexico. She is the most famous woman in Latin America that is a painter. She was politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera when she forged her papers to divulge a different birth certificate. For a long time she was only seen as Diego’s wife.She was disabled as a child from Polio and at the age of 18 she was seriously wounded in an accident that left her with lifelong complications. Prior to the accident, she was an inspiring medical student but changed her vision the the world that she loved....the arts. She was interested andparticipated in the Mexican Communist Party where she met and married fellow believer Diego Rivera.They divorced due to his extramarital affairs, but their love and passion won out and they remarried a year later. The following year Frida traveled thoughout the United States and Mexico with her husband. During this time she came into her own style as an artist and drew most if her inspiration from Mexican Folk Culture. Where she had her first exhibition of her paintings at the Julliard Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. The most fascinating thing about Frida to me was that she didn’t care about her looks. One leg thinner than another, an amputation, spina bifida and her most famous uni-brow. That’s about the most thing that I admire her the most for. Her paintings did not reflect any negative connotations on her looks. Basically, She didn’t give a damn about her looks. Frida went on to paint hundreds of beautiful paintings. She has her own Museum and her paintings are featured all around the world. Google her to view her amazing works. Frida was talented, was bold, was passionate, driven, overcame much stigma, loved her man more than anything and Blessed us all with her amazing paintings. I salute you! Mexican Artist Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo (Frida Kahlo) (left) Argentina’s First Lady María Eva Duarte de Perón (right)

Second, is my favorite and whom I consider my Queen, Eva Maria Duarte De Peron or as many of y’all know her as Evita Peron. I can’t begin to say how much I admire this woman. She was born in a large family and her dad had two wives and families. When she was young her dad died but his other family refused to acknowledge her and didn’t let her mom or the family attend the funeral. That was an event that haunted her her whole life. At the tender age of 16 Evita moved to Buenos Aries to persue her acting and radio dreams. She was hired by many to do radio and starred in several B movies. She struggled in the beginning of her radio career. She loved to dance and she loved to entertain men and it wasn’t long before women whose men fell into her spell and others began to label her and call her a prostitute. Then she met and married Juan Peron who became President of Argentina a year later .Their life was a fairytale. Don Juan pushed for more citizens rights and inclusion for all. Evita in her knew role of First Lady started many foundations from Womens groups to childrens needs. Evita would hold public events where folks in need would convene to be the first to see Evita and ask for help. She would help all who came from dentures, to food, to shoes, to jobs. The folks in Argentina loved her. This is a woman that went thru hell and back and survived and proceeded to use what she had to help folks. Everyone loved her. The opposition would due what they could to disarm her. She was considering a run for Lt. Governor for Argentina but was met with too much resistance from the military. I wrote my college paper on her. Got an A plus. I follow anything that includes her and I urge you to do the same. I promise you wont be dissapointed. Shortly afterwards, in 1952 Evita Peron succumbed to cervical cancer. She was given a full state military wake and funeral while the entire country of Argentina mourned for their beloved First Lady. The highest honor given to any woman. I will never forget the lessons these two women have given me....Give back to the people and they in turn would appreciate you. No loaded guns, no bs, no shamefulness on looks or what it took to get to where they are at, just honest and free love and a sincere willingness to do whatever it takes to get to where you need to go with a goal of affecting every human being you meet with unconditional love and a willingness to help others and share your gifts with them, especially those in dire need. If I can be half of what these two women where, I would be in a good place. This is what I strive for and hopefully it would be my legacy.


Above, I highlighted two Latina women who I have admired and aspired to be like. These women I honor posthumously as they serve a great place in women’s history. Now let me tell you about a woman that I have actually met. A woman that I have the distinct honor of calling her one of my mentors, if anything my most precious mentor. Ladies and gentlemen, unless you have been living in a cave these last few decades, let me introduce to you the Honorable Symra Brandon. I will tell you all about her credentials in a moment, but first let me tell you a bit of history between us. I first knew of Symra about 37 years ago when we lived next door to her. My cat would run away and go into her backyard and I always had the task of retrieving her. Symra and her husband Terry, now a retired Westchester corrections officer, were always very gracious and never complained about my cat nor me retrieving her. They were wonderful neighbors. I then encountered Symra a few short years later while I was living on Lamartine Terrace in the 1st district. I was a young mother of two babies. Symra would be campaigning in the first district along with her friend and mentor the Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins. I would run into them often. Symra always had palm cards with her and would always give me one while they both told me to make sure I went out to vote. They truly influenced me and I was so impressed with the fact that they were always out there doing their thing. That year, many, many moons ago, I voted for the first time. My first vote went to Andrea, my second for Symra. Didn’t know much about politics but I did know I wanted them to be the leaders they are today. Something about them struck a chord in me and I’ve been a fan ever since. Fast forward to many years later when I ran and won a seat as Councilwoman for the Second District as a Democrat. Symra was already in office as the First District City Councilwoman and the Minority Leader. I have to say first of all that I have yet to meet a woman more loyal and dedicated to her party as Symra is. That year Symra became my mentor. Now let me tell you that I was not easy. I came from the streets and was (and still

gangster, but my intentions and live for my people have always been pure. I was a brat, naive, and totally clueless about many issues. I just knew I wanted to serve and do the best I could for my people. Symra took in the task of guiding and teaching me the ropes. She became my mentor, my friend and my protector. I shadowed her everywhere she went. I was literally a thorn on her side, but she never complained and she took her role seriously. In the year and a half that I shadowed her, we had our adventures. Symra was there for me when I had personal problems, she was there for me when the worst scenarios would happen in my family and personal life. She never judged me and always supported me. She was there when I got stopped twice for speeding while on our way to Albany to fight for education funding and the opposition said cruel things like I got stopped for prostitution. She was there when I came face to face with my brothers murderer. She was there when my daughter was acting strange and had lots of health issues that later became a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Symra became my lifeline in City Hall. She taught me how to navigate City Hall. I saw first hand the screaming matches between her and the then Mayor where she ferociously fought for her constituents meanwhile some of her own people gave her a hard time. I always said to myself, if you knew what I knew and you saw what I saw you would never complain again. But some constituents live just for that and Symra always treated them all equally with love and respect. Symra taught me about legislation about local laws. When I authored the Carbon Monoxide Local Law and did several legislations, it was Symras assistant that helped me and she supported me in all my council endeavors. I take pride in all the work I was able to do for my people while I served and it was Symra who I modeled myself after. Some can say and rightfully so that I became a co-dependent on this woman. I was a pleasure. I remember when I started to get some slack from folks in the minority community of all places. Folks would tell me that I had to break away from Symra, that I looked like a puppy dog following her. I got a lot of slack from folks that said I needed to cut the cord and handle my own business. But, they didn’t know,

they just didn’t realize that everything I did, everything I learned in the City Council was because of Symra. She taught me how to navigate the system. They just didn’t get the fact that its not as easy as it sounds. There was much resistance, there were many complaints from folks that did not realize that everything we did , we did for them. Symra taught to have thick skin and to keep on plugging along for the love of our people. She taught me that no matter what obstacles we face if we don’t give up and put up the good fight, change can and will come. I was honored to be her shadow. Now Symra is a very well educated sister! She has a degree in sociology and a master’s in Social Work and Public Administration along with lots of experience in between. She is a respected mediator and adjunct professor in both Elizabeth Seton and Iona Colleges. She has worked in the county. Many levels from The Department of Social Services to Assistant to the County Executive. She is also a very proud member and sister of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Symra has received hundreds of distinguished awards for her service to the community she so loves. She is humble and she sometimes refuses to take credit for the wonderful things she’s done for her people. Do you see the waterfront esplanade in Yonkers. Its under construction and Mayor’s are taking credit for it and thats ok and they should, but keep in mind it was Symras district and she was one of the first to vote and approve of it. So next time you go to the waterfront and see how beautiful the area is getting, think of Symra and thank her cause none of that would be there if it weren’t for her. She also started the Midnight Basketball program as well as many others. She’s received hundreds of distinguished awards and yet she stays humble. So on this, Women’s History month I want to take the time to honor my mentor, my friend, my confidant.....The Honorable Symra Brandon. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do know as you continue to serve in Senator StewartCousins administration helping out those that need a hand and empowering those that need a push. I salute you madam and I honor you on this Women’s History Month. Gracias mi querida hermana. Te quito con todo corazon!!!!

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MARCH 2018



Wish you’d appear, just for a second from Heaven / My tears would be gone, I wouldn’t be rapping this song…”  Snoop also paid tribute to his mom when he raps “I love my momma/Through all the drama” and describes all the things she taught him-you know, how to read, write, fight. It’s all in a letter signed Love, Snoop. “I Love My Momma” really shows off the DO-double G’s soft side, and adoration for his mother. ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ by 2Pac is one of the greatest salutes to women ever written in Hip-Hop. “I wonder why we take from our women / Why we rape our women, do we hate our women? / I think it’s time to kill for our women / Time to heal our women, be real to our women.” This track implicates men’s roles in the oppression of women while uplifting women and encouraging courage in the face of mistreatment. ‘You’re  All I Need to Get By’ performed by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, (Hip-Hop’s Marvin & Tammy) is one of the greatest Hip-Hop love songs of all time. “Nothing make a man feel better than a woman, Queen with a crown that be down for whatever...” The haunting melody provided by Mary’s emotion-filled chorus flowed beautifully with Meth’s bars on finding the love of his life who holds it down for him. The Roots’ “You Got Me” was also a step forward in men’s attitudes towards and respect for women. Not to suggest Black Thought’s character was a good guy for not dogging his girl, cause it was much more than that; the rapper encourages communication and honesty, rather than paying attention to what outsiders have to say. It’s the value placed on trust that makes “I Got You” more than your typical song of devotion, but one of respect as well. “Started building with her constantly round the clock/Now she in my world like hip-hop.” “Love yourself, girl, or nobody will. Oh, you a woman? I don’t know how you deal with all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels ... You wake up, put makeup on, stare in the mirror but it’s clear that you can’t face what’s wrong. No need to fix what God already put his paint brush on.” Need I say more, J Cole’s ‘Crooked Smile,’ took what we’ve known about women and beauty expectations, turned it on its head, and changed the way we think about traditional beauty standards. As did TLC with ‘Unpretty,’ “Never insecure until I met you, now I’m bein’ stupid, I used to be so cute to me... Why do I look to all these things to keep you happy? Maybe get rid of you and then I’ll be back to me.” These three fierce sistahs prove that beauty comes from within, the haters and those who tear you down be damned. This will forever remain a self-love anthem and should be played for every young sistah of color in heavy rotation. Talib  Kweli list all the things he loves about women, “You fruitful, beautiful, smart, lovable, huggable.” Plus he wants his girl to be a permanent part of his life, on Black Star’s ‘Brown Skin Lady.’ This song is

more than just a tribute to brown-skinned beauty, which is often underrepresented in media and fashion. Talib and Mos Def urge black women to look in the mirror and recognize their indigenous black beauty, which doesn’t require the enhancement of makeup, plastic surgery or Photoshop. What a foreign concept these days! “Begin with the heart, our sisters is a living art/Always givin’, always deliverin’, always making something bigger from just a little part...” In ‘Womenology’ KRS raps he wants an independent women with thoughts and opinions, and shouts out to all the ladies who started their own businesses. But besides the encouragement, he stresses the importance of women in the world-and specifically to the men they care for, while also acknowledging their power and respect. Q-Tip’s love for his woman shined through every rhyme of ‘Bonita Applebum,’ Mr. Cheeks reminisced over his ghetto princess everyday in the tragic love story, ‘Renee.’ Dove’s verse in De La Soul’s ‘Eye Know,’ is about how sex isn’t as important as love, showing respect for his lady. It’s a love story told through De La Soul’s rhymes so perfectly that even the Otis Redding whistling leaves you wanting to fall in love like them. ‘La Femme Fatal,’ by Digable Planets is a smart, pro-woman, pro-life track.  Immortal Technique’s Natural Beauty talks about how  America has, “...corrupted the priceless African image of Isis and replaced it with a lifeless, anorexic chick...” Heavy D’s lyrics in ‘Black Coffee’ uplifted the black woman. In Arrest Development’s ‘Everyday People,’ Speech defends his Black Woman and stands up to the local thugs who attempt to disrespect and objectify her. While there are many more examples, I think you get the picture. Yes Hip-Hop and Rap Music do indeed have a misogyny problem, but our best rappers are the first to acknowledge and fight that. The more those artists are promoted and supported, the more dominant their attitudes will become. Let your dollars speak and show the industry what you really want to hear and stop supporting the poison you are being forcefed in heavy rotation just because its got a dope beat.




BY MALCOLM CLARK (Continued From Page 8)

In New York, State Senator Jamaal Bailey is pushing forward with Discovery reform which deals prosecutors neglecting or failing to abide by their constitutional duty to disclose favorable information to the defense which is exacerbated by grossly inadequate state discovery statutes. In California, Ohio and New Jersey and here in Westchester County bail reform has been a hotly debated issue as many organizations have advocated for an alternative to bail. This is a huge step forward. As the sad case of Kalief Browder has shown, bail is often unattainable for the minorities who are barely staying afloat. Recently, Westchester DA Anthony Scarpino announced the end of bail for most misdemeanor cases. This is a huge step forward in decreasing the number of Kalief Browder’s we have in our system. Overall, the need to ensure that victims of the War on Drugs are properly reintegrated into society and their records expunged, and reparation paid to those wrongfully incarcerated In a country that has refused to acknowledge its original sin of slavery, this is a small step towards reconciliation and minorities should not miss the wave of the billion-dollar marijuana industry boom that is emerging. Lip service is not an adequate payment for the lives that have been lost due to predatory policies that have afflicted these communities for decades. The more I see black college students get arrested for a penny size of weed while white yoga moms get critical acclaim for their “eccentric” and “entrepreneurial” spirit on marijuana, I see the system working effectively to marginalize and alienate black and brown bodies. The future starts by forgiving the non-violent drug crimes of the past so that people can benefit from the bountiful fortunes that marijuana is creating. Crucial reforms around bail, discovery and marijuana legalization are needed to begin healing

and rewrite a chapter of American History that has been a tragedy.

Malcolm Clark is a 27-year-old, Mount Vernon native. He has his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and works in the New York State Senate



White Plains – The WNBA team the New York Liberty have announced that the Westchester County Center in White Plains will be their new home for the 2018 season. This will be the first time in over two decades that a professional sports league has called the county home. County Executive George Latimer said, “I am excited to have the New York Liberty play here in Westchester at the County Center. The games will not only benefit our economy, but also provide great entertainment for the people of Westchester. Personally I can’t wait to head over to the County Center and cheer them on.” New York Liberty President Isiah Thomas said, “MSG has had a very positive experience at the Westchester County Center, and believes it is a venue where the Liberty can extend our fan base while maintaining our roots at The Garden.” Westchester County Commissioner of Parks Recreation and Conservation Kathy O’Connor said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for the young women of Westchester to see the Liberty team as strong female role models.” The 2018 New York Liberty season tips off on Sunday, May 20, when it faces the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena 7 p.m. (ET). The 2018 home opener at Westchester County Center will follow on Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m., when the Liberty welcomes the defending champion Minnesota Lynx to Westchester County Center. “We hope it’s the beginning of, as they say in ‘Casablanca,’ a beautiful friendship,” County Executive George Latimer said. “The more active this facility is, the more usage we get out of it, the better it is for the taxpayers of Westchester County.” The big announcement comes after it was announced by the Madison Square Garden Company that they will be looking for a new owner for the Liberty. The Madison Square Garden Company said that they will operate the Liberty with its current management and coaching staff while simultaneously searching for a new owner for the franchise. A question many fans and analysts have asked is if the fan base will be willing to make the trek to a different arena. The answer is undoubtedly yes. WNBA fans are already super dedicated. “The New York Liberty has been a mainstay with great players and passionate fans since our inaugural season,” said WNBA

President Lisa Borders. “We appreciate MSG’s commitment to finding the right owner for the team and look forward to watching the Liberty play its 22nd season with games at The Westchester County Center, a great, intimate venue for the team’s incredibly passionate fans.”. Thomas also announced that respected executive Daakeia Clarke has been named Chief Operating Officer of the team, with the experienced Dan Padover elevated to Vice President of Basketball Operations. Clarke begins her 8th season with the team, most recently as the Liberty’s VP for Team Business Development, a role she took on after four years as the Director of Marketing. Padover enters his 7th season with the franchise, previously serving as Director of Basketball Operations.

“As we prepare for the 2018 season, our goals remain the same: to compete for a WNBA championship, create memories for our incredible fans, and make a lasting impact in the community,” said Thomas. “To accomplish those goals – we need the most effective front office, with seasoned and talented executives. Keia and Dan are among the best in the business, and well deserving of these promotions. Their contributions – along with the outstanding talents of Katie Smith, who will debut as our head coach this season – have been integral to the team’s success over the past several seasons. Each of them, along with Herb Williams, Teresa Weatherspoon, Swin Cash and, of course, our amazing players, will play critical roles in guiding the franchise into the future.”

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MARCH 2018

THIS WOMAN’S WORDS: MY EXPERIENCE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS WORDS BY SAMANTHA HUNTER I don’t know why I hid the fact that I had started menstruating from my family for as long as I did, but I just did. For several months, in fact. Since my twin and older sister had gotten their periods before me, the precious pads that my mother would purchase in bulk were available to me – I just had to retrieve them, or more like sneak them – from our bedroom closet when I needed to. It was during one of these secret grab-and-go missions that my twin sister busted me and blabbed the news to my family. I was equal parts outraged that she had exposed me and embarrassed. The night of the big announcement, my father came to me and said in his ever even-tempered tone, “I hear you’re a woman now. Congratulations.” I believe I was 13 years old and in junior high. By high school, my cycles had transformed into a painful monthly routine that entailed a trip to the nurse’s office when the pain became just too unbearable to manage, a call to my father, and a 30-45 minute cab ride from my prep school to my sick bed. My father would greet me at the door each time, with $20 for the taxi driver, some Motrin or Advil for my crippling cramps, and a hot water bottle. Everyone excused my pain away; I was just the unfortunate one in my family who had really “bad periods.”

any pain caused by the endometriosis. I remember going home and sharing the doctor’s comments with my boyfriend and asking him if he wanted to have a baby with me, because it would eliminate my pain for several months. Living with me and experiencing firsthand what I endured on a monthly basis, he sympathized with me and although our future was not fixed and firmed up, he agreed to have a child with me. In 1998, my son was born. My son’s father and I did not stay together, but I don’t regret our coming together to create our beautiful son. I’m grateful that endometriosis did not steal my opportunity to become a mother, as I know many women have fertility issues as a result of this condition as well as fibroids. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, that task of arming oneself with information about endometriosis and its cure was far more

PHOTO BY BART STADNICKI In addition to the pain was the constant fear of public embarrassment because my cycles were so heavy that I would sometimes soak through my clothes. One time I had to walk three of the longest blocks ever from the bus stop to my house, with my arms stretched behind me as I tried to conceal my soiled pants with my book bag. Every month because a test of my emotional and physical strength, my tolerance for public humiliation and indescribable pelvic pain. Around my 21st birthday, I diagnosed myself with endometriosis. This condition, which is believed to affect approximately 10% of American women and uniquely affects African-American women, is scarring and inflammation caused by endometrial tissue that grows abnormally outside of the uterus, or in the pelvis, resulting in a painful endometriosis experience. I consulted with my OB/GYN and decided to have a laparoscopy performed to remove the endometrial tissue. Throughout my early to mid twenties I ended up having two laparoscopies, undergoing a course of Lupron injections (I hated those shots in my hind parts), and going on birth control pills. None of these courses of treatment proved to be the long-term cure I was so desperate for, and by the age of 27 I was missing work every month because I was too sick to go in. During a routine visit to my gynecologist it was suggested that I attempt to have a child, because my fertility could be compromised by the endometriosis and if I was successful in getting pregnant, I would eliminate my cycle for nine months and in essence,

daunting and challenging than it is today. The medical community has made strides in diagnosing and treating the condition, but much more needs to be done. Determined to fight for my health, I sought as much information as possible from conventional and non-conventional sources and began to alter my diet so as to consume less dairy, red meat and caffeine – as I learned that all of these foods can affect the condition. In 2017, I attended a detox retreat in Atlanta and learned even more about what foods, known as phytoestrogens, to avoid. I even transitioned to a predominately vegan diet for a full year. Today, at 46 years old, I’m still suffering from endometriosis. There are months when I am homebound and bedridden for days at a time. Endometriosis impacts one’s emotional health, work life,

social life, sex life, reproductive life and is a chronic condition that many women endure in silence. Gratefully, I have a loving partner who encourages me to go to the gym and keep physically active regularly, researches food do’s and don’ts and shares his findings with me constantly, and curls up with me in bed and and cradles my bloated belly when the pain is so severe that all I can do is cry until the pain subsides. I feel for any and every woman who has to endure such pain, and I share my story to let them know that they are not alone and there is information and resources out there. Get as much information as you can and explore holistic, homeopathic and herbal remedies that can work for you. Email me at if this article was helpful or insightful and you’d like to connect.

FIT FRIDAYS - “A$$ to Grass..” The Perfect Squat BY PRISCILLA ECHI

the traditional back squat by relocating barbell to front, yet still trains the glutes and hamstrings as well. Very effective in reshaping the glutes. Technique: Use a clean grip for the front squat. To perform it this way, grab a barbell or two kettleballs (as pictured below on lefthand side) with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Swing your elbows under the bar or kettleballs until they are pointing forward and it rests across your shoulders in front of you. Keep your elbows pointed forward throughout Ther lift. Squat while keeping your weight on your heels. Keep your chest and elbows up. When you return to standing position that’s considered one rep. Do 3 sets of 10.

Everyone wants the perfect derrière, but truth is many aren’t born with it. There is hope for those willing to put in the work and you can indeed reshape the one you have without going under the knife! Here’s a couple of my favorite squat techniques to help improve size and shape of your glutes.. (Please consult your physician before performing any of these exercises!!)

The Game Changer : BACK SQUAT

Targets: Posterior chain power, Glutes, Legs The back squat is the king of the strength-building world, we are privileged to take part. It’s the most commonly utilized form of squatting outside of the half-squat, and the most effective for strengthening the lower body. The back squat places greater emphasis on the muscles of the posterior chain, like the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors, than other squat forms. An unparalleled lowerbody mass-builder, so if size is what you’re after, you need to give this a go!! Technique: Grab the barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, step under bar and place it across your upper back just below the top of your traps. Keep your shoulder blades pulled tightly together and maintain a tight upper back throughout lift. Step out of rack and initiate movement by pushing your hips behind you. Keep your chest up and maintain arched back while lowering yourself until the crease of your hip is lower than the top of your knees. Reverse the movement until back to the starting position. That’s considered one rep. Do 3 sets of 10 at the least. To build mass add 5-10 pounds of more weight each rep.

Honorable Mention: ONE-LEGGED SQUAT

Targets: Balance, mobility, high-tension strength The one-legged squat, or as some may know it as the pistol squat, is more common and is the ultimate test of unilateral lower body strength. As with other feats of strength the one-legged squat requires mastery of your bodyweight, balance, and skill. When conquered , it is an excellent way to build strength throughout the lower body.

Technique: There a a few variations, building a one-legged squat can be difficult, so approach it as a long-term goal. Start by squatting to a high box or bench, being careful to lower yourself under control especially if your using weights in each hand. Once you can do a few reps at a certain height, lower or take away the box and repeat. Eventually with practice you should be able to work your way down to a full onelegged squat (see picture above on righthand side). Some people find that holding a light dumbbell or plate in front of them helps with balance, but keep it light. In time, you might be able to perform a one-legged squat with more added resistance per rep.. Runner Up: FRONT SQUAT Which one is the best for you..? Targets: Balanced leg strength, core and upper back strength The front squat is very popular amoungst athletes, partially because of its prominence It truly depends on your individual needs. Use one or combine all for best results! in CrossFit protocols. It’s also a crucial component of Olympic lifts and harder to do re- Whether you’ve lost weight and are beginning to tone up, or simply would like to build your glutes instead of paying for one, with these exercises you will be looking ally badly than a back squat. and feeling great in no time! Feel free to leave comments on what your favorite glute The front squat puts much more emphasis on the quadriceps and upper back than the building exercises are!

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MARCH 2018






This year, the Olympic Winter 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, coincided with Black History Month in the United States. With the Games in full swing, the public has been introduced to some incredible Black female athletes who continue to make history. Black Olympic athletes come from a long line of pioneers who made it possible for them to compete and win at the Olympics.  Bobsledder Jazmine  Fenlator-Victorian suddenly found herself fighting back tears during a press conference on Saturday, February 9th The New Jersey native representing her father’s home country Jamaica at the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, was asked about the representation of black athletes at the games. “It’s important to me,” she answered, “that little girls see someone that looks like them, talks like them, has the same culture as them, has crazy, curly hair and wears it natural, has brown skin, included in different things in this world. When you grow up and you don’t see that, you feel that you can’t do it. And that is not right.” The first modern Winter Olympic Games took place in 1924, in Chamonix, in the French Alps, according to Back then, only around 250 athletes participated in the Games, which only offered nine sports in total, according to  The Washington Post. The only sport women could participate in back then was figure skating, but the games have changed drastically since then: around 3,000 athletes participated in 15 sports across 102 events in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Although the Olympic Games have been around for centuries, there are still Black female athletes who become the first to compete in their sport at the Olympics. With the arrival of women’s bobsled teams from Jamaica and Nigeria, both the first women’s teams in the event to qualify for their respective countries, as well as rising stars like the US’s Maame Biney, the first black woman on the US speed-skating team, black female athletes at the 2018 games are making history before they even compete for medals. But let’s be clear, the successes of black female winter Olympians in 2018 should not be seen as proof that winter sports have “solved” racial disparities. Many of these sports, due to a combination of equipment and travel expenses, coaching fees, and geographic realities, continue to present high barriers to entry for black people.  So for Women’s History Month, we took a look at seven Black Women Winter Olympians Who Have Made History.


1. DEBI THOMAS Debi Thomas was the first Black Woman to win the women’s title at the U.S. Figure

Skating Championships in February 1986. Two years later she made history again as the first Black Woman to win medal in Winter Olympics competition in any sport, in 1988, at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. She trained, competed, and placed all while being a student at Stanford University. In 1991, Thomas earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. She retired from skating the following year in order to enter Northwestern University Medical School. After graduating from Northwestern in 1997, Thomas decided to continue her medical training to become an orthopedic surgeon.

2. ERIN JACKSON 3.VONETTA FLOWERS 4. SIMIDELE ADEAGBO 5. ELANA While most athletes spend their entire lives Vonetta Flowers became the first Black Simidele Adeagbo is a member of Nigetraining for the Olympics, Erin Jackson qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics after learning how to speed skate just four months prior, according to the NBC Olympics site. She is the first Black woman to be on the U.S. long-track team.

Olympian to win a gold medal in bobsledding during the Winter Olympics in 2002, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

6. SABRINA SIMADER Sabrina Simander of Kenya is the first person from her country to compete in alpine

skiing, according to the official PyeongChang site. She’s also the only athlete representing Kenya at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

ria’s first Winter Olympics team, and she’s the first Nigerian to compete in skeleton, a sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled down an icy track while lying face down, according to TIME.


Elana Meyers Taylor is the first woman to drive a four-man bobsled, and she’s the only woman to represent the United States three times in bobsledding at the Winter Games, according to TIME.

7. MAAME BINEY Maame Biney is an 18-year-old originally from Ghana. She’s the first black woman to make the Olympic speedskating team, according to HuffPost and only the second African-born athlete to represent the U.S. in the Winter Olympics, according to NBC.

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The month of February and Black History Month have come to a close but that doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating Black history. Black history happens every day and we intend to keep right on celebrating! March 4, 1993 Singer, author, and actress Patti LaBelle received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. March 11, 1959 Lorraine Hansberry’s award winning play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ opened on Broadway and ran for 530 performances. March 12, 1897 Langston Univ. named for civil rights pioneer and first African-American member of Congress in Virginia, John Mercer Langston was founded March 13, 1999 TLC debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart with their third studio album, ‘Fanmail’ March 15, 1933 NAACP began a coordinated attack on segregation & discrimination, filing a suit against the Univ. of North Carolina on behalf of Thomas Hocutt. March 19, 1968 Howard Univ. students seized the Administration building demanding campus reform and black-oriented curriculum.

March 8, 1970 Diana Ross of the most commercially successful female group of the ‘60s, The Supremes, made her first performance appearance as a solo act. March 11, 1991 Janet Jackson signed a $40 M album deal. The 24-year-old singer/songwriter/actress signed an exclusive contract with Virgin Records March 13, 1932 Atlanta Daily World, one of the earliest and most influential black newspapers went into daily distribution, becoming the first African-American paper in the nation to achieve that status. March 14, 1977 Fannie Lou Hamer, voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the African-American civil rights movement, died. March 16, 1827 The first African-American owned and operated newspaper in the United States “Freedom’s Journal’ was published in NYC. Freedom Journal was founded by free born African-Americans John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish. March 19, 1894 Jackie “Moms” Mabley, a veteran of the Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American vaudeville, who later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, was born.

MARCH 20, 1970 MARCH 18, 1922 STUDENTS WENT ON THE PHOENIX SOCIETY, A STRIKE AT UNIVERSITY LITERARY AND OF MICHIGAN EDUCATIONAL GROUP, DEMANDING INCREASED WAS FOUNDED BY BLACK ENROLLMENT NEW YORK CITY BLACKS ‘The Hunger in they eyes is what seems to feed me.’ Sometimes it takes someone to focus on the needs of others, needs of the people before themselves, putting the people before the politics. So for those who ask what drives us, what keeps us going, why do we do what we do, the answer is simple... WE DO IT FOR THE PEOPLE!!!


Dear Black Westchester Magazine, My name is Mya Johnson and I’m writing to let you know my husband and I love the articles by Priscilla Echi and look forward to reading more from her each month! The hashtag #whoswithme is hilarious. We are hooked! Keep up the great work. Sincerely, MJ Thank you AJ and Black Westchester for giving the FCS the opportunity to be heard, and for your unbiased reporting. You are the sure voice of a new Mount Vernon. Barbara De George / Fleetwood Citizen’s Society Damon K Jones. Respect and love for the people who are not being listen to. The voice and the peoples choice. Keeping it real. For real improvement for the people and communitys. Much love and respect to my brother. Craig Jackson

MARCH 2018

THE POWERBYOF SERVING CYNTHIA TURNQUEST-JONES D anielle Henry from Orange County was a part of The Women’s March of 2017

except she is more than the average advocate for women’s rights. She is a daughter who was taught that you give what you have for those who do not have for themselves. Women in Power has been a significant topic of discussion since the current president of the United States was sworn in on January 20, 2017. There was an estimated number of 600,000 people present. However, the day after is what set record numbers and made history. January 21, 2017 women from Mexico to Seattle to Florida straight up to Boston, there was a historic record numbers of five million. The Women’s March was a worldwide protest, advocating for issues such as Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, health care and women’s rights to name a few. Most of the rallies were aimed at the current president who made and continues to make anti-women and offensive statements. Danielle Henry is currently working for Dialogue Direct. Dialogue Direct is a fundraising provider for the best charities in the world. They do street canvassing while having dialogue with great donors about causes they are passionate about. Charities such as Save the Children, ASPCA, and World Wildlife Fund with budgets ranging from $200,000 to seven million. Danielle is all about helping donors make an impact with the best non profits in the world. On any given day you will find her traveling to Portland, Los Angeles, Miami, or Philadelphia. Then back to Westchester County to sit in a room on a Saturday morning mentoring girls. “Working with people and working for the community is in my DNA,” Danielle, the current president of Westchester County Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. Alumnae chapter, shares with Black Westchester. “People would do a purge of clothing they no longer care for, go to a consignment store or drop their clothing off and get a receipt for their taxes. I was taught to create a bag and set out to find the person who need the items. The want is for them to have the same joy I had when I had them. This is a form of clearing the path and having the continuance of blessings.” She was raised in Uniondale, Long Island, relocated to Orange County, and is an active member of the Junior League. “I wanted to meet people in Orange County and a good friend of mine introduced me to the Junior League. I wanted to have another lens of how needs are met in other communities,” shared Danielle. She noticed that there was a need for volunteer services and joined in 2008 which is the smallest League in the country. The Associated Junior League International was founded in New York City by Catherine Harriman of the Harriman family in 1901. It is one of the oldest women’s volunteer organizations in the world with more than 150,000 women with 291 leagues in four countries. The Junior League was founded by women who were not College graduates. These women were found serving the women and children for the betterment of their community thru volunteering. Identifying issues in the community such as pollution, illiteracy, domestic violence, and social reform while finding solutions is a part of their mission. Danielle emphasized that The Junior League have a strong focus on health and nutrition. The Junior League was predominantly white and has evolved to be a very diverse national treasure. There is now a high percentage of diverse women with a balance for the greater good. Women in action is also what attracted Danielle to pledge Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. “We are some serious women who are strategic in nature and I clearly understand through my eighteen years as a member that we are relevant. It is not about wearing the para. It is about action. The first act of social action was the Delta’s participating in the Women’s Suffrage March in 1913,” explained Danielle. The march was for the rights of women to vote in elections. The Westchester Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was established in 1959 and will be 59 years old in October while serving the community in multiple ways. Programs such as: The toast of spring scholarship lunch which provides scholarships to female students from Westchester, Habitat for Humanities, movie screenings as it affects our African American community, addressing the Housing crisis in Westchester County, coming up with solutions as to why our first responders are unable to reside in Westchester county, mentoring girls and boys, and walking side by side with Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. in search for justice because his father Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was fatally shot by White Plains police on November 19, 2011. When asked about our female youth Danielle shared her thoughts. “I think the state of our young women are in a crisis. There will always be a need for our Black Boys to have programs who have been in need and battling the constant test of time. However, our young ladies are more aggressive, more violent, suspended more, and incarceration is increasing as we speak. We do not have the traditional frame work to show the delicacy. I am all for Girl power and enforcing standing, but they can show the delicate side of her as well. When was the last time you heard of a cotillion or an monthly tea party to balance off having to be so powerful. There is no balance. This society is currently either over sexual or under sexualization. With no proper balance we are left with young ladies trying to find there way. There is no way for them to show which why they want to go. There is a crisis by the opposite sex, business, health wise, regulation of our reproductive system for the last ten years. There is a lack of having a worldliness about us. Exposure to classic arts, contemporary art, opera, and ballet. I want our young ladies to understand that it does not make you a nerd it helps build culture which is at a disservice to our children this day and age.” Danielle ended with this... “I remain to be a optimist by nature. But things will never be easy. You have to be comfortable with

Marigot Youth Organization and Marigot Action Group…take being uncomfortable to progress.” this time to thank Black Westchester and Ms. Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, for taking the time for noticing the hard work Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, a freelance writer for Black Westchester and former and effort we as Caribbean nationals we did on October 21, co-host of the People Before Politics Radio Show is an avid philanthropist. In 2017... We are our brothers/sisters keeper... As hurricane October 2012 she launched Tha B.U.M.P. “Brown Urban Mother Partnership”, Maria devastated our country of birth Dominica, on Septemhosting an informational breast cancer session “Save the Women not the Boober 18, 2017, we knew that we had to help, therefore we bies” inviting mothers from the community to sit and enjoy healthy foods while came together as one with the help of God, and pack a 40ft engaging in dialogue about breast cancer. In addition to Tha B.U.M.P, Cynthia container with much need food and supplies for the people is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, Mocha Moms, Incorporated, of our native land…Again I say thanks for the recognition.. Ora Matthew Keep doing what your doing, we gotta have a voice out here especially when the establishment wants to keep us silent!

MAMAiAM, the Episcopal Church Women, secretary for Mount Saint Michael Academy PTA in the Bronx, and member of Graham Elementary School PTA.

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MARCH 2018




When human resources specialist Yolanda Ayo found her- Ayo: One of the biggest obstacles in starting my business was self unemployed last year, she decided to turn the career basically getting out of my own way; pushing fear to the back blow into a blessing and pursue her dream of becoming an burner. It’s amazing what fear can do when you allow it to grab a entrepreneur. Ayo knew she wanted to turn her passion for hold of you. fashion into a business, so she created an online retail shop Why is it so important to be passionate about the business called Unique Finds For Kids, which launched last month and you create? is slated to present to the public a series of pop-up shops Ayo: It is important to be passionate about the business you crein Westchester throughout the year. Ayo also realized that ate because if you are not passionate about it you’re setting yourshe was going to need support and guidance to make her self up for failure. Passion is what keeps us going, it keeps things dream come to life, so she turned to her friend and Louisa interesting and exciting and it leads to ultimate success. We have McTurner, owner of the Bronxville-based Weezie D. Ladies to believe in our business and in our ability to run it successfully. Boutique, for information, support, and inspiration. Black What are any special considerations that you’ve encounWestchester Magazine spoke with both of these women tered being a Black woman who is a business owner? about being independent businesswomen as well as the Special considerations that I have encountered being a Black invaluable role that networking and support plays in business owner is that other Black-owned businesses are wanting to work collaboratively with me. They are so proud to hear creating a sisterhood of success. that there is another Black-owned businesses entering the marWhy did you decide to start a business? Ayo: 2017 was a year of transformation; closing one chapter and ket. Many of them have shared words of encouragement. They boldly stepping into another. For the past 16 and 1/2 years I served have shared their experiences in the industry as a Black business as Senior Recruiter for a Westchester-based medical search firm owner. It is reassuring to know that we are not alone. It is also until the doors closed last year. I had to sit down and really think important to surround yourself with people who bring positive enabout my next move, asking myself, what is next for me? I decided ergy and that genuinely want you to succeed. to start my own business,, because en- Talk a little about your support systems, any people or fellow trepreneurship has always peaked my interest but I never had the black business owners who have given you guidance and courage to pursue it. This is now my time to tap into my leadership assistance. abilities and try something new. I immediately began taking free I could not have gotten through this process without the support business classes with Score Westchester and attending network- of my amazing husband, my children and my parents. They are ing events for women entrepreneurs. Once I decided to fully my everything. They encourage me every single day. I’m truly blessed. When my daughter Morgan says, “Mommy you are embrace the entrepreneurial experience, doors began to open. What has been the biggest obstacle to starting your business? magic”, or when my son Avry says, “Mommy I’m so proud of you”, those are the moments that warm my heart and reinforces my ‘Why’. I want to inspire my chil- What has been your greatest business lesson that you had to learn “the hard way” dren and to continue to make my husband proud. My motto is we have one life to live; live it! No and wish someone had “schooled” you on? regrets! Life happens! It is OK to change course. In addition to my awesome family and friends, McTurner: The greatest lesson I’ve learned having my own business that I had to learn the Louisa McTurner, owner of the fabulous Weezie D. ladies’ boutique in Bronxville, has been a tre- hard way and wish someone could’ve shared with me early in the process thus far would be the mendous support during this process. She has welcomed Unique Finds For Kids with open arms. importance of evolving with your customer. I’ve always been a traditional shopper, going into She is not only a wonderful friend but she’s also a savvy, well-respected businesswoman. I’m truly stores and touching, feeling and trying on merchandise. The power of the Web has connected blessed to have her in my corner. shoppers to their favorite store with the click of a button. Although my conscious always knew What do you want to accomplish as a business owner? a website would connect our brand to reach worldwide consumers I was always distracted by Ayo: There is so much I want to accomplish as a businesswoman! Great success is at the my brick and mortar and the immediate need to service those clients. I realized my brand was top of my list but I also want to pay it forward by being of service to others. Being in a position missing an enormous market that needed to be explored regardless of the way I chose to shop. where you can open doors and create opportunities for others would be a great accomplishment. Introducing Weezie D. to the cyber world was necessary to our success. Finally with perfect timWhat do you believe is the power and positive message of being a Black business owner? ing the dots have been connected and our ecommerce website will be launching Spring 2018. Ayo: The power of being a Black business owner is having the ability to change the narrative in Why is it important to support other Black women entrepreneurs? our communities. It’s about being a positive example/ role model for our children. That’s power- McTurner: It is important for me to support other Black women Entrepreneurs because I recful! It’s about showing that we too can lead, we can own, we can be anything we want to be and ognize that support is an intricate part of the entrepreneurial experience. When my good friend so much more. That’s powerful! It’s about honoring those that came before us that fought for us Yolanda Ayo expressed her desire to start her online children’s store immediately her dream to have the opportunities we have now. became my dream for her. Not only was I cheering for her, but I shared any recourses I could Why do you believe having successful Black businesses is so important to our community? with her. I saw her drive, her passion, and her motivation to become an entrepreneur. I want to McTurner: I believe Black businesses are important because it elevates us as a people. Black see her win... If one wins we all win. That’s what I believe. businesses enable us to be the gatekeepers as business owners where we are able to create is an online boutique featuring everyday wear and specialty pieces jobs and manifest a different narrative. Black businesses help create opportunities and wealth by some of your favorite eco-friendly brands for girls and boys (sizes 7 - 14). for our children and grandchildren. We need more representation as Black business owners not Weezie D. is Westchester’s a premier one-stop shop for trendy women of many ages. only in Black communities but to create diversity and inclusion in all communities. Visit the boutique at 15 Park Place in Bronxville, New York.

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MARCH 2018

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MARCH 2018




Mount Vernon — The Mount Vernon Film Festival hosted a VIP screening of RapaCon Featuring DJ-Con The Documentary, Saturday, February 3rd, at the Mount Vernon Public Library, located at 20 South 2nd Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York, 10550. The documentary showcased the evolution of Hip-Hop – an urban culture phenomenon composed of rap music, turntables, freestyle rap, and artwork which is now a multi-billion dollar industry – and the impact it has made on the global community. The viewing took place during Black History Month and exposed viewers to the resourcefulness of African-American youth, particularly those in the 1970’s and 1980’s who birthed rap music while in the Bronx, the New York City Borough adjacent to Mount Vernon. The free event consisted of two screenings: the first at 12:00 p.m. and the second at 3:00 p.m. Both showings will begin with a V.I.P Red Carpet Event sponsored by Runway Prestige and was hosted by Shefik and Eloisa Diaz-Sanz of Shefik presents Invocation. Each screening was concluded with a Q & A session with cast members and film producers. The panel was moderated by RapaCon founder Curtis Sherrod, Councilman Andre Wallace, Black Westchester Magazine’s A.J. Woodson and Damon K. Jones. Music will by provided by DJ Mike Deleo and light refreshments will be served. “We had a family friendly mix of community, politicians, entertainment insiders and Hip-Hop aficionados” Osiris Imhotep, Executive Director Of The Mount Vernon Film Festival. The production earmarked 30 seats to Mount Vernon’s youth and students who have an interest in culture, music and film making. Event producer Councilman Andre Wallace thought it was important to highlight an event that focused on positive Hip-Hop as well as illustrating Mount Vernon as being a cornerstone of the genre. When one of the film’s producer Yasmin Hurston was asked her favorite scene she mentioned “Seeing Mount Vernon’s own, Mark E. Collins, The Collins Brothers and Tony Crush of The Cold Crush Brothers battle with those amazing sound systems” The event provided an opportunity for community youth to learn about the positive contributions of Hip-Hop & Rap in the multi billion-dollar music industry. It also spotlighted talented youth residing in surrounding communities who crave creative arts implementation in local schools.







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MARCH 2018

Vol 1/ Issue 8 BLACK WESTCHESTER - MARCH 2018  
Vol 1/ Issue 8 BLACK WESTCHESTER - MARCH 2018  

Women's History Month Edition