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Jay-Z's mom surprised by positive response to song 'Smile'

Jay-Z may have 21 Grammy Awards to his credit, but now he and his mother share a special honor from GLAAD.

Gloria Carter was on hand to accept a special recognition award at the 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on Saturday. She and Jay-Z were honored for “Smile,” a track off his “4:44” album that addressed her publicly coming out as gay.

“I didn’t realize how we touched so many lives,” she told People ahead of the ceremony. “I’m just glad that I can inspire people.”

Carter was presented with the award by another prominent gay woman, Robin Roberts “Good Morning America.”

“I accept it with pride and joy on behalf of my son and myself. Thanks to my family for loving me unconditionally, no matter what. Thanks to my partner, for loving me and helping me free myself from being in the shadows. Thanks to you, to all the people whose lives I touched, for your support, by just telling my truth,” Carter said.

“‘Smile’ became a reality because I shared with my son who I am. Not that people didn’t know; I was just someone they didn’t talk about but they loved me anyway. But for me, this was the first time that I spoke to anyone about who I really am. My son cried and said, ‘It must have been horrible to live that way for so long.'”

She added, “My life wasn’t horrible, I chose to protect my family from ignorance. I was happy but I was not free.”

» Judge orders Jay-Z to explain why he's dodging SEC subpoena

» Jay-Z and Beyoncé 'did the hard work' to get past his infidelity

» Jay-Z sings praises of Snoop Dogg, imitates Eminem

Carter went on to discuss the profound effect that finding love had on her. “One day, I met someone who made my heart sing, made me no longer want to sneak a peek at them but actually look at them with loving eyes. Love gave me the courage to take the power that I allowed other people to have over my life for fear of them revealing my secret that wasn’t really a secret,” Carter said.

“Here I am, I’m loving, I’m respectful, I’m productive, and I’m a human being who has a right to love who I love. So everybody, just smile, be free. Thank you, and God bless.”

Released last June, “Smile” made headlines as Jay-Z paid tribute to his mother, her struggle, and her strength: “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian / Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take.”

Carter closes out the song with a moving monologue of her own:

“Living in the shadow Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live? In the shadows, people see you as happy and free Because that’s what you want them to see Living two lives, happy, but not free You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free But you live with the fear of just being me Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be No harm for them, no harm for me But life is short, and it’s time to be free Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed Smile”

Jay-Z, 48, previously said he cried and “was so happy” that his mother was finally “free” to be herself. Watch Carter’s full acceptance speech above.

See Prince's private island estate, which will be sold at auction

Paisley Park has a sister property in paradise — and it’s coming up for sale

Prince’s estate is selling off the late singer’s private retreat in Turks & Caicos in a closed bid auction on July 12. While there’s no minimum bid for the property, which is set on 5 sandy acres on the island of Providenciales, the $100,000 check required of interested buyers for the opportunity to bid offers an idea of the price point.

Premiere Estates Auction Co. is overseeing the sale.

An FAQ about the auction, which will only accept written bids, suggests “all buyers do their own due diligence in regards to assessing value,” and notes, “your highest and best bid is the most effective method.”

Tours of the property are available to house shoppers, who can also do their own inspection of the place.

The compound itself is about 10,000 square feet and includes 6 bedrooms and 6 baths. It has two private beaches, a tennis court, and a 200-foot personal dock, but the standout feature pays homage to the music icon: a purple-painted driveway (see image above).

The compound features a stately main house as well as numerous other accommodations for guests.

Inside, the home is surprisingly subdued, sporting a style and materials typical of the Caribbean location, rather than the singer’s more recognizable, over-the-top style.

“The value is ultimately determined by the market — with a unique property like Prince’s Turks and Caicos estate,” says Premiere Estates founder Todd Wohl, “We anticipate significant interest and multiple bidders.”

Despite progress, Atlanta’s HIV epidemic is worse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted in 2016 that if current rates continue, one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will be infected with HIV, the virus that causes it AIDS, during their lifetime.

In Atlanta, the epidemic was particularly acute. Now, it may be worse.

RELATED: The Silent Epidemic: Black Gay Men and HIV, Part 1

RELATED: The Silent Epidemic: Black Gay Men and HIV, Part 2

 Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research, put it this way: “Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban.”

If you’re wondering how this is possible, given the success of lifesaving antiretroviral medication, given the decades of research and education, you’re not alone.

Click below to find how why new medicines blamed for rising rates of HIV in black gay men.

The Silent Epidemic: In this series

Part 1

The Silent Epidemic: Black gay men and HIV

Part 2

How purpose saved this long-time AIDS survivor’s life

Part 3

How improved medicines helped fuel the HIV epidemic

Part 4

Young black men the new face of HIV

Part 5

Personal stories help counter negative images of gay black men

Kanye West loves Donald Trump and Trump loves him right back

DALLAS -“I just love Trump. That’s my boy,” Kanye West said the other day.

Your boy’s got love right back for you, Kanye.

Trump zipped through a long list of topics during his address at the National Rifle Associations Meetings and Exhibits on Friday, from dinging the “fake news” media to hailing tax cuts and the low unemployment rate before lighting into sanctuary cities and illegal immigration with a detour to tout, “We’re really doing well in North Korea” and then made fun of former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. John Kerry for breaking his leg three years ago.

He had nothing but praise for Kanye West, who proclaimed his love for Trump during an interview with TMZ, in response to a question about his penchant for wearing the “Make America Great Again” hat.

“Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers,” Trump said, adding he thought the surge was a mistake at first. “We went from 11 to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye, thank you.”

 

 

Kevin Hart stunned after friend arrested on sex-tape extortion charges

Kevin Hart said he was “simply in complete disbelief” after authorities brought charges against his longtime friend, Jonathan Jackson, who allegedly tried to extort the actor-comedian, ABC News reported

>> Read more trending news

"Mind blown … Hurt … at a lost(sic) for words and simply in complete disbelief at the moment. WOW," Hart tweeted after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced charges against Jackson, 41, who allegedly tried blackmailing the comedian last year.

In a statement released by the prosecutor’s office Jackson was charged with attempted extortion and extortion by threatening letter. According to authorities, Jackson threatened to release a video he secretly recorded of Hart having sex with a woman in Las Vegas, ABC News reported.

"Jackson is accused of trying to extort an undisclosed amount of money from Hart between Aug. 25 and Aug. 30, 2017," the statement said. "Jackson allegedly had a videotape of the actor with a woman in Las Vegas and then is accused of trying to sell the recording to numerous celebrity news websites."

Jackson was arrested Monday and is being held on $100,000 bail, according to jail records. He could face up to four years in county jail if convicted.

Jackson's attorney, Chad Lewin, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, ABC News reported.

Prince Harry still hasn’t met Meghan Markle’s dad. When will he?

Meghan Markle will have her dad, Thomas Markle, by her side as she walks down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel to marry Prince Harry on May 19, Kensington Palace announced Friday.

“Both of the bride’s parents will have important roles in the wedding. On the morning of the wedding, Ms. Ragland will travel with Ms. Markle by car to Windsor Castle. Mr. Markle will walk his daughter down the aisle of St George’s Chapel. Ms. Markle is delighted to have her parents by her side on this important and happy occasion,” the palace announced.

Both Meghan’s dad and her mother, Doria Ragland, will arrive in the U.K. in the week leading up to the wedding, allowing time for Harry’s family — including the Queen and Prince Philip; Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge —to spend time with them before the big day.

» Prince Harry asks Prince William to be best man at royal wedding to Meghan Markle

“Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are very much looking forward to welcoming Ms. Markle’s parents to Windsor for the wedding,” the palace announced.

And while Harry has spoken with Markle’s father over the phone, this will be the very time he will meet his future father-in-law in person, the palace confirmed.

The former lighting director on TV shows such as “Married With Children” and “General Hospital,” who was married to the bride’s mother for nine years until 1988, lives a quiet life in Mexico. Ragland, a yoga instructor and therapist, lives in Los Angeles and has met Harry a few times — and was with the couple at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto in September.

» Why the Obamas won’t get an invitation to the royal wedding

During their engagement interview, Markle also revealed that her dad and her royal fiancé had yet to meet, but that they had spoken over the phone. “Everybody was really happy. And he’s talked to my dad a few times, hasn’t been able to meet him just yet, but it’s all been, it’s all been worth every effort,” she said.

After the couple’s engagement was announced, Markle’s parents said they were “incredibly happy” about the news. “Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” they said in a joint statement. “To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.”

While Harry has the support of his grandmother, father and brother (who will serve as best man), the groom-to-be is also involving family of his late mother, Princess Diana.

All three siblings of Diana — Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale — will be in attendance, and Fellowes will give a reading during the ceremony.

» Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seek charity donations over wedding gifts

The couple’s floral arrangements inside the chapel will also include white garden roses, one of Diana’s favorite flowers. She is also remembered by two stones from her jewelry collection that were included in Meghan’s engagement ring.

“I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness is — and the inclusion of that and obviously not being able to meet his mom it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us,” Markle said about the ring during the couple’s engagement interview.

Kylie Jenner dethrones Beyoncé as most valuable Instagram celeb

    

Kylie Jenner‘s social media following has always been an integral part of her business — and now it’s more valuable than ever.

She may be the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner family, but Jenner, 20, has quickly become the highest-paid family member, per post, on social media.

According to a new report from D’Marie Analytics, a social media insights firm, Jenner is now the first member of the KarJenner family “to grow her ad equivalent value to over $1,000,000 per post across her social media portfolio.” In other words, every #sponsored or #ad Instagram post, Snapchat story or tweet Jenner posts is worth $1 million based on her hefty social following an engagement. (To put that number in perspective, a 30-second commercial during the 2018 Super Bowl reportedly cost $5 million.) The firm also states that Jenner’s role as “the highest-valued influencer currently on social media today” was previously held by the one and only Beyoncé.

» Kylie Jenner posts Snapchat video of daughter Stormi Webster

“Kylie is an undeniable global brand, which may make some roll their eyes,” D’Marie Analytics’ CEO, Frank Spadafora, said in a press release. “But the reality is this young, female entrepreneur’s savvy helped her reach a milestone in the influencer marketing and advertising industry which many seasoned professionals have failed to achieve.”

Overall, according to data compiled from D’Marie Analytics, as of today, Jenner has 154,775,091 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (that’s not even including Snapchat, which confirmed she was the No. 1 most followed person on the platform in 2016) and since April 1, she’s gained approximately 25,530 new followers a day across her social channels. 

But what makes her posts so valuable isn’t necessarily her number of followers, as much as the engagement she receives. Despite Jenner’s enormous following, she doesn’t have the most followers, even among her sisters (that title belongs to sister Kim). However, the content she posts resonates with her fans, and she receives an incredible amount of impressions and engagement.

» Snap Inc.’s stock falls after Kylie Jenner tweet about Snapchat redesign

In the past 30 days alone, Jenner’s posted to her social accounts 156 times, all of which generated a total of 186,152,410 engagements — which is why landing a paid placement on one of her pages comes with such a high price tag.

“Influencer valuations move up and down like the stock market, but Kylie is methodical about consistently generating aspirational content for her social audience, without jeopardizing authenticity,” Spadafora explained. “Her use of social media to personally connect with and listen to her fans enables her to deliver products they will actually purchase. This is a true case study for how brands can greatly benefit from working with social media influencers like Kylie.”

Last fall, Jenner’s mom, Kris Jenner, confirmed to CNBC that her daughter’s company, Kylie Cosmetics, generated $420 million in revenue in just its first 18 months of operation, which, according to WWD, sets her on track to become a billionaire by the time she’s 25.

“Right now she’s super smart about keeping it all in the business,” the Jenner Communications CEO told CNBC. “She owns it 100 percent herself, and she doesn’t have any investors. It makes for a wonderful opportunity to expand.”

“It was always Kylie’s dream to have a beauty brand and makeup company. She said (to me), ‘I really want you to help me do this and figure it out.’ And we tried launching some lip kits and they sold out in minutes, if not seconds,” Kris Jenner shared. “I realized that we have a real viable business on our hands. It was crazy. The fulfillment center couldn’t really get them out fast enough and the site crashed three times. I realized we had to get a manufacturer really quickly that could handle the volume and get a fulfillment center pulled together.”

Camille Cosby: 'Lynch mobs' led to convictions, like with Emmett Till

The full statement released by Camille Cosby, wife of comedian Bill Cosby, who was convicted last week of drugging and sexually assaulting a female friend:

"We the people" are the first three words of our nation's Constitution, but who were those people in 1787? Dr. Howard Zinn, the renowned, honest historian, states in his best-selling book, A People's History of the United States: "The majority of the 55 men who framed the Constitution were men of wealth in land, slaves, manufacturing or shipping." Clearly, most people were not included in that original draft of the Constitution; no women, Native Americans, poor white men; and, absolutely, no enslaved Africans.

» Bill Cosby found guilty in sexual assault trial

What have the masses of people done who are treated as outcasts by "we the people"? They, through the purity of the unceasing human spirit, forced 27 amendments to the Constitution that have guaranteed fundamental rights to all people ... finally doing what the framers should have done in 1787.

Now enters an American citizen, Bill Cosby. The overall media, with their frenzied, relentless demonization of him and unquestioning acceptance of accusers' allegations without any attendant proof, have superseded the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which guarantee due process and equal protection, and thereby eliminated the possibility of a fair trial and unbiased jury. Bill Cosby was labelled as guilty because the media and accusers said so ... period. And the media ensured the dissemination of that propaganda by establishing barricades preventing the dissemination of the truth in violation of the protections of the First Amendment. Are the media now the people's judges and juries?

Since when are all accusers truthful? History disproves that ... for example, Emmett Till's accuser immediately comes to mind. In 1955, she testified before a jury of white men in a Mississippi courtroom that a 14-year-old African American boy had sexually assaulted her, only to later admit several decades later in 2008 that her testimony was false. A more recent example is the case of Darryl Hunt, an African American who in 1984 was wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of a white woman, only to have DNA evidence establish in 1994 that he did not commit the crime. Nonetheless he was held in prison until 2004, serving almost twenty years behind bars, until the true rapist confessed to the crimes. These are just two of many tragic instances of our justice system utterly and routinely failing to protect African Americans falsely accused in so-called courts of law and the entirely unfair court of public opinion.

» Temple University rescinds Bill Cosby's honorary degree after sexual assault conviction

In the case of Bill Cosby, unproven accusations evolved into lynch mobs, who publicly and privately coerced cancellations of Bill Cosby's scheduled performances; syndications of "The Cosby Show"; rescissions of honorary degrees and a vindictive attempt to close an exhibition of our collection of African American art in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Although the Smithsonian's hierarchy did not capitulate, a disclaimer was posted on the exterior of that Museum. And all of that occurred before the trial even started.

The worst injustices, however, have been carried out in the Pennsylvania Montgomery County Courthouse. Three criminal charges, promised during an unethical campaign for the district attorney's office, were filed against my husband ... all based on what I believe to be a falsified account by the newly elected district attorney's key witness. I firmly believe her recent testimony during trial was perjured; as was shown at trial, it was unsupported by any evidence and riddled with innumerable, dishonest contradictions. Moreover, Bill Cosby's defense team introduced the testimony of a witness who confirmed that the district attorney's witness admitted that she had not been sexually assaulted, but that she could say she was and get money ... which is exactly what she did.

I am publicly asking for a criminal investigation of that district attorney and his cohorts. This is a homogeneous group of exploitive and corrupt people, whose primary purpose is to advance themselves professionally and economically at the expense of Mr. Cosby's life. If they can do this to Mr. Cosby, they can do so to anyone.

How much longer will we, the majority of the people, tolerate judicial, executive, legislative, media and corporate abuses of power? We, the majority of the people, must make America what it has declared itself to be ... a democracy ... not to be destroyed by vicious, lying, self-absorbed paradigms of evilness.

Once again, an innocent person has been found guilty based on an unthinking, unquestioning, unconstitutional frenzy propagated by the media and allowed to play out in a supposed court of law. This is mob justice, not real justice. This tragedy must be undone not just for Bill Cosby, but for the country.

I wish to thank the witnesses who courageously came forward at trial to testify as to the truth, as well as those witnesses who would have done so but for the judge preventing them from testifying. Someday the truth will prevail, it always does.

Camille Cosby

Kevin Hart's former friend charged with extortion in sex tape threats

The man who allegedly tried to extort Kevin Hart by threatening to release a sex tape last year has been charged and is facing a maximum sentence of four years in jail.

Jonathan Todd Jackson, 41, was charged on Wednesday “with trying to coerce actor Kevin Hart to pay him for a video that was surreptitiously recorded last year,” the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jackson, who also goes by Action Jackson, according to the D.A., was charged with one count each of attempted extortion and extortion by threatening letter. He is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday.

» Kevin Hart reckons with cheating scandal in J. Cole music video

“Jackson is accused of trying to extort an undisclosed amount of money from Hart between Aug. 25 and Aug. 30, 2017,” the D.A. announced. “Jackson allegedly had a videotape of the actor with a woman in Las Vegas and then is accused of trying to sell the recording to numerous celebrity news websites.”

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $100,000, and if convicted, Jackson faces a max sentence of four years in county jail.

Last year, Hart apologized to his pregnant wife, Eniko Parrish, and his two children in a social media video, revealing that someone was allegedly trying to extort him for a sexually suggestive video. The FBI was reportedly investigating the alleged extortion attempt.

» Kevin Hart admits he's 'guilty' of cheating on pregnant wife: 'Not the finest hour of my life'

“I’m guilty, regardless of how it happened and what was involved, the (expletive) that I can’t talk about, I’m guilty. I’m wrong,” Hart said in an interview with the Power 105.1 FM show The Breakfast Club. “It’s beyond irresponsible. There’s no way around it. That’s Kevin Hart in his dumbest moment. That’s not the finest hour of my life. With that being said, you make your bed you lay in it.”

At the time, model Montia Sabbag came forward at a press conference, identifying herself as the woman involved with Hart and saying, “I am not an extortionist. I had nothing to do with these recordings.”

“I did not know he was married,” model Sabbag told Daily Mail TV in 2017. “I found out after we already had been together. So I did not know at first.”

She added, “The way he was acting didn’t seem like he was married.”

» Kevin Hart explains attempt to get on Super Bowl stage with Eagles

W. Kamau Bell on addressing racism on screen and in real life

Recent news of two black men being led from a Philadelphia Starbucks in handcuffs was utterly shocking to many. Not to W. Kamau Bell.

“I relate to what these brothers went through. A similar thing happened to me,” the comic and broadcaster said during a recent visit to Morehouse College.

No charges were filed, and Starbucks responded to the swift and widespread criticism by announcing all locations will close the afternoon of May 29 for racial bias education.

“This sounds good now,” Bell said. “We have a very short memory in this country now because we’re experiencing so much news every day. Many of us will forget about it.”

He won’t. In 2015, Bell was hustled out of a Berkeley, Calif. cafe after an employee supposedly thought he was harassing customers. In fact, he was discussing the book he’d just picked up, “The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage,” with two restaurant patrons. One of whom he was married to.

“They thought I was bothering my white wife and our baby,” he said. Google his name and “Elmwood Cafe” for the whole story, which led to a community forum and inspired a segment on “This American Life.” The cafe closed for good shortly after the ordeal, leading to even more friction.

“Now, I’m experiencing the wonderful racism of, ‘You closed the cafe! You ruined my favorite cafe!’ All these white faux liberals at Berkeley are now mad at me for closing their favorite cafe. So I get the racism on both ends.”

Bell explores issues surrounding race in his CNN series “United Shades of America.” The June 3 episode will feature a visit to historically black colleges and universities including Morehouse, Spelman and Morris Brown colleges.

“Students on these campuses are better prepared to go out in the world and deal with racism,” he said. “HBCUs are a response to racism.”

Bell premiered the episode during his Morehouse visit last week. After the screening, he and Angela Rye, an attorney and political commentator, joined members of the campus community for an engaging Q&amp;A. You can hear our interview with Bell and excerpts of the audience discussion on the accessAtlanta podcast; look for the link on ajc.com.

LISTEN: accessAtlanta podcast: Comedian W. Kamau Bell of CNN’s “United Shades of America” 

During our pre-event interview, we discussed two areas of recent education coverage in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A special report titled “HBCUs: A Threatened Heritage” examined the struggle some campuses experience while highlighting numerous notable graduates and the hopeful dedication supporters have in propelling the schools into the future. A more recent piece looked at how the University of Georgia is working to increase diversity on campus.

We asked Bell for his thoughts on the dual goals of nurturing HBCUs while growing the diversity at the state’s flagship college.

“I don’t think they are at odds,” he said. “There’s a whole demographic of kids who don’t go to college at all, who are not encouraged to or not prepared for college. Colleges have to make themselves relevant, and they have to actually adapt with the times. If you make every college the best version of itself, it only helps the students who go to those colleges.”

We also asked if he’s been to Starbucks lately. He wasn’t a regular to begin with, although he’s been seeking out independent or black-owned alternatives.

“It’s not about boycotting Starbucks,” he said. “It’s about choosing other places right now.”

And it’s about keeping the discussion going.

“I could have just kept the (Berkeley cafe) story to myself, but I’ve learned from my parents and from the history books that when black people keep racism to themselves, it doesn’t help anybody, and it actually can metastasize inside of you,” he said. “For me, telling the story will hopefully create a situation in which this doesn’t happen to other people or at least create the situation where people can talk about how to prevent these things.”

How John Legend is preparing 2-year-old Luna for her baby brother’s arrival

John Legend knows it’s important to prepare his 2-year-old daughter, Luna Simone, for the arrival of her baby brother, and what better way to do that than with story time.

On Wednesday, Legend, 39, who’s expecting his second child with wife Chrissy Teigen, shared a photo of him and little Luna spending some father-daughter quality time together reading “The Brother Book.” 

In the adorable photo, the Grammy winner is smiling as he holds up the pair’s reading choice, a book by New York Times bestselling author Todd Parr, which “celebrates all different kinds of brothers,” according to Amazon. Next to the singer, Luna has a huge smile on her face — just like her father.

“Prepping for a new arrival!” Legend captioned the sweet snapshot.

Last November, Teigen, 32, shared that the couple was expecting another baby, hilariously captioning the announcement video, “It’s John’s!”

“Luna, what’s in here?” Teigen is heard asking in the background of the clip, with Luna pointing at her mom’s stomach and proclaiming, “Baby!”

Legend previously told People he doesn’t think “Luna has a concept of exactly what it means to have a little sibling yet.”

“She’ll figure it out sooner or later, and she’ll probably have some moments where she regrets it! But we’re excited,” he shared in March.

Last month the expectant parents celebrated their baby girl’s second birthday with a Sesame Street-themed birthday party, and Legend and Teigen even put the finishing touches on Luna’s birthday cake.

“Making a cake for luna’s birthday today,” Teigen wrote alongside an image of Luna’s yet-to-be-decorated cake on her Instagram Story at the time. In a separate post, Luna was seen giving her parents a hand, using a cookie cutter to make some of the cake’s many bird feathers.

Will.i.am calls Kanye West's slavery comment 'one of the most ignorant statements' he could say

Will.i.am has responded to Kanye West‘s recent remark implying slavery was a “choice,” saying the outburst “broke my heart.”

The former member of the Black Eyed Peas appeared on Good Morning Britain Wednesday, where he was asked about the 40-year-old rapper’s controversial comment.

“That broke my heart, because I thought about my grandma, who was born in 1920, and her connection with her mom who raised her, who was born in the late 1800s. And my grandmother’s grandma, who was a slave,” he said. “And when you’re a slave, you’re owned. You don’t choose if you’re owned. When you’re a slave you’re deprived of education. That’s not choice, that’s by force.”

Will.i.am, 43, explained that there are still under-served communities facing “conditions where it’s not a choice,” giving the example of his own work to educate children in his hometown of East Los Angeles in computer science and robotics due to the lack of school funding.

“That statement was one of the most ignorant statements that anybody who came from the hood could ever say about their ancestors, that slavery is a choice.” he said. “What are you talking about?”

Although Will.i.am and West go back, the entertainer explained that his outburst wasn’t representative of the person that he knew.

“That’s not Kanye,” he asserted.

» Kanye West talks breakdown, JAY-Z, Kim Kardashian robbery and more with Charlamagne tha God

He went to clarify, “To me, that’s a different person that’s saying that, and I hope it’s not to raise awareness so you could sell a record and some shoes, because that would be the worst thing to do, to stir up this very touchy race situation and you be the benefactor from it. So I encourage you, if you really believe this, give your shoes away for free, give your album away for free. And I don’t like talking about going against my community, but that is harmful.”

Will.i.am continued to speak out on Twitter, saying there’s a “new age slavery” happening.

He wrote, “1. An investment for a kids education in the hood is 5k

2. All of those kids will most likely end up in Prison

3. those Prisons are privately owned

Meaning: Prisoners are owned

4. That’s new age slavery

5. How do we REVOLT when our music promotes drugs & crime?”

During an interview on TMZ Live Tuesday, West sounded off on the centuries African-Americans spent shackled in servitude.

“You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he said. “You were there for 400 years and it was all of y’all? It’s like we’re meant to be in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks…Prison is something that unites us as one race.”

The rapper quickly apologized and clarified his comments on Twitter, writing, “to make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will.”

He continued, “My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved.”

“The reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea,” West wrote.

He added, “once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas.”

Kandi Burruss pokes fun at her Barbie-like hairstyle

Singer and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast regular Kandi Burruss turned to Instagram to poke fun at her back-in-the-day ‘do.

Burruss told fans she decided to give them a laugh since the internet was burning up with comments - pro and con - about the half-cornrowed hairstyle on a black Barbie doll.

RelatedSocial media rips “ratchet” Barbie hairstyle

It’s nearly identical to a style worn by Burruss  about 14 years ago.

Last week, Hulu premiered “Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie,” a documentary by Andrea Nevins ,which follows efforts to transform Barbie into a more 21st-century doll.

RelatedMattel unveils “sheroes” for International Women’s Day

The Barbie Style Instagram account promoted it with a picture of three Barbie dolls sitting in front of a laptop.

Two of the dolls are white with long hair pulled back in ponytails. The third Barbie is black with part of her hair in dark cornrows and the rest with flowing blondish red tresses.

Related: Kandi Burruss on motherhood and fame

Fans had fun with it too.

talietal wrote: “Barbie owe you a check for that hair inspo tho.”

susancnw weighed in, too. “I like it on both of you, but I have to admit, you rocked it better.”

Star power for Stacey Abrams rally: Tracy Ellis Ross, Rashida Jones, Uzo Aduba

Posted Wednesday, May 2, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio &amp; TV Talk blog

Stacey Abrams, seeking to be the first black female U.S. governor ever, brought some TV star firepower to an early voting bus canvas tour earlier this week.

After hitting locations in Albany, Macon and Columbus, Abrams’ bus rolled into the parking lot at the Gathering Spot at about 7:15 p.m. Monday with actresses  Tracee Ellis Ross (ABC’s “black-ish”),  Uzo Aduba (Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”),  Rashida Jones (TBS’s “Angie Tribeca”) and  Aisha Hinds (Harriet Tubman in WGN’s “Underground”).

Ross enjoyed hearing Abrams speak and seeing the crowds at the various spots.

Jones too said she was “moved by hearing Stacey speak. She’s a beautiful orator and she speaks from the heart. She has a ton of experience and she’s compassionate and thoughtful. There is nice synergy because this race feels like it has representation on a larger scale. We’ve seen how people feel empowered to vote in Virginia and Alabama. I feel like Georgia is next to go.”

Aduba likes how Abrams tries to represent all demographics in the state. “I think we are living in a time where listening has become challenging, particularly in politics,” she said. “I think we talking about a woman who is invested in the idea of listening to everyone who comes to the table.”

Hinds said Abrams has a great track record and experience, exulting her for her education plan and how thoughtful she is about mental health and the military. “She looks people in the eye and asks how she could be of service,” she said. “She’s an incredibly relatable person and governs from her heart.”

Abrams is proud of bringing some Hollywood heft to her campaign: “Georgia is a national state… we spend a lot of money bringing Hollywood to Georgia. More than that, Georgia is emblematic of what America should be and will be. That is why I’m excited to have voices from across this country. While every one of them is certainly known in Hollywood, they each come with their own activist spirit and with work that they’ve done to lift the community. That’s why I’m so thrilled to have them with me because what they reflect are the values of Georgia. Standing up for people, speaking out and doing what needs to be done to make change. I’m excited have a campaign that is local grounded but nationally known because we have to change all of Georgia to move forward.”

Rashan Ali emceed the event. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Did you know Kanye West’s father was once an AJC photographer?

Kanye West is making headlines at the moment but his father made history – in Atlanta.

Ray West was  one of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s first black photojournalists, and he produced acclaimed portraits in the 1970s and 80s of notables such as  President Ronald Reagan, poet and activist Maya Angelou the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy.

His images capturing everyday life in Atlanta in those days is even more powerful than his photos of the famous. A child living in public housing poses in a delicate bonnet. Two men standing in front of boarded-up buildings shudder in the cold. Streetlights pierce the darkness of what’s described as “a haven for hookers.”

Here is a gallery of Ray West’s work. 

Black men arrested at Starbucks settle for $1 and $200K youth program 

The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks have reached a settlement. They will receive a symbolic $1 each, and city officials have promised to create a $200,000 entrepreneur program for local high school students. 

» RELATED: #BoycottStarbucks surfaces after video shows arrest of two black men at Philadelphia location

Mayor Jim Kenney and the men’s lawyer announced the news to The Associated Press Wednesday. 

“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” said Donte Robinson, one of those arrested. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Earlier this month, the coffee chain came under fire after a video showed Rashon Nelson and Robinson being handcuffed and escorted out of a Philadelphia location for “trespassing,” according to local authorities. However, many across the country accused the company of racially profiling the individuals. 

» RELATED: Starbucks employee who called cops on black men has left the company

Amid the national outrage, #BoycottStarbucks became a trending topic online as many customers vowed to no longer support the brand. Additionally, Starbucks issued an apology and its CEO Kevin Johnson met with Nelson and Robinson. 

The corporation also said it would close all of its stores the afternoon of May 29 so all employees can undergo racial bias education. The sessions will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and other leaders.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” Johnson previously said in a statement. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

» RELATED: Starbucks will close all stores for a day for racial-bias education

#IfSlaveryWasAChoice surfaces after Kanye West slavery comments

After Kanye West suggested slavery was a choice during a recent TMZ interview, several have disputed his comments on social media with the viral hashtag #IfSlaveryWasAChoice.

» RELATED: Kanye West blasted after saying slavery was “a choice”

On Tuesday, the rapper made an appearance on the show to chat about his return to Twitter and his definition of free-thought. 

While explaining his views, he mentioned slavery. “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said.

His remarks not only roused TMZ’s Van Lathan, but he also seemingly sparked #IfSlaveryWasAChoice across social media. 

Many used the trend to create fictitious scenarios, where enslaved African-Americans from previous centuries experienced freedom without suffering dangerous consequences. 

» RELATED: Kanye ♥ Donald: Why can’t black Americans support Trump?

Several imagined what it would have been like had slaves refused to work or follow rules without punishment. 

» RELATED: Chance the Rapper defends Kanye West, says ‘black people don’t have to be democrats’

Others envisioned slavery with benefit packages and the option to scout positions using job sites, such as Career Builder. 

» RELATED: Did you know Kanye West’s father was once an AJC photographer?

And a few just chimed in with their general thoughts on the hashtag. While some thought it was funny, others said it was a mockery. 

» RELATED: Kanye West talks breakdown, JAY-Z, Kim Kardashian robbery and more with Charlamagne tha God

Black Twitter blasts Barbie for black doll with ‘ratchet’ hairstyle

Over the last several years, Mattel has become more diverse, creating Barbies of all shades and backgrounds. However, the unique hairstyle of one its latest dolls has sparked a bit of a debate.

» RELATED: Mattel announces Ibtihaj Muhammad doll, the first Barbie to wear a hijab

Last weekend, Hulu premiered the documentary “Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie.” To promote the project, the Barbie Style Instagram account posted a picture of three Barbie dolls sitting in front of a computer with the caption “Movie night with my girls to watch the @Hulu premiere of the new @Barbie documentary, Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie!”

While the two white dolls had straight hair pulled back into a ponytail, the one black doll had dark-colored cornrows on one side and curly, blonde curls on the other side. 

Several on social media noticed the difference and commented on the black Barbie’s look. Several said they were offended by the style and that it did not accurately represent African-American women.

» RELATED: Mattel unveils line of dolls featuring powerful women for International Women’s Day

Others thought the style was unfinished and called it an incomplete sew-in. They said Barbie missed the mark in its attempt to be inclusive. 

» RELATED: Kandi Burruss pokes fun at her Barbie-like hairstyle

On the other hand, a few loved it. Even “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss was a fan. She uploaded a side-by-side photo of her and the Barbie wearing similar hairstyles. 

 

» RELATED: Barbie honors NASA ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson with doll

Gabrielle Union: Diagnosed with PTSD after rape doesn't define her life

Gabrielle UnionKristen BellJames Van Der Beek and Brittany Snow are among a group of celebrities opening up about their struggles with mental health or learning disorders.

For the second annual installment of The Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign, the organization once again brought together more than three dozen actors, Olympians, authors, comedians, advocates and other influencers to share the advice they would give their younger selves about growing up with a a major affliction.

“I’m here to tell you that I am a PTSD survivor, thriver,” Union says in a homemade video. “I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint — and I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want it to define my whole life, and it doesn’t have to. Asking for help, needing help doesn’t make you weak or less worthy of love or support or success.”

» Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade donate $200,000 to ‘March For Our Lives’

She adds, “You can literally be anything you want to be. PTSD isn’t a death sentence. You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. There are so many of us out there who are feeling with exactly what you’re dealing with and it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you anything but human.”

Bell, who’s suffered from anxiety and/or depression since she was 18, said she would advise her younger self not to “be fooled by this game of perfection humans play, because Instagram and magazines and TV shows, they strive for a certain aesthetic and everything looks so beautiful.

“People seem like they don’t have any problems but everyone’s human,” she adds.

“Everyone has problems,” she continues. “Everyone feels yucky on the inside sometimes. You deserve to feel just as beautiful on the days you wear no makeup, the days you don’t shower and the days you feel like you’re depressed. And you have an obligation to take care of yourself from the inside out because that’s how you can truly feel beautiful.”

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, who heads up the Child Mind Institute campaign, says having stars like Bell and Union talk so honestly about their struggles is impactful for kids.

“By sharing their own personal stories for the second annual #MyYoungerSelf campaign, these actors, athletes, authors and influencers are helping to eradicate the stigma that keeps the 1 in 5 young people who struggle with a mental health or learning disorder from getting help and reaching their potential,” he explained.

“We all know and love these children — if it’s not your son or daughter, it’s a niece or a nephew, or your child’s best friend at school. #MyYoungerSelf represents our society, whether you’re famous or not, coming together to get these kids the help they need.”

For the month of May, which is National Mental Health Awareness Month, the Child Mind Institute will reveal a homemade video and childhood photo featuring a celebrity or mental health advocate, including Lindsey Stirling, Ginger Zee, Charles Schwab, Jessica McCabe, Tim Howard and Adam Grabowski. Visit childmind.org each day to view the latest update.

Kanye West wants to 'start healing' with surgeon he once blamed for mother's death

Kanye West is ready to meet with the man he once blamed for his mother’s death after the surgeon reached out to him in an open letter on Monday.

The rapper, 40, shared the letter written by Jan Adams and wrote, “Open letter from Jan Adams This is amazing. Thank you so much for this connection brother. I can’t wait to sit with you and start healing.”

Adams – who was the plastic surgeon who operated on Donda West in 2007 – wrote the letter, obtained by The Blast, after West announced plans to feature the doctor’s face on the cover for his new album. In his letter, Adams thanked West but declined to be on the cover “at this time.”

“Dear Kanye: Thank you for thinking of me for the cover of your next album. That is kind of you. I can truly say I have never been on an album cover before. I did do a product cover for Chanel Allure Cologne back in 2005… but never an album cover,” Adams writes.

“Unfortunately, I have to decline at this time, and I ask that you cease and desist using my photo or any image of me to promote your album or any of your work,” he continues. “I don’t want to seem ungrateful… I just think that if in fact this conversion to love is genuine on your part… then it’s inappropriate to drag the negativity of the past with it.”

Adams explains in the letter that Donda’s surgery took five hours and was considered successful “from a surgical standpoint.”

Referencing People’s report on the coroner’s findings, Adams reiterated that he was not found to be responsible for Donda’s death.

The surgeon went on in the letter to suggest that Donda’s nurse Stephan Scoggins, who is also West’s cousin, did not follow postoperative care instructions. Scoggins was cleared of negligence in a subsequent investigation.

» Kanye ♥ Donald: Why can’t black Americans support Trump?

“So if your journey is true… “To forgive and stop hating”… start by dealing with the facts,” Adams writes. “Perhaps you should put your cousin’s picture on your next album. Don’t put my picture out there and claim you are about love.”

He continues, “Love deals with truth. Over the past ten years, I have tolerated all the errors, misinformation and frank lies told be reporters, journalists and people on the street out of respect for the doctor-patient privilege and your mother.”

“If you want to heal, first call out the people in your own camp who knew better and persisted with the charade in order to hide their own guilt,” Adams writes. “You are a father and a family man. Take the time to cherish those things… you won’t regret it. Everyone can get past this but you have to be intellectually honest.”

The surgeon adds a final message to the “Stronger” rapper, referencing his previous conversation with friend John Legend about President Donald Trump.

» Kanye West accuses John Legend of trying to 'manipulate my free thought' amid Trump controversy

“P.S. Please, when you have the opportunity, reach out to JL,” Adams writes. “He is about love. He was not trying to influence you, your thoughts or your process. His message was love and he was only offering perspective.”

Legend, 39, and West made up last week at Legend and Chrissy Teigen’baby shower, one day after West publicly shared their text conversation regarding his recent Twitter spree supporting Trump.

» Kanye West and John Legend party together after they disagreed about rapper's pro-Trump tweets

» Chance the Rapper defends Kanye West: ‘Black people don’t have to be democrats’

On Saturday, West tweeted another text conversation with one of his friends, this time revealing the cover art for his forthcoming album.

“This is my album cover. This is plastic surgeon Jan Adams. The person who performed my moms final surgery. Do you have any title ideas?” West wrote along with a photo of the California doctor who operated on Donda before her sudden November 2007 death.

“I want to forgive and stop hating,” he texted to his friend named Wes, who wrote back, “LOVE EVERYONE.” (West has been known to be close friends with director Wes Anderson as well as his G.O.O.D. artist Sheck Wes.)

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