Tag Archives pride

Trans Soul Singer Shea Diamond Speaks On Finding Her Voice While In A Male Prison

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Growing up as a trans woman in Flint Michigan, soul singer Shea Diamond, did not have easy. Identifying as a girl from an early age, Shea was constantly being corrected for her doing what came natural to her. I got whoopings for walking like a girl, for using the restroom sitting down like a girl,” says Diamond today. “Even singing when I was little, I remember being corrected: ‘Put some bass in your voice.’ It was like robbing me of the only joy I had in this world.” Desperate to get away from her hometown,  Shea ran away as a teen and at the age of 20, she  was arrested and spent ten years in jail. It was behind bars that Shea found her voice and she sat down with Billboard for their first ever Pride issue to discuss how she went from being a product of every system to creating her song “I am Her,” which has become the anthem for the women’s, trans, and gay movements.

When you are in your early twenties you are still trying to figure out life. That combined with the pressure of keeping up with her classmates is what ultimately landed Shea behind bars for robbing a convenience store at gunpoint. Although Shea was working, the money she was making wasn’t enough to pay for sex reassignment surgery so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I was seeing my peers that had guap, a big ol’ roll of money, and here I am waiting on this check. I’m thinking, if I can do this one time, I’ll be able to maybe have an affirming gender and change my life. The first time I did something, I got caught.”

Even though Shea is a trans woman, she was still sentenced to serve her time in a male facility. There, Shea along with other transgender inmates had to deal with sexual harassment from male inmates, as well as the guards,

“In prison, trans people [were] alienated to the point that they’re fantasized about just as much as cis women are. The male inmates would lust over these female officers that they had to walk past every day, and they would try their best to have us [trans women], too. Even the guards would do that. So officers raped us as well. But we’re never considered credible. We had to go through a lot of different channels to bring some of that stuff to light. I became a member of the warden’s forum, which meant I was able to talk to the warden about inmates’ concerns; things that they felt were injustices, things that would make their unit more livable.”

While going through a difficult divorce, Shea was encouraged by another trans women to get out of the house. The first stop on the cheer up train was The Audre Lorde Project in New York where she sang. After that, Shea began being invited out to sing at different protest, which led her to discovery at a “Trans Life Matter” event by song writer Justin Tranter.

For the full interview click here,

Doors Open to the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Washington D.C. is proud to be the home to the new National Museum of African American History & Culture Saturday afternoon.

The 400,000 square foot museum carries pieces of history right within its walls, which marked iconic moments in African American culture. Priceless artifacts like the dress Rosa Parks was sewing before she refused to give up her seat, slave shackles, and sale bills are just a couple of pieces goers will be in awe of.

It goes without saying that the importance of African American history has been overlooked for centuries. Not to mention the dark side of slavery and segregation. Now, President Obama has finally gotten the opportunity to help the public recognize it.

“As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country; who led armies into battle and waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power. But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.”

Many others who were in attendance was Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Robert DeNiro, Colin Powell, Angela Bassett, and even George W. Bush. The former president made it a point to express his own pride in allowing the funding for the museum in 2003 saying:

“A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

Be sure to make your way to Washington D.C. to take part in the seeing first-hand what made America, America.

New Series ‘AfriMericans’ Explores Millenials’ Pursuit of the American Dream

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Maureen Martin and Berka Ngong teamed up to creatively show the lives of African Americans and their rise to achieve the American Dream.

What is an “AfriMerican?” According to this fascinating new series, it’s a “reference to first generation Africans born to highly traditional parents but raised in the U.S.” Four ladies live the “AfriMerican” life in the adventurous city of New York while overcoming everyday trials challenging their culture and heritage. All at the same time juggling love lives, carer goals, and finding inner satisfaction within themselves.

Enjoy a quick teaser of the new script series about life, love, and being proud of your lineage below.

#LoveWins and Beyonce Approves!

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Once Beyonce approves, it’s like, official! In a recent Instagram post, the Queen Bey uploaded a video showing off her rather quirky side as she danced with rainbow colored props celebrating the fact that in all 50 states it is now legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry. Dancing to her hit song “7/11”,  Beyonce gives us shimmy’s and twirls tempting us to get up and dance with her.

Last week the supreme court ruled that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. This decision prompted celebration around the nation as individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, expressed their support with the hashtag #LoveWins and rainbow paraphernalia.

It’s a happy time indeed especially when Beyonce agrees! Check out the video below and try your hardest to resist the urge to join in. We’re warning you, it’s hard.

Never Too Late #LoveWins ❤️

A video posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

 

Love Peace and Soul: Lessons From Don Cornelius

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"Soul Train" "Death" "Suicide" "Love Peace and Soul"

Marking the first day of Black History Month, the Black community and all lovers of music and dance worldwide will begin its celebrations by paying tribute to the King of Soul Train, Don Cornelius.  As the face and embodiment of a marginalized people, Cornelius helped integrate Black music and Black dance into homes of all colors and races nationwide.  His slogan “Love, Peace, and Soul” catapulted the show to relevance for over 22 years (1971-1993) although the show continued to air up until 2006.  These three words were essentially the embodiment of his life’s work, even through death.

Towards Love

“It’s always a pleasure to find something that matters,” said Cornelius.  Early on, Cornelius was a motivated journalist by the Civil Rights Movement.  As a radio host and personality on the influential WVON, he found something else that mattered to him just as much; this was music.  Soul music was taking the Black world by storm, but there were no shows on syndicated television to expose them.  Cornelius took his love for self, and his love for his people and their accomplishments and possibilities and placed them front-and-center to battle any other greats in all of entertainment.

Towards Peace

As a writer, producer, and host, Don Cornelius created opportunities for dancers and singers alike on Soul Train.  It became the “longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.”  It highlighted new and fresh talents such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and even David Bowie.  Don Cornelius and Soul Train gave a downtrodden people representation when there were none, pride when there was little, and hope for a continuous and evolving country.

Towards Soul

Don Cornelius was found deceased earlier this morning in the privacy of his Sherman Oaks home this Wednesday morning.  According to sources, he died of a self-inflicted wound.  This alleged suicide comes two-and-a-half years after his bitter divorce in 2009, which he claimed stating “I am 72 years old. I have significant health issues. I want to finalize this divorce before I die.”  While speculations of tumult proceeded his actions afterwards, the greatest understanding this allows us to see of Cornelius is that through the money and fame, he too, was only a human being battling the ups and downs of life.  Through it all, he birthed a new nation of hope and belief leading up to the booming music industry today, including the legacy of Soul that led to Hip-Hop.

 


Rest in Power to Don Cornelius.  Love, Peace, And (We Could Never Forget) Soul

 

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