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  • Meet Jaime Harrison, the Democrat Who is Running Against Republican Lindsey Graham in South Carolina

    There's a battle going down in South Carolina for one of its Senate seats. Currently held by Republican Lindsay Graham, the Senate seat is being threatened by Democrat and former Washington lobbyist Jaime Harrison. If elected, he'd make history as the first Black Democrat to take Senate in the deep South. Presently, Senator Tim Scott is the only Black Republican in the Senate, and Harrison winning would make South Carolina the first state to have simultaneously elected two Black senators. Rising from humble beginnings, 44-year-old Jaime Harrison overcame the barriers of poverty to graduate from Yale University and Georgetown Law. Earning a scholarship provided him the opportunity to pursue higher education. Raised by his grandparents and having lived in a mobile home in Orangeburg, South Carolina, he never forgot his hometown roots. He credits his success to the teachers and mentors who encouraged him throughout the challenging times in his life. After graduating from college, Harrison returned to Orangeburg and became a teacher at his old high school. He made it his mission to inspire unprivileged youth and encourage them to attend college. Harrison served as an aide to South Carolina congressman James Clyburn and also worked for Port of Charleston and the University of South Carolina. In 2013 he was elected as the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, and he served until 2017. He resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife Marie and their two young children. Some of the issues Harrison is an advocate include an expansion of Medicaid, more coronavirus relief and keeping Obamacare, which is something Graham has been attempting to appeal. Although Harrison is leading in the polls, anything can happen. Everyone needs to get out and vote. Photo Credit: The New York Times

  • OqLiq Brand Designers Discuss the Natural Elements of Taiwain Used in its (Digital) NYFW Show

    September's iteration of New York Fashion Week was unlike any that took place before. Not only were most of the shows and presentations presented digitally, but the series of events that usually take place in an actual week were also condensed down to three days. Despite the shortened time frame, NYFW included a number of exciting, short-film like presentations, one of which included Taiwanese brand oqLiq. The Quintessential Gentleman received exclusive access to the presentation and interviewed the brand's designers Orbit Lin and Kay Hung. What or who inspired you to begin designing clothes? We are inspired by both the latest technology and old, traditional culture. We design to meld the old and new worlds with style, but also with functional aspects present. How would you describe your style aesthetic? We would classify oqLiq as urban outdoor streetwear. It's a combination of traditional oriental culture and urban outdoor style that provides high-end functionality. Who would you say is your customer and how do you design clothes to meet their needs? Our consumers can see their needs in the details of clothes, such as the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. The clothes can be worn for a long time and are made with good craftsmanship. The pieces also take into account the needs of someone living in the city, such as being water resistant for rainy days and including many beautiful, but practical pockets to help make life convenient. COVID-19 has impacted the fashion industry in unprecedented ways. Can you tell us how/if you have re-envisioned creating clothing in this environment? We plan to consider post-pandemic needs when designing the clothing and accessories, which will be both functional and practical. However, we will still convey the original aesthetics of the brand, because when all of this passes, the classic aesthetic we represent should still remain. Tell us about what inspired your latest NYFW presentation? The inspiration of the collection came from a prayer for favorable weather called “nature’s blessing." In the oriental novel Investiture of the Gods, there are four heavenly kings, known as Jian, Chin, San, and Lung (sword, instrument, umbrella, dragon) who symbolically represent nature’s blessing. Virūḍhaka of the South direction holds a sword, representing wind (feng); Dhṛtarāṣṭra of the East direction holds ruan or pipa (instruments), representing tune (tiao); Vaiśravaṇa of the North direction holds an umbrella, representing rain (yu); Virūpākṣa of the west direction holds a dragon or snake, representing smooth (shuen). The four words (feng tiao yu shuen) in Chinese means a nature’s blessing. The imagination of these four heavenly kings can be seen throughout the fashion show, delivering the message of nature’s blessing. The spirit of the brand echoes is conveyed through windproof,, rainproof and comfortable clothing. These four words are consistent themes in oqLiq clothing: Wind (windproof), Tune (functional clothing in tune with body), Rain (rainproof) and Smooth ( comfortable). The color scheme of the collection featured a lot of neutral and muted colors.  Was there a particular reason you went with this color scheme? We tend to like the colors of nature, which we think make people feel more comfortable. How do you see the brand growing in the future? We move forward, we hope to combine oriental aesthetics with Taiwan's environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. We also hope that more customers will know Taiwan, which is full of so many different cultural elements.

  • 6 Tips to Changing Your Home Decor for Fall

    Hey guys, Summer is gone and Fall is here, it's time to make your home accompany thee season. During the colder seasons, most of us tend to spend more time in our homes (pre-COVID-19) whether it's by ourselves or entertaining others. If you're not savvy when it comes to decorating your home, you can always consult one of your more creative friends or check out these few tips we have come up with that will help you transition your home to fit the mood of the season. Fall Color Combos During the fall or autumn season, the color tends to lean toward a more neutral look. From browns to oranges to cranberry colors, pick something that fits your personality, and go with it. Decorative Pillows and Curtains Since the focal point when entertaining throughout the seasons is normally a living room, make sure your decorative pillows and curtains reflect the season. Make sure to change them out to give the look and feel of fall. If you don't want to replace the entire pillows, look online for pillow covers. Seasonal Plants To all of the plant dads out there like myself, now is the time when most stores are introducing fall plants. Take a visit and grab some to fit the vibe you are going for. Please make sure you read the care instructions. No one enjoys looking at a dead, crunchy, underappreciated plant. Throw Blankets The weather is getting colder and if you're like me you don't want to turn the heat on before it's time. Most times a simple throw blanket will do the trick to keep you cozy while napping on the couch or snuggled up with a loved one. Prepare Fireplace or Space Heaters If you're fortunate enough to have a fireplace, make sure you show it some love and clean it. No one wants to go into a new season with the last season's dirt. Grab and some wood for those unexpected cold nights. If you are a space heater person, make sure you test your old one to ensure safety or head to your local store and catch one on sale. Candles/Diffusers Each and every candle and diffuser make has a scent that accompanies the holiday and the season. To give your home the freshest smells of the season you must update the smells in your house.

  • Harris and Pence Discuss Justice for Breonna Taylor and More During The Vice Presidential Debate

    Last night Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took part in the Vice Presidential Debate, moderated by Susan Page, the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today. Just to save some time, if you're Black, and you're reading this recap, one of the most important parts of the debate was when the topic of justice for Breonna Taylor was raised, along with systemic racism and police brutality. The question was, does Pence believe that Breonna Taylor received justice? A couple of weeks ago, a grand jury indicted one of the officers on the scene during Taylor's murder. However, the officer was only indicted for wanton endangerment because he injured some of Taylor's neighbors and destroyed property. However, the officer directly responsible for her death received no penalties. Pence's response was, "I trust our justice system. A grand jury that refused the evidence." He also said, "This presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that America's systemically racist, and as Joe Biden said that he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement." Unfortunately, this topic didn't come up until the tail end of the debate. Black Americans had to wait through almost an hour of discussion before they got the answer that they really wanted to hear but already knew. Let's talk about the rest of the debate. From the start, this debate promised to be more civil than the Presidential Debate that took place the week prior. “We want a debate that is lively. But Americans also deserve a discussion that is civil. These are tumultuous times, but we can and will have a respectful exchange. Let's begin with the ongoing pandemic that has cost our country so much,” said Page, as she laid out the rules for the debate. Harris and Pence traded blows like they were in a title fight, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently the biggest topic on the countries mind, besides the elections. As of today, more than 211,000 Americans have died during the COVID-19 pandemic and the United States has the highest percentage of confirmed cases in the world. While Pence decided to point out all of the Trump Administration’s “successes” during the pandemic, Harris decided to shed more light on their negligence. Her shining star was the fact that the White House was advised back in January on the potential lethalness of COVID-19 to the American people. “Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth,” Harris said. Pence then interjected, “Which we’ve always done.” However, a "fact check" from CNN pointed out that Trump himself has said in interviews that he concealed the truth about COVID-19 to keep citizens calm. Pence decided to stand his ground on the issue, and continue to proclaim that the Trump Administration saved millions of lives and prevent the COVID19 pandemic from getting worse. In response to Biden and Harris’ plan to deal with COVID-19, Pence said that it looks very similar to Trump’s current plan and called it plagiarism. “It looks a little like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little about,” Pence said. In addition, Pence compared the Trump Administration's handling of COVID-19 to the Obama Administration's dealings with the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, which was way less lethal than COVID-19 but lasted approximately 18 months. Pence also said that medical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine are currently in their third stages and America will have a vaccine by the end of the year. However, when the topic of Trump’s health and his transparency around his health was brought up, Pence danced around that question better than the best TikTok challenge of the year. As Trump continues to recover from COVID-19, the American people are still not clear on how serious his condition was and is, in addition to his overall treatment. And the question around Trump’s health brought up the fact that whoever takes office next year, whether it be Trump or Biden, either choice would make the oldest president in America’s history. With both of these gentlemen in their 70s, the question is if there’s a disability plan for anything that may occur with having an elderly president. Unfortunately, neither candidate was able to answer that question directly. Harris and Pence continued to trade blows on taxes and economic policies, fracking, Obamacare and healthcare coverage for preexisting conditions, whether or not Trump will choose a Supreme Court Justice, along with China and international trade. And while Pence played his role well as a sympathetic and competent vice president, his act wasn't as good as he thought, because when fact-checked it's been revealed that a lot of his statements concerning words and actions by Trump, Biden, and Harris, were false. For example, he was false, when he said that Trump banned travel to China, which he was trying to use as an example of an action Trump took to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 But the highlight of the debate was when Page was forced to reprimand Pence for constantly speaking overtime and interrupting Harris. She made it a point to bring up the fact that the Trump campaign took part in making the rules for the Vice Presidential Debate and her job was to enforce or try, rules that Pence agreed to, and was blatantly disregarding. The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 15 and will be virtual.

  • Black Character on Cream of Wheat Box Will Be Removed

    B&G Foods announced that it will be moving the Black chef character from the Cream of Wheat box. The decision to move character came after recent racial uprisings in American created a movement for businesses and organizations to remove racially insensitive images. The company will roll out new packaging with a different image in the first quarter of 2021. In a statement, B&G Foods said, “We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.” Back in June, the company announced that it would be taking a closer look at the character on the packaging due to concerns that were brought to its attention In a statement to Forbes, the company expressed that it investigated the history of the image and found that it was possibly fashioned after an actual Black chef in Chicago named Frank White. White was an immigrant from Barbados who was a Black master chef in a Chicago restaurant. He posed for that picture that is currently used on Cream of White boxes in 1900. However, the product’s original featured Rastus, a stereotypical Black man that was associated with caricatures in minstrel shows. B&G Foods is not the only parent company to rethink its use of a Black character on its packaging. Mars Inc., the parent company of Uncle Ben’s, announced that it will be rebranding its products as Ben’s Original, which includes removing its Black character. After protests following the death of George Floyd, many companies and organizations moved to get rid of offensive images, as demonstrated when the NFL’s Washington Redskins changed its name to the Washington Football Team and ditched its Native American mascot. As for other food brands, Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth, and Eskimo Pie are all looking to rebrand themselves, distancing themselves from their old packages associated with stereotypical depictions of people of color.

  • Black Fatherhood Shines in Blumhouse’s “Black Box"

    The excitement continues to grow for Welcome To Blumhouse eight genre movie anthology, launching on Amazon Prime today, just in time for Halloween. One of the first movies to premiere will be Black Box, directed and co-written by Osei-Kuffour Jr, and executive produced by Insecure’s Jay Ellis, stars Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World 3, The Circle), Phylicia Rashad (Creed), Amanda Christine (Colony), Tosin Morohunfola (The Chi, The 24th), Charmaine Bingwa (Trees of Peace, Little Sista), and Troy James (The Flash, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark). After losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, a single father, Athie, undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is. While he continues his probe, he starts to realize his past is darker than what he originally thought. Black Box, while being a stylish slow-paced psychological thriller, also shows the length a father would go to protect his daughter. A killer twist like nothing seen before blends a different genre well into the second act. The audience who watches will compare and feel as if they are watching an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror. Phylicia Rashad continues her career resurgence in another role that is different from what audiences had come to know her for. Much like her sinister turn in Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace or her role in the upcoming fantasy Christmas film Jingle Jangle; A Christmas Journey. Black Box is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Check out the trailer below.

  • Meet Daniel P. Calderon: A Man On A Mission

    For entrepreneur and brand strategist, Daniel P. Calderon, when the world was shutting down, he knew it was time for him to open up. Calderon opened up his creativity, his network and a masterclass on how to maneuver with intention during a pandemic. While many of us were frantic and trying to figure out the next steps during the beginning stages of quarantine, the former human resource and operational leader who once ran a 300 million-grossing district at Target, had a pivot in his entrepreneurial journey. Daniel launched #WFH (Work From Home) this past Spring and the more recent Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (EOT), which are meant to give back and inspire. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Daniel explains, “I grew up in an entrepreneurial family.” And even at childhood, when Calderon did not quite know what being an entrepreneur meant or looked like, he can trace his first experience with entrepreneurship to his grandmother who shined in the barrel culture. “My grandmother would buy full price retail in NYC, mark up prices, and then go on to sell in the Caribbean.” Watching his grandmother create and sell something translated to Daniel, as a young Black boy growing up in Brooklyn, New York, to sell lemonade in order to buy a pair of sneakers that he wanted. “You really did not see Black children selling lemonade on the block. I took my sister with me, she was my assistant, and I made the best lemonade,” Daniel says. “Watching my grandmother do what she did and make money off of it, automatically clicked in my head. You make money, you are entrepreneurial,” he continues. From selling lemonade to recently celebrating five years as a full-time entrepreneur, Daniel continues to elevate while not only inspiring those who follow his journey but also speaking truth to those who also aspire to enter the entrepreneurial field. During a time where people seem to shame those who are okay with working a 9-5, Calderon keeps it honest about failure and hardships of working for himself. “People are so in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur. They sell this fake idea of what it really means and what it really takes. I think it is irresponsible for entrepreneurs to paint a picture that doesn't exist because it makes people feel good,” Daniel says. “I rather share the uncomfortable truth so people can make the best decisions because it is very hard.” The hardships of being an entrepreneur heightened this past Spring when Covid-19 stopped the world in its tracks. For businesses and brands, figuring out how to sell to consumers became a challenge. Monetizing on social media became challenging. Freelancers and creatives suffered from losing projects to relationships that were being built breaking down. And in true Daniel P. Calderon fashion, he met these challenges by creating opportunities. In response to the pandemic, what was supposed to be a virtual party to help raise money for creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs, #WFH was launched. An acronym for hashtag work from home, Calderon produced a virtual party to lift spirits and raise money for those he knew needed help. “Being an entrepreneur is all about the right collaborations,” Daniel says regarding his quick ten-day turnaround in getting #WFH launched. The community project went on to produce weekly virtual events for a cause, helping to mobilize resources for the same very people who thought it was just a one time party. The first event raised over $3000 and hosted over 200 attendees. #WFH has now evolved to a creative studio that produces brand strategies and digital campaigns for brands, and non-profit cause-based initiatives. Daniel’s quick turnaround time not only shows the genuine relationships that he has built with his network but his ability to meet the demands of the reality he faces, while still staying true to his entrepreneurial core. The demand that Daniel faced was stepping away from building his company Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, to focus on #WFH, but he didn't step away for too long, launching EOT this past Summer. “I wanted to create something that lives beyond me and that is bigger than me. I want to solve problems and not always talk about the problem,” Calderon says about the creation of Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow. Along with his business partner and education director, Jack Salomone, Daniel launched EOT to teach at-promise youth in every community how to solve problems through entrepreneurship. “My network and I have a reach of millions of people, so building structures and programs that can spread positive messages and correct poor behaviors, can help amplify voices and create a platform for change,” Daniel says. “Our goal is to teach at-promise youth, in every community at the margins, entrepreneurship. I believe that those in marginalized communities have not had the opportunities to own the communities in which they live, why not create a future of owners?” Those who know Daniel know that on any given day he is ready to discuss the importance of positive people in your circle, legacy and impact. “I want people to say I created leaders,” Daniel speaks on the legacy he is working to leave behind. The truth he speaks of comes off as a person who genuinely cares about those he gives his time to. He is intentional with how he chooses his projects, which shows by his partnership with the recently relaunched The Tenth, a media organization that documents the history, ideas, and politics of the Black LGBTQ community. It shows with his growing film producing career, with award-winning projects such as the dance film Unapologetic Me; Black/Gay/Man by Justin Dominic and Kings America made, by Kameron Mack. For all of what he has accomplished and more, Daniel is certainly a man on a mission.

  • The New Normal: Black Quarterbacks Matter

    Since the earliest days of professional and college football, the number of Black players has increased exponentially. However, the ratio of Black players and Black quarterbacks remains disproportional with 67% Black players and 17% Black quarterbacks. The Canadian Football League was more open to welcoming Black players than the leagues in America were. As an example, Warren Moon was not selected in America until he had won five Grey Cup championships in Canada. He became the first Black Houston Oilers’ quarterback in 1984, and his success shattered the stereotype that Blacks could not succeed as a quarterback. He ushered more successful Black quarterbacks into the National Football League in the 1980’s. When Moon first became the Oilers’ quarterback, I remember hearing people say he was not smart enough to function as an NFL-caliber quarterback. I happily watched him prove them wrong. The number of Black quarterbacks in the American professional leagues has grown, and Michael Vick was drafted in 2001, as the first Black to be taken with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. In 2017, longtime quarterback, Eli Manning, was benched and was replaced with Geno Smith who was Black. Since the inception of the game, two Black quarterbacks and one multiracial led their teams to a Super Bowl victory: Doug Williams in 1988; Russell Wilson in 2014; and Patrick Mahomes in 2020. America has, in fact, made progress in naming Black quarterbacks on the professional fields.  Still, many of them have experienced racial issues. For example, Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans’ quarterback stated that he did not want to be called a dual-threat quarterback because the term is traditionally used to stereotype Black quarterbacks. In 2018, racial remarks were made about him after he made a bad decision during a game. A superintendent of a school district outside Houston remarked, that “when you need precision decision making you can’t count on a Black quarterback.” Fortunately, that superintendent came under fire and he later resigned. After reading a story about Deshaun’s upbringing, we were reminded that Deshaun gives credit to his mother who was a single parent of four children and living in the projects.  His mother held down a fulltime job and after she got off work, she would spend the next few hours volunteering at a homeless shelter. That made her eligible to be the recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home.  In 2011, when Deshaun was in high school, his mother was diagnosed with stage five tongue cancer forcing Deshaun to function as a high school quarterback and as a caretaker raising two of his siblings.  Given the history of Deshaun and his mother, and the hardships the family faced, the challenges of being a Black quarterback did not seem to be an insurmountable task. A proven truism over the last two seasons is that we are clearly in the age of Black quarterbacks.  The remarkable advancement of Blacks to master the game’s most important position proves those who thought they lacked the leadership skills and intelligence are wrong. Clear evidence with 10 Black quarterbacks starting the first week of the 2020 NFL season reiterates that the new normal is that Black Quarterbacks Matter. Written by Dr. Bertie Simmons, Ed.D. author of Whispers of Hope: The Story of My Life and Austin Fendley.

  • Kevin Young Announced to Head National Museum of African American History and Culture

    The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture announced that Kevin Young will lead the museum’s director in January. Young is currently the director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research and a poetry editor for the New Yorker. “The museum has really cemented the case that we’re telling an American story that is particular but also for all Americans,” Young said. “It’s a leader in how a museum can be a creative place of engagement, a place that speaks to us on lots of different levels. How can we chronicle this particular moment? How can we provide a look at the pandemics of COVID and racism? I’m looking forward to continuing to do that in an innovative way.” With the announcement, he will be leaving the Schomburg Center after four years but will keep his position as an editor with the New Yorker. A graduate of Harvard College, with masters from Brown University, Young was a professor of creative writing and English at Emory University for 11 years. At the Schomburg, Young raised $10 million in gifts and founded a literary festival. With the institution shut down due to the global health crisis, he put together a 95-book “Black Liberation Reading List” and staged accompanying programming. His predecessor, Lonnie Bunch III, has been the museum’s director since it was founded four years ago. “I am both unbelievably happy that somebody of his caliber is going to carry on, and a little sad. I can’t go back,” Bunch told the Washington Post. “He understands that part of the opportunity to engage new audiences, younger audiences, is going to be done digitally,” Bunch said. “He can dip into it with his digital knowledge.” Today, the African American Museum employs 180 people, full-time, with a $51 million annual budget, attracting approximately 2 million visitors last year. During the search for a new director, Spencer Crew stepped in as interim director, after Bunch was appointed secretary to the Smithsonian. Bunch is now the first-ever Black man to lead the national museums.

  • U.S. Navy Plans to Name Aircraft Carrier After Black Man, for the First Time Ever

    The U.S. Navy plans to name an aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, who served in World War II. The USS Doris Miller will be the first-ever supercarrier named after an enlisted sailor and a Black man. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modley announced its plans to honor Miller in January during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor “In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion, and background,” Modly said. For over 200 years, most supercarriers were named after U.S. presidents and all of them were named after white men. Miller was a 22-year-old sailor from Waco, Texas, and the son of a Black sharecropper, who became a hero after during Pearl Harbor in 1941, jumping aboard the USS West Virginia to help his wounded captain and shoot at enemy planes, manned by the Japanese, from behind a machine gun. Ironically, Black sailors weren’t allowed to fire their weapons during that time. "One of the ways in which the Navy discriminated against African Americans was that they limited them to certain types of jobs, or what we call 'ratings' in the Navy," said Regina Akers, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command. "So, for African Americans, many were messmen or stewards. Dorie Miller was a messman, which meant that he basically took care of an officer, laid out his clothes, shined his shoes and served meals." Miller received a Navy Cross, the Navy’s second-highest medal of honor, for his actions during Pearl Harbor. According to Modly, the USS Doris Miller will be the most powerful warship, which will accommodate more than 100,000 officers and crew members. The decision to name a warship preceded the current movement to remove the names of Confederate generals from several Army bases, in addition to removing other symbols of the Confederacy which include statues and flags.

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