Two Women Refereed An NBA Game Together For The First Time Ever

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Two black women did something this week that no other women have done before: They refereed a professional basketball game together.

Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren officiated an NBA Summer League game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening. Marc J. Spears, a senior writer for ESPN’s The Defeated website, pointed out the news in a Tuesday tweet.

“First time I’ve ever seen two black women referee an NBA game of any kind,” Spears wrote. “Violet Palmer would be proud Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren reffing at the California Classic Summer League Lakers versus Heat.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed to HuffPost that this was the first time two women have officiated an NBA game.

Palmer, a retired basketball referee, broke the NBA’s gender barrier in 1997 when she and Dee Kanter were hired. Palmer was the first woman to officiate an NBA game ― on Oct. 31, 1997, between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks. She was also the first woman to ref an NBA playoff game ― between the Indiana Pacers and the New Jersey Nets on April 25, 2006.

Twitter users applauded the historic moment this week.

“Now, it’s time to have a woman coach,” one user wrote.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Raiders hire first female assistant coach in franchise history

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Like every member of Jon Gruden’s new staff, Kelsey Martinez’s first focus is coaching.

Then, every so often, the league’s only female strength and conditioning coach is approached by one of her peers; running backs coach Jemal Singleton, special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, and more.

They all want to thank Martinez for blazing a trail their own daughters can follow.

“That’s when it started to hit: ‘Oh, wow. This is a big deal,'” Martinez told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “To be an inspiration for them is huge to me.”

It’s a rarity to see a woman in on an NFL team’s coaching staff. Recently, Kathryn Smith (Bills) and Katie Sowers (49ers) became full-time staff employees.

But the Silver and Black has a history of trailblazing NFL hires, including Art Shell as the league’s first black coach and first Tom Flores as the league’s first Hispanic coach.

Oakland is currently the only team to list a female strength and conditioning coach on their team website, though. Linebacker James Cowser said he’s thankful he gets to work with Martinez.

“It instantly becomes business, and that’s what it’s all about,” Cowser told Gehlken. “I think that’s a testament to her and who she is because she’s able to get us to switch into work mode. We don’t think about male-female whatever. It’s just business and how can we get better.”

That’s what Martinez tries to bring to the Raiders‘ practice facility every day. According to Gehlken, she’s helping offensive linemen keep pace with Gruden’s faster offense, helping Cowser and his fellow linebackers bulk up.

She’s also helping to pave the way for an underrepresented group in the league. Martinez may want to focus on coaching, but she knows she’s setting an example as well.

“Don’t create limits on yourself,” Martinez said. “There’s many excuses or whatever that can be made, but at the end of the day, what do you love to do? I was able to find what I love to do, and that’s working for Jon Gruden every day. Why limit yourself?”

Continue onto the NFL Newsroom to read the complete article.

Meghan Markle: Making Activism a Top Priority

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By Mackenna Cummings

As a young girl, Meghan Markle knew that there was no age requirement for activism. While many may recognize her as the Duchess of Sussex, a title she earned in May 2018 after marrying Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the truth is she has been using her voice and passion to change the world for most of her life—which is why she’s the Professional WOMAN’s Magazine Wonder Woman of the year.

Long before she charmed her now-husband through her philanthropy and heart, Markle was witnessing a world around her with inequality—one that needed help—and sought out to change it. At 11 years old, when she saw a commercial for a Procter & Gamble product implying that only women are expected to do housework, she was hurt by the messaging and its implications. She decided to put her disappointment into words, in a letter directed to not only the president of Procter & Gamble but also influential women like Hillary Clinton and Gloria Allred. Her determination paid off, and soon the commercial was edited to reflect a more inclusive message. She was later interviewed on the children’s television channel Nickelodeon, where she encouraged other kids to take a stand whenever they believed something wasn’t right. The experience helped her realize the impact she could have on the world by simply speaking out about causes she cared about.

Throughout her career, Markle has made activism a top priority. She volunteered in soup kitchens in her teens and continued that service in the various cities her acting led her to. She earned bachelor’s degrees in both theater and international relations at Northwestern University, where she completed an internship with the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was interested in politics from an early age, and while she did not pursue a career in that field, she has positively affected lives and changed minds throughout her acting career.

Markle championed for equality and gender rights as her popularity was growing for her role as Rachel Zane on the hit television show Suits. She became involved with One Young World, a charity organization that allows young leaders around the world to come together to brainstorm solutions for world problems. She learned by experience how powerful any individual can be if they choose to use their voice, and she continues to encourage young people to speak up for their beliefs, just as she did when she saw that television commercial. Markle also served the United Nations (UN) as the Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership, visiting refugee camps and meeting with women around the world who are also making positive changes in their communities.

“I’m proud to be a woman and a feminist,” she said at the UN on International Women’s Day in 2015, speaking on gender equality. Through her work, she calls for women to “see their value as leaders” and encourages men to be like her father, who encouraged her at age 11 to write a letter and take a stand. She refutes the idea that women need to “find their voices.” Instead, she reminds women that they have their voices—they only need to use them. Markle believes strongly in building the self-esteem of young women, encouraging them speak up and take on leadership roles wherever they can. Had she not had family members and others who assured her of her value and helped her fight her own insecurities, she might not have become the woman she is today. She makes it a point to do the same for other young girls, in the hopes that one day, they, too can make a difference.

In 2016, Markle became a Global Ambassador for World Vision. The campaigns she has promoted help provide clean water to those in need and bring greater awareness to the lack of education that young girls around the globe can access. She visited India and saw firsthand how the stigmas associated with menstrual cycles prevent many girls from continuing their education and even working. While in India, Markle was introduced to the Myna Mahila Foundation, an organization that empowers women by encouraging the discussion of taboo subjects, such as menstruation, and by setting up workshops to produce low-cost sanitary protection to enable girls to stay in school. In 2017, Markle wrote an article for TIME Magazine, “How Periods Affect Potential,” and she continues to support the effort. For their wedding, Prince Harry and Markle asked for donations to a handful of charities instead of presents, and the Mumbai-based Myna Mahila Foundation was the only foreign organization on the list.

With her acting career coming to an end, she has transitioned smoothly into her role as Duchess of Sussex, even taking over responsibilities dear to the Queen’s heart. Alongside her husband, Markle will take over Queen Elizabeth II’s role for the Queen’s Young Leaders Program. This program is for young leaders who are positively impacting their communities within the Commonwealth, and through it she will continue to support and encourage kids to believe in their ability to change the world. Philanthropy plays a large role in the duties of the Royal Family, and Markle’s background and experiences will certainly only add to the work being done.

According to friends, her passion for helping others and her determination to visit places and make an impact played a big role in bonding with her new husband. As a couple, they both continue to make their charity work top priority, like visiting fairs for World Aids Day, speaking out against inequality, and continuing Prince Harry’s Invictus Games, a competition for wounded servicemen and women. While Markle has left acting behind, her activism and passion for equality, it seems, is only just beginning. She plans to continue to use her voice to change the world and encourage other minorities and women to also take a stand and make a difference.

 

Cicely Tyson Becomes First Black Woman To Receive Honorary Oscar

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Cicely Tyson is finally bringing home the gold.

The 93-year-old actress was named this week as the recipient of an honorary Oscar, making her the first black woman to gain that distinction, according to Essence and People.

Tyson has won a Tony, two Emmys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but an Academy Award had escaped the performer in a legendary career. She lost the only time she was nominated for best actress, in 1973 for the sharecropper drama “Sounder.”

But she has won plenty of acclaim elsewhere, such as for TV productions like “Roots” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”

Some of her notable big-screen credits include “The River Niger,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “The Help,” “Alex Cross” and “Last Flag Flying.”

Tyson began as a model and stage actress and got her big feature-film break in 1968’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Fifty years later, she is getting some overdue recognition by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Netflix creates new executive position focused on inclusion and diversity

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Netflix is creating a new executive position that will focus on inclusion and diversity among employees of the streaming entertainment giant.


Vernā Myers has been appointed to the newly created role of vice president for inclusion strategy, Netflix announced Wednesday. The company said Myers will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.

Prior to joining Netflix, Myers worked as a consultant at the Vernā Myers Co., where she advised corporations and organizations on issues including race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Her appointment comes two months after Netflix fired its chief communications officer after he used a racial slur on at least two occasions in the workplace. Jonathan Friedland, who had served as Netflix’s top spokesperson for the past seven years, acknowledged that he had spoken in an “insensitive” way.

“Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” he wrote on Twitter in June.

Earlier this week, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix named Rachel Whetstone — a veteran of Facebook, Uber and Google — to succeed Friedland as chief communications officer.

Diversity executives have become increasingly common at major corporations. Silicon Valley in particular has become the focus of media scrutiny for what some workers have described as a lack of gender and racial diversity at technology and internet companies.

Myers has previously consulted for Netflix, the company said. “Having worked closely with Vernā as a consultant on a range of organizational issues, we are thrilled that she has agreed to bring her talents to this new and important role,” said Jessica Neal, Netflix’s chief talent officer.

Continue onto the Los Angles Times to read the complete article.

NASA’s Katherine Johnson Honored With Statue, Scholarship On 100th Birthday

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Taraji P. Henson portrayed Johnson in 2016’s “Hidden Figures.”

West Virginia State University honored NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday with a statue and scholarship dedication over the weekend.

Hundreds of people ― including 75 of Johnson’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ― attended the event honoring the woman who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” according to the West Virginia Gazette. The bronze statue of Johnson was unveiled Saturday, one day before she turned 100.

The scholarship in Johnson’s name was awarded to freshmen Jasiaha Daniels and Alexis Scudero, both of whom are studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“What makes Katherine so extraordinary is she not only prevailed while segregation failed, Dr. Johnson has continued to persevere and thrive with the gracious poise and clarity that defies mere words of explanation, let alone definition,” said Dr. Yvonne Cagle, the keynote speaker at the ceremony and the space and life sciences directorate at the Johnson Space Center.

Johnson started attending WSVU when she was 14 because she wasn’t able to receive further education in Greenbrier County. She graduated from the university in 1937 with degrees in both mathematics and French, then went on to pursue graduate studies at the institution.

Johnson was a teacher for 15 years, then joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA. She and three other women calculated rocket trajectories and orbits for some of the earliest American voyages into space, including helping astronaut John Glenn orbit the Earth three times.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

To Allure Editor-In-Chief Michelle Lee, Diversity Is More Than A Buzzword

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In a September that has seen an unprecedented amount of black women on magazine covers (with 11 to date, at the time of writing this article), it’s more than fitting to spotlight one of the leaders in the publishing industry at the forefront of this positive change.

Since starting her tenure as Allure editor-in-chief in November 2015 (she was previously editor-in-chief and chief marketing officer at NYLON), Michelle Lee has changed the conversation about inclusion in beauty. And she walks the talk. In a May 2018 Allure article penned by Lee, she talks about the importance of inclusivity: “I’ve come to see representation as something even deeper now. We showcase and celebrate different versions of beauty so we can — finally, wonderfully — see one another.”

The industry is seeing and celebrating Lee’s efforts: she was named Adweek‘s “Editor of the Year” in 2017 and Allure was named “Magazine of the Year.” These are both among Lee’s proudest career moments. Another proud moment? The ripple effect her commitment to diversity is creating in the fashion and beauty industries. Lee explains: “We’ve shifted the ethos and image of a 28-year-old brand to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. It’s hard to imagine now but the beauty industry was not so diverse just two years ago. I like to think we pushed the envelope in some key ways that showed a lot of other brands that diversity is not only something that’s socially important, it’s also something that audiences want.” (Indeed, they want it: allure.com attracts 7.4 million unique visitors per month, according to Condé Nast.)

A look at Allure’s issues in recent years underscores its mission (to challenge old-fashioned views of beauty and broaden the definition of what society deems beautiful), most notably March 2018’s “The Culture of Hair” issue and June 2018’s cover featuring three Asian cover models. And in one of its boldest moves yet, model Halima Aden graced the July 2017 cover in her Nike hijab, which made a larger cultural statement about what American women look like, and how diverse and wonderful American beauty can be.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Simone Biles Is Still Making History, Is 1st Woman to Win 5 U.S. All-Around Championships

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It’s still Simone Biles season, and the American gymnast is still kicking ass and taking names, which culminated in yet another historic career achievement at this year’s United States Gymnastics Championships on Sunday.

The U.S. Olympic team declared that Biles is the first woman to ever win five U.S. Gymnastics all-around titles (h/t Bleacher Report.)

The 21-year-old has wowed crowds ever since taking the stage at the 2013 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. As Bleacher Report notes, she has walked out with the gold in the all-around in each of her five appearances at the competition and has won 16 gold medals across every discipline.

The only time Biles has shown a hint of slowing down was when she took 2017 off from competition. However, the gymnastics superstar started training once more last October, with her eyes set for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Continue onto The Root to read the complete article.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Has Died at Age 76

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Aretha Franklin, the self-taught piano prodigy, vocalist and songwriter who first conquered the charts in the late ’60s and never relinquished her throne, has died, multiple outlets report. She was 76.

The Queen of Soul had struggled with her health for years. A source told PEOPLE Monday that Franklin had taken a turn for the worse and that her death was “imminent.”

“She has been ill for a long time,” the longtime friend told PEOPLE. “She did not want people to know and she didn’t make it public.”

A musical phenomenon who crossed musical, racial and gender barriers, Franklin began her vocal career as a teenager, singing gospel hymns in her father’s Detroit church. From these humble beginnings she scaled to the very heights of stardom, scoring her first national chart topper in 1967 with a searing version of “Respect.”

Since then, the artist has notched 77 Hot 100 chart entries, and earned an astounding 18 Grammys out of 44 nominations. In 1987, two decades after her first No. 1, Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and was later named the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone.

A source close to the singer spoke to the Associated Press on Monday to confirm that Franklin was “seriously ill,” although they did not provide any additional details as to the severity or the cause of the singer’s illness.

Showbiz 411 reporter Roger Friedman was first to report the singer was “gravely ill,” sharing that Franklin’s family were “asking for prayers and privacy.”

“I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin is gravely ill,” wrote Local 4 Detroit news anchor Evrod Cassimy on Twitter Sunday. “I spoke with her family members this evening. She is asking for your prayers at this time. I’ll have more details as I’m allowed to release.”

In February of 2017, the Queen of Soul told a Detroit TV station that she was retiring from music that year. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it,” she said, though Franklin admitted she would perform at “some select things.”

Despite her failing health in recent years, Franklin returned to the stage in August for what would be her final public performance at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, despite noticeable changes in her appearance that caused concern about her well-being.

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Nicole Maines on Being TV’s First Trans Superhero

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On Saturday at Comic-Con came news that Nicole Maines would be making history on the fourth season of CW’s “Supergirl,” becoming the first ever trans superhero on television.

Variety sat down with the trans activist shortly after the news broke to talk about her character Nia Nal aka Dreamer as well as what the TV casting means for the trans community.

“I haven’t really wrapped my head around it,” Maines told TV exec editor Debra Birnbaum at Variety’s Comic-Con Studio. “It feels fitting to say with great power, comes great responsibility,” adding, “I’m nervous because I want to do it right.”

Maines, who was featured in the HBO documentary “The Trans List,” says she wants fans and TV viewers to take away a better understanding of the trans community with the casting.

“We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are,” adding, “We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn’t been the right representation.”

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

Marysol Castro, Mets’ first female PA announcer and MLB’s first Latina, hits it out of the park

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Marysol Castro remembers a hot and humid summer day between third and fourth grades. She was playing stickball with her brothers and neighbors in her native Bronx, New York, and she remembers some boys looking at her with disdain when she hit her first home run.

She noticed the looks, but it didn’t stop her, and it certainly hasn’t stopped her yet.

Castro, who’s about to turn 44, has spent a little over a month in her job as the first female public address (PA) announcer for the New York Mets and the first Latina PA announcer in Major League Baseball.

“This month has been incredible,” said Castro, speaking to NBC News from her new “office” in Citi Field. “The minute I open this door and look at this view, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am.”

During her two-decade career, Castro has worked in local TV news and has been a national network weather anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and on the “The Early Show” at CBS, as well as a reporter on ESPN — all positions often dominated by men.

“I’ve worked really, really hard,” said Castro.

Sporting feminine wedge sandals and bright red nail polish, Castro is petite, yet she speaks with an authoritativeness and power that shows she’s used to hanging with the guys and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Castro was ambitious at an early age; she recalls first wanting to be the shortstop for her hometown team, the Yankees, and then wanting to go into politics. At 12, she decided on her own that she would get a full scholarship to boarding school, and she did. Castro says she knew the world was bigger than the Bronx, and she wanted to see it and learn about it.

She taught English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, and it’s there, Castro says, where she learned the power of real communication. After attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she began her career in broadcasting.

A ‘BRIDGE BUILDER’ FOR MLB’S GROWING LATINO AUDIENCE

The new PA announcer is proud of her job and of being a Latina role model.

“In almost every job I’ve had, I’ve been the only Latino,” said Castro. “We have to reflect the eyeballs that watch us.”

Both of Castro’s parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her father, who passed away when she was 10, was a U.S. Navy veteran, a NYC bus driver and was active in the Young Lords, a groundbreaking civil rights group, as well as other community organizations.

Landing her new position “means everything,” said Castro, because she gets to “be a bridge builder for other Latinos” at a time when Hispanic-viewing baseball audiences are at an all-time high in the U.S.

A study showed that the addition of international players to MLB teams, many from Caribbean and Latin American countries, have resulted in a jump of millions in profits. As of last year, MLB players hailed from 19 countries, including the Dominican Republic (93 players), Venezuela (77) and Cuba (23).

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.