Broadway’s First Black Cinderella

It was announced yesterday that Keke Palmer will be joining the cast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella as it’s leading lady — becoming the first black woman to play Cinderella on Broadway. “It’s honestly one of those things that I can’t believe is really happening,” Palmer told the AP. “I’m very excited. Very excited and nervous as well — a bunch of feelings all at once.” 

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Two Brave Girls Challenge Religious and Racial Stereotypes Through Poetry

Witness the power of poetry through these two individuals who were part of the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, which was created by Youth Speaks Inc back in 1998.  BNV is the first poetry slam dedicated to youth and has grown to represent youth from all across the United States and several cities and countries from around the world.  BNV is the largest ongoing spoken word event in the world.

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No Black Person Is Ugly

As a rapper, Bay Area artist Lil B the Based God can be enigmatic, controversial and polarizing. And when he chooses to, he can also be conscious and insightful — as is the case with his latest song and video “No Black Person Is Ugly.”   Read More

Stripping Down to Reveal True Style

The What’s Underneath Project, developed by multimedia platform Stylelikeu takes a unique approach to show that style is deeper than the clothes you wear. Set in a 1-on-1 interview format, the series highlights different people from different backgrounds as they share their unique style and what makes them unique. The striking aspect? These people strip off their clothes as the interview progresses, leaving them sitting only in their underwear at the end.

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16 Children And Their Bedrooms From Across The World

Some kids grow up in poverty, lacking food and sanitation, while others are born in countries where basic necessities are taken for granted.  Photographer James Mollison came up with the project when he thought about his own childhood bedroom and how it reflected who he was. Where Children Sleep – a collection of stories about children from around the world told through portraits of their bedrooms – stemmed from his ideas.

Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Indira, 7, Kathmandu, Nepal

Anonymous, 9, Ivory Coast

View the entire photo collection here.

‘We Are Just Humans’: Portrait Project Highlights Ethnic Diversity

Pantone is known for its color matching system, often used in fashion, printing and painting. But Angélica Dass is using the famous swatches for something even more exciting: creating a dialogue around ethnic diversity.

The Madrid-based photographer (pictured above) has been working on her project Humanaesince April 2012, taking portraits of people and matching their skin tones to Pantone hues to show how wide-ranging the human spectrum really is. There are now more than 2,000 photographs on the project’s Tumblr.

“The inspiration for this project comes from my family roots,” Dass tells Mashable. “I am the granddaughter of black and native Brazilians, and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family. So, I am a mixture of diverse pigments. Humanae is a pursuit for highlighting our true colors, rather than the untrue and clichĂ©d red and yellow, black and white.”

For Dass, the project is like a game of “subverting our codes” — challenging the ideas and labels of social and personal identity.

“What we have learned in social, linguistic or cultural contexts tend to distract us from everyday nuances that I would like to rethink,” she says.

Humanae originally began as Dass’ final work for a master’s degree in art photography. The first images were taken of her family in Brazil, and then she began posting announcements via social media, inviting anyone to be involved. Eventually, she took portraits in galleries, art fairs, favelas, NGOs, the UNESCO headquarters and many other places.

Dass says the project is a work in progress; “infinite and unfinished.”She will stop one day, but she feels it’s important, at least symbolically, to highlight people from each continent. The current 2,000 portraits come from Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Switzerland, Rio de Janeiro, SĂŁo Paulo, Paris and Chicago.

The project has already generated a lot of discussion, including being used in educational textbooks, as a tool for teachers to talk about equality, and by scientists to illustrate research in optical physiology. It also helps children to identify themselves as unique.

“The audience is free to read into it. The ultimate goal is to use the Internet to provoke a discussion on ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to match [ourselves] independently from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards,” Dass says.

“We cannot fit [ourselves into] codes. We are just humans.”



Introducing Alpha Girls

Mnet America proudly presents its latest original series, Alpha Girls, featuring TOKiMONSTA (DJ/Producer), Mina Kwon (Artist), Soo Joo Park (Fashion Model) and Lanie Alabanza-Barcena (Designer).

Alpha Girls follows four jet-setting, career driven girls at the top of their creative games as they juggle work, relationships and everything in between to grow their brand and themselves personally. Capturing the essence of their hustle and the drama of their everyday lives, Alpha Girls will reveal each of their individual and universal journeys as they work with some of the biggest names in the music and fashion industries.

*Premiering Wednesday, February 26 @8PM PST/EST!

For more info, check out:

What is Ugly? A New Exhibit Showcases the Diversity of the Human Form

A new exhibit from a non-traditional modeling agency explores non-traditional beauty and reminds us “perfect is boring.”

Human zoos and Victorian freak shows provide the inspiration for The Ugly Cards–a pack of playing cards, each featuring a different “character model” captured by photographer Matilda Temperley–which debut September 5 as the star attraction of a new exhibition at London art gallery Cock n Bull.

Dwarves, giants, various kinds of contortionists, transgender and tattooed body modification artists, and more feature in the project–a collaboration between Temperley, sister of fashion designer Alice Temperley, and London-based “character model” agency Ugly.

Each participant was selected from the Ugly roster for both their “originality, expressiveness and strong character–people who are simply comfortable with who they are,” Temperley explains.

The result, which she describes as “a voyeuristic celebration” of the unusual and the extreme, is part of an ongoing exploration of circuses–from ethnographic studies from the 15th century to modern-day freaks shows–which will culminate in a book of photographs to be published next year.



“The idea is to explore today’s human circus–people from all walks of life, especially those comfortable to sit outside social norms,” Temperley adds. “But it’s also as much about the viewer’s reaction to the subjects as the subjects themselves.”

The collaboration is also an opportunity for Ugly to further showcase its own expertise. It currently represents a few thousand models ranging from old to young, from giants to midgets, and including models with bulging eyes, extreme tattoos, and weird piercings.

“We’d worked with Matilda before so already knew her and loved her work,” Ugly Models chairman Marc French explains. “The Ugly Cards were something we just decided to do on our own using our regular stylist and her regular make-up artist.

“Once the first few packs of Ugly Cards caught people’s attention, though, the project took on a momentum of its own. A number of other gallery spaces have already expressed an interest and we’ve also had approaches from potential partners keen to collaborate on other projects.”

Ugly was originally set up in 1969 by two photographers disillusioned by the fashion industry when they took out an ad with the message: “If you have an interesting face contact Ugly.” Since then, it has never needed to re-advertise for models or clients. Nor has it been out of work. “We’ve been asked for it all over the years and I can’t remember an occasion when we’ve not been able to provide what’s been asked for,” French observes. “I once got asked for seven sumo wrestlers. I already had two on the books so it wasn’t hard to find five more.”

Though the agency regularly sees aspiring models, it runs formal casting sessions just once every 18 months–in the run up to publication of the next edition of its Ugly Book compendium detailing the particulars of 1,000 of the top models it represents. The next Ugly Book is due to be hand-delivered to almost 2,000 clients later this month.

Consider Ugly’s track record and you can see French isn’t joking about not needing to advertise. Its models work for top fashion brands including Calvin Klein, Italian Vogue, and Marks and Spencer, and in numerous films and commercials including the current Kevin Bacon Conga ad for mobile network EE.



One of its top bankers, a snaggle-toothed, awkward-looking chap called Dell, has modelled jeans for Levis, Diesel, and CK–an achievement many conventional models would surely envy. Another Ugly model, 65-year-old Pam Lucas, is a weekly fixture in The Guardian‘s weekend fashion pages.

Lucas in particular epitomizes what Ugly is all about, French believes–not because she is ugly (in fact, she is anything but) but because her look is unconventional (older, glamorous, with long grey hair) and she wears it with confidence. “What I always look for is someone confident in their own skin–a person who when they leave a room you remember,” he explains. Not lookalikes. Not followers of someone else’s look or fashion, either, but people who are happy with just the way they are.

“Ugly is just a word,” French adds. “True, some of the people on our books might be described as ugly which gets them work, but many are character-ful. And what’s interesting is how, while there’s always been a demand for different-looking faces, using models who are not perfect but unconventional is a growing trend.”

Recent years have seen a consumer backlash against brand advertisers choosing to peddle unrealistic images of so-called body perfection and the practice of using Photoshop to touch up or even eradicate perceived physical imperfections, he believes. “Goofy geeks and big fat ladies have been incredibly popular now for a number of years.” French adds. Yet he believes demand for his clients is being driven by something more basic. It’s simple really, he says: “Perfect is boring.”

Matilda Temperley – The Human Zoo: The Ugly Cards Exhibition ran from September 5-19 at the Cock n Bull Gallery.


According to New Study, There is No Link Between Violent Crime and Rap Music

Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel once said that rising gun violence was a function of “hip-hop culture.” Nope. If anything, hip-hop is saving America from crime.

Several years before he decided to challenge Mississippi’s incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran this year, McDaniel hosted a conservative talk radio show. Mother Jones, which has a pretty solid track record of uncovering embarrassing audio filesrecently, came across (via Dark Horse Mississippi) a teaser promo from McDaniel’s radio show, which he hosted from 2004 to 2007. In it, McDaniel made the claim.

“Let’s be very outspoken about what we’re talking about here. The reason Canada is breaking out in brand-new gun violence has nothing to do with the United States and guns. It has everything to do with a culture that is morally bankrupt. It’s called hip-hop.”

“Before you get carried away,” he continues, “this has nothing to do with race. There are just as many hip-hoppin’ white kids and Asian kids as there are black kids.” The hip-hop culture, he said, can’t get control of itself.

Well, let’s consider this. First of all, we’ll accept for the sake of argument that McDaniel, who was last in the news when his links to pro-Confederate groups came to light, doesn’t consider this is a racial issue. We will also set aside the lack of any “redeeming qualities” of the genre; that’s subjective. And we’ll even ignore the claim that Canada is breaking out in new gun violence. In 2005, the country saw a sudden increase in gun-related homicides — that brought the national total to 223. The next year, it was back down to 190.

Let’s just focus on McDaniel’s argument that hip-hop causes crime. If anything — if the data offers us any indication at all — the opposite is true. As the popularity of rap music increased, crime in the United States fell, particularly at the point in which violent, gangsta rap took hold. And if we use McDaniel’s criterion — I think there’s a relationship, therefore there is — we’ve proven him wrong.

To demonstrate this, we pulled crime data compiled by the FBI as a function of population to track how crime has evolved in this country. We focused on the total number of crimes and the amount of violent crime. Then, to gauge the popularity of hip-hop, we turned to the Whitburn Project, an ongoing, underground tabulation of the popularity of singles dating back to 1890. (You can read about it here.) The Whitburn Project indicates the top charting tracks for each year and, for an extensive period, categorizes them by genre. So we took the period of 1980 to 2005 — from just after rap’s birth to the point at which Whitburn’s genre data is less complete — and assessed how much of popular music was dominated by rap. Giving us these charts.


It’s worth noting that the “hip-hop culture” McDaniel decries wasn’t based on the Fresh Prince / Run DMC rap of the 1980s. He means the heavy stuff, which appeared at the end of that decade. In fact, violent crime peaked in 1991 — the same year as NWA’s seminal Efil 4 Zaggin* was released. So, can we thank Mssrs. Ice Cube, Dre, Eazy, and Ren for saving America? Well, no. Crime and music, nearly anyone will tell you, are not linked. “Hip-hop culture,” such as it is, had nothing to do with the amount of crime in U.S., or Canada, at least if actual hip-hop music is any indicator.

You know what kind of music does correlate with America’s increase in crime? Rock music. But that has nothing to do with race. There’s just as many black and Asian kids that were into rock as white kids. Don’t blame them for rock culture.

* Not its actual name.

[via The Wire]


“You’re Really Pretty For a Dark Skin Girl” and Other Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis

Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”


The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.

While the term “microaggressions” has been a part of academic discourse for some time (“micro-inequities” was coined by an MIT Ph.D. in 1973), it became better known through the popular Tumblr Microaggressions.

The Tumblr is a project that aims to highlight the daily microaggressions people encounter through user submitted stories.

“This blog seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of “microaggressions.” Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves. Often, they are never meant to hurt – acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult. Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

This project is NOT about showing how ignorant people can be in order to simply dismiss their ignorance. Instead, it is about showing how these comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent and unsafe realities onto peoples’ workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and public transportation/space environments.”

Here are a few of our favorites:




See the full list at Buzzfeed.