Kevin Powell Pens Blog Post On Nelson Mandela's Impact For ESPN

To commemorate the life and memory of the late Nelson Mandela, VIBE veteran Kevin Powell penned a post for ESPN about the South African legend's global impact. Here is an excerpt of his piece, "Changing Lives a World Away":

I had never heard of Nelson Mandela, of South Africa, of apartheid, until I was an 18-year-old college freshman at Rutgers University in the mid-1980s. At that time I had no interest in politics, in community, and "democracy" was a very strange and elusive word to me, something we had been taught in American schools, but which felt like it belonged to the people in our textbooks, forever frozen in history. But there was something happening at Rutgers, and on campuses everywhere, called "the anti-apartheid movement," which was bringing together students of different races and cultures, in a way our country had not seen, I read and was told, since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Except this time the struggle for freedom was in a foreign land, a magical but terribly oppressive and violent place called South Africa, where the white minority had been ruling the black, "colored" and Indian majorities for many decades. And there was a leader, locked away with others in prison cells, in locales with names like Robben Island, for daring to oppose the white power structure of South Africa. I was both transformed and liberated as I learned about this man Mandela, as I joined the student protest and building takeover at my school directly challenging Rutgers' ties to corporations invested in the apartheid regime. I absorbed everything I could on Mandela, his speeches, his life story, the facts and mythologies. I was changed forever. Gone was the desire for a career merely to make money, replaced by a determination to live a life of service to others.

Mandela's influence on me lapsed between the time of my school's protests and my early 20-something life. But it was re-ignited when I watched the global broadcast when he was released, after 27 long years, on Feb. 11, 1990, and walked hand-in-hand with his then-wife Winnie Mandela from Victor Verster Prison. Iconic and transformational leaders like Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were long gone. In Mandela we had a living and breathing example not simply of struggles for freedom and democracy, but also of someone who was willing and able to be a bridge-builder for humanity, like Gandhi, like Jesus Christ.

But let's also be clear: While Mandela is today widely viewed as a man of peace, he did advocate for self-defense and armed resistance against the brutal apartheid regime when he was first sent to jail in the early 1960s, and again in his first speech after walking away from that prison. Mandela was clear, just as America's founding fathers were, that freedom was not free.

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Teyana Taylor Hints At Music Retirement, Says She Feels Underappreciated

Teyana Taylor is feeling underappreciated. Taylor hinted a possibly retiring from music in an Instagram post thanking fans for her music Spotify end-of-the year numbers.

The “Bare Wit Me” singer wracked up over 167 million Spotify streams, from 15.2 million listeners, across 92 countries. “I ain’t gone [sic] front in times of feeling super [underappreciated] as [an] artist, receiving little to no real push from the ‘machine,’ constantly getting the shorter end of the stick, being overlooked, I mean the list [goes] on and on lol,” she wrote on Friday (Dec. 4).

Taylor added that she’s “retiring this chapter of my story” with the comfort of knowing that she’s walking away with “peace of mind seeing that all the hard work & passion put in was indeed loved & supported somewhere in the world!”

She went on to thank her day one supporters and new fans. “I love you and I thank you for everything & don’t worry y’all know all hustlers have the understanding that when one door closes another will open.”

This isn’t the first time that Taylor has aired out her frustrations with the music industry. She put the Grammys on blast last month for snubbing female R&B singers, and previously spoke out about the mishandling of the rollout of her debut album, K.T.S.E.

Taylor’s last studio project, The Album, was released in June.

Read her full Instagram post below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jimmy Neutch- Shumpert (@teyanataylor)

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Letitia Wright Responds To Backlash After Post Questioning COVID-19 Vaccine

After catching backlash for tweeting a YouTube video questioning the ingredients of a COVID-19 vaccine, Letitia Wright went back to social media on Friday (Dec. 4) to explain her reasoning.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intension of posting this video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies. Nothing else,” wrote the Black Panther star.

my intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies.

Nothing else.

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

if you don’t conform to popular opinions. but ask questions and think for yourself....you get cancelled 😂

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

The criticism started after Wright shared a video titled, COVID-19 Vaccine Should We Take It?, on Thursday (Dec. 3). As the post began circulating social media Wright tweeted, “If you don’t conform to popular opinions but ask questions and think for yourself…you get cancelled.”

Wright also liked a tweet reading “Cancel Black Panther 2 immediately,” and another tweet calling for her character to be recast.

Wright, 27,  isn’t alone in being skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines. According to a Pew Research survey conducted in September, only 32% of Black Americans surveyed said that they would take the vaccine. Some of the distrust dates stems from the 1932 Tuskegee Experiment where hundreds of Black men were unknowingly infected with syphilis.

The U.K. is expected to become one of the first countries to get Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. The region has received 800,000 doses and will begin mass vaccinations next week. A U.S. vaccine could be released by the end of  December.

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Ashanti And Keyshia Cole Sign On For Verzuz Battle

Season 2 of Verzuz is already off to a good start. Ashanti and Keyshia Cole are next in line for a Verzuz battle, it was confirmed on Friday (Dec. 4).

The R&B stars will go up against each other for a “celebration of women empowerment” next Saturday, Dec. 12. The “Legendary Ladies Night” will be streamed on IG Live and Apple Music.

Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN 🚨🚨 It’s a legendary Ladies Night on Saturday, December 12th with @Ashanti and @KeyshiaCole.

Which Libra you got?!

Saturday, December 12th, 5PM PT / 8PM ET. Watch on our IG or in HD on @AppleMusic.

Drinks by @Ciroc Merch by @NTWRKLIVE pic.twitter.com/UCWJvaEl0y

— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) December 4, 2020

Both multi-platinum selling singers have impressive stats. Ashanti’s catalog of solo hits include “Foolish,” “Rock wit U,” “Rain On Me,” “Happy,” and “Baby.” On the collaborative tip, the Grammy winner joined Ja Rule on singles like, “What’s Love?” and “Always on Time.”

She was also featured on Lloyd’s debut single “Southside,” “Into You” by Fabolous, and “Body on Me” with Nelly. And she of course wrote songs for Jennifer Lopez and more.

Cole’s breakout single, “I Changed My Mind,” dropped in 2004 and her career took off from there. The Oakland native boasts a slew of classic R&B singles like “(I Just Want It) To Be Over,” “I Should Have Cheated,” “Let It Go,” “I Remember,” “Heaven Sent,” “Love,” and “Trust.” As a featured artist, Cole appeared on Sean Paul’s “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me,” Young Jeezy’s “Dreaming,” and Diddy’s 2006 single “Last Night,” to name a few.

Although they’re technically going up against each other for Verzuz, there’s no beef between the two artists who previously collaborated for the title track off Cole’s 2012 album, Woman to Woman.

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