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Courtesy Of Marvel

Incredible: 8-Year-Old Inspires Touching 'Black Panther' Hashtag

Black Panther is inspiring a lot of good on social media — from campaigns to help people see the movie to celebrations of its cultural significance.

A key part of the social media outpouring sparked by director Ryan Coogler's film is the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe, which celebrates the release of Black Panther by opening a dialogue with fans about why this film isn’t just another Marvel movie to them.

Responses have included the opportunity for Black kids to view themselves as heroes, seeing a Disney princess who reflects themselves, like Shuri (Letitia Wright), or watching darker-skinned black women in the forefront in various roles.

The hashtag was created by Kayla Sutton, director of online marketing for Black Girl Nerds, a well-regarded genre news site that highlights diversity in the geek sphere — and has become a popular destination for women of color to celebrate geekdom.

As a proud Afro-Latina mom of an eight-year-old autistic son, Sutton has been a staunch advocate of media that's representative of her son and other children of marginalized communities. She sounds wistful when talking about her son’s excitement about Black Panther, noting that he gets excited every time a promo for the film comes on.

"I said, ‘Hey, why are you excited for the movie?' Because it was just curious to me, because for him he's young, he's black and autistic. I feel like he has a unique perspective on the world and he always has," Sutton tells Heat Vision. "He's like, 'He's awesome, he's like the coolest in all of the comic books and all of the stuff. And he's Black like me.’”

It was her son who inspired her to make the hashtag the next day, Feb. 6, for BGN. She asked her colleagues to engage in the content — but soon it grew far beyond the staff using it. It becoming a trending topic as well as a Twitter moment by the afternoon. But more than that, many fans from the casual to committed, provided emotional and personal stories centered around representation in media.

The level of support overwhelmed her, with Sutton admitting it's "just blowing me away with the response that it has gotten.”BGN  boasts 144,000 Twitter followers and is known for its strong fan engagement. Sutton has played a key role in the brand's success, so she isn't new to the whole “my hashtag trended” thing. Of course, there's no simple formula for a winning hashtag like this one. She says she doesn’t want discussions on social media to feel forced, but she does put serious thought into the objective of the hashtag and its desired effect.

“I think about my audience, how can [the hashtag] reach across everyone. Of course at BGN we want it to hit a certain amount of people, but I feel like if we can make it inclusive to everyone, because that's what we're all about, right?" she says, noting she hopes the hashtag can resonate beyond BGN target audience of women of color. "We're excluded so much, and yes, we're excited for black women, but we're also about inclusivity. And so for me that is my number one rule is that we can be inclusive to everyone.” Sutton also finds it important to make the content entertaining, from the design to the questions asked to followers.

Outside of the part-time work she does for BGN, the success of the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe has inspired her to actively look to do this type of work full-time.

“My ‘Clark Kent’ job as we call it, is online marketing specialist, and it’s very niche for the market that we work in,” she explains. “But popular content is where my heart lies, and being able to have a pulse on what's trending. And I think I have that, so social media marketing and content creating when it comes to writing as well, that's where I'm trying to push myself up next.”

For Sutton, the best part of this roller coaster was giving people the proverbial microphone to share their stories of being seen in this film. She says #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe can serve as a reminder that pop culture can influence entire communities for the better or the worse — and that Hollywood decision makers should ensure that the marginalized voices are represented in the projects they greenlight.

“The gift that I could have gotten from this whole thing is that it did make people emotional, it did make people think, and actually be able to put their feelings out there for what this has done for them.”

Here's Sutton's son back in October, when he went viral for a hashtag about Star Wars representation:

This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.

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Gina Rodriguez Issues Second Apology For Using The N-Word On Instagram

Gina Rodriguez has issued a second apology for her use of the n-word on social media.

On Tuesday (Oct. 15), the actress recited lyrics to The Fugees' 1996 single "Ready or Not" and posted it to her Instagram Story. Instead of using a portion of the song that didn't have the n-word in it, Rodriguez mumbled the n-word before snickering.

After critics pointed out her use of the word, she hopped back on social media to issue an apology. “ I just wanted to reach out and apologize," she said. "I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love, that I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill, and I really am sorry if I offended you.”

Her second apology was more detailed as she somewhat took accountability for her actions. “The word I sang carries with it a legacy of hurt and pain that I cannot even imagine,” Rodriguez wrote. “I feel so deeply protective and responsible to the community of color but I have let this community down. I have some serious learning and growing to do and I am so deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gina Rodriguez-LoCicero (@hereisgina) on Oct 15, 2019 at 9:47pm PDT

But this didn't do much to smudge the pattern she has demonstrated towards conversations about blackness and identity. Critics returned to the many times in the past where the Jane The Virgin actress seemed to demean black issues. When Black Panther mania took over 2017, Rodriguez attempted to use the history-making moment to pivot to a demand for more Latinx actors in the Marvel and DC worlds.

“Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend...” Rodriguez said in a deleted tweet. Another moment where the actress took over a conversation about black women happened during an interview in September 2018. As Rodriguez and Smallfoot co-star Yara Shahidi spoke with entertainment journalist Blogxilla, he expressed how Shahidi was an inspiration to “so many Black women,” including his daughters. Rodgriguez chimed in saying, “So many women" which came off as an erasure of the topic of black women.

It all came to a head just a few months later when Rodriguez falsely claimed black actresses make more money than other women of color during Net-a-Reporter's roundtable discussion.

“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it,” Rodriguez said. “Where white women get paid more than black women, and black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into.”

At the time, Modern Family's Sophia Vergara (who is Colombian) was famously the highest-paid actress on television followed by Kery Washington. After a tearful apology on Sway in the Morning for her comments, she pointed out how the black community has always been "family" to her and pointed out how her father is considered "dark-skinned" in Puerto Rico.

Lmaooooo @ Gina Rodriguez's "dark skinned" dad. Help. https://t.co/aBWhiUAfoc

— Monique Thee Auntie (@thejournalista) January 23, 2019

Hopefully, this incident will serve as a lesson for the actress. See more reactions from the incident below.

I’m convinced that Gina Rodriguez activates her anti-blackness in order to keep her name in peoples mouths. pic.twitter.com/AYcvKjh1LM

— Black Girls Book Club (@bg_bookclub) October 16, 2019

Gina Rodriguez apologies be like... pic.twitter.com/kcnHXdyvMW

— Kevín (@KevOnStage) October 16, 2019

nobody:#GinaRodriguez under her breath when she sees a black person after dark and subsequently crosses the street: pic.twitter.com/aTVqWRId0E

— Afropunzel (@afropunzelll) October 16, 2019

https://twitter.com/IAmJonnyApollo/status/1184292068912439296

https://twitter.com/Adunni_Achebe/status/1184338748366053376

This is NOT #GinaRodriguez’s first time saying Nigga. She’s been mad comfortable in her anti Blackness for much too long🙄, in fact I’d say it’s opened doors: pic.twitter.com/CXutE4oJsC

— 🌹Sheopatra IS WRITING🌹 (@SheopatraSmith) October 16, 2019

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Five Gang Members Sentenced To Life In Prison For The Murder Of Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

Five members of the Trinitarios gang were given life sentences for their role in the tragic death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz.

According to WABC, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, Jose Muniz, 23, and Elvin Garcia, 25, were all sentenced to 25 years to life. Because of his age, Manuel Rivera, 19, was sentenced to 23 years to life. The group of men was the first batch to be tried in the slaying of the 15-year-old, who died on June 2018. Earlier this summer they were found them guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and second-degree gang assault.

Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, was also sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was the suspect who stabbed Junior in the neck, as seen in the harrowing surveillance footage from a nearby bodega.

“Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” Judge Robert Neary told Martinez Estrella. “Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often come to my mind is cowardly.”

In court, Estrella told the judge, "I'm sorry" and "My intention was not to cause death." He also blamed drugs, alcohol, and allegiance to the Trinitarios gang.

Junior's parents spoke out after the sentencing about their innocent child.

"That night, there were two deaths, Junior and I, who was left dead inside," Leandra Feliz said. "As a young boy, my son dreamed of becoming a detective, so he could protect this city...Please make sure my son's dreams come true. These killers should never be able to step out of a jail cell, so they know the moment they killed my son, they took their own lives as well."

Lisandro Guzman, Junior's father, also spoke about the grieving process. The family has faced heartache following the verdict after the sentencing was delayed three times.

"I struggle daily to find meaning in my life," he said. "I am no longer the person I once was. It is impossible to find a purpose in life. You will never have the ability to understand the pain that you caused. I will never forgive you. You deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

SENTENCING IN JUNIOR CASE: ESTRELLA: LIFE WITHOUT PAROLERIVERA: 23 TO LIFEMUNIZ: 25 TO LIFESANTIAGO: 25 TO LIFEGARCIA: 25 TO LIFE #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR

— Anthony Carlo (@AC_TV12) October 11, 2019

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Fat Joe Responds To Claims Of Appropriating Santería Culture In "Yes" Video

Fat Joe has offered apologies to those who interpreted a homage to Santería as an insult in his new video "Yes" featuring Cardi B and Anuel AA.

Released Monday (Oct. 7) the video, directed by Eif Rivera, features stereotypical music video troupes like women twerking under neon fluorescent lights. In addition to standout verses from Cardi B and Anuel, the visual includes a moment where a group of women takes part in the Lucumí religion. It's paired with the song's sample, "Aguanile" by the late salsa legend Héctor Lavoe. The moment is fairly quick but this didn't stop many from raising a brow to it.

As Joe promoted the video on Twitter, one user called him out for allegedly appropriating spiritual practice. "You disrespected the Lukumi religion. How are you going to take our religious imagery and sacred music and pervert it with "Ass up face down?" the user said. "Falta de respeto the Orishas will take everything away from you one by one! There was no reason for this."

Joe explained how it was an essential blessing to the intro and Lavoe, who also practiced Santería.

"We tried to pay respect at the intro of the video everyone who took part of this video knew the concept," he said. "We have nothing but respect Hip hop has always taken samples and flipped it into something new I tried to pay homage. Sorry, you took offense, I understand."

We tried to pay respect at the intro of the video everyone who took part of this video knew the concept, we have nothing but respect Hip hop has always taken samples and flipped it into something new i tried to pay homage sorry you took offense i understand https://t.co/R6E2dgljmA

— FAT JOE (@fatjoe) October 9, 2019

Hailed as a salsa pioneer in New York during the golden age of the genre, Lavoe was a beloved musician who helped popularize salsa with albums like Cosa Nuestra, De Ti Depende and Comedia. "Yes'" sample "Aguanile" comes from his eighth album, El Juicio. 

Watch "Yes" and the homage of sorts below.

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