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At 84 years old, Maya Angelou is still a force to be reckoned with. The poet laureate, author and activist is releasing her seventh autobiographical memoir Mom & Me & Mom. As you might assume, it will chronicle the relationship she developed with her mother Vivian Baxter over the years.
If you’ve read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, you know that Maya originally grew up with her grandmother, who she called Mama. She wouldn’t live with her biological mother, who she called “Lady,” until later. Mom & Me & Mom explores how the initial absence of her mother impacted her as a child and then as a grown woman.
Though their relationship was not like the traditional mother and daughter Maya explained to NPR how they were able to reconnect and why she called her “Lady.”
“Well, she didn’t look like a mother to me. She didn’t remind me of my grandmother, who we called Mama. She wore lipstick. And she had record players and she played music, loudly and danced, in the middle of the dining room floor. She said after a few weeks, ‘You’re going to have to address me,’ and she asked, ‘What would you like to call me?’ I said, ‘I’d like to call you Lady, because you’re very beautiful and you sound like a lady.’ She said, ‘All right, I’ll be Lady, so everyone must address me as Lady from now on.’ So all sorts of people know her only as Lady.
“But after a few years she won me. She won me over because she was kind. And then she was also funny. So I liked all that. And she just won me over. And then I heard myself calling her Mother, and before I knew it I was calling her Mom.”
Then in another instance she recalls the time her mother attempted to discipline her when she came in the house after her curfew.
“She hit me. She had a handful of keys about 20 keys on a chain, and I came through the door, before I could say anything she hit me with her fist. My stepfather came down from upstairs to see what was happening — she was still cursing like a drunk seaman. And then my brother came down and said, ‘We’re leaving here.’ And then my mother asked, ‘Where the hmmmmm do you think you’re going?’ He said, ‘We’re leaving this house. No one beats up my baby sister.’ And she said, ‘Please come in the kitchen. Let me speak to you. Please come. Please come.’
“She took a cloth off the rack and put it down on the floor, then she knelt on the cloth and she prayed to God to forgive her. And then she prayed to me. And she cried so piteously, she said, ‘I, I, I just had come down the steps had gone to your room and you weren’t in, and it’s 2:30 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and I thought of what that man did to you in St. Louis, when you were a little girl, 7 years old, and I thought maybe someone was taking advantage of you, and I was about crazy. And then I came down the steps and just then you pushed open the door, with a big smile on your face,’ and she said, ‘I hit you before I thought of it. Please forgive me.’ I forgave her immediately.”
Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas isn’t taking any time off. She has been on a hectic schedule since the Olympic Games in 2012. Besides all the interviews she published her memoirs. Now she has announced she is set to publish a second memoir—yes, part two.
Though not yet 18, she still has lots to talk about it seems, and her second memoir will hit the stores next month, according to publisher Zondervan (via Yahoo).
The 17-year-old, who was a gold medalist in both the team and individual all-around gymnastics competitions, will publish Raising the Bar, the follow-up to her 2012 best-selling memoir Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith, on April 30. That book debuted at number four on The New York Times Young Adult Bestseller List.
This time around, she is taking readers behind-the-scenes look into her life, including color photos, personal stories, and details on the athlete’s present-day life — from walking red carpets and appearing on TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries while also juggling friends, family, and training.
Obviously, it’s not the life of the typical teen. But it will give some insight, says the publisher, into the dedication and responsibilities of an athlete of Douglas’s caliber. Douglas was recently named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.
Douglas began training at age six and made history last year when she became the first U.S. gymnast to take home a team and an individual gold medal in the same games. And she was first African-American to win the individual gold.
Last year 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas released an inspirational memoir entitled Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith., in which she discussed the early years of her life, including leaving her family at 12 years old to train for the Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, her challenging journey to triumph and her 2012 London Olympics win. The Virginia native’s second novel, Raising the Bar will highlight what life is like following her historic Olympic victory.
“After competing in the 2012 London Olympics and winning two gold medals, Gabrielle Douglas’s life changed forever … but in many important ways, it stayed the same. Inside these pages, Gabrielle shares an inside look at her day-to-day world, from the things that are still important to her—time with her friends and family, her favorite comfort foods, and her training routine—as well as what’s it’s like to suddenly walk the red carpet and interviewed by various people. Along the way, Gabrielle also offers tips on how you can raise the bar on your life and accomplish your dreams. Through candid photos taken by Gabrielle to exclusive images taken behind the scenes, experience what it’s like to be an Olympic Champion and a normal teenage girl balancing a life in the spotlight with a life in the gym.”
“Even before I competed in the Olympics, I always wanted to write a book. Of course, there’ll be a lot of stories about gymnastics, but the book will also be about how much my family and I have overcome during our journey. It hasn’t been easy. I want people to read my story and say, ‘If Gabby can do it, I can do it, too. Anything is possible,’” Douglas said of her first novel.
“Gabby’s life and story will equip countless young people with the courage and motivation to move beyond ‘life as it seems.’ Her magnetic smile and poised demeanor set her apart. We could not be happier to work with Gabby and her family on this project,” said Zondervan’s Annette Bourland of the dual book deal.
It looks like this is yet another major accomplishment for the 17-year-old gymnast. Raising the Bar sounds like a great read for all of the young girls who are seeking to follow in Gabby’s footsteps. She’s such an inspiration!
Coming to a new country and starting over is difficult for anyone. In her new memoir Finally Reid: The Extraordinary Testimonies of an Ordinary Woman, Marcia Reid recounts her journey from Jamaica to the US in the early 1980s. Since then, she’s traveled around the world, graduated from college, and launched a career that has her now working for IPG, one of the world’s hugest advertising, marketing, and public relations companies.
We sent Reid a few questions via email to get a little more insight into her life and times.
Madame Noire: You talk about your life in Jamaica as a relatively carefree one. You worked, shopped, made friends. Yet you decided to come to the US to work and study in New York. Why?
Marcia Reid: There were several reasons for coming to the US. Number one was the socio-economic reason. In Jamaica, the US was known as the “Land of Opportunity” where you have limitless career opportunities and can gain financial wealth at a faster pace. I got the opportunity to shop even more, and it was easier to pursue a college degree here. It was also an excellent opportunity to get away from my very strict upbringing.
MN: It was 1982. What was the experience like coming to the US from Jamaica at 22 years old at that time?
MR: It was amazing, exciting, and scary. Everything was huge and complex compared to what I was accustomed to on a small island. This was the first time I left home and had no directions or money. I spent most of the money I had within two weeks of my arrival. It was the end of August and I went on a shopping spree, not knowing that the reason that clothes were inexpensive was because the season was changing. I soon found out that most of the clothes that I bought could only be worn for another month or so, as it was getting colder. I had not even bought a winter coat, so I needed to find a job real fast.
As I pounded the pavement of New York City daily in search of a job, I soon realized that without the “New York experience” and the coveted green card, the only jobs available to me included house cleaning, baby sitting, or posing nude. In my book, I write about staying with a friend’s mother, sleeping on a pull-out bed in her living room and how I was eventually able to find a great opportunity at a luxury cruise line.
MN: By 1989, you were a mom, had traveled the world, were married and separated, owned an apartment, and had decided to focus on your college studies while working full-time. How did all of that help (or hinder) your focus on your studies?
MR: While all of this made it extremely challenging at the time, I became very focused on my studies. My son was born in 1989 and my life was spinning out of control. I was separated, buried under a mountain of debt and trying to balance motherhood, work and school. It was especially difficult, as I was going to school full-time and working full-time but I was determined to stay focused on my studies. I knew that a college degree would be advantageous to advancing my career so that I could be in a better financial position and provide a better future for my child.
MN: By the end of the book, you’ve got degrees from New York University and Columbia University and you’ve moved from Florida back to the New York area. You’re now the Director of Diversity Management at IPG. Please describe your job and the challenges of promoting diversity at a large company.
MR: My role as Director of Diversity and Inclusion is to help my company become one of the most diverse and inclusive companies operating in business. This is a commitment that IPG takes very seriously, and I work closely with our HR and business leaders across our network of agencies and corporate offices to develop and execute programs that focus on recruitment, retention and development. I help educate our employees about the changing demographics and its impact on our business, our workforce, and our marketplace. I work closely with our Business Resource Groups in the U.S. as well as the Women’s Leadership Networks in Australia, India, China and London. I also launched a mentoring program, lead a fellowship program of young professionals, manage our relationships with schools, and oversee our annual Diversity and Inclusion survey that goes out to all our US employees.
MN: How do your life experiences impact how you perform your job?
MR: My life experiences make me passionate about the work that I do. I can better relate to employees that are similar or different from me in the workplace because of my diverse background. I understand some of the challenges they face and can provide more suitable solutions and resources to create a more inclusive work environment, where everyone can feel engaged and perform at their best to achieve our goal.
Mike Tyson just keeps on doing it.
The former heavyweight boxing champion, reality TV star (Taking on Tyson) and movie actor (The Hangover franchise) can now add author to his resume. Tyson’s memoir, Undisputed Truth, will be published next summer by Blue Rider Press. Of course, the book will also chronicle Tyson’s tougher times, including the loss of his $400 million fortune and his trip to prison for rape. He’s collaborating with another writer, Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who worked with Howard Stern on his book Private Parts.
It’s also worth mentioning that Tyson has just launched a nonprofit organization, Mike Tyson Cares, which helps at-risk kids.
This is really an epic comeback. Will you be reading this book?
A lot of Lauryn Hill fans have a bit of a bone to pick with Wyclef now that they’ve gotten word of his new memoir and the details about the questionable paternity of the singer’s first son, Zion, included therein. Yesterday, Wendy Williams got Wyclef to have a little seat on her couch and explain why he was digging all this dirt up 12 years later, and when Wendy asked the former Fugees member if he gave L-Boogie a heads up about the book, he said this:
No I didn’t call Lauryn because Lauryn knows the story. There’s over a thousand people who know this story. What I wanted history to document was the truth.
When Lauryn did “The Miseducation there were a lot of Lauryn Hill fans saying, “Clef done broke Lauryn Hill’s heart.” After Wyclef Jean, Lauryn had five kids and my responsibility is to apologize for sins in my twenties, but we all have to move forward as adults. If you read the entire book, I am not disrespecting Lauryn in any form, in any sense.
Wyclef went on to say that the chances of the Fugees getting back together after all of this drama are slim to none, and also said he doesn’t have any contact with Lauryn Hill at all — just as his wife would have it. According to him, in his book he’s just telling his own truth.
Are you going to check out Wyclef’s “Purpose” memoir?
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I’ve never seen “The Notebook” and as a result of this latest foolishness from R. Kelly I will continue to avoid seeing the film which everyone around me—male or female—has admitted caused them to have a full blown emotional breakdown. Though the most I’ve gotten from friends was that the film made them cry (somewhat uncontrollably), Kells said it made him get a divorce.
In his new memoir, “Soulacoaster,” R. Kelly claims that seeing the love between the two main characters in the flick was too much for him to handle as he recognized that there was no romance in his 12-year marriage. He wrote:
“As the film credits started to roll, I couldn’t move. I burst into tears. People walking past me patted me on the back, trying to console me. ‘The Notebook’ was beautiful, and I was crying because its hero and heroine had died together.
“But I was also crying because I remembered a Valentine’s Day — when a helicopter dropped a rainfall of roses — that had come and gone … My marriage had died. And there was nothing I could do to bring it back.”
That man can tell a story can’t he? What I love even more than this news is the response Andrea Kelly gave to TMZ about his recollection of things:
“[The movie] came out in 2004 and we saw it together. Our divorce wasn’t finalized until 2009 so it’s impossible that the movie could have been the reason for our relationship ending. We had been separated for 6 years at that point! The movie definitely did not end our relationship!”
If you watch “Hollywood Exes,” you know how animated Andrea is so I can only imagine how she sounded saying that. Whether ‘The Notebook’ was R. Kelly’s “aha moment” or not I guess we’ll never truly know. I’m more shocked that allegations of him peeing on teenage girls didn’t end their marriage but to each his own.
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If you were tired of talking about the possibility of a biopic on Whitney Houston’s life, there’s now something new to talk about: There’s going to be a memoir on her life and it will be written by her mother. Cissy Houston will go in depth about the joys and pain of her daughter’s life in a detailed memoir that will be distributed by HarperCollins and will be available next February. In a statement released via HarperCollins, momma Cissy says she hopes, in doing the book, that she can leave a little bit of Whitney with her fans and give folks a better understanding of her life:
“When I lost my daughter Nippy (Whitney Houston’s nickname), the world lost one of the most beautiful voices and an extraordinarily beautiful and charitable woman. In sharing our story in this book, I hope to give her fans something to treasure, the way we all treasured Whitney. We are still receiving thousands of letters each day from her fans, and I hope reading this book will provide a deeper understanding into my daughter’s true story.”
According to NY Daily News, a portion of the proceeds from the book will be given to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. where Whitney’s voice first was able to have a stage. This is also where people got to see their last glimpse of the star during her funeral. Reports say that Houston will receive seven figures through the book deal. Cissy is slated to discuss everything that went on with Whitney, including her drug addiction, troubled marriage to Bobby Brown, her iconic career, and her own grief from losing her daughter. According to HarperCollins, “Ultimately, Cissy will go behind the headlines to show the true, human side of this strong, successful yet complicated musical icon, capturing the dramatic depths and soaring range of an extraordinary woman, along with the pain and heartbreak of a grieving mother as she struggles with impossible loss.”
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Phaedra better pull out her prayer cloth, honey, because a former acquaintance is revealing some deep, dark secrets about her past.
When Phaedra first joined the cast of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, the southern belle’s marriage to “ex-con,” Apollo Nida, was the big scandal in her plot until she dismissed his criminal involvement as a white-collar crime. But now a woman Phaedra supposedly used to run a crime ring with says Apollo isn’t the only one in the family with a criminal past, and she’s exposing all of their secrets in an upcoming memoir, Lies of a Real House Wife: Tell The Truth and Shame The Devil.
Angela Stanton says she first met Phaedra at a party back in 1999 and the two quickly became close friends. They soon became involved in criminal activity as well, making fraudulent insurance checks for more than two years before she and Apollo were caught and locked up. Only doing a short stint, Angela says when she was released, she hooked back up with Phaedra, Apollo, and his brother and they began getting involved in federal racketeering, stealing Porsches, Hummers, and Cadillacs for three or four years and flipping them. Since that’s the charge Apollo reportedly went to prison for, Angela’s story does seem possible. And she also said since Phaedra is an attorney, the agreement was that she would represent her, Apollo, and his brother if they were to ever get caught.
Although Angela was sent to prison for five years for their crimes, and is clearly a little bitter, it’s obvious why she’s choosing to expose
If Phaedra was just a regular Atlanta resident rather than a reality TV star, these allegations would’ve never seen the light of day—which is what makes Angela’s detailed account a tad suspect. But now, there’s no telling how many people will pick up this memoir when it’s released in a few days. Sounds like Marlo might not be the only “housewife” with a busted past.
Check out this clip of Angela talking about her criminal past with Phaedra? Do you think there’s any truth to this story or does this woman just want to make a quick buck?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Common’s new memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense is more than just a story about his rise to fame as a rapper. Inside, the Chi-town native also talks about what he’s learned about himself over the years—particularly from women, and especially two high-profile ladies he’s been paired with: Erykah Badu and Serena Williams.
Here’s what he had to say about the book and his former leading ladies in an interview with BlackEnterprise.com:
Which chapter of your book resonates most with you?
My open letter to [my ex-girlfriend, singer] Erykah [Badu] is a chapter in my life that resonates with me. It was a time of reflection. I learned a lot about Rashid Lynn when I was with Erykah. During our relationship, I often chose to think, I’ll chill and let other people get their way, because that’s just who I was in all of my relationships with friends and family. I’d choose to take a [backseat], and getting to see that in myself while she and I were together was enlightening. I eventually realized I don’t need to be that person. I learned to speak my mind and be the man I’m supposed to be. It was a release.
What lessons did you learn while dating tennis great Serena Williams?
As far as me being in love, I’ve learned to just be myself—more of a man—in any relationship, whether I was dating Serena or whomever. Finally, I feel I’m able to be me and really know what I want and make steps toward those things that are special to me. Like I want children, I want to have a home, I should be starting a family. One difference between Erykah and Serena was that the [presence of] paparazzi is much stronger now than it was in 2000 and 2001. Serena’s a super international star and my profile [when we were] together was a [big deal] for some people. I remember when I made the cover of the Chicago Sun Times for the first time it was in the middle of our relationship and I’m thinking, this is for real. People are paying attention. But I handle [the attention] the way real men do: Keep family and personal business in your home. Now, that doesn’t mean if that’s your woman you go out with her and not feel proud about [being with] her [like it's a big secret]; but you don’t have to let everyone know what’s going on in your relationship.
I love Common for this. It’s great to hear a man speak highly of women from his past and admit that they had a hand in making him the man he is now. What do you think of his words?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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