All Articles Tagged "new york city"

The Reported Errors In Avonte Oquendo’s Case

March 28th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From Black Voices 

A report on an autistic teenager who disappeared from his New York City school and was later found dead lists errors that contributed to the tragedy, but it does not recommend any specific disciplinary action.

The report was released Wednesday by the schools’ special commissioner of investigation.

It describes how 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo disappeared from his school in Queens on Oct. 4. His remains were later found in the East River.

The report says the school safety agent at the front desk was distracted by another student during the time when Avonte slipped away.

Read more about Avonte Oquendo at 

Communities Of Color Still Struggling To Rebuild After Hurricane Sandy

March 6th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Leonard Zhukovsky /

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Hurricane Sandy occurred more than a year ago but many lower-income residents in the eastern area of the Rockaways in New York City’s borough of Queens have been struggling to rebuild–and their struggles has gone relatively unnoticed.

The media focused most on the problems of the upper-middle-class neighborhoods of the western Rockaway peninsula and the controversy over allocation of Sandy relief aid in New Jersey, while lower-income areas, which are mainly African-American and Latino, have been left without enough resources to get back on their feet following the super storm.

“Critics say government agencies have failed to support the lower-income communities in the Rockaways…,” reports theGrio.  New York City Councilman Donovan Richards, who represents parts of the Rockaways, helped pass Sandy Tracker legislation last year, but even he says federal funds have still been slow to reach his constituents in need. “This was the Ninth Ward,” Councilman Richards told The Grio, referring to the poor, Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that took years to rebuild.

While FEMA did offer aid to New York residents, many of those in lower-income communities of the Rockaways are renters and did not have the economic means to meet FEMA’s criteria, say sources.

FEMA however insists it has helped “tens of thousands of Sandy survivors who are homeowners, renters and neither of the two.”

When contacted by The Grio, new NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office pointed the “Build it Back” initiative offering assistance to displaced New York City residents. But sources claim  this effort was slow to implement help during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor.

“It is worth noting that Build it Back is the last recovery option in a series of City-sponsored initiatives,” a spokesperson from Mayor de Blasio’s office told The Grio. “We helped restore heat, hot water and electricity to more than 12,000 residences within 100 days of the storm – assistance totaling $650 million––at no cost to storm victims. Further, the city created its own hotel program to house displaced storm victims, completely independent of FEMA’s hotel program (which, it is important to note, has its own rules).”

For some residents it was hard to obtain vital information about all the available resources, another hindrance to rebuilding after Sandy. Question is how much longer people are expected to wait for help they need.

Monday’s Madame: Terryl De Mendonca, Founder Of The Misunderstood Youth Development Center

December 2nd, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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TerrylMonday’s Madame: Terryl De Mendonca

Age: 38

Location: Queens, NY

Terryl De Mendonca is Founder and Executive Director of  The Misunderstood Youth Development Center (MYDC) in New York. Initially, MYDC served as an after-school program for youths in New York City, operating under the guise, “it takes a village to raise a child.” As student membership grew, MYDC began to  provide mentorship, leadership development workshops and field trips for the young people who came through its doors. By exposing students to these three facets, they are able to be exposed to some very positive things. MYDC also benefits families through counseling sessions that  teach life skills to both parents and children.

Her vision provides the platform for both parents and community leaders to be involved in how the youth in their community develop. To ensure this vision comes to fruition in each child’s life who participates in MYDC programs, a contract is given to the children, parents and community leaders. The contract allows the participating students to understand the concept of commitment. It also holds the youths accountable for their grades, behavior and leadership development.

De Mendonca has contributed to MYDC by raising political awareness within New York City. MYDC has been recognized by political leader Marty Markowitz and the Queens District Attorney’s Office for the changes it has made within participating communities. Besides MYDC, De Mendonca has also created The Fresh Start Program. It services troubled teens from the ages of 14-19. It serves the community by reducing crime through efforts to educate teens about self-esteem and employment opportunities. Kudos to you Miss De Mendonca!

Follow MYDC: @MYDCenter

MYDC Facebook Page:


 Monday’s Madame is a new column on MadameNoire that highlights inspirational women who are doing great things in black communities around the world. If you would like to submit an inspirational woman for consideration, please send her name, age, location, photo, and a blurb about the work she’s doing to

Tech And The City: Startups Are Attracted To NYC

November 16th, 2013 - By Lauryn Stallings
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via @MadeinNY

via @MadeinNY

Once upon a time, being a techie and launching a business meant adapting to the warmer climate in California after graduating from MIT or dropping out of Carnegie Mellon. Young developers and designers, hopeful inventors and ideological innovators descended upon Silicon Valley starting in the late ’60s. And up until the past few years, not much had changed.

Now tech startups are sparking in cities across the country, but none so much as New York. Brand new micro corporations are settling in the Financial District, illuminating Chelsea, running Lower Manhattan and invigorating all parts of Brooklyn. The same talent pools that once fled to the west coast are sticking closer to home and saving on rents by headquartering in the city.

However, it’s more than cost-savings drawing technological hopefuls to the five boroughs. Initiatives from the city, such as We Are Made in NY, are already in place to offer a support system to emerging businesses. Mayor Bloomberg, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Digital launched the Digital Roadmap, enhancing accessibility and education. Not to mention AT&T’s $1.6 million investment into the homegrown well of expertise.

New York City has made a point of highlighting and investing in the tech industry. So have its businesses.

Quirky, headquartered on 28th Street, helps innovators prototype, market and sell new products. Cooperatives across the city provide work space and tight communities for tech-minded makers to collaborate. Startups around the city start small and grow from the input and programming provided by others.

Exhibitions are a factor, too. The companies showing at the first Engadget Expand New York were given unprecedented access to interface with future consumers beyond Kickstarter campaigns. The show allowed inventors to gauge interest in their products, beta test, promote and chat with investors and peers in the industry. The fact that Engadget holds an annual competition that invests a total of $25,000 in startup enterprises is no small thing either.

But more than anything, what appeals to these new companies is its flagship market status. Technology is flocking to the city for the same reason fashion does: New York City gets it first. Innovators are using robotics, cloud computing and apps to make everyday life easier, save money and generally just do better. Today’s tech companies are lifestyle brands, and there’s no greater location to introduce them to the world. New York’s all-embracing environment is making it possible to get everything from energy conscious powerstrips to calorie counting scales. If this keeps up, the newfangled things we thought were just fantasies for The Jetsons and Back to the Future aren’t too far away.

They’re already making plans for the hoverboard.

Locked Up: Anthony Mackie Arrested For Drunk Driving!

November 9th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Anthony Mackie pf"

Source: PNP/

Clearly the Hollywood stars believe they are exempt from the whole “drunk driving will get you arrested” thing. The latest? A fan favorite, Anthony Mackie.

Sources tell TMZ the New Orleans native and current New Yorker was pulled over early Saturday morning in New York City. The police initially pulled him over due to the tint on his windows (the report wasn’t specific but New York State has serious laws about it) but as they got closer, they noticed that Mackie’s eyes were blodshot red. The officers also stated they smelled alcohol, coming either directly from Mackie or from the car.

He was given several field sobriety tests and failed all of them which resulted in his arrest and booking at a local police station. He also refused to take a blood alcohol test so at the very least, his license will be suspended .

Do we even need to go through the basic questioning on why he would allow this to happen?  First of all, Anthony Mackie is in way too sweet of a position with his career right now to get caught up in things like this. Second, he’s in New York City – the home of public transportation.  He could have taken a taxi or even the train if he’d had too much to drink. As usual, there’s no reason for this.

As a mater of fact, there’s no reason for anyone to get caught with a drunk driving charge, even if you’re not a celebrity. If you’ve had too much to drink, just figure out a new plan to make it to your final destination. There are just too many risks involved when you make such a rash decision.

Hopefully, we won’t hear about this again in regards to Anthony Mackie.

Will Chirlane Mc-Cray’s Identities Influence de Blasio’s Policies?

November 7th, 2013 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Even non-New Yorkers appear to be caught up in the Bill de Blasio fever – or should I more accurately describe as the Chirlane McCray-frenzy.

Because we know, thanks in part to the words from his own offspring, that de Blasio is just not some  boring white guy.  He is, instead, a boring white guy married to McCray, who has wowed the city with her fiery brand and indifference to social constructs and restraint, as well as the father to interracial offspring, Chiara and Dante, who both have become notable throughout the political campaign for their totally rocking Afro-centric hairstyles. It is the de Blasio family, particularly his wife McCray for whom we all love and adore – and vicariously voted for through the voting hands of resident-New Yorkers. Even the New York Daily News called McCray,the most influential mayoral spouse in city history.”

And how can you justifiably (and without prejudice) not love the de Blasio’s clan? They are a melting pot of ethnicity and distinctions: African, Italian and German white; kinky and straight haired, straight and gay, I mean, bisexual…er…actually what the heck is going on there…

To gain some insight, let’s check out this interview with McCray from the Huffington Post:

Journalist: People have been so quick to put a label on you. Can you tell us you are bi sexual because that would be neat and tidy and we can put you in a box and know where you belong. And you have largely rejected that. So how would you explain to someone, your sexuality?

McCray: Why should I explain my sexuality? First of all, I don’t know what I’ll be like next year – or ten years from now. Thirty years ago when I wrote that article, I would not believe that I would be sitting here talking to you as a married woman…”

In short, never say never. Back in the day, I would have sworn that liver would never pass by these lips and now, it’s not so bad. Of course, I still don’t like carrots however I’ll never say I will never like carrots neither. Point I’m trying to make with the bad food analogy is that sometimes, one’s taste will evolve. And if you were a sexually fluid person as McCray appears – and just as most folks are about food – than it would be all sorts of unwise, and possibly hypocritical, to categorize and box yourself in as anything in particular. Matter of fact, it is even possible that McCray, who once penned a groundbreaking piece back in 1979 for Essence magazine called “I am A Lesbian,” is just not completely sure herself how to define who or what she is? So if she doesn’t know, how the heck can she explain that to the rest of us?

One thing’s for sure, she really doesn’t have to explain her sexuality to anyone. And quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter. I mean, sure McCray’s visibility as a sexually-fluid First Lady, does raise questions about her allegiances to LGBTQA rights for the New York City -and women and black folks for that matter. However, if we haven’t learned anything from the election, and subsequent reelection, of the nation’s first black president (a man, who has gone to great stakes to remind us time and again that he is not really the first black president but a president for all Americans), is that identity politics, while emotionally stimulating, does not always translate over into meaningful and reciprocal action. For your consideration: Don Lemon, who is gay, black and a non-stop irritation to both identities.

What matters beyond personal identity, is where a politician, and I guess in this instance his family’s, personal character and ambitions lies. During the campaign de Blasio gave us some clue when he told reporters that McCray would be an “activist” First Lady. According to the Daily News, he also added: “A lot of times I will turn to Chirlane whether it’s the most mundane thing, a family thing, a political thing. She is my reality check in the world. She is the person who interprets the world with me.”

And during the campaign, she certainly didn’t have any problem actively going after Christine Quinn, the openly declared lesbian candidate opposite of de Blasio on the democratic ticket, by calling into question Quinn’s commitment to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace.” Then there was time she went in on Mayor Bloomberg on Twitter after he called the de Blasio campaign ad, which featured McCray and their shared children, racist. In less than 140 characters, McCray obliterated Bloomberg with a stern reminder that she has had, “enough with the patriarchal thinking. I am not property or a tool to be used or controlled. Stop the sexism!”

And then there is the poetry. Back when McCray, was an editor for Redbook, she had also contributed a piece called “I Used To Think,” to the 1983 Homegirls: A Black Feminist Anthology, which detailed her personal pain with growing up, and trying to feel beautiful, as a black girl and woman in all-white spaces. Her poem, which had been reprinted by the New York Daily News is as followed:

I used to think
I can’t be a poet
because a poem is being everything you can be
in one moment,
speaking with lightning protest
unveiling a fiery intellect
or letting the words drift feather-soft
into the ears of strangers
who will suddenly understand
my beautiful and tortured soul.
But, I’ve spent my life as a Black girl
a nappy-headed, no-haired,
big-bottomed Black girl
and the poem will surely come out wrong
like me.”

It’s hard to say for sure what impact the McCray, by way of de Blasio, will have on the governing of the city. However newly elected Mayor de Blasio said once said of his wife, “Understand Chirlane and you’ll understand me.” If that is any indicator, we might expect a mayor who is has a sympathetic ear to communities who felt marginalized under Bloomberg. This is particularly of importance to the homeless as well as African American communities, who are targeted through the city’s Stop & Frisk crime prevention policies. However, politics and righteous intention do not always make good bed fellows. Therefore it is best to stay cautiously optimistic and adamant that how they look on paper, which is of the quintessential liberal New York City, matches their overall action.

“My Highest Prayer Is People See Themselves In The Show”: India Arie Speaks On Healing Her Fans During Concerts

November 6th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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Johnny Louis/

Johnny Louis/

From StyleBlazer 

“Do you guys follow me on Twitter?” rang out India.Arie‘s voice from the stage at the Beacon Theater as she joyfully spun round in a circle in a free-flowing white dress made by her talented mother. The crowd roared back in the affirmative. “Because this is what I mean when I say ‘I’m twirling’ at home,” said India. Earlier that evening during her sound check she twirled again, this time because a friend gave her a birthday present: a necklace that India had pinned on Pinterest.

Seems like a lot of twirling, but it just goes to show that four-time Grammy winner India.Arie is a happy person, and she’s not afraid to show it. What’s more, she truly has a lot to be happy about. Just this past summer she released her first new album in four years, “Songversation”–an album that Vibe called “chicken soup for the soul.” She’s currently promoting the album with her tour, “A Songversation with India.Arie” that’s sponsored by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula–a serendipitous partnership that came about thanks to India’s smooth single, “Cocoa Butter.”

We were thrilled to get the chance to sit down with Ms. Arie herself for a quick moment before her New York City show this past weekend. Gracious and warm, India had a thoughtful response for all of our questions. Check out our conversation below.

SB: I know that getting to this new album was a journey. You were away from the music scene for a little, so what does Songversation mean to you and what are you hoping the fans take away from the album?

India: Songversation means bringing an intellectual aesthetic and an intuitive aesthetic together. Speaking and singing, and lyrics and words. The screen [on-stage] incorporates words and images; they’re not just up there, they’re pivotal to the songversation itself. And it also means that I can be more me.

Read more at 

Keep It On The Low: Stevie J Begs Children’s Mother On Voicemail Not To Air Out His Business

November 2nd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Stevie J

Steven Jordan, aka Stevie J., has got to get his stuff together.  Now.  We already know that his business has been thrown in the street for unpaid child support and now, he’s begging his kids’ mother to not air him out any further.

According to RadarOnline, Carol Bennett’s rep told them that Stevie J called Bennett saying they needed to just work everything out…without the public having to know:

”What’s going on, uh I see all this press it’s going crazy and then I see something ’bout a press conference on October 31. I would ask you not to do a press conference…so let’s try to figure out what we doing, what’s goin’ on aight?”

Oh yes, you read that right: Bennett held a press conference last Thursday to discuss the situation. Now, we don’t know who was at said conference – maybe some Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta cameras – but Bennett made a statement saying that her intent was not to have Stevie incarcerated but rather, “to find a resolution and to co-parent with Stevie J. and that means emotionally and financially so that our children can receive the support that they deserve.”

So while Stevie makes a fool of himself on reality television, Bennett essentially adds fuel to the fire by holding a press conference about unpaid child support.

No word from Bennett’s rep, Sibrena Stowe de Fernandez, on whether or not they’ve decided to work this out with Stevie J in public (although she did receive his message before her own version of the dog and pony show).

With parents like these, one can only wonder if the children are more mature.

Haters Gon’ Hate: 4 Harlem Pastors Planning To Take Rev. Al Sharpton Off His Political Throne

October 14th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Reverend Al Sharpton may soon be knocked off his political throne according to The Daily News. Four Harlem pastors who are part of the “Speak Out Say It Loud” coalition, a newly-formed group of black ministers who seek to have a unified African-American base, have called on 100 churches in the area to knock brother Al off of his post. Johnnie Green, pastor of Mount Neboh Church where the coalition is headquartered told The Daily News Rev. Sharpton “neglected black New York while pursuing national fame and acclaim.” He added, “While Sharpton is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat. People need somebody to fight for them.”

Pastor Green, along with Pastors Carl Washington, Kris Erskine and Patrick Young have set forth to rally for their cause on October 24 at Mount Neboh and they expect their rally to have over 1,500 supporters who support their allegations that Sharpton has been using his time insignificantly by promoting his new book, “The Rejected Stone” and investing in his MSNBC show instead of helping develop the black community. Head Bishop Raymond Blanchette of United Churches for Kingdom Building noted:

“Sharpton isn’t a community organizer. He’s a personality.”

Unsurprisingly, Reverend Al Sharpton isn’t having it. He has snapped back saying:

“We need to attack the issues, not each other. If you want to be the big guy, be the big guy, be that. Don’t act like I’m not doing anything local. I am.”

Sharpton rose at a young age when he toured with Mahalia Jackson and became involved in activism with Jesse Jackson and other minority leaders. During the mid-1980s he began to organize protests of hate crimes committed against blacks throughout New York City. Due to his popularity, many political candidates who run for office use him to access the minority community. The pastors of “The Speak Out Say It Loud” coalition believe Sharpton should only focus on national issues and leave the local ones to them. They have also stated politicians should stop categorizing Sharpton as the only leader in the black community. Though Pastor Young said their coalition is not hating on Sharpton, Pastor Micheal Waldron of First Corinthian Baptist Church, who is close to the reverend, stated that Sharpton was not invited to the rally, and “[i]f this is an anti-Sharpton rally, then it’s deeply troubling to me.”

Guess we’ll have to see how this shakes out after the rally. What do you think about this mission the “Speak Out Say It Loud” coalition is on? Are they right or do they just want the fame themselves?

Ashanti Rocks New ‘Do As She Celebrates Her 33rd Birthday In Vegas!

October 13th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Ashanti and family pf"

Judy Eddy/

I can hear it now: “Who cares? Ashanti isn’t even relevant!” That may or may not be true, but she looks good!

Today is the singer’s 33rd birthday and she’s been celebrating all weekend! She rang in her birthday by hosting a huge birthday bash at Lavo in Las Vegas.  Joined by her momager Tina Douglas, her dad and other guests, Shani, as she’s affectionately known, rocked an extremely sparkly Jovani Fashions dress and Ruthie Davis Shoes.

Her new bob was done by celebrity stylist Oscar James, who also tames the locs of Nikki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson and countless others.  We’ll have to get a closer look to see if it was her hair that was cut or if he just did his thing on the weave (we know how much you all care).

On Friday night, Ashanti’s friends and family surprised her with a pre-birthday party at SL night club in NYC. This is the second year in a row they’ve managed to “surprise” her for her birthday.Her birthday cake chronicled her music career by having pictures (likely edible) of each album on it.

The singer is still working on her new album that is supposed to be released on her own label, Written Entertainment. Unfortunately, it’s been pushed back a few times and as of now, there’s no telling when it will actually come out.

But in this moment, she seems to just be having fun living life! Check out the next page for a couple of pictures from Ashanti’s pre-birthday bash!

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