All Articles Tagged "wanda sykes"
The “first and finest” Greek sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, was founded January 15th, 1908 on the campus of Howard University by 9 female students. With over 170,000 members in Undergrad and Grad chapters nationwide, there are some members in particular that we have grown to know and love. The following are celebrity women who are members of this illustrious sorority.
We all know slavery has considerably limited African Americans’ ability to trace their roots so whenever someone is able to uncover details of their ancestry as far back as Wanda Sykes has, it’s pretty exciting.
As part of a new PBS series, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Harvard professor, along with historian Ira Berlin, a professor at the University of Maryland, were able to trace Wanda’s roots back to her paternal ninth great-grandmother, Elizabeth Banks. Elizabeth was an indentured servant who, on June 20, 1683, was given 39 lashes on her bare back and an extension of her servitude as punishment for “fornication & Bastardy with a negroe slave,” according to a York County, VA, court document.
“This is an extraordinary case and the only such case that I know of in which it is possible to trace a black family rooted in freedom from the late 17th century to the present,”professor Berlin told the New York Times.
Mary Banks, Elizabeth’s biracial child, was born around 1683 and inherited her mother’s free status, although she was also indentured. She appeared to have four children and the family continued to grow as the Banks’ descendants married other free people of color. Several generations of Sykes’ have remained in the Virginia area since Elizabeth arrived, most likely from Scotland, and professor Berlin says her story changes the images we typically have of the lives of the first Africans in the New World from popular depictions of plantation life to real communities. According to Paul Heinegg, a respected genealogist and historian, more than 1,000 mixed-race children were born to white women in colonial Virginia and Maryland, but their existence has been erased from oral and written history, since they lack marriage records, wills, and property.
Regardless, professor Gates says, “The bottom line is that Wanda Sykes has the longest continuously documented family tree of any African-American we have ever researched.”
Wanda’s pretty excited about that too, although she said discoveries that some of her ancestors owned slaves and that she couldn’t trace some of her other familial roots back as far were disappointing.
“I’m just grateful I do have a history,” she said. “It’s bittersweet. I was not able to trace the other three grandparents, and that’s huge.
“It shows that we’re still paying for the history of this country, basically. It’s just incredible to go back and see that you did not matter.”
Wanda’s family segment will appear on the new PBS series in May, but the show will debut this coming Sunday. Other figures whose roots will be uncovered include Barbara Walters, Harry Connick Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Margaret Cho, Kevin Bacon, Georgia Representative John Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Robert Downey Jr. and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Tonight the stars step out on the ruby red carpet for the Academy Awards aka The Oscars. While we surely look forward to seeing who wins, the other exciting part is being entertained by the awards show host. This year Billy Crystal is the host of the show. Billy replaced Eddie Murphy after he stepped down a few months ago and I think he is a formidable choice. But if we had a say in the selection of the host, here are a few people we’d like to see one day…
The statistics can be overwhelming: Every 13 minutes, a woman dies from breast cancer. It is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 54. But millions of women will battle the scary diagnosis and win, including famous faces from around the globe.
From comedians to actresses and TV personalities, learn which of your favorite celebs, and fearless women, defeated breast cancer…
It was November of 2009, a little after Thanksgiving, when my mother learned that she had breast cancer. She never thought she was going to lose her life instead she was more concerned about losing her hair. She’d had her sisterlocks for over a year and they’d finally gotten to a place where they were draping and swinging a little bit. They were gorgeous and she’d spent time, money and effort investing in their growth. They meant something to her.
So it came as a shock to me when she decided she was going to undergo chemo therapy. She didn’t have to have chemo as the doctors assured her they’d removed the lump. But by this point the will to live had become more important than the hair on her head and she wanted the best odds of walking away from this ordeal cancer free.
A few weeks after my mother’s first chemo treatment two of her locks fell out and she had my father shave her head completely bald.
I’m so glad her priorities had changed. My mother’s hair was lovely but it paled in comparison to the beauty of her being and her spirit. It was her life that was worth preserving not her hair.
That’s a lesson that many women, and black women in particular, could stand to learn. There’s no need to place so much stock in elements of your physical appearance that really mean little to nothing in the grand scheme of life.
That’s a lesson Wanda Sykes learned early on in her breast cancer journey, but on a greater, deeper level. After a breast reduction surgery in February, Sykes’ doctors told her she had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in her left breast. Luckily, she caught it early, as DCIS is basically a stage zero cancer.
But Sykes took the diagnosis seriously. Instead of trying to preserve her breast tissue, Sykes had a bilateral mastectomy in August.
What a brave and bold decision.
Opting for this type of surgery swiftly removes the very pieces of your body that in many ways identify you as a woman. It’s an intense adjustment to come to grips with and the recuperation time can be brutal.
In an interview with People Magazine, Sykes said it took a month for her to heal.
“I was miserable. Every day I had to change the bandages and look at it, and it was not pretty at all,” says Sykes. “I just wanted my life back.”
Preserving her life was exactly why Sykes opted for the surgery. And it seems to have worked Sykes said that now that she’s healed she feels “whole again” The comedian told People that being there for her twins greatly influenced the decision to have the mastectomy.
“I just wanted the best odds. I made my decision because I love life.”
The funny lady is talking about something not so funny on an episode of the “Ellen Degeneres Show” set to air this Monday. On the show, Sykes reveals that she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and made the conscious decision to undergo a double mastectomy to help ensure that the cancer wouldn’t have a good chance of growing back in the future. According to Sykes (and with help from our friends at CBS News), 47, it all started when she went to the doctor in the hopes of actually having breast reduction surgery in February:
“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff. Every time I eat – Oh Lord,” she explained. “I’d carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore so it was time to have a reduction. “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky.”
So if it’s stage zero, I’m sure you’re wondering why she would bother to make the huge step of getting both breast removed. On top of the fact that her family has a history of breast cancer on her mother’s side, she says:
“Cancer is still cancer. I had the choice of, ‘You can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing.’ But, I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already.” She adds, “I was like I don’t know, should I talk about it or what. How many things could I have? I’m black, then lesbian. I can’t be the poster child for everything.”
It’s good to see Skyes not only stepping out and speaking on her experience, but still having a great sense of humor about it. However, we all know breast cancer is NO joke whatsoever, stage zero or not. Be sure you’re getting yourself tested and doing check ups on your breast on your own. Sykes says she is doing good now, which is a great thing to report. But we’re also happy to report that the University of Michigan has just received a $3.5 million grant to to study cancer stem cells in an aggressive subtype of breast cancer that disproportionately affects African-Americans. As Dr. Max S. Wicha of University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center say: “We urgently need to develop novel approaches to treat triple-negative breast cancer in order to reduce racial disparities. Through this Komen grant, we propose to develop novel therapies capable of attacking and destroying the lethal seeds driving these cancers, the cancer stem cells.”
Let’s hope so. If Sykes situation doesn’t tell us we need to take breast cancer more seriously, I don’t know what does…Kudos to her for making such a brave decision.
Comedienne Wanda Sykes sat down with Piers Morgan to talk about her career. And as it often does since she came out, the conversation turned to her sexuality.
Wanda told Morgan that it’s harder for her to be gay than it is to be black. She referenced the fact that there are organizations who are spending millions and millions of dollars to prevent her from performing in certain arenas, not because she’s black but because she’s a lesbian.
You can read Sykes’ full quote and vote on this issue over at AOL’s Black Voices. But before you head over there, let us know what you think about this topic.
Is it harder to be homosexual than it is being black. Do you think Gay rights are the new Civil rights?
Mainstream America hasn’t been particularly accepting of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, and that goes double in the African American community. With strong “traditional church” backgrounds and the fear of the down- low brother choosing to express your homosexuality can be detrimental or even dangerous in some situations. Despite this fact, there are some celebrities who’ve decided to endure the inevitable criticism and come out, some publicly, some not so publicly, sharing just one part of who they really are.