Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women
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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

Fitness Trainer Karena Dawn Launches Mental Health Organization in Honor of Her Late Mother
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Fitness Trainer Karena Dawn smiling at the camera in a green silk button up shirt

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer, People

Karena Dawn doesn’t shy away from hard conversations.

The co-founder of Tone It Up is launching a new charitable organization, The Big Silence, to normalize discussions about mental health issues.

“I’ve been wanting to create a foundation and a resource for many years,” says Dawn, who was just 12 years old when her mom was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and depression.

“[My mom] was in and out of the house many times, from being a missing person to being in the hospital,” Dawn tells PEOPLE exclusively. “And it was in the ’90s, so no one was talking about mental health.”

As a teenager, Dawn tried to research mental illness and schizophrenia at the library. “There were no resources out there for me to lean on,” she recalls. “It kind of sent me in a spiral of my own situational depression, drug abuse, suicide attempt and losing a lot of friends because no one around me was talking about it.”

That’s why she believes so strongly in offering support for those who are struggling. “There’s a stigma around mental health,” says the NYT bestselling author. “That is what The Big Silence is: It’s the thing you don’t want to talk about. At The Big Silence, we are here to break the silence.”

The content platform, which she leads with her sister Rachel Sahaidachny as executive director, is dedicated to normalizing conversations around mental health through online and social content, as well as a podcast hosted by Dawn.

“Because of my mom’s mental illness, I went through a really dark period — from about 12 years old until about 22,” she says. “I was at a breaking point.”

She found light again by focusing on fitness. “I was on a three-day bender and was thinking back about when I was my happiest,” she says. “It was when I was running, and I was active and I was working out.”

“At that time I thought, in my own depression, that I was going to end up like my mom, so I didn’t believe in myself.” But she decided to do something positive and signed up for a triathalon. “I trained my butt off and did the race,” she says. “I crossed the finish line, like ‘Wow, like I accomplished something.’ ”

From then on, she says, she wanted to teach people that movement is medicine, which led to her co-founding Tone It Up in 2009 and further dedicating herself to not only her physical health but her mental health as well, through self-help books, therapy and meditation.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Christina Applegate Marks 50th Birthday After MS Diagnosis: ‘May We Find That Strength’
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Headshot of Christina Applegate smiling at the camera

By Glenn Garner, People

Christina Applegate is kicking off a new chapter after revealing her multiple sclerosis diagnosis earlier this year.

The Emmy Award winner celebrated her 50th birthday Thursday, which was also Thanksgiving, with an encouraging message for her 1.4 million Twitter followers. “Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It’s been a hard one,” she wrote.

“Sending so much love to all of you this day,” Applegate continued. “Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try.”

She previously talked about her experience with MS on Twitter in August, a few months after she was diagnosed. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition,” Applegate wrote at the time. “It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”

Applegate has since been met with love from friends and fans alike. Selma Blair, with whom she starred alongside Cameron Diaz in the 2002 romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing, offered her support in the replies.

“Loving you always. Always here. As are our kids. Beating us up with love,” Blair, 49, wrote, to which Applegate responded: “Love you sister. Our kids are so weird.”

Blair has also been open about her own MS diagnosis, which she revealed in 2018. Most recently, she detailed her journey with the disease in the discovery+ documentary Introducing, Selma Blair, which Applegate recommended on Twitter.

Applegate’s Dead to Me costar James Marsden has praised her strength as well, telling Entertainment Tonight that it’s “really, really inspiring to see.”

Click here to read the full article on People.

Kate Hudson Shares How Fitness Fuels her Mental Health: ‘If I’m not active, if I’m not moving, I don’t feel good at all’
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Kate Hudson from the shoulders up, looking into the distance

By Kaitlin Reilly

There are many words to describe Kate Hudson — she’s an actress, a mom, a podcaster and a brand founder — but perhaps the most fitting word at the moment is simply busy.

After all, Hudson — most recently seen in the juicy Apple TV+ series Truth Be Told — has a very big life. The daughter of Goldie Hawn and stepfather Kurt Russell balances spending time with her tight-knit family with her many projects, but when she does have a free moment, it’s rarely to sit still.

As Hudson tells Yahoo Life, she craves movement, be that a dancing session in her bathroom or a gravity-defying workout routine.

That’s why she needs a diet plan that works for her — which is what WW, the brand she’s been an ambassador for since 2018, can provide, thanks to its recently launched system of PersonalPoints. The program, which Hudson says helped her find balance, includes activity targets — ideal for someone like Hudson, who calls herself a “frustrated athlete.”

Here, Hudson explains what wellness means to her, and why sometimes a girls’ night out is better self-care than anything else.

You became a WW ambassador in 2018. What made you interested in partnering with the company?

Mindy [Grossman], the CEO of WW, came to me. My mom had done it before when she was pregnant, but I hadn’t really done it before. Mindy said, “Try it, and get back to me.” So I did, and I was like, “How do people not know what this is?”

First of all, I lost weight immediately, which is what everyone who is looking into this initially wants to do. But what I loved about it was how supportive the program was, and how thorough it is. For me, it just felt like, what a great partnership. People are always asking me, “What can I do?” And if you weren’t raised with the tools, it’s hard. You don’t know the best way for you to get strong, whether that’s mentally or physically. I just fell in love with the program and the science behind it and how well it works. I’ve been doing the partnership for years and I continue to use it. It just works.

How did your family help you embrace a healthy lifestyle?

When you grow up with actors for parents, it’s a very disciplined craft, especially if you’re an actor who really cares about what you’re doing, like my parents. I watched them be almost like athletes preparing for their roles. Whether it be how active they were, whatever the role entailed, they had to physically and mentally prepare for those things. When you see parents really care about their health and doing things right, it becomes what you know.

I feel really lucky that I have a supportive family through the ups and downs of life. Not everyone has a family as close and connected as we are, and that’s a huge part of my overall wellness. I think mostly, my mom and my dad have always loved being active. That was the biggest thing for me. More so than food — we love our food, we love our cocktails and we enjoy all aspects of life. But we’re very active, and that’s what keeps our mental health really stable. That’s why I love WW, because they encourage the fit points. They want you to stay active. It’s about your sleep, your fitness — it’s motivating you to take care of those things.

Your brother, Oliver Hudson, opened up about his own battle with anxiety for The Unwind. What was your reaction to him being so open about his struggles?

I really admire him for his openness on the subject. I think people sit with anxiety and they don’t talk about it, and it’s so common. We’re living in a time that’s exasperating anxiety. We’re living in an anxious time that’s really affecting people, especially young people. I notice it with my son, and the young people around him. I admire that Oliver is like, “Hey, this is what’s happening, and this is what I’m doing about it.” It makes people feel like they can go get help. They can have a sense of humor about it.

Oliver has really hardcore panic attacks, and I think the thing that you learn is that you need a holistic approach to anxiety. If you need medication, it’s going to a doctor and seeing a professional for guidance. There’s also activity, what you eat. It’s a huge part of how our brain functions, and how it can function, for better or worse. Food is what speaks to the rest of our system. If we’re not putting good things into our body, our body is going to shut down. All of these things matter. Turning off your phone, doing a digital cleanse. I think we should be doing that more. Getting off social media. Taking those breaks are really important. Remembering to look up and connect is a huge part of our mental health.

Click here to read the full article from Yahoo News 

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Advocating For Women Entrepreneurs: A Conversation With Women Impacting Public Policy President And CEO Candace Waterman
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WIPP President and CEO Candace Waterman WOMEN IMPACTING PUBLIC POLICY (WIPP)

By Rhett Buttle, Forbes

October is National Women’s Small Business Month where we take time to recognize the achievements of female entrepreneurs and their positive impact on the economy. Prior to Covid-19, women were the fastest growing segment of small business owners in the United States.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed this progress and compacted long standing inequities. For example, women only receive 4% of all commercial loan dollars and the federal government has only reached its mandated goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to Women-owned small businesses only twice.

As President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Candace Waterman leads a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. She has more than 35 years of experience across the private and public sectors and has owned three successful companies in the medical, real estate, and hospitality industries.

I recently had a conversation with Candace about the state of female entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts. I am grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me and below is a summary of our discussion.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Lego pledges to make toys more gender-neutral and eliminate stereotypes after global survey
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Searches for Lego sets based on gender are no longer available on the company’s website.

By Amy Cheng, Washington Post

Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, has pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes from its products — including labeling that marks toys as “for girls” or “for boys” — as part of a bid to match the wishes of its young customers.

“Despite the progress made in girls brushing off prejudice at an early age, general attitudes surrounding play and creative careers remain unequal and restrictive,” the Danish company known for its colorful building blocks said in a statement on Monday, which was also the United Nations Day of the Girl. “Girls today feel increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older.”

Lego’s move comes amid heightened debate about the role that toys play in creating and perpetuating gender stereotypes. On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new law requiring large retail stores in the nation’s most populous state to provide gender-neutral shopping sections for child-care items and toys beginning in 2024.

The toymaker’s announcement also comes in response to a global survey, commissioned by Lego and conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, that found that parents and, to a lesser extent, their children, are still influenced by gendered notions of career. Young girls are also more willing to participate in activities that cut across “gender norms” than their male peers, the poll found.

For instance, when asked which gender immediately comes to mind upon thinking of scientists, parents from seven countries were much more likely to say “male,” researchers found, using online, opt-in surveys.

And while 82 percent of girls saw nothing wrong with them playing soccer and boys doing ballet, only 71 percent of their male counterparts felt the same way.

While it was heartening to see girls becoming more confident, Madeline Di Nonno, the institute’s chief executive, said the discrepancy might also reflect that boys fear being teased or bullied if they play with toys associated with girls.

“Let the kids decide what they want to play, how they want to play with it and how they want to express themselves,” she said in an interview.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them,’ ” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, told the Guardian newspaper.

The company said in an emailed statement that it would work to offer a more diverse array of characters and roles so that no child would “feel that they weren’t welcome or represented” in Lego products.

The campaign to make toys and other children’s products more gender-neutral has been around for several years. Advocates including Evan Low, a Democratic assemblyman who helped write the new California law, note that gender-based divisions of such products have contributed to “the proliferation of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]-geared toys” for boys and “pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life” for girls.

Some conservative organizations, however, pushed back on the California bill, arguing that a government-imposed view on gender constitutes a violation of free speech and reflects attempts to impose a gender-neutral ideology.

Click here to read the full article on Washington Post.

Target Announces Juneteenth As An Official Paid Company Holiday
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June teenth freedom day text on a multi-colored background with different sized shapes

After the tragic death of George Floyd and the protests and riots that followed, corporations are making changes one move at a time. Target is the latest company to announce that it will honor Juneteenth as an official paid holiday.

In a statement released Brian Cornell, CEO and chairman stated, “We recognize that the racial trauma the country is experiencing now is not new, but throughout recent weeks there has been a sense that this time is, and has to be, different,” says Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target. “Juneteenth takes on additional significance in this moment. Moving now to recognize it on an annual basis—as a day to celebrate, further educate ourselves or connect with our communities—is one more important action Target can take as a company to help the country live up to the ideal of moving forward in a new way.”

Distribution centers and stores will remain open, but hourly team members who work on June 19 will receive time and a half. Eligible team members will have the option to take the day off with full pay. Corporate offices will be closed.

Target has also donated $10 million dollars to advance social justice and support rebuilding efforts in local communities.

Other companies that have announced Juneteenth observance are Nike, Twitter, and Square to name a few.

In a statement, CEO John Donahoe sent a message to his staff and stated, “As many of you may know, next Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Starting this year and going forward, Nike will recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday in the U.S,” he wrote.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey stated, “Both Twitter and Square are making #Juneteenth (June 19th) a company holiday in the US, forevermore. A day for celebration, education, and connection. Countries and regions around the world have their own days to celebrate emancipation, and we will do the work to make those dates company holidays everywhere we are present.”

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. NAWBO Leadership Academy – Winter 2022
    January 31, 2022
  3. NAWBO LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 2022
    January 31, 2022
  4. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  5. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022