“For Colored Girls” opens strong to positive reviews, film’s Tessa Thompson talks about her role
By Sandra Varner, special for shades Magazine

Innocence lost, maturity found and the bonds of sisterhood prevail in the heart wrenching drama, “For Colored Girls,” the film adaptation of author Ntozake Shange’s multiple award-winning stage play, now in theaters.

One of the film’s stars, Tessa Thompson, recently spoke about preparing for her role in “Colored Girls” and the message it may send.

Read more …

Should parents be concerned about their kids playing sports?
By Princess McDowell, shades magazine

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy – CTE – is caused by repetitive brain trauma through both recognized concussions and smaller, sub-concussive blows. The repeated hits create a buildup of tau proteins, which kill nerve cells. Symptoms include dementia, depression and lack of impulse control.

Following reports that several professional athletes were found to have the illness after death, CTE has gained national attention recently. And in recent months, younger athletes are being diagnosed with having CTE – causing some parents to wonder how this may affect their children.

Read more …

Blogger of the Week: Lolita Enriquez-Guevarra

“Lolita Enriquez-Guevarra investigates and reports the people she meets, the places she visits and the trends she witnesses.”

The extended tagline on Guevarra’s blog – LEGwork – says it best. What it doesn’t convey is that (currently) all the stories on her blog are stories in and around Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, where she currently resides.

Read more …


‘Quiet As They Come’ – An interview with author Angie Chau
By Thai Anh Nguyen, New America Media

San Francisco author Angie Chau’s debut short story collection, “Quiet As They Come,” depicts Vietnamese-Americans living in the Bay Area. NAM contributor Thai Anh Nguyen spoke with Châu about the book and what it feels like to be a literary sensation.

Read more …

Getting creative with celebrating ‘los muertos’

From the shades Magazine staff

During the month of October, Kathy Cano-Murillo has celebrated the upcoming Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday with a diverse collection of cultural and unique DIY crafts.

And not to dismiss the ghoulish holiday of Halloween, Cano-Murillo also offers a diverse mix of fun projects that will entertain young and old.

Read more …

Asian-American women seek answers, solace in ‘pro choice vs. life’ decision
Hyphen Magazine News Feature/New America Media
By Lisa Wong Macabasco

(Editor’s note: The following is the second of a two-part story that examines the high number of abortions among Asian-American women and why several women use their right to choose, often a result of cultural upbringings.)

Read Part 2 here.
Read Part 1 (Oct. 20) here.

VOICES: Morning commute

For about a year, Oakland, California, resident Airial Clark has taken part in a morning ritual: A walk from Grand Lake through Downtown and Chinatown, to Jack London Square. She takes her two sons to school then makes her way to work.

The following is a spoken word podcast that takes a simple daily routine to the next level.

Read more …

Why abortion rate among Asian-American women is so high

Hyphen Magazine News Feature/New America Media
By Lisa Wong Macabasco

(Editor’s note: The following is the first of a two-part story that examines the high number of abortions among Asian-American women and why several women use their right to choose, often a result of cultural upbringings.)

One day five years ago, Kuping Pan’s 28-year-old daughter, Christine, came home wearing a quizzical expression. Christine had just visited a Vietnamese fortune-teller who looked deep into her face and proclaimed: Your mother has five children.

Christine was puzzled. She knew her mother had been pregnant four times: with her older sister, her younger brother, herself and a subsequent pregnancy that ended in an abortion.

“So I told her the story,” Pan says.

Read more …

The Princess Points: ESPN may finally provide legitimacy women’s sports deserve

By Princess McDowell, shades magazine

With the secret meeting at Torrey Pines, the buzz was born.

Women’s sports executives, iconic female athletes, journalists and enthusiasts all descended on the Lodge in La Jolla, California, the weekend of Sept. 30 to meet, fellowship and announce the creation of another subsidiary of mega sports media outlet ESPN – this one dedicated to women’s sports.

And if the network does it right, espnW will successfully do all the things Gentile mentioned and legitimize women’s sports and female sports fans in the process.

Read more …

Happy Birthday Hat to me
By Ricki Stevenson, special to shades Magazine

(Editors’ note: In 1997, former Bay Area radio and TV personality Ricki Stevenson moved with her daughter, Dedie, to Paris, France. She planned to stay for one year, but fate had another plan and today, she continues to call the European capital home.

Beginning with the November issue of shades, Stevenson will share her life abroad and cover the stories, issues and concerns of the thousands of other women of color who reside in Paris.

The follow is a preview to her monthly column.)

After going through the 40-week process of carrying and giving birth to my daughter Dedie on Aug. 28, 1986 – the baby some doctors said I would never carry to term – I came to the conclusion that it is mothers who should be honored and showered with gifts each year when their offspring celebrate another birthday.

With that in mind, I made it my own tradition to give my Mom flowers or some gift of remembrance each Oct. 17 – my birthday – to thank her for taking on the awesome task of being my Mom.

Mom made her transition July 17, 2009. That means I’ve now seen two birthdays without her … and it’s been challenging.

Read more …

Ask and do tell: A step closer to equality

By Marcus Osborne, shades Magazine

I’ve not been allotted enough words to delve into the specific ramifications and next steps as they pertain to Tuesday’s ruling in San Diego by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips.

The ruling essentially says that the United States’ policy regarding gays in the military – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – is unconstitutional.

No fair-minded American could logically disagree.

Read more …

Unique group of filmmakers celebrate 10 years of telling ‘our stories’
By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, shades Magazine

It opened with a Native American prayer and reflection, ended with praise and thanks and in between, there was a diverse mix of spoken word, song, dance and self-expression performances.

The “Jubilation!” as it was dubbed, was the 10th anniversary celebration of film, art and sisterhood for the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, or QWOCMAP. And about 100 women gathered this past Saturday for the event … some former and current project filmmakers, all fans of the organization that has provided a voice – and a lens – to so many.

Read more …

Raven Symone: Taking roles that ‘represent’ change, all women
By Sandra Varner, special to shades Magazine

She captivated TV audiences as Olivia, the precocious 3-year-old darling on “The Cosby Show” some 20 years ago.

She acquired an enormous fan base of “tweens” to teens in her effervescent roles on a string of successful TV shows, among them “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” “Kim Possible” and “That’s So Raven,” and appeared in such feature films as “Dr. Doolittle 1 and 2” and “College Road Trip.”

Presently, she voices the character of Iridessa – the first African-American fairy in “Tinker Bell,” Disney’s popular animated franchise.

For the past two decades, Raven Symone has become synonymous with family-friendly fun and she has no desire to switch gears at this stage of the game. Today, she is making her mark as an adult actress who chooses roles that she hopes will celebrate women and look beyond color.

Read more …

Breast cancer screening numbers drop for one AZ organization following immigration law passing

By Tamerra Griffin, shades Magazine

During the month of October, traditional holiday hues of orange and black are forced to compete with the presence of pink as countless cities nationwide celebrate National Breast Cancer Month.

And in Maricopa County, Arizona – which includes the greater Phoenix area – a number of survivors owe their lives to organizations like Sistas of AZ. The mission of this fast-growing volunteer group is to promote healthy lifestyles and overall wellness among women of color.

The Sistas’ primary focus this month is PINK 365 – a program that provides women with breast health outreach education and free mammograms held in a mammography Motor Coach. PINK 365 is specifically designed to benefit women who are uninsured or underinsured and typically, these women are of Latino and African American descent.

But despite the expanse and influence of the Sistas of AZ, there are still obstacles that stand in the way of these women receiving such vital screenings.

Read more …

Plans for new downtown sex-positive shop receives thumbs up from industry veteran

By Angela Hart, Oakland Local/shades Magazine

Nenna Joiner was born and raised underneath the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Vegas is sex,” she said. “But I didn’t see anyone that looks like me growing up.”

Today, Joiner is working with the city of Oakland, California, to open up a sex parlor just south of the old Fox Theater on Telegraph Avenue downtown — a move that supporters say will dramatically shift the East Bay’s adult entertainment industry and attract business to the growing number of vacant storefronts downtown.

Joiner’s shop, dubbed Feelmore, aims to bring greater visibility and sexual empowerment to all people of color — both women and men — who she says have been largely ignored by the market. The store will not only offer sex toys and videos, but magazines, books and classes on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases.

Read more …

The Princess Points: Has women’s bball lost its luster?
By Princess McDowell, shades Magazine

I’ve been patiently waiting for women’s basketball to regain popularity for some time now.

Sometimes we manage to grab the spotlight for a quick second – like when the hype surrounding players like Candace Parker and Britney Griner was at its highest. But like a candle with a short wick, the excitement soon dies down until it’s completely gone and all its fans are left in the darkness.

That’s the downside of women’s sports … its popularity in America always seems to happen in cycles.

Read more …

Get your culture on at SF Latino Film Festival
By Kim Harris, shades Magazine

If you are a fan of independent film projects, there is still time to catch a diversely creative mix of them at this year’s San Francisco Latino Film Festival.

One of the festival’s featured films is “Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê,” a documentary film by Carolina Moraes-Liu.

Read more …

The Princess Points: Is Seattle’s Storm next victim of women vs. men?
By Prin
cess McDowell, shades Magazine

On Thursday, the Seattle Storm won their second WNBA championship and the only emotion I feel is fear.

I’m afraid that one day, the Seattle Storm will no longer be in Seattle.

Granted, it’s probably an irrational fear, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still have it.

Read more …

VOICES: Dear Wall Street Journal – Seriously?
By Senay Őzdemir

Dear editor,

As a European Muslim feminist who supports a tolerant and moderate Islam, I was really happy that the Wall Street Journal devoted so much space on its op-ed page to the question “What Is Moderate Islam?” The six “leading thinkers” were eloquent and provocative.

But seriously, WSJ, you couldn’t find a single Muslim woman to weigh in?

Read more …

Let’s here it for the girls! New sex-positive shop headed to Oakland, CA
By Oakland Local Editorial Team

The Sex Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s is long over with, however, there is often times still a stigma associated with women who stand up for their sexual health and pleasures.

Videographer and long-time Oakland, California, resident Nenna Joiner plans to cater to these women.

Read more …

Women2Watch: Soccer star Kai makes game look easyBy Danielle Brown, shades Magazine

Winning an Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer – check.

Becoming Hawaii’s first female professional soccer player  – check.

Placing Hawaii and women’s professional soccer on everyone’s radar  – check, and check.

At 27-years-old, superstar athlete Natasha Kai has a lot to check off on a very exceptional “to-do” list.

Read more …

Post-war Iraq leaving women in same or worse shape than start of conflict
By Kim Harris
, shades Magazine

It has been two weeks since President Barack Obama announced an end to the war in Iraq and whether or not the unrest continues, Americans and Iraqis now have the unpleasant responsibility of picking up the pieces and acknowledging the damage of the seven-year war.

Among the wreckage, a particularly overlooked demographic of women – those over 30 and unmarried – have been left socially sidelined by the missed opportunities for marriage during war-time. For an Iraqi woman, it is typical to be married by her late teens or early 20’s.

Read more …

Nationwide photo essay aims to rid stigma surrounding HIV
By shades Magazine staff

Positively Aware magazine wants the world to realize something: that face could belong to anyone.

On Sept. 21, the online publication devoted to HIV treatment and wellness is sponsoring “A Day with HIV in America,” a collaborative photo essay to illustrate a day in the life with HIV.

Read more …

Less women of color having children, study shows
By Kim Harris, shades Magazine

The rates of American women who have passed their childbearing years without having children have grown, particularly for women of color, a recent study shows.

Pew Research conducted a study of combined fertility data from the Census Bureau from 1994 and 2008, using the measure of childlessness as women past their childbearing years – between the age of 40 and 44 – who had never given birth. And although across the board more women are passing their childbearing years without having children, the number of childless women grew more between 1994 and 2008 for women of color than for white women.

Read more …

Female-led Unity Church celebrates World Day of Prayer
By Tuseda A. Graggs, shades Magazine

When the World Day of Prayer takes place this Thursday, Sept. 9, many of the prayers offered up will be for people who want to be healed.

However, in these tough economic times, many of the prayers also will be asking for financial breakthrough, according to Charlotte Shelton, president and CEO of the Association of Unity Churches International.

Read more …

I am Shabnam Amini
By Shabnam Amini, special to shades Magazine

(Editor’s note: The following short video is part of a four-week series on modern Islam that is running daily on throughout the month of Ramadan. Shabnam Amini, 16, answered the challenge with these thoughts on what it means to her to be Muslim.)

Read more …

Proof is in the pies for radio show host turned baking entrepreneur

By Kim Harris, shades Magazine

Miranda Wilson hates the word entrepreneur.

“I’ve always carried myself as a corporation of one,” said Wilson, owner of Goodness Gracious Sweet Potato Pies – a bake-to-order pie business in Oakland. “When you’re baking personally for people you know, there’s still love in the food.”

For many, the memories of sitting in Grandma’s or Nana’s kitchen is one that is treasured dearly. Today, women using their cultural culinary upbringings to make a living are a growing trend in new entrepreneurs across the country. From baked goods to tamale shops to a diverse mix of diverse restaurants and caterers, these women are finding their way through tough economic times to support their families while celebrating tradition.

Read more …

Autism and the African American Female: Tommi Lee’s Story (Video)

By Shawndrea Thomas, Special to shades Magazine

Recent studies show that there is a higher risk for autism in African American children. The following is a story about Tommi Lee Gillard and her mother’s crusade to educate the African-American community – in Columbus, Ohio and beyond – about autism and it’s impact.

Check out video and read more …

Celebrating Small Business: Ethiopia comes to SF SoMa

By shades Magazine staff

For entrepreneur chef Fana Alemayehu, introducing others to her native Ethiopia was important.

So she did just that with Tuesday’s, opening of Moya – a new restaurant in San Francisco’s South of Market District offering authentic, gourmet Ethiopian cuisine, which emphasizes the communal sharing of meals as way for people to come together.

Read more …

CA employment bill offers hope for disabled women
By Kim Harris, shades Magazine

For Monique Harris and Lauren Wilson, life has been anything but easy.

However, with a recent push towards greater advocacy and awareness, the two women, as well as future generations of individuals with developmental disabilities, have greater opportunities to reach their goals.

Read more …

Annual music festival exceeds expectations
By Tuseda Graggs, shades Magazine

Official crowd estimates were not available at press time, but police officials estimate the crowd size over the two days at more than 100,000. In recent years, that number has averaged 50,000 attendees over the now two-day event.

Check out the slideshow and read more …

Home alone at 90 – NY Chinatown’s isolated elders
By Lotus Chau, Sing Tao Daily News/New America Media

When Daisy Ding, 83, fell in her bathroom in New York City earlier this summer, she was not found until a neighbor checked and discovered her body four days later.

Last April, Ho Sing, 87, died in a fire. He did not speak English and refused to live with his relatives, so resided in New York’s Chinatown alone.

These are some of the recent incidents that have stirred up community concerns about Chinese elders living in isolation. The nearly 50,000 Chinese immigrants aged 65 and over in the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens face special challenges, according to a 2009 report by the New York Academy of Medicine.

Read more …

Prop. 8 affecting those whose marriage is legal … as well as their families
By Kim Harris, shades Magazine

Over the past 10 years, same-sex couples have increasingly pushed to gain rights to protect their relationships and their families, under the law.

What’s next and how has the controversy over “equal rights” affected their families?

Read more …

Oakland resident reconnects African-Americans to outdoors

By CB Smith-Dahl, Oakland Local

A conversation with Rue Mapp about her website,, is an exercise in inspiration.

The site includes blog entries like “5 Concerns That Keep Black Folks Out of the Woods” and “Etiquette Tips for Camping With Friends and Family.” It also includes a social network where travelers of all ages and races post both advice and adventures in camping. Yet the most amazing adventure is Rue’s trip from her local Oakland roots to our nation’s capitol.

Read more …

Women artists support, embrace annual music festival
By Tuseda A. Graggs, shades Magazine

When Oakland’s Art & Soul Festival opens its gates this weekend, many of the vendors whose booths line the streets will be devoted followers who return each year to not only enjoy the music event, but to sell their wares, as well.

Oakland Artist Rachel-Anne Palacios, who creates multicultural folk art and does Henna body tattoos, festival this year – just as she has for the past seven years.

Read more …

Spoken word artist re-launches Oakland’s ‘Soul Cypher’

By Marcus Osborne, shades Magazine

One of the reasons Oakland has been named one of “America’s 5 Coolest Cities” by Forbes Magazine is its thriving arts scene. Oakland’s music, cinema and comedy pedigree is impressive and well documented.

What most outside the city’s borders probably don’t realize, is that Oakland is the breeding ground for many of the nation’s most popular spoken word artists. Leading the movement is one of its native daughters, Brandy K. Daley.

Read more …

Filmmaker Tina Mabry shares wisdom, latest work at film festival
By Danielle J. Brown, Oakland Local/shades Magazine

Tina Mabry never set out to become your conventional Hollywood blockbuster director – nor is she trying to be.

Yet, with her nationally acclaimed feature film Mississippi Damned – a true-to-life drama about a black family struggling with poverty, alcoholism, homophobia and racism in the rural south – the filmmaker is making huge strides in bringing independent black queer cinema to the masses.

Read more …

Annual music festival aims to shine positive light on Oakland
By Tuseda A. Graggs, shades Magazine

The 2010 Art & Soul Festival will produce about $650,000 and has become a self-supporting entity – not using any city funding. Over the past 10 years, is is estimated that about a half-million total attendees have come through the festival gates.

Those thousands of people can generate substantial foot traffic on weekends – a time when the city’s downtown is not always bustling. Merchants around the event also can reap the benefits of the festival at a time when some are suffering as a result of the spate of violence following protests in July after former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted on manslaughter charges for shooting an unarmed Oscar Grant on a train platform in Oakland Jan. 1, 2009.

Read more …

Househead DJ Olga T keeps crowd happy, music moving week after week
By Sara Kassabian, Oakland Local

“We can use house music to heal Oakland,” said Olga Texidor, also known as DJ Olga T, in  her backyard studio with her loyal companion, Anya the laid-back pit bull, beside her.

With songs ranging from trance to tribal styles being transferred from physical vinyl to Serato’s newlydigitalized time-coded vinyl, house music has been configured and transformed many times since Olga started spinning in 1996.

And despite the change of equipment from vinyl and tape-deck to MacBook and digitalized vinyl turn-tables, for Olga, house music is essentially love.

Read more …

Women working within Islamic society for change in Middle East
By Maryann Hrichak, SF Public Press

A growing Islamic feminist movement is taking shape in the Middle East and offers hope for the future of women’s rights there, according to Isobel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Coleman recently spoke at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco to promote her new book, “Paradise beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East.” Her book chronicles the stories of women in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, an area of the world she terms the “strategic crescent.” Her latest work reflects how Muslim women and men are using progressive interpretations of Islam to support women’s rights.

Read more …

‘Oakland’s own’ female artists highlighted at 10th Annual Art & Soul Festival
By Tuseda A. Graggs, shades Magazine

Since Oakland’s first Art & Soul Festival 10 years ago, event organizer Samee Roberts has always envisioned a line-up similar to the one she has this year – the huge, two-day celebration will feature a “who’s who” of Oakland’s own hometown artists.

Among the artists slated to perform this year are some female favorites: “Funky Divas of Soul” En Vogue and percussionist of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” fame, Vicki Randle.

Read more …

Sistah Vegan: New book is Afro-centric, LGBTQ-friendly, and well worth a read
By CB Smith-Dahl, Oakland Local

In her book, “Sistah Vegan,” A. Breeze Harper collects a series of articles by black women about their journeys – having switched to a plant-based diet. Most of them are first-person testimonies; all of them make great food for thought.

Read more …

HIV, AIDS gap widens between blacks and other ethnic groups in East Bay
By Danielle Brown, SF Public Press/shades Magazine

As overall AIDS rates fall in Alameda County, the rate in the black community has hardly budged in the past 10 years, making African Americans in this part of the East Bay increasingly overrepresented among sufferers of the disease.

Read more …

How the LGBTQQI West Was One: Envisioning change, artistic risk and leadership in Oakland
By Tehea Robie, Oakland Local

Robbie Clark, of Causa Justa::Just Cause and Urban Congress 2010

Years ago – when the sun was in Pisces, the moon was in Sagittarius and Cancer was just ascending the horizon – an inquisitive, artistic, gender-queer defender of urban justice was born.

Last week, I got a glimpse of the inner space of Robbie Clark’s life, as it evolves on planet earth.

Read more …

Brown and Proud: Melanie Cervantes tells the tale of a radical art poster
By Susan Mernit, Oakland Local

Melanie Cervantes, artist and partner in Dignidad Rebelde, has a post this weekend about how she designed Brown and Proud, the poster that she created for the Oakland May Day March that will also be sent to show solidarity with people in  Arizona who are opposing Arizona SB 170.

Read more …

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