Posts tagged with "blm"

MLWXBF chapter 4 illustration via Alison Christenson for use by 360 Magazine

Ivy League BLM Courses

By: Emily Bunn

Ivy League Schools to Begin Teaching “Black Lives Matter” Courses

Proving their commitment to diversity and understanding, several Ivy League colleges will begin offering courses on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whereas other Ivy League schools, such as Cornell, have created Africana Departments that focus on the centrality of Africa and the African Diaspora to the modern world, BlackLivesMatter classes are situated in a specific cultural moment. Though, of course, the Black Lives Matter falls under the umbrella of contemporary African history, it is positioned in a more concentrated, modern application. Princeton and Dartmouth are the two first schools to begin accrediting this intersectional coursework. While Princeton most recently enacted their BLM coursework, Dartmouth has been pioneering this change since 2015.

Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matter course discusses topics such as The Ivory Tower, understanding St. Louis and its racial history, race and class, racial violence, and systemic and unconscious racism, among other topics. Part of Dartmouth’s course description reads, “though the academy can never lay claim to social movements, this course seeks in part to answer the call of students and young activists around the country to take the opportunity to raise questions about, offer studied reflection upon, and allocate dedicated institutional space to the failures of democracy, capitalism, and leadership and to make #BlackLivesMatter. Developed through a group effort, this course brings to bear collective thinking, teaching, research, and focus on questions around race, structural inequality, and violence.” The course is taught by a wide variety of professors from different academic disciplines and social backgrounds. Taught for ten weeks by close to 20 different professors, Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matter coursework stands as a comprehensive example of a cross-disciplinary concentration that recognizes and situates history in a contemporary, American context.

Princeton’s #BlackLivesMatter class looks to examine the “historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement,” and is “committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies.” Princeton’s #BlackLivesMatter’s course description reads as such: “This seminar traces the historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement in the United States and comparative global contexts. The movement and course are committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies. The course seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.” The course’ sample reading list includes selections from Angela Davis, Claudia Rankin, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Princeton’s course will be taught by Professor Hanna Garth, who has previously taught “Race and Racisms,” “Postcolonial and Decolonial Theory,” and “Theories of Social Justice.” Garth’s self-defined interest in “the ways in which people struggle to overcome structural violence” and past experience has well-prepared her for teaching this class. Garth remarks, “All of my research, teaching, and mentoring is designed around my commitment to feminist methodologies and critical race theory.”

While some have aggressively asserted that Princeton’s course readings are from a former communist party leader who once made it on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, their negativity further highlights the necessity of this course. While these assertions may be true, it is telling that certain critics commonly overlook the individual’s many (more recent) accomplishments. The author in question is Angela Davis – a revered, respected, and well-educated civil rights activist, philosopher, academic, and author. By painting Davis as an unpatriotic, dangerous criminal, it distracts from the important lessons that are to be learned from this influential leader. Similarly, Fox News’ article on Princeton’s new course links their mention of the “Black Lives Matter” movement not to an explanation of what the movement is, but instead to a page on US protests. As opposed to creating an educational resource for what the BLM Movement is, conservative critics are quick to jump to claims of Black violence and riots.

Especially in 2021, as the United States grapples with the fight for racial and civil justice, discussions surround race, policing, prison reform, and politics are more pertinent than ever. It is absolutely essential that our nation’s college students are exposed to critical race theory and critical thinking. By shielding America’s youth from the necessary history of this country – which is still being experienced today – we are only putting them in a position of increased vulnerability and ignorance. Knowledge is power and educating oneself on society’s issues is the only way to efficient work towards progressive social change. Hopefully, as the most prestigious academic institutions begin to model examples of intersectional and anti-racist coursework, other colleges and universities will soon follow suit.

Mel Quagrainie for use by 360 Magazine

Justice For Ahmaud Arbery

On November 24, 2021, three white men were found guilty of murdering 25-year-old unarmed Black man Ahmaud Arbery. The murder was committed by the three white men after unfounded suspicions that Mr. Arbery had been committing break-ins in their neighborhood in South Georgia.

The three defendants were Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMicheal, 65, and William Bryan, 52, their neighbor.

Mr. Arbery lived outside of the small town of Brunswick, Georgia with his mother. He enjoyed staying in good shape and was a jogger who was often seen running in and around his neighborhood. Mr. Arbery was shot dead in a suburban neighborhood known as Satilla Shores through which he was jogging.

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, Arbery was murdered after being provoked by a white man and his son. Gregory McMichael saw Mr. Arbery running in Satilla Shores from his front porch and believed Mr. Arbery looked like a suspected man involved in numerous break-ins in the area. He then called to his son, Travis McMichael.

The police reports state that “the men grabbed a .357 Magnum handgun and shotgun, got into a pickup truck and chased Mr. Arbery, trying unsuccessfully to cut him off. A third man was also [William Bryan] involved in the pursuit.” In a recording of a 911 call that was made before the chase began, a neighbor reported a Black man was inside a house still under construction.

A video shot by William Bryan shows a struggle that preceded three shotgun blasts. The video is about a half-minute long and shows Mr. Arbery running along the two-laned suburban road when he comes upon a white truck. Travis opens the driver’s side door with a shotgun, and Greg, his father, is in the bed of the pickup truck with a handgun.

Mr. Arbery then runs out of frame, and muffled shouting is heard before Mr. Arbery appears back in the video’s view. Mr. Arbery and Travis enter view of the camera recording, fighting outside of the truck as three shotgun shots echo.

Mr. Arbery then tries to run but stumbles and falls after a few steps.

There was another video published that depicted a man walking into a house that was under construction in the same neighborhood, with him eventually running out. S. Lee Merritt, one of Mr. Arbery’s family’s lawyers, released a statement that the video does not reveal anything that was not already understood evidence. Merritt continues by explaining that Mr. Arbery was not engaging in illegal activity and did not take anything from the site.

Gregory McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer and past investigator with the local district attorney’s office.

Two months passed after the shooting, and still, no one had been arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The prosecutor for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, Jackie Johnson, recused herself from the case because of a potential conflict of interest. Gregory, one of the men involved in the shooting, had previously worked in her office.

The case was sent to George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Georgia, who also later recused himself from the case. This came following Mr. Arbery’s mother arguing the point that Barnhill had a point of conflict as well because his son also worked for the Brunswick district attorney. Before he was released from the case, Mr. Barnhill did write a letter to the Glynn County Police Department arguing there was not adequate probable cause to arrest the pursuers of Ahmaud Arbery.

In December, the Atlanta news station WSB attained police body camera footage from when officers arrived on February 23, including the conversations that took place immediately following the shooting. These recorded conversations show that the officers on the scene knew of Gregory’s background.

Ms. Johnson, who was voted out of her job as chief prosecutor for the area, was indicted with a charge of violating her oath. This came about from her demonstration of “favor and affection” to Gregory. There was also a charge of obstruction due to her instructions to two police officers on February 23 to not arrest Travis.

During the eventual lead prosecutor in the case, Linda Dunikoski’s, closing statement, she argued that the defendants began a pursuit after and an attack on Mr. Arbery, “because he was a Black man running down the street.” This raised her question of whether race was a leading issue in the attack. The prosecution continued to argue to the jury that Mr. Arbery posed no imminent threat to the men and that they had no reason to believe he had caused such suspected crimes, a tactic that proved effectual due to the guilty verdict by the jury.

The case and trial have been carefully followed in the United States since the earlier April conviction of white officer Derek Chauvin for the second-degree murder of George Floyd. Video from the scene depicted Chauvin kneeling on the neck of unarmed Black man George Floyd for nearly nine minutes. This video generated an international uproar, placing an emphasis on questions about the unfair treatment that minorities endure at the hands of the police in America.

The three defendants face sentences of up to life in prison for the state crimes that were committed. They had each separately been indicted on federal charges that include hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. They are expected to stand trial for those charges in February.

Mel Quargrainie for use by 360 Magazine

Rittenhouse Murder Trial Reaches The End

By: McKinley Franklin

After 24 hours of deliberations, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges. Read more about the case and Rittenhouse’s shooting on the night of August 25, 2020 at a Black Lives Matter protest HERE.

Let’s analyze the trial and how the jury came to their decision.

The Rittenhouse trial resumed once again on November 11, as the closing arguments of the case have commenced. At the top of the day, the case progressed, and Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped the sixth count that Rittenhouse faced. This sixth count accused Rittenhouse of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Although the prosecution objected this, Schroeder ultimately ended up dropping the charge.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys also filed for a mistrial shortly after the charge was dropped. Schroeder conveyed this news, announcing that Rittenhouse’s team had filed an official motion for mistrial, which read “The state has repeatedly violated instructions from the Court, acted in bad faith and intentionally provided technological evidence which was different from theirs. For those reasons, the defendant respectfully requests the Court find ‘prosecutorial overreaching’ existed, that overreaching was intentional and in bad faith and thereby grant the defendant’s motion for a mistrial with prejudice.”

The prosecution started their closing arguments first, having head prosecutor on the case Thomas Binger speak about Rittenhouse’s intentions of being in Kenosha. Binger urged the jury to question the intention that Rittenhouse had in Kenosha on the night of the shooting. Binger continued his argument for the prosecution by debunking the rumor that Joseph Rosenbaum, one of Rittenhouse’s two victims, threatened to kill him earlier on the night of the shooting. The prosecution highlights this to communicate to the jury that they believe Rosenbaum posed no real threat to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument resumed, businesses in Kenosha started boarding up their storefronts amidst the final verdict of the case. 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops are reportedly on standby in Kenosha as well.

The prosecution wrapped up their final closing arguments with Binger arguing that Rittenhouse was not acting in self-defense. Binger points out that Rittenhouse killed two unarmed men and wounded another with a firearm that did not belong to him. While Binger has used several videos from the shooting as evidence to the jury, he urged the jury that Rittenhouse is guilty of all the counts against him.

Binger closes, “He committed first-degree reckless homicide against Joseph Rosenbaum. He put Richie McGinniss’s life in jeopardy. He put jump-kick-man’s life in jeopardy. He intended to kill Anthony Huber and he attempted to kill Gaige Grosskreutz. The question is whether or not you believe that his actions were legally justified, and I submit to you that no reasonable person would have done what the defendant did. And that makes your decision easy.”

The defense began their closing argument critiquing the arguments of the prosecution. Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards argues that Rosenbaum was intentionally trying to attack the defendant and that he even had his hand on the gun. Richards asked the jury to “use your common sense and judgment” when contemplating if Rosenbaum was a real danger to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument continued, defense attorney Richards argued that there has been a “rush to judgment” in the case. Richards pointed out that after the shooting on August 25, 2020, there were rumors circulating about the shooting and Rittenhouse’s intentions. There was talk about the fact that Rittenhouse crossed state lines to attend the protests and brought his AR-15 with him.

Richards then stated that Gaige Grosskreutz should have not provoked Kyle Rittenhouse. The defense attorney says that Grosskreutz should have “let him be and go give aid and comfort” to Rosenbaum who was just previously shot by Rittenhouse. Richards also argues that Grosskreutz was proceeding on Rittenhouse when he was shot, and this was part of the reason for him shooting.

Richards goes on with his point that Rittenhouse was not searching for trouble when he went to Kenosha despite what the prosecution argued. The defense states that Rittenhouse “feels for this community,” and that he was not trying to start conflict.” The defense soon after wrapped up their closing arguments, and the court went on break.

After returning from the break, the prosecution began their rebuttal. Attorney James Kraus argued that it was unnecessary for Rittenhouse to react to threats by using deadly force. The prosecution says that Rittenhouse should have used all other methods of self-defense before turning to shooting.

Deliberations for the Rittenhouse trial began on November 16, 2021. The panel of 18 potential jurors was narrowed down to 12, with those who were not chosen to serve as alternates. The jury consists of five men and seven women. During the first day of deliberations, the jurors made two requests for more copies of the jury instructions. The jury was dismissed on November 15 after a little over eight hours.

The second day of deliberations continued for the Rittenhouse trial again on November 17, 2021. Judge Schroeder did receive a question from the jury during the morning of November 17, asking about the reviewal process of video evidence in the case. The question was essentially if the jurors would be able to view videos in private or in the courtroom.

Schroeder also addressed the fact that he had not had a chance to read the defense’s motion for mistrial with prejudice. He explains that only one day prior to November 17 he received the motion. Schroeder continues, stating “And I really think before I rule on a motion, I should let the state respond. So why anyone would think, it is odd for the judge to sit on a motion to dismiss, I have no idea.”

Following the request of video evidence earlier during the day of November 17, this permission was granted to the jury. The jury requested a livestream video shot by Gaige Grosskreutz. The livestream was shot moments after Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum.

Deliberations continued through November 19, and after 24 hours of deliberations, the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges he faced.

Judge Bruce Schroeder spoke to the jury and thanked them for their efforts, stating “”All of you – I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with, and it has truly been my pleasure. I think without commenting on your verdict… the verdict themselves, just in terms of your attentiveness and the cooperation that you gave to us justifies the confidence that the founders of our country placed in you.”

Allison Christensen for use by 360 Magazine

Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial

By: McKinley Franklin

18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is currently on trial for the killing of two men and wounding of another. Rittenhouse’s shooting occurred on the night of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin at protests that occurred following the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake. On the night of the shooting, Rittenhouse shot at a total of four people, resulting in two fatalities and one wounding. Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz was wounded.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted homicide. The prosecution seeks out to show that Rittenhouse’s acts were uncontrolled and criminal, whereas the defense argues that he was acting in self-defense.

Let’s recount the night of August 25, 2020:

Prior to the night of Rittenhouse’s killings, Kenosha had endured two nights of protests concerning the shooting of a local Black man, Jacob Blake. The protests were referred to as chaotic, and police were using rubber bullets and tear gas to “control” crowds.

At around 10 pm on the night of the killings, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, held an AR-15-style rifle outside of a used-car dealership with other armed men. While testifying, Rittenhouse said that he was asked to help guard the dealership to prevent looting and arson. He also testified that he had a medical kit with him and that his goal was to help anyone who may become injured that night.

During his testimony, Rittenhouse states that Rosenbaum threatened his life twice this night, and that he eventually ambushed him. Rittenhouse says that he tried to run from him, and that Rosenbaum threw a bag at him that he mistook for a chain. Then, Rittenhouse aimed the rifle at Rosenbaum, and Rosenbaum proceeded towards him, Rittenhouse also testifying that Rosenbaum grabbed his gun. Rittenhouse states that he then heard a gunshot behind him, and then fired four times at Rosenbaum, killing him.

After fleeing the scene of the Rosenbaum shooting, a crowd followed him, and he began to get hit with a skateboard by Huber and had rocks thrown at him. This caused him to fall to the ground, and Huber hit him with the skateboard again. Again, Rittenhouse states that Huber grabbed his gun and even “felt the strap coming off [his] body,” and he proceeded to fire a shot, killing Huber.

Grosskreutz, also armed, then ran up to Rittenhouse, with his hands raised in a “surrender” position. Grosskreutz continued to proceed towards Rittenhouse, and he fired a shot towards him, hitting him in the arm. Rittenhouse testifies that Grosskreutz was pointing the pistol towards his head before he shot.

After the shootings, Rittenhouse testified that he approached police with his hands up, but they ordered him to get out of the way and go home. Rittenhouse then turned himself in at the Antioch Police Department an hour after these events.

The murder trial has drawn in a great amount of attention, for numerous reasons. Most recently Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is overseeing the case, made an inappropriate joke regarding Asian food. As the court was prepping to take a lunch break on November 11, 2021, the judge stated, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming… isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor.” Schroeder’s comment seems to refer to the supply chain backlogs that have stemmed from overcrowding problems in California ports. John Yang, president, and executive director of AAJC says that the judge’s comment “harms our community and puts us in the crosshairs of micro aggressions as well as physical violence.” Schroeder’s insensitive comment comes only a week after a juror in this trial was dismissed over another inconsiderate joke. This time, the juror made a joke concerning the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the shooting that ultimately has direct correlation to the Rittenhouse trial. Schroeder summarizes “what he remembers” about the comment the juror made, stating that, “He was telling a joke … he made a reference about telling a joke about ‘Why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake,’ something to that effect.” Prosecutors argued that the comment alludes to racial bias, and both the defense and prosecution agreed to dismiss the juror. In response to the dismissal of the juror, Schroeder stated that, “It is clear that the appearance to bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”

The jury of eight men and 10 women will be reduced to 12 by a drawing of names earlier next week, when they expect to finish the case. More on the current status of the case HERE.

For use by 360 Magazine

Al Sharpton Responds

Today, November 11, through the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, William Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough shared some objections and concerns to the judge. Gough’s objection came from the presence of civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton being in the courtroom. He expressed to the judge, Judge Timothy Walmsley, that the presence of such civil rights leaders is “intimidation.” Reverend Al Sharpton was in attendance of the trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. While in attendance at the trial, Reverend Al Sharpton organized a prayer vigil with his parents outside of the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. Reverend Al Sharpton has since released this statement following the accusations of his presence being used for intimidation:

“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need spiritual and community support.

My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly.

The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a “black pastor” or not?

This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds.

I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”

Judge Timothy Walmsley who is overseeing the case indicated that he would not make blanket rules over attendance of the public and acknowledged that the company of Reverend Sharpton would not be a distraction.

Background on the Case

Sunday, February 23, 2020, the unarmed, Black twenty-five year old Ahmaud Arbery was chased and killed by three armed white men in a neighborhood in South Georgia and was killed. The National Action Network has continuously stood by the family of the victim in their quest for justice and continues to criticize the range of the jury for the case. The jury consists of eleven white women, three white men and one Black man in a county that is predominately Black. Though Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledges the presence of “intentional discrimination” in the range of the jury, he states that the trial over the killing of Arbery will proceed.

*Additional coverage from USA today

Black Wall Street via Big Hassle Media for use by 360 Magazine

Nikara Warren – Black Wall Street

Vibraphonist, composer, arranger, and educator Nikara Warren is excited to announce her debut album Nikara Presents Black Wall Street, due out November 12, 2021. To ring in the announcement, Warren has shared the jazzy, rap-centered single “Run Ricky.”  Stream it on Spotify HERE and Apple Music HERE. Warren has several performances slated through the rest of the year, not least among them the Nikara Presents Black Wall Street album release show at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) on Saturday, November 13. See below for the full list of upcoming performances.

The granddaughter of towering piano legend Kenny Barron, Warren has labored to solidify the album as a celebration of Black excellence in music, a joyous celebration of cultures, genres, identities, and resilience. While she is an accomplished vibraphonist and a true student of jazz, Warren’s music is an ecstatic celebration of many musical styles, from soul and funk to rock and rap, and everything in between.

Nikara Warren is a true Brooklynite. Born and bred in the eclectic and electric enclave, her family, her friends, her band, and her musical pedigree are a microcosm of the county at large. Her grandfather is world-renowned jazz pianist Kenny Barron, and she’s the daughter of a half Trinidadian soca/dancehall lover father, and a classic 1990s “Brooklyn Round the Way” girl mother. 

“I would wake up hearing Dizzy Gillespie; get in the car with my mom and listen to TLC; be dropped off at school and listen to System of a Down or The Who; play Charles Mingus in band; hear Biggie on the way home, and listen to Trio de Paz or some Brazilian music while eating dinner. Rhythm was always key,” she explains.

Today, Nikara celebrates Black excellence in music with her triumphant debut album, Nikara Presents Black Wall Street, out November 12. The provocative and evocative title commemorates the horrific Tulsa massacre when white mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked Black residents and their destroyed homes and businesses. It’s a day that has cast a dark shadow on Black achievement, though Nikara prefers to honor her Black ancestries’ splendor with a joyous celebration of cultures, genres, identities, and resilience.

“Back in 2012, when Trayvon Martin was killed, there was a lot happening in the news. I grew up in Brooklyn so it wasn’t uncommon to hear about people being assaulted and killed by cops, but it was uncommon for it to be televised,” Nikara recalls. She continues: “Around this time, I learned about Black Wall Street, and I started to understand the greatness of being Black through music. With my album, I wanted to get across the excellence of our heritage and create something new and modern from the Black Diaspora music culture in the West.”

As a composer, a musician, and an educator, Nikara is reimagining vibes. She is taking the instrument to the people with her infectious compositional sense, her post-modern patchwork of influences and cultural signposts, and her fearless musicality. Her bold quest comes from being well-versed in the vibraphone lineage, but seeking to adventure beyond it. 

Nikara earned a scholarship to the esteemed Berklee College of Music, and she was selected for the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program for original composition in 2013 and 2014. Nikara has performed as a part of SF Jazz’s “Women on The Rise” program, highlighting notable upcoming women in the jazz industry. In addition, Nikara has performed Black Wall Street compositions at NYC Winter Jazz Fest and at The Kennedy Center. 

Nikara grew up with her grandfather in the house, so naturally piano was her first instrument. Around the age of 14 Nikara switched to bass. She first heard vibes being played at the legendary Village Vanguard in her grandpa’s jazz ensemble, featuring the masterful Stefon Harris. Nikara was always a percussive person, and the vibes percussive and melodic capabilities instantly appealed to her. 

Despite her passion for the vibes, Nikara had her sights set on being a music business mogul. She landed a promising job after college, but soon found she craved more creativity than the 9-5 grind offered. In 2012, Nikara started shedding the vibes relentlessly, and by 2015 left her job to dedicate her life to becoming a composer and an artist. That fateful year was the dawn of the Black Wall Street music and artistic perspective. 

All of Nikara’s personal, cultural, familial, and musical journeys converge on Black Wall Street. Here, she explores an abstract sound-collage: hip-hop, jazz, neo-soul, Afro-Latino and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and more. Her vision is cohesive but eclectic, just like how people’s identities are a product of their various heritages and associations. 

Black Wall Street, the album and the musical vision, has become synonymous with the band, in fact, Nikara performs under the Black Wall Street moniker. The musicians are bonded together mainly by being Brooklynites, and what a Brooklyn upbringing represents in terms of cultural references and musical pedigrees. The album features Nikara Warren on vibes, Kenny Barron on piano, Paul “bae.bro” Wilson on keys, Hailey Niswanger on tenor sax, Stephen “Khemestry” Fowler on trumpet, Parker McAllister on bass, Corey Sanchez on guitar, and David Frazier, Jr. on drums and spd (sampling pad demo). 

The 10-album explores topics of race, gender, body positivity, personal-revelation, and acceptance. These weighty subjects are contextualized within a feel-good sensibility. “There is so much pain associated with the Black experience and within Black music. It was important to me to offset this by expressing joy, and making the music fun,” Nikara notes. 

Select album standouts include “Heather Gray,” featuring Kenny Barron, “Run Ricky,” “Mona Lisa,” featuring Nikara’s sister Be.Be, and “Womb Woes.” “Heather Gray” is the closest thing on the album to a jazz composition. It features an infectious groove and a spare chord change so the players can have fun blowing over it. “Run Ricky” is a politically-charged, dancehall-tinged hip-hop joint with a stinging narrative. The story arc is a modern tragedy of a Black artist unjustly killed by police. “Run Ricky” feels all too real, and it features glowering lines such as: Looked into his pocket they figured his vision/Blood stained fist with an eye drawn on some loose leaf/Photo went viral on Newsweek.

Nikara explores smoldering neo-soul on “Mona Lisa.” This is a love lost ballad of, and it features cinematic lyrics such as: She can never be like me/I’ll give it time for love to end/My solitary cigarette/Is all I have us have/Is this me? The track is sung by Nikara’s younger sister, Be.Be, a promising artist in her own right, and it gets a satiny reworking later on in the record with vocalist Melanie JB Charles. On the ensemble jazz piece, “Womb Woes,” Nikara addresses womanhood, female identity, and gender struggles. The song is made that much more potent by its screaming tenor sax solo courtesy of Hailey Niswanger. 

It took 6 years to realize the vision of Black Wall Street. Nikara says: “It felt like it was important to take my time and get everything right. When it was finished, I remember I was super amped up and screaming in my room listening to it. It felt like it came out so purely with a momentum all its own.” Up next, Nikara is raring to get back in the studio and flex her arrangement chops, possibly on a repertoire of classic R&B.

Just Fine Image via Interscope Records for use by 360 Magazine

Kitty Ca$h × Kiana Ledé – Just Fine

Producer, DJ, innovator, and cultural curator Kitty Ca$h reemerges with her new single “Just Fine” featuring platinum-selling artist Kiana Ledé via LVRN Records/Interscope. This track comes as the first in a string of new releases on the way for the Love Renaissance staple act.

“Just Fine” starts with an airy yet mesmerizing rhythm that draws you in accompanied by jazzy trumpet notes and piano keys. The rhythm quickens as the lyrics intensify when Ledé’s smooth and sultry vocals are paired with a heavy base and steady beat. The track invites you and your partner to the dancefloor while the lyrics add a layer of desire and complexity to the song. Ledé croons “You’re coming closer, reading your mind again. Follow me, follow, let’s go.” As the instrumentals remain a fixture for the background of the track, the chorus transitions from English to Spanish as flamenco style guitar enters into the key notes of the record. “Mírame a los ojos, mientras bailamos” not only sprinkles more raw desire on the song, but also reflects the upbeat melody since she is talking about dancing together while looking into each other’s eyes.

“When I first heard this song, I was so excited Kitty Ca$h asked me to be on it because it would be my first time singing in Spanish,” said Kiana Ledé. “I’m Mexican but was never taught Spanish, so I love that Kitty Ca$h gave me a chance to connect more with my culture on this song.”

“I’ve always wanted to see the growth in my artistry and as a DJ I feel like there is a natural progression to wanting to create your own records,” said Kitty Ca$h. “I’ve been able to play so many records I love around the world and I wanted to experience that same feeling with my music. I loved working with Kiana, I’ve been a fan of her work and she is so talented. So I’m so thankful that she took a chance on me and was down to bring this to life. Being in the studio together and experiencing in real time the magic was surreal. “Just Fine” is about that reassuring love. The love you can’t stop giving into. The love that stops time and the world around you and makes everything just fine. I hope this song evokes an effortless vibe of freedom and moves you to feel good. Whether you’re home with the fam or out with the girls I wanted to make a record that you could make memories of and dance to!” 

About Kitty Ca$h

Over the past few years, Kitty Ca$h has made a name for herself as one of the most prolific cultural curators. From DJing for the biggest brands and celebrities, releasing original projects with music’s hottest artists, to overtaking the fashion scene, and creating an animated talk-show, Kitty’s World. Kitty represents a new breed of creators unbound by any specific medium or media.

Kitty’s musical projects represent a cross section of popular artists alongside new up-and-comers handpicked by Kitty to receive the type of attention that only a co-sign as prized as hers would afford. Earning this respect through her unique taste and knack for uncovering new music trends, Kitty has become one of the industry’s most in-demand DJ’s. While maintaining an underground authenticity, Kitty has executive produced her own releases at the levels of legends like DJ Khaled, DJ Drama, and Funkmaster Flex and continues to create innovative media content. She has previously collaborated with Rihanna, SZA, Solange, Kali Uchis, Doja Cat and more.  At the cross section of music, fashion and tech, Kitty Ca$h creates a platform for black voices and creatives with an important message to be heard.

Missing JP Ramirez

Very esteemed make-up artist, JP Ramirez (42 year old Chicago native), who has worked with many people in the entertainment industry, including 360 Magazine, was found dead a few days ago.

Ramirez was last seen in Hell’s Kitchen this past week.

Recently, family and friends held an evening vigil in his loving memory. If anyone has information relating to his disappearance or death, please contact the authorities.

360 Latinx Editor, Javier Pedroza says, “To know JP is to love JP! Juan Pablo was one of the most sweetest and creative souls that I had the honor of knowing and create magic with. Growing up in New York City as young adults, we were discussing our future and how we would help humanity. JP had a sense of community and was always there for anyone who needed him. I will miss dancing ferocious salsa, styling together and laughter with our friend, but we will never forget his heart and soul. Rest in power amigo and thanks. Love you.”

“He was a beacon of hope, with a positive spirit that penetrated the room. We met JP on a special music presentation for our agency as a makeup artist, featuring LaJune. He will be missed but not forgotten,” says Vaughn Lowery (President of 360).

Newly appointed 360 Creative Director, Armon Hayes says, “Having had the pleasure of working with you [Ramirez] … his openness and willingness to collaborate on short notice was unparalleled. I knew I was seeing somebody special. Talent beyond what the eye can see, we’re really going to miss you and you made an impact on me.”

According to the 360 brand ambassador LaJune says,” JP was a brilliant light, his energy was exhilarating and soothing at sight! He was really talented yet very humble. I am so fortunate to have had to opportunity to meet and work with him! Losing JP is a reminder to enjoy every beautiful soul you encounter. Pray to turn the page and send light and positive vibes to your loved ones.”

Find out more about JP Ramirez and his talents from a recent interview.

A celebration of JP Ramirez’ life will be held at 7pm on Friday, August 6, 2021. The ceremony will start at 7:30pm and take place at Tito Murphy’s (346 W 46th St, New York, New York 10036.) Guests are invited to come dressed as you are, as JP loved for you. The celebration of JP’s life will include both a bar and DJ.

Juan Pablo celebration poster image via Vaughn Lowery for use by 360 Magazine
Cartooning While Black cartoon via Will Brierly for use by 360 Magazine

Cartooning While Black Gallery Exhibit

Black cartoonists from The New Yorker present their work at the Cartooning While Black Gallery Exhibit at ChaShaMa.

Chashama and Art To Ware present Cartooning While Black, a preview of the art from the upcoming One Idea Press title release, The Anti-Racism Activity Book. Art from the volume, written and illustrated by cartoonist and comedian Victor Varnado, will be shown alongside fellow black New Yorker cartoonists, Yasin OsmanAkeem S Roberts, and Jerald Lewis II. This exhibition is curated by Rebecca Mills.

LOCATION: ChaShaMa Gallery, 320 West 23rd Street, NY, NY

WHEN: Thursday, July 15, 2021, to Thursday, August 5th.

The Anti-Racism Activity Book is a social satire created in the style of a children’s puzzle and coloring book. The exhibit will feature crosswords, word finds, and other nostalgic activity book throwbacks, combined with original cartooning work from Varnado, all using humor to illustrate how dumb racism is.

“Traditionally, very few black cartoonists have appeared in the New Yorker, but recent efforts by the magazine and the cartoon editor Emma Allen have made an exhibit like this possible,” said Jason Chatfield, president of The National Cartoonists Society and New Yorker cartoonist.

“Yasin Osman, Akeem S Roberts, Jerald Lewis II, and Victor Varnado’s illustrative works shown together in the same exhibit will be the first time such a presentation has ever happened,” he added.

As a comedian, Victor Varnado has appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live. His writing and cartooning work have been showcased in MAD magazineVICEMarvel Comics and Salon. Varnado was born legally blind and is albinistic. His New Yorker cartoon created in response to the national unrest following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police was one of the magazine’s most engaging pieces of content in 2020. Like Floyd, Victor also grew up in Minneapolis.

360 Magazine bottle illustrated by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Good Vibes

By: Emily Bunn × Vaughn Lowery × Gabe Majalca

360 Magazine has revealed a new, bedazzled brand bottle in collaboration with Integrity Bottles. Decorated with approximately 6,040 Swarovski crystal gems, this lavish flask radiates glamour and elegance. The shimmering container was created by artist Gabe Majalca of Good Vibe Gliders, who constructed the piece in over thirty hours of dedicated craftsmanship. Thousands of glimmering gems encase the container, creating a luxurious, polished and sophisticated look, as 360 Magazine represents. The bottle is to be debuted at the upcoming 360 Magazine Immersive Bodega Pop-Up.

Chrysolite, which is Greek for “gold stone,” sheaths the outside of the gleaming bottle in a rich yellow-green hue. For the “360” design on the side of the bottle, Chrysolite AB was utilized. Further, the cork is detailed with Electric White DeLite. The construction of the flagon took 30 hours in total. Overall, the process in creating this custom Swarovski-swathed bottle was time consuming, but the end result is an incredible feat of precision and dazzling artistry.

On 360 Magazine’s website, the popular Summer Sip List showcases some of the magazine’s favorite alcohol brands and drinks, all of which can be enjoyed in the new container. Cocktail recipes like Pinnacle Vodka’s Apricot Honeysuckle Spritz, Santo Spirit’s Hibiscus Smash, D’USSE’s champagne sparkler, and Cavit Wines’ Rosjito all invite readers to host a happy hour of their own. 360 Magazine is sure that the new pitcher will bring good times spent together enjoying fine sips and spirits. Now that the careful process of creating the bottle is over with, we will be sure to use this bottle in our everyday lives, whether we’re trying out new cocktail recipes, transporting drinks on-the-go, or simply displaying the container’s magnificent beauty.

This isn’t the first time 360 Magazine has worked with Integrity Bottles. In November of 2020, Integrity Bottles unveiled the 360 Magazine collection of glassware. The collection features seven products, including decanters, a refillable bottle, a stemless wine glass, a whiskey rocks glass, a 16 oz pint glass, and a Gibraltar beer mug. As with the previously released products, the new bedazzled carafe can hold your scotch, vodka, tequila, gin, rum, or any other desired sips. As the two brands look to their most recent collaboration to create the Swarovski-coated container, Integrity and 360 Magazine gleam with pride and assurance in the highest quality of production.

Integrity Bottles started as a small business between friends, but has blossomed into a thriving online store and studio based in San Diego. The company is run by military veterans and former law enforcement officers who always place integrity and honor at the forefront of their business practices. Having sold more than 3,200 bottles and earned 100% positive reviews on Amazon, Integrity Bottle products are sure to bring more merry making into your home. Integrity Bottles’ website can be accessed here, and customers can use the discount code “GIVEBACK” for 5% off their purchase.

Gabe Majalca, who constructed the 360 Magazine × Integrity Bottles’ bottle, spoke about the design process. His brand, Good Vibe Gliders, provides custom, crystal-encrusted creations to suit customer’s vibes.

What was your process of decorating this brilliant 360 Mag bottle?

First thing was choosing the right color. We wanted something that resembled sacred water or a magical lagoon. Chrysolite and Chrysolite AB Swarovski turned out to be the color most true to my vision. Next, was construction. It’s most important to keep your lines straight at the beginning, starting with the foundation. So, by the time your pattern reaches the top, your lines will still be straight!

How long did the process of decorating the bottle with Swarovski crystals take?

It was a tedious 30-hour [long] project. The thing is, you’re not just laying stones in a line–eventually you need to fill in the 360 Logo–and that right there was a massive challenge. It’s similar to a jigsaw puzzle. Putting the right stone in the right place is paramount to the letters looking clean [and] uniform. Lots of mental energy went into the letters. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

What did you think when Vaughn first came to you with the idea?

Vaughn’s the homie and I knew he had worked with Integrity Bottles before. So, naturally, I was stoked to hear 360 Mag was getting themselves an iced-out bottle. I’ve always wanted to complete a Swarovski bottle–so the project made perfect sense to me and I jumped right on it. Anything for Vaughn.

How do you feel after seeing the original vision tangibly come to life?

It feels great! Looks like a magical lagoon! Something to keep in mind–it’s always a marathon when doing this artwork, so seeing something come together, completely finished–well, that makes me really happy inside. This was a challenging but very satisfying project, no doubt about that.

What was your first thought when you viewed the finished bottle product?

“I’m done! I’m finally done!” Haha No really though, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I said. This bottle was a deceiving hard project to complete – so many elements. Since this was my first try at a something like this, there were many twists and turns to the design that I simply did not foresee. In the end, it was like someone giving me an XL pizza and sa[ying], “you can’t get up until you finish it.” Not that it wouldn’t be totally delicious while I was eating it, but eventually you slow down at about half way through [when] you’re getting full and your stomach starts to hurt, but your tastebuds and your will power keep saying MORE! That’s what this project felt like… right up to the point when [I] took the last delicious bite. Worth it.

What do you think would be the best use of this bottle? Do you have a drink of choice you imagine drinking from it?

Easy, tell Vaughn to make me a Caramelized Citrus Smash! This refreshing summer cocktail is equal parts vodka and grilled citrus juice with sparkling water or lemon-lime soda. Vaughn will need some ruby-red grapefruits, lemons, limes, and navel oranges. Slice your citrus in half, brush the cut side with some honey, and dip the cut sides in sugar. Throw your fruit cut-side-down on the grill to caramelize the sugar. Once grilled, let it rest until cool. Lastly–the booze. Mix 1.5 ounces vodka, 1.5 ounces juice, and 1 ounce of water or sparkling water.

Hey V, I’m on my way!

360 Magazine x Integrity Bottles bottle image by Gabe Maljalca for use by 360 Magazine

Vaughn Lowery, President of 360 Magazine, spoke about the concept and creation the 360 × Integrity Bottles design:

How you originally come up with this idea of encrusting a bottle in Swarovski crystals?

Not too long ago, Victoria Secret had embellished some lingerie in diamonds for a runway show. Shortly after, Joe Boxer mocked the idea with boxer briefs for a stint during NYFW in Bryant Park. As the former spokesperson for this brand [Joe Boxer], I struggled in these uncomfortable underwear (the rhinestones literally dug deep into my skin causing several scratches on my thighs).

Over the years, Gabe has bejeweled scooters and e-bikes for Good Vibe Gliders. Once we saw that he’s ventured out into sneakers with various customizations, we knew that he had to lace one of our Integrity Bottles with Swarovski crystals, adding a touch a glam and panache. This meticulous process took more than 30 hours and was executed by a total of 4 craftsmen with close to 1000 dollars of materials (not to mention intensive work).

Did you come up with the Chrysolite colorway?

We wanted the bottle to embody a monochromatic color palette to reflect today’s modern and colorless society in celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why were these gems/colors specifically chosen?

We provided Gabe with a water theme and the end product represents clarity and purity, mimicking our eclectic mantra of transparency. After all, 360 readers are permanently celebrating their uniqueness along with this masterpiece.

Does the vessel actually cost $1,000,000?

No, not at all. But Swarovski crystals are the closest thing to a blood diamond without destroying the lives of people like in the Congo. They refract light as a prism, showcasing almost all the colors of the rainbow (thus paying tribute to the LGBTQ community).

Why did you choose to work with Integrity Bottles again? What is working with them like?

Integrity Bottles is a veteran-led business and provides opportunities for people who have proudly served our country. The[y] [are the] same people who return from a period of service to find themselves displaced in society, especially [from] the work force.

How do you envision using this bottle in your own life?

We will exhibit the container in our workspaces and activations though out the world where guests will be able to witness its unforgettable beauty.

Furthermore, several team members mentioned that we could auction the carafe in the hopes of helping to raise awareness and offer them some financial support for their efforts.

How do you view this product as representative of 360 Magazine?

Everything in this made-to-measure bottle embodies 360. Similar to life’s circle, we start our journey into this world as a fragile piece of glass. Over the years, we have evolved into something bigger and better than we were before.

360 Magazine x Integrity Bottles bottle image by Gabe Maljalca for use by 360 Magazine

360 Magazine x Integrity Bottles bottle image by Gabe Maljalca for use by 360 Magazine

360 Magazine x Integrity Bottles bottle image by Vaughn Lowery for use by 360 Magazine

*This bottle is dedicated to our near and dear friend Chris March.