their-ancestors-were-enslaved-and-forced-to-work-in-the-fields.-now,-one-family-hopes-to-help-alleviate-hunger-abroad-by-drawing-from-generations-of…

Their Ancestors Were Enslaved And Forced To Work In The Fields. Now, One Family Hopes To Help Alleviate Hunger Abroad By Drawing From Generations Of…

Northumberland County, Virginia CNN  — 

Everyday when PJ Haynie wakes up, he prays to God for two things. 

“As farmers, we go out and as they say, we plant and pray,” Haynie said. “We plant a crop … we pray for rain; we pray for prices.”

It’s a hot Saturday morning and Haynie is sitting on the porch of his family’s farming office in Heathsville, Virginia. For years, he has prayed over his enterprise of crops here and a large rice mill, Arkansas River Rice, that his family co-owns more than a thousand miles away in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The family’s ties to land in Northumberland County, Virginia – and to farming – stretch back generations; back to when their ancestors were enslaved and forced to farm to fuel the American economy.

But now, Haynie said his family’s story has come full circle and he’s using those generations of agricultural knowledge to continue their legacy of feeding others, both at home and abroad.

The weight of his ancestors’ sacrifices hit the 45-year-old farmer hard, as he spoke to CNN.

“I teared up one day because I thought, ‘My ancestors came from Africa as slaves. I have been blessed with the ability to know how to grow crops and grow food here in America … and now we’re shipping rice back to Africa to help feed (the children) of my ancestors.’”

“It was a very emotional moment for me,” Haynie said.

According to the family, in 1867, Robert Haynie, freed from slavery, purchased 60 acres of land in Northumberland County, Virginia. That land has been passed down within the Haynie family for more than 150 years.

The Haynie family also has farming operations in Arkansas, where they grow rice, wheat, soybeans and corn. And when an opportunity came to expand the family business by purchasing an industrial rice mill in the state, Haynie said he “stepped out on faith.”

In December 2021, PJ Haynie, along with his father, Philip (Ricky) Haynie II, and their business partner bought the Arkansas River Rice mill.

“My grandfather would be rolling in his grave if he could see what we’re doing now,” Haynie said. “The only option he had was hauling [crops] five miles down the road and selling it to Perdue Farms or Southern States back then.”

As many countries endure food insecurity – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine – the US has stepped up to meet the increased global need for agriculture products like rice, Daniel Whitley, Foreign Agricultural Service administrator for the US Department of Agriculture, told CNN.

“Whenever there’s a crisis, American agriculture is always one of the first to be called upon and one of the first to respond and this situation has been no different,” Whitley said.

“The war in Ukraine has led to an increase in food security concerns, and many of those countries are interested in finding alternative sources for products they may have gotten out of that region of the world.”

The Haynie family is hoping their rice mill can be counted among those alternative sources.

In 2022, the US exported $1.7 billion (2 million metric tons) of rice, according to the USDA. That grain is produced primarily in four regions, including parts of the Gulf Coast and California’s Sacramento Valley.

Arkansas, where the Haynie’s rice mill is located, produces the most rice of any state in the country and Arkansas River Rice is one of the few Black-owned mills in the US.

By creating more export opportunities for farmers of color, Whitley said the USDA also hopes to boost inclusivity in its programs and reduce inequality.

Many Black-owned agriculture businesses and Black farmers, Whitley added, have not had the opportunity to export their products abroad on the scale the Haynie family has, which makes the Arkansas River Rice mill rare.

That is something PJ Haynie said he takes pride in, and he hopes to pass that pride down to the next generation of Haynie farmers.

Arkansas River Rice can process 22 metric tons of rice in an hour, which Haynie told CNN is the equivalent of an 18-wheel tractor trailer filled with rice. A year after opening, the company secured two contracts from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to export rice internationally for humanitarian aid, he said.

Arkansas River Rice has shipped hundreds of metric tons of rice to address food insecurity in the Central African Republic and Kyrgyzstan this year.

As he thought about the impact his family’s grain would have on countries around the world, PJ Haynie recalled a moment with his 21-year-old daughter, Colette, when she first visited the mill.

“She said, ‘Dad, this is pretty cool. We could help feed people with this thing.’ And that was an emotional punch to the stomach that I wasn’t expecting,” he told CNN.

Long before they were captured and sold into bondage, Haynie’s West African ancestors grew a variety of rice in their homeland called Oryza glaberrima.

Commonly known as African rice, the grain, ranging from a reddish-brown to black or purple hue, was domesticated more than 3,000 years ago, UCLA geography professor Judith Carney told CNN.

Carney, who has studied African ecology and food systems for more than 35 years, traced the journey of rice from West Africa to the Americas in her book “Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas.”  

Her research shows Oryza glaberrima was the first rice brought to the Americas.

“African rice likely led the way for the plantation system based on the crop in the Carolina colony,” she told CNN. “By the end of the 17th century, planters were accessing rice occasionally left over from slave voyages to plant and contacting ship captains requesting seed from Asian rice societies.”

When enslaved people were brought to the Carolina wetlands, they were forced to clear dense forests to grow rice, as well as their own food. Carney said White enslavers appropriated the knowledge curated by African rice growers and forced them to plant new, higher yielding varieties of rice brought from other countries.

To meet demand for the crop, enslaved Africans milled the rice by hand in a wooden mortar with a pestle until the mid-eighteenth century when mechanical milling devices were invented, Carney said.

According to Carney, milling rice by hand combined with hours of exertion and high demand for the grain was grueling and contributed to the death of many enslaved Africans.

Plantation owners in the Carolinas, Georgia, and northern Florida “profited mightily” from a farming system perfected by West Africans, Carney said. 

The Haynie family believes their ancestor Robert, born enslaved, left them a legacy of land ownership so they would not endure the same oppression he experienced and could have a better life.

“He wanted to leave his children something; somewhere that they would have a place over their head,” Philip (Ricky) Haynie II, 69, said of his great-grandfather.

“He set an example and a lesson for them.”

In 1920, there were 925,708 Black farmers in the United States. By 2017, that number had dwindled to only 48,697 – roughly 1.4% of all 3.4 million US farmers – according to the most recent USDA census of agriculture.

PJ Haynie and his family, like thousands of other Black farmers, have battled racism and discrimination across generations to maintain both their land and farming businesses.

Haynie said his family has faced threats from White farmers and recalled a time he was intimidated by a White USDA employee when inquiring about loan options.

The USDA has begun making progress in its efforts to remedy decades of mistreatment experienced by farmers of color like the Haynie family.

The agency has paid out more than a billion dollars in financial relief to farmers who have faced discriminatory lending practices and recently extended its deadline for farmers to apply for relief.

Standing in a field next to the family farming office, PJ and his father explain the wheat harvesting process to Philip Haynie IV, 19, and Colette.

Holding kernels of wheat, Colette and Philip listen intently as their father and grandfather explain how to preserve the grain to yield the best quality for good prices.

The Haynie family hopes to one day sell their rice and other farm products directly in stores.

They also hope owning the rice mill will encourage other Black farmers and young people to pursue farming careers. But for now, their focus is on ensuring they can do their part to help alleviate hunger around the world.

PJ said he feels fortunate his ancestors paved the way for him to become a farmer and wants to do the same for future generations.

“My family has given me the ability and the confidence … to go out a thousand miles away, to put our stake in the ground and grow,” he said.

“And now we’re very blessed to be able to grow crops in two states and be part of a processing facility where we can process rice and help feed the needs of the world and feed those that are hungry.”

CNN’s Aaron Fisher and Mackenzie Happe contributed to this report.

longtime-hyde-park-liquor-store,-kimbark-beverage-shoppe,-sold

Longtime Hyde Park Liquor Store, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, Sold

The new A&S Beverages storefront. Kimbarks Beverage Shoppe was sold this past July.

Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, a liquor store frequented by many Hyde Park residents and UChicago students since 1974 has been sold to A&S Beverages Wine and Spirits, a wine and spirit chain based in the South Side. The sale comes after the passing of John Swain Sr., the former store owner and the father of longtime store owner John Swain Jr.

The store has been temporarily closed for remodeling, with the ownership transfer having occurred this past July. A&S Beverages expects to be open for business by early October.

The closure of Kimbark was announced by the Swain family in a statement posted on Instagram and on the door of the store.

“Since the passing of our dad, John Swain Sr., in 2020, we have been contemplating next steps for our family business,” the statement reads. “While this decision was a difficult one for us, we have decided that it is time to pass the Kimbark torch to new owners. We cannot thank the community enough for welcoming us with open arms since our arrival in 1974 as it has been an absolute joy to serve you. For nearly 50 years, you have blessed us with the opportunity to celebrate your best moments and journey with you through some of the most difficult. We are forever grateful.”

Under the ownership of Swain Jr. for the past 15 years, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe has played an active role in the Hyde Park community. Swain Jr. is a past president of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and founded the annual Hyde Park Summerfest, formerly known as the Hyde Park Brewfest.

“During my tenure, I wanted to make sure that we were an integral part of the community,” Swain Jr. said in an interview with The Maroon on September 12. “One lesson my father taught me was that if you want to have a strong retail business, then the community has to be strong, which means you have to participate in it. So we decided to do that in various ways through the Hyde Park chamber, or charitable donations, or what have you.”

The statement posted on the door of Kimbarks Beverage Shoppe. (Eric Fang)

Swain also focused on uplifting Black-owned brands and small businesses through the products he offered.

“One of the big things for us was really focusing on Black-owned products, and Black-owned winemakers, spirit owners by making sure that they had the opportunity to sell their wares.”

The decision to sell the store, which has been owned by the family since Swain Sr. purchased the property in 1974, was not taken lightly. In choosing a business to replace Kimbark, Swain Jr. emphasized that he looked for a business that would play a similarly active role in the community. Although Swain Jr. sold the store to A&S Beverages, he retains ownership of the store’s real estate and remains an active member of the Kimbark Plaza Commercial Cooperative.

“We wanted to make sure that there was someone that respected the community perspective, the neighbors, and that were wanting to be a part of the fabric of the community in the same way that my father taught me,” Swain said. “I found that the owners of A&S were the most equipped to do that, and so we’re glad to be able to put our family legacy in their hands.”

A&S Beverages currently operates two liquor stores on the South Side and prides itself on offering a wide selection of imported liquors. At the same time, new owner Ahmad “Eddie” Elkhatib plans on maintaining Kimbark’s practice of offering local brands, creating what he calls “an airport shop.”

“We will honor the way that Kimbark has done business, but we have our own style and our own vision of what a beverage store should look like,” Elkhatib said in an interview with The Maroon. “We are very supportive of local brands and Midwest brands, but you can’t buy cognac from Chicago. You gotta buy it from France.”

He went on to say, “We will definitely support the locals, but we will also emphasize the ethnicity of the drinks and what makes this particular wood special or this particular brand special.”

A&S Beverages owner Ahmad “Eddie” Elkhatib poses in front of his store on South Halsted Street. (Provided by Elkhatib)

Elkhatib was born in Kuwait and came to the United States in 1988. He worked as a store manager for A&S Beverages for 10 years before acquiring the company in 2000. He plans on further differentiating A&S Beverages from the former Kimbark by installing a small tasting room modeled after the tasting room at his other location on 51st Street. The tasting room will allow customers to sample a range of select products prior to purchase, free of charge.

“What I noticed from working 35 years in the industry is that people drink to get drunk instead of drinking to enjoy the drink,” Elkhatib said. “I focus consciously on how to consume and when to stop and how to mix your drinks and what the seasons are calling for and what the latest is. I want to build upon the taste buds and palettes of my customers.”

Elkhatib is currently working on renovating the store with new floors, lights, fridges, and registers. He hopes to finish these renovations and be open for business by October 1. According to Elkhatib, this date could be pushed back to as far as October 15 depending on product delivery and shelf stocking.

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About the Contributor

Eric Fang, News Editor, Photo Editor, Design Associate

Eric Fang is a second-year in the College majoring in economics and public policy. He is a deputy news editor for The Maroon with an interest in local housing, campus security, and politics. Eric also serves as a staff photographer and design associate. In his free time, he enjoys biking, listening to music, and exploring Chicago food.

mobile-woman-receives-aarp-award-for-elevating-minority-owned-businesses-|-wkrg

Mobile Woman Receives AARP Award For Elevating Minority-Owned Businesses | WKRG

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It takes a selfless person to help others reach their dreams. One of those people lives right here in Mobile, Alabama.

Janice Malone started a nonprofit organization to help minority-owned businesses flourish, and she was recently recognized for her selflessness.

Malone is the creator and executive director of Vivian’s Door, a nonprofit created in 2016 that helps minority business owners grow their businesses and reach their full potential. AARP recently named Malone as one of their Purpose Prize winners for her work with the nonprofit.

“One night, I actually had a dream about this thing called Vivian’s Door and the fact that it would open these doors for people,” Malone said. “My husband’s cousin is Vivian Malone Jones, and so it was funny that the dream came, and I thought, ‘Am I really kinda the person to do this?’ So I thought about it for a while before I even really acted on it.”

The Vivian’s Door website states that the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 estimated that minority-owned businesses only accounted for 18.3% of all small businesses. The website also states that in the history of the Fortune 500, there have only been 15 Black CEOs.

Malone said Vivian’s Door isn’t just about growing these businesses, but it’s more about cultivating relationships with the businesses.

“What really kind of sets us apart is that we’re not a transactional type of incubator or accelerator,” Malone said. “We don’t just deal with a person in one transaction and record that as something that’s done and move on. We’re more relational, meaning that we build a relationship up humanity and humility with these people, and then we meet them where they stand.”

As part of the AARP Purpose Prize, the nonprofit won $50 thousand. When asked what they were planning to do with the money, Malone said they would be building out the Vivian’s Door Business Center, renovating it and adding more classes to their program.

But that’s not where this story ends. The five recipients of the Purpose Prize are now vying for an additional $10 thousand reward.

“For three weeks, you get to sort of rally your supporters and stuff to vote for you to win this award,” Malon said. “It’s called the Inspire Award. Should we win the additional $10 thousand, we’re actually going to give out four mini-grants to business owners that are trying to grow their business and need just that little bump to get them to the next level.”

Voting is taking place on the AARP website.

The Purpose Prize honors people who are 50 and older who are making a difference within their communities through “knowledge and life experience.”

ayesha-curry-looks-to-her-jamaican-roots-for-ingredients-for-new-products-in-her-skincare-line

Ayesha Curry Looks To Her Jamaican Roots For Ingredients For New Products In Her Skincare Line

Ayesha Curry, the founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Sweet July, added skincare products to her wheelhouse in July and has already expanded the new branch.

Curry, born in Canada and of Jamaican heritage, recently went to Instagram to announce the newest addition to her Sweet July Skin line, Soursop vitamin C serum. 

Soursop is a fruit found in tropical regions of the Americas and Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica.

“It’s finally here. Beyond excited to announce our @Sweetjulyskin Soursop Vitamin C Serum,” she posted. “This is a gentle Vitamin C serum infused with soursop extract, ferulic acid, and green tea to visibly brighten, firm, and hydrate to reveal your most radiant-looking skin. “

The Vitamin C serum retails at $65. Other products in this vegan skincare line include the Pava Exfoliating Cleanser ($39), The Pava Toner ($32), and Irie face oil ($60).   

The company also offers skincare accessories, including face towels, headbands, and reusable face rounds ranging from $22 to $38. 

The entrepreneur told Vogue that her mother and grandmother inspired her to create these products b

“Throughout my life, I’ve learned a lot about skincare and the natural benefits derived from superfoods like papaya and guava from my mother and grandmother. In pairing those ingredients with proven actives, we’ve developed a skincare experience that is great for your skin but also truly enjoyable. I’m excited to share a little bit of my Jamaican culture with everyone through these products,” she told Vogue.

Sweet July Skincare is featured on both Black Is Remarkable and Buy Black Store, which features Black-owned businesses on Amazon. 

In an interview with E! News, Curry discussed her partnership with Amazon 

“I am so excited to have our “Sweet July” products selling in Amazon’s store, and I’m honored to be a Black business owner selling in Amazon’s store alongside so many other amazing brands,” she shared.

Curry will also support other Black-owned businesses by sharing her favorite products from the Black Is Remarkable storefront and the Buy Black Store. 

“Amazon and I are both extremely committed to supporting Black-owned businesses, and they are making it easy for customers to discover and shop the incredible selection these businesses provide,” Curry told E! News. “I also love using the new Small Business search filter, which helps customers filter their searches to discover products from small business brands and artisans while shopping.”

Sweet July Skincare products start at $22 and can be purchased on its website or omazon.com. For more information about the Sweet July Lifestyle Brand, visit www.sweetjuly.com.

RELATED CONTENT: Ayesha Curry Dishes On First Skincare Line, Says She Created ‘Recipes for Your Face.’

ayesha-curry-looks-to-her-jamaican-roots-for-ingredients-for-new-products-in-her-skincare-line

Ayesha Curry Looks To Her Jamaican Roots For Ingredients For New Products In Her Skincare Line

Ayesha Curry, the founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Sweet July, added skincare products to her wheelhouse in July and has already expanded the new branch.

Curry, born in Canada and of Jamaican heritage, recently went to Instagram to announce the newest addition to her Sweet July Skin line, Soursop vitamin C serum. 

Soursop is a fruit found in tropical regions of the Americas and Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica.

“It’s finally here. Beyond excited to announce our @Sweetjulyskin Soursop Vitamin C Serum,” she posted. “This is a gentle Vitamin C serum infused with soursop extract, ferulic acid, and green tea to visibly brighten, firm, and hydrate to reveal your most radiant-looking skin. “

The Vitamin C serum retails at $65. Other products in this vegan skincare line include the Pava Exfoliating Cleanser ($39), The Pava Toner ($32), and Irie face oil ($60).   

The company also offers skincare accessories, including face towels, headbands, and reusable face rounds ranging from $22 to $38. 

The entrepreneur told Vogue that her mother and grandmother inspired her to create these products b

“Throughout my life, I’ve learned a lot about skincare and the natural benefits derived from superfoods like papaya and guava from my mother and grandmother. In pairing those ingredients with proven actives, we’ve developed a skincare experience that is great for your skin but also truly enjoyable. I’m excited to share a little bit of my Jamaican culture with everyone through these products,” she told Vogue.

Sweet July Skincare is featured on both Black Is Remarkable and Buy Black Store, which features Black-owned businesses on Amazon. 

In an interview with E! News, Curry discussed her partnership with Amazon 

“I am so excited to have our “Sweet July” products selling in Amazon’s store, and I’m honored to be a Black business owner selling in Amazon’s store alongside so many other amazing brands,” she shared.

Curry will also support other Black-owned businesses by sharing her favorite products from the Black Is Remarkable storefront and the Buy Black Store. 

“Amazon and I are both extremely committed to supporting Black-owned businesses, and they are making it easy for customers to discover and shop the incredible selection these businesses provide,” Curry told E! News. “I also love using the new Small Business search filter, which helps customers filter their searches to discover products from small business brands and artisans while shopping.”

Sweet July Skincare products start at $22 and can be purchased on its website or omazon.com. For more information about the Sweet July Lifestyle Brand, visit www.sweetjuly.com.

RELATED CONTENT: Ayesha Curry Dishes On First Skincare Line, Says She Created ‘Recipes for Your Face.’

ribbon-cuttings-for-two-black-owned-businesses-sept.-30-–-village-free-press

Ribbon-Cuttings For Two Black-Owned Businesses Sept. 30 – Village Free Press

By [email protected] | on September 29, 2023

Casa De Puros at 1117 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood will host a grand opening on Sept. 30. | File 

Friday, September 29, 2023 || By Michael Romain || [email protected] 

On Saturday, the Proviso Township area will host ribbon cuttings for two pioneering Black-owned businesses. 

JG’s Jerk Grill, 4848 Butterfield in Hillside, has been open since Aug. 26, but Saturday’s event is the restaurant’s official welcoming party, said co-owner Jacqulynn Guidry. 

“We are the first Black-owned Caribbean jerk restaurant in Hillside,” said Guidry, who owns the restaurant with her husband Marvin. 

“We’re excited to offer more food offerings that aren’t fried,” Jacqulynn said. “Our food is made with lots of love and preparation. It’s all made with recipes from our family and recipes we’ve curated and perfected over the years.” 

She said all orders over $50 will get 10% off on Saturday. The first 24 guests will receive samples of jerk rib tips. They’ll also raffle off three free lunch specials for the following week. The grand opening will occur from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

JG’s Jerk Grill, 4848 Butterfield in Hillside, has been open since Aug. 26. | File 

Another Black-owned business will host a grand opening in Maywood on Saturday. Casa De Puros, a cigar and smoking lounge, will open at 1117 S. 1st Ave. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting will occur at 1 p.m. 

The business was located at 7410 Madison St. in Forest Park for 15 years before moving to what used to be the Shrimp Spot. 

Co-owner Greg Walker told Forest Park Review in August that the Maywood space is larger and has two outdoor patios and a dedicated parking lot. 

Casa De Puros, which means House of Cigars in Spanish, may well be the first cigar lounge in Maywood.

pepco,-exelon-announce-$2.7-million-in-funding-for-four-minority-owned-businesses

Pepco, Exelon Announce $2.7 Million In Funding For Four Minority-Owned Businesses

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organization with its headquarters in Los Angeles, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 27 to mark the official opening of its Capitol Hill Healthcare Center.

The new center, which AHF describes as a state-of-the-art facility for the holistic care and treatment of people with HIV as well as a site for HIV prevention and primary care services, is located at 650 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.  a half block away from the Eastern Market Metro station.

A statement released by AHF says the Capitol Hill Healthcare Center will continue AHF’s ongoing delivery of “cutting-edge medical care and services to patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.” The statement adds, “The site also features a full-service AHF Pharmacy and will host Wellness Center services on Saturdays to offer STI testing and treatment.”

The statement was referring to the testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. The D.C. Department of Health has said the highest number of STIs in the city have been reported for men who have sex with men.

Mike McVicker, AHF’s Regional Director for its D.C., Maryland, and Virginia facilities, said the Capitol Hill center began taking patients in October of 2021 as AHF transferred its operations from its facility on Benning Road, N.E. about two miles from the Capitol Hill site. McVicker said the Benning Road site has now been closed.

AHF’s second D.C. medical center is located downtown at 2141 K St., N.W. AHF operates three other extended D.C.-area health care centers in Falls Church, Va., Temple Hills, Md. and Baltimore.

“Our Capitol Hill Healthcare Center has no waiting room, so patients immediately are escorted to treatment rooms and serviced from a centrally located provider workstation,” McVicker said. “The goal is to maximize efficiency using this patient-centered model to improve health outcomes and increase retention in care.”

McVicker told the Blade the AHF Capitol Hill center is currently serving 585 patients and has a staff of 10, including Dr. Conor Grey, who serves as medical director. He said a separate team of five staffers operates the Saturday walk-in center that provides STI services as well as services related to the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this team,” Dr. Grey said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held in a courtyard outside the Capitol Hill office building where the AHF center is located. About 50 people, including D.C. government officials, attended the event.

“This is a beautiful thing to celebrate,” Grey said. “So, I’m very happy to enjoy the day with all of you, and looking forward to a bright, productive future working together and fighting a common enemy that has unfortunately been with us.”

Others who spoke at the event included Tom Myers, AHF’s Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel; Toni Flemming, Supervisory Public Health Analyst and Field Operations Manager for the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA), and Dr. Christie Olejeme, Public Health Analyst for HAHSTA’s Care and Treatment Division.

Also speaking at the event was Japer Bowles, director of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

Bowles called the AHF Capitol Hill center “another pivotal resource” for the LGBTQ community as well as for the city.

“We know, as has been previously stated, a low-barrier HIV prevention support is pivotal to the mayor’s mission of eliminating HIV infections in the District of Columbia and the region,” Bowles told the gathering.

“So, I’m very excited to see more services specifically provided to those in the Southeast and Northeast quadrants of our District,” he said, referring to the AHF Capitol Hill center. “This is a great moment for our community, but also for D.C. as a whole.”

In its statement released this week announcing the official opening of the Capitol Hill Center AHF notes that currently, 11,904 D.C. residents, or 1.8 percent of the population, are living with HIV. It points out that HIV disproportionately impacts Black residents, who make up about 44 percent of the population but comprise nearly three-quarters of the city’s HIV cases.

AHF official Myers said the Capitol Hill center will join its other D.C.-area facilities in addressing the issue of racial disparities related to HIV.

“Our treatment model helps eliminate barriers for those already in care, those who may not know their HIV status, and those living with HIV who may not currently be in care,” he said.

AHF says in its statement that it currently operates more than 900 healthcare centers around the world in 45 countries including 17 U.S. states. It has more than 1.7 million people in care, according to the statement. Founded in 1987, the organization has also taken on the role of public advocacy for federal and local government programs in the U.S. to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including efforts to lower the costs of HIV drugs.

During its work in the late 1980s and early 1990s AHF emerged as a strong advocate for addressing the special needs of gay and bisexual men who were hit hardest by HIV/AIDS at the start of the epidemic.

black-owned-nc-bookstore-reopens-as-a-bookmobile

Black-Owned NC Bookstore Reopens As A Bookmobile

A Black-owned bookstore that closed down earlier in 2023 has reopened with a unique business venture that is proving more sustainable. 

As reported by WFAE 90.7, bookmobile owner Sonyah Spencer sells books from a painted white school bus in North Carolina’s South Park area. Spencer was forced to improvise in her bookselling business venture after her brick-and-mortar shop, The Urban Reader Bookstore, grew too expensive to keep open.

Spencer said of paying $6,000 monthly to lease the space, “Business owners need to adjust according to the economic times. For me, it wasn’t financially right for the amount of rent I was paying at the brick-and-mortar location. I was going red every month. It got to the point where the other business I do during the week, I was supplementing to keep the bookstore open.”

Spencer told the outlet that once her 18-month lease ended earlier in 2023 she decided to take her book-selling shop on the road, buying the bookmobile.

“I get it. If I lived in Pineville, where I used to live, would I drive all the way to the university to go to a bookstore? No, I wouldn’t,” Spencer said. So, I said, you know what, let me go to the people, so the people don’t have to go to me.”

Now her costs are much more conducive to a successful business plan. Her payments include around $60 for gas, bus maintenance, and about $100 for parking every month. 

Now able to serve many more communities, Spencer continues selling books by Black authors, LGBTQ+ books, and children’s books. She acknowledged that many of the books are controversial now and have even been subject to bans, but said it was better for her to leave her shelves uncensored. 

“I pray for the librarians, the school districts, and the community libraries, because their road to getting a book on the shelf is harder for them than it is for me,” said Spencer.

A fellow community member named Robert emphasized the importance of resources like Spencer’s bookmobile. He said, “We live in the United States of America, and freedom of speech is important. The opportunity to choose, to read, and to explore whatever we want is a good thing, so it’s great to see this out here.”

diddy-accused-by-diageo-of-working-against-other-black-owned-businesses

Diddy Accused By Diageo Of Working Against Other Black-Owned Businesses

Diddy and liquor company Diageo are locked in a nasty lawsuit right now, with both alleging mismanagement, a poor working relationship, and lack of support against each other. Moreover, Sean Combs sued the spirits conglomerate back in May of 2023, with whom he masterminded Ciroc vodka in 2007 and DeLeón tequila in 2013. While Ciroc was a resounding success for both, DeLeón was less so, and his lawsuit alleged that Diageo was racist in promoting Ciroc and DeLeón to solely urban markets, instead favoring white-backed brands like George Clooney’s Casamigos. However, now the company claims that Puff Daddy, through his Combs Wine and Spirits company (CWS) that partnered with them, engaged in some racial discrimination of his own despite his philanthropic image.

Furthermore, according to legal documents obtained by AllHipHop, Diageo stated that Diddy “discouraged Diageo from working with other Black business people and influencers. [He] demanded that Diageo redirect millions of dollars earmarked to support such causes to him personally.” Not only that, but they claim that the Bad Boy mogul went ballistic when the company donated $100 million to COVID-19 hospital workers.

Read More: Diddy Says He Was “Always Fighting For Ciroc Not To Be Pigeonholed”

Diddy At The Oscars

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs speaks onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“Mr. Combs demanded that Diageo pay him $100 million,” the company levied in their most recent filing. [He] threatened then to ‘reach out to every news outlet’ to ‘burn the house down’ and cause maximum damage to Diageo and the DeLeón brand by making public accusations of racism if Diageo refused to write the check.” Overall, the history between these two entities is long, contentious, and skewed in both’s eyes. Despite this pushback, Diddy’s lawyer John C. Hueston dismissed all accusations against him by the liquor company in a statement to AllHipHop on Friday (September 29).

“Diageo claims its executives were available to hear all of Mr. Combs concerns about race and diversity issues,” Hueston began. “The sad truth is that they never truly listened to what Mr. Combs was saying and brushed them off as threats and demands for money. If they had actually taken the time to comprehend his concerns, and lived up to the agreements they signed, we wouldn’t be in court today.” For more news and the latest updates on Diddy, come back to HNHH.

Read More: Diddy Gave Diageo A Warning About Racially Sensitive Vodka Flavor

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About The Author

Gabriel Bras Nevares

Gabriel Bras Nevares is a music and pop culture news writer for HotNewHipHop. He started in 2022 as a weekend writer and, since joining the team full-time, has developed a strong knowledge in hip-hop news and releases. Whether it’s regular coverage or occasional interviews and album reviews, he continues to search for the most relevant news for his audience and find the best new releases in the genre. What excites him the most is finding pop culture stories of interest, as well as a deeper passion for the art form of hip-hop and its contemporary output. Specifically, Gabriel enjoys the fringes of rap music: the experimental, boundary-pushing, and raw alternatives to the mainstream sound. As a proud native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, he also stays up-to-date with the archipelago’s local scene and its biggest musical exponents in reggaetón, salsa, indie, and beyond. Before working at HotNewHipHop, Gabriel produced multiple short documentaries, artist interviews, venue spotlights, and audio podcasts on a variety of genres and musical figures. Hardcore punk and Go-go music defined much of his coverage during his time at the George Washington University in D.C. His favorite hip-hop artists working today are Tyler, The Creator, Boldy James, JPEGMAFIA, and Earl Sweatshirt.