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CROWN Campaign Ambassador LaShawn Hill embodies leadership in AL

Note: Karla Arroyo is the Inaugural Fellow of the CROWN Campaign.

Race-based hair discrimination is still prevalent today, especially in workplaces and schools. The CROWN Act, a law currently available in seven states and nine municipalities, protects Black people from hair discrimination in these environments.

LaShawn Hill, natural hair salon owner, and stylist at Natural Elements in Homewood, Alabama, learned about the legislation and the CROWN Campaign after a commercial during the 2020 BET Awards.

The CROWN Campaign is an interdisciplinary grassroots organization that supports legal protections like the CROWN Act and advocates against natural hair discrimination.

Hill reached out to the CROWN Campaign shortly after the commercial to inquire about how she can lead efforts in Birmingham, AL. For reference, Alabama (nor any of its cities) does not yet employ the CROWN Act.

The co-founders of the CROWN Campaign, Dr. Bernice B. Rumala and Shemekka Ebony, MS, gave LaShawn the most important tool she needed: a voice in Alabama.

Taking the CROWN Campaign to Alabama

Hill joined the CROWN Campaign in July 2020 as their Alabama state leader. Later that month, she was the recipient of the CROWN Campaign’s Community Leader Award.

Photo submitted by LaShawn Hill.

“LaShawn Hill has been a forward thinking visionary in terms of her leadership. She hit the ground running from the first day she joined the CROWN Campaign in summer 2020,” said Dr. Rumala.

In this role, LaShawn mobilizes, supports, advocates for and networks with people with lived experiences of hair discrimination. Hill is an exemplary change agent; she addresses the root of the problem, too.

On July 28, 2020, the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution led by LaShawn in observation of CROWN Day, which falls on July 3.

Crown ambassador LaShawn Hill
Photo from LaShawn Hill’s Facebook account. Left to right: Ida Tyree Hyche-Hill, Esq; Concilor Crystal Smitherman, Esq and LaShawn Hill.

“Dr. Bernice Rumala has instilled a pride in me that’s made me want to do my part in Birmingham,” said LaShawn.

Hill worked alongside Birmingham District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman, Esq’s law firm, Smitherman Law Firm, to pass this resolution. In its early stages, LaShawn googled African American mayors in Alabama and looked for something they both had in common: natural hair.

This allowed Hill to make her case on how natural hair and its relationship with discrimination affects Black and brown people heavily.

“She was able to mobilize community and get the first resolution passed in two weeks for Birmingham which was the first for the state of Alabama,” said Dr. Rumala.

“She is the epitome of the CROWN Campaign principles. One of which is that even one person can serve as the catalyst for change in the community as part of the village,” Dr. Rumala added.


LaShawn’s drive for change did not end in Birmingham, however. Hill led another grassroots effort resulting in a second CROWN resolution in Center Point, AL on December 28, 2020. This effort was completed alongside Mayor Bobby Scott, Council President D.M. Collins, and others.

Crown ambassador LaShawn Hill
Photo submitted by LaShawn Hill. Left to right: Councilwoman Tiffany C. Moore, Sharon Jones Council Place 4, Mayor Bobby Scott, LaShawn Hill, social media influencer, Kaleah Spears; Council President, D.M. Collins, Eboney Copeland, Council Place 5.

“I believe in making changes with people that are ready to change,” said LaShawn in her talk as an invited distinguished speaker at the People with Lived Experience Institute Conference. “So, we thank the city of Center Point for supporting our grassroots organization…this is just another step in our goal that we’re trying to achieve,” she added.

In the video, LaShawn highlights her efforts as a community organizer and her support in leading two resolutions. While Hill’s efforts are highly distinguishable, she was initially a person who worked behind the scenes.

“I like to kind of work in the background and get things organized and push other people. But, one thing the CROWN Campaign has instilled in me is leadership–knowing how important one person can be to make a difference and a change in their community,” says LaShawn Hill in her presentation.

To the root

When LaShawn isn’t attending city council meetings, she is running her salon. Founded in 1999, Hill’s family business set the tone for natural hair in Alabama. Natural Elements serves all types of clients and hair types, even those who are undergoing chemotherapy or alopecia.

The connection between LaShawn’s business and policy is clear. She has lived experiences of discrimination and therefore, understands it. LaShawn launches change in two ways: aesthetically and legislatively.

“This affects my livelihood and my client’s self-esteem,” says LaShawn. “When people sit in my chair, it’s not about hair. It’s about what drove them to the shop and what’s going on in their lives,” LaShawn continued.

Hill asks every client what city they are from then tells them to study their legislators and vote for them. Usually, she steers away from politics but stresses the importance of knowing who is creating laws.

LaShawn dubs herself a “natural networker”. She says when you’re passionate about something, you’re not working, you’re doing.

New year, more resolutions

Crown ambassador LaShawn Hill
Photo submitted by LaShawn Hill. Left to right (LaShawn is in front): Cody Vaughn, Khi Lyn Vaughn and Kaleah Spears.

LaShawn is already planning her next steps. She is currently targeting eight Black-dominated communities in Alabama (one being Montgomery) for more city council resolutions. Hill already completed resolutions in two cities out of her personal goal list of 10 in Alabama.

LaShawn says she has letters and emails set to be sent out to target cities. “I’m pretty much on track,” said Hill.

She recently met with senator Rodger Smitherman to speak about the next city council resolutions. Ultimately, Hill’s goal is to get one passed in the state of Alabama.

“Leaders like LaShawn educate communities about how legal protections like the CROWN Act can benefit marginalized people in Alabama,” said CROWN Campaign co-founder Shemekka Ebony, MS.

To learn more about LaShawn’s efforts in Alabama, watch her conversation with CROWN Campaign Director of Research, Dr. Manka Nkimbeng here.

LeBron James is beefing with Nick Saban for low key jacking his show

Jay-Z once uttered the famous line, “it was all good just a week ago.”

For creative genius and basketball savant, LeBron James, and one of the most prolific college football coaches of all time, Nick Saban, this continues to reign true.

While James and Saban are each champions in their own right, both icons are now fighting in the same arena –– producing original content.

During the 2017 NBA finals, James introduced a new show to his multimedia platform Uninterrupted  –– The Shop. Since it’s premiere, 2 Chainz, Draymond Green, and more have blessed show, touching on sports, hip-hop culture and life.

Now, new beef has arisen between James and Saban. Last week, the University of Alabama debuted Coach Saban’s trailer for his new show, Shop Talk.

The clip featured Saban choppin’ it up with the Atlanta Falcons standout wide receiver, Julio Jones.

Once James received word that Saban was copying his show, he wasn’t having it. Instead of airing out his emotions on Twitter, King James sent a warning shot by letter.

Josh Tarnow, the head of Uninterrupted legal and business endeavors, drafted the letter which stated:

“Your continued exploitation of ‘Shop Talk’ infringes ‘Uninterrupted’s’ copyright, trademark rights and other valuable intellectual property rights in ‘The Shop’ and significantly damages ‘Uninterrupted’s’ commercial prospects for ‘The Shop’, ”

On Tuesday, Nick Saban is all the way with the sh*ts. Unbothered, the Crimson Tide head coach went in front of the cameras to let the world know “Shop Talk,” will go on.

After beating the Toronto Raptors last night 112-106, James let Saban know that he respects him, but is not rockin’ with Saban’s swagger jacking ways.

Lebron James said:

“I’ll be damned I’ll allow someone to do the same thing we’re doing and just think it’s okay.”

Nevertheless, it should be noted that business wise, LeBron doesn’t have copyrights or trademarks on anything related to The Shop. This makes James’ accusations against Saban an intellectual property claim.

LeBron James’ Uninterrupted outlet was created for athletes to have the freedom to speak about social issues, their personal stories, and to push the culture forward. He does not want his show or platform to fall victim to cultural appropriation.

This should be interesting to watch as this feud plays out. It’s understandable to see why both parties involved are taking the proper precautions to protect their show.

Who is Tua Tagovailoa? The new hope and pride of football in Hawaii

If you witnessed the second half of the 2018 college football National Championship game, or have watched/listened to/ read any sports related news this week, you’ve definitely seen the name Tua Tagovailoa.

But there’s a lot more to the true freshman backup QB (who is now realistically the favorite to win the Heisman next season) than that one half of football and that game winning pass against Georgia to give Alabama their 17th national title.

I mean, who the hell is this kid that playing like a beast in his first real game ever?

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tua actually attended Saint Louis High School, yes, the same one as Heisman trophy winner and fellow Hawaiian Marcus Mariota. And it just so happened that Marcus has mentored Tua on his path to stardom.

At a young age, Mariota saw something special in him and when he was just in the 4th grade he took Tua under his wing at a local quarterback camp to help mold him not only become a better football player, but a better man. Their bond came to the point that people called Tua the “Little Mariota.”

Now as a franchise quarterback in the NFL leading the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs this year, Mariota has paved the way for not just Tua to play a skilled position in the NFL, but Polynesians everywhere. Of course he’s got some high hopes for Tua though. In an interview with ESPN after Tagovailoa’s breakout performance, he went on to say,

“Tua is a stud. He’s the next guy coming up. Proud of him. From where that kid’s come, how he’s grown and how he handled the situation last night. He’s very special. Hopefully he can continue his success. I’m sure you guys saw the interview after the game. That’s who he is.”

After following Mariota’s footsteps at Alabama, when Tua’s time came, he took over the reigns at St. Louis High School and proved that he was special. Colleges from the mainland began to take notice and he was the the top dual-threat quarterback recruit in his class.  Tua really solidified his place with scouts during the Nike Elite 11 quarterback showcase, where the best high school QBs in the country go to compete.

Tua showed that he was the best of them all and won MVP. Camp coach and former Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer pushed him and had some high praise for Tua after calling him the best prospect he’s seen since Andrew Luck.

So how, after a full season at Alabama, has no one has ever heard of this guy?

Before even committing to the Crimson Tide, of course Tua wanted to go to Oregon to follow the path his big bro Mariota set for him. But when the Ducks never offered him a scholarship, Saban and the Crimson Tide swooped in. This would give him the chance to compete at the highest level and Saban made it clear that while Tua might have to wait, he would get his shot.

While other schools were on his list, Tua felt that Alabama was the perfect place for him, not only because of the level of football, but for how he would be able to practice his faith. As a very religious young man, wherever Tua chose to go, his family would move with him. So they picked up their things from Hawaii and moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Fast forward to the National Championship game and it was Nick Saban’s plan all along to unleash Tagovailoa if they really needed him. They did.

Replacing starting QB Jalen Hurts in the second half, Tua won it all for the Crimson Tide with his big play-making ability and heart. Saban told the Washington Post,

“‘We’ve had this in our mind that if we were struggling offensively, that we would give Tua an opportunity, even in the last game.”

Ironically, earlier in the season Tua was pretty frustrated with this whole seniority thing, sitting behind starter Jalen Hurts. Tua reportedly wanted to transfer out out of Tuscaloosa if he didn’t get to play. So in the end, Saban may have not only made the coaching decision that won them the game, but help them keep their best player for the future.

Whether Tua truly wanted to transfer or not, faith truly is a big part of Tua’s life, and he decided to stick it out because he is a man of his word. In his post-game interview, the articulate young man gave all of his gratitude to God. And he has always been like this.

In local interview in high school, Tua spoke about how in five years, his goal isn’t to make it in the NFL, but to build a church and take care of his family.

Ladies and gents, Tua is an inspiration, and most definitely on rise to football stardom.

How can you not root for such a grounded and genuine dude like him? The guy is one of the most humble stars to put his talents on display in years and he’s only getting started.

His story is a prime example of trusting the process. Being patient, working hard, and waiting your turn can lead to the best possible outcome. His talent, attitude and mission to do what he does for his faith makes him very different. Oh yeah, and he can sing too!

While Mariota does his thing in the NFL, Tua is next to take up the torch and will be inspiring a whole new generation of Polynesians in Hawaii and all over to work hard and follow their dreams. One of those players is actually Tua’s little brother, Taulia, who is also a quarterback and building up some major hype. He wants to go to Alabama too.

You already know coming back to campus, Tua is an instant living legend and people will try to do anything to get near him. But he’s already ready to focus in on next season and getting better. Now he’s even getting the attention of girls from Fifth Harmony.

Shout out to Tua, and good luck next season and beyond!

The NC game was lit, but college football still needs a better playoff system

After last night’s National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia where a freshman QB from Hawaii led the Crimson Tide to victory, there is no doubting that college football is one of the most electrifying and entertaining sports out.

And while this year’s postseason was full of intensity, that hasn’t exactly been the case since the College Football Playoffs started in 2014.

The college football postseason has always consisted of a magnitude of bowl games but the problem with the format is this: are the best teams actually getting to compete?

To put it simply, the selection team favors bigger conferences. Have you ever heard of the term Power 5 Conference? The Power 5 conference stands for a subdivision in the Division-1 level of collegiate football.

It is made up of the most competitive conferences in football which are currently the Pac-12, SEC, Big 10, ACC, and the Big 12. These conferences bring in the most revenue, they have the most watched games, their games get televised on popular channels, and they gather up the best recruits in the country.

So when selecting teams for bowl games and for college football playoff selection, obviously teams that are in these 5 conferences are going to have a leg up from teams in the “smaller” conferences.

This raises controversy because there are many teams that aren’t in the power five conferences that should be getting picked for big games like the Cotton Bowl, or the Orange bowl but aren’t getting the looks they deserve simply based on their conference.

An extremely recent example of this favoritism occurred this past season. The team rankings fluctuated this season with many smaller programs breaking the top 25. One of which included the University of Central Florida Knights.

UCF went undefeated this season but still didn’t get selected for the playoff.

People argued that UCF’s conference should keep them from getting into the College Football Playoff, but in the Peach Bowl they went on and a beat a ranked Auburn team that beat both Alabama and Georgia.

One idea to fix this problem of favoritism in the selection committee would be to expand the college playoff bracket into more teams.

This not only would’ve made more room for teams like Ohio State and Central Florida that deserved to be there, but it would bring about many more viewers.

There would be matchups that before would have been unheard of, new rivalries would come about, the college football realm would be crazy. Why can’t this happen?

ESPN has a contract with the NCAA to keep the format at 4 teams for a very long time over the next 10 years. What is being missed here is the amount of money they would be making if they make the bracket larger.

According to Forbes:

“The revenue for each of the Power Five Conferences during the 2015 CFP reached $70 million, more than doubling the revenue under the old BCS system (more on that here).If the NCAA were to add another week of the playoff, that number would hit north of $100 million for each conference. This is a much higher total than each conference would see during a normal regular season week of action.”

I think it’s safe to say that a three week long College Football Playoff system would be insane. One flaw I could see with this is that, that is a lot of football for the team that is making it to the championship game, but other than that I feel that this is the best move for the NCAA to take with the playoff.

It gives way more teams a chance they never had, and more of a chance for players to get the exposure they deserve to make it to the next level. We need this to happen!

End the monopoly the Power 5 conferences have on college football and let the kids play.

Black voters save America from making the biggest mistake since Trump

Last night, Doug Jones, a former prosecutor who made his name prosecuting Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in 1963, defeated Roy Moore, who made his name stalking teenage girls at Alabama malls, in a special election for Senate in Alabama.

The result comes as somewhat of a shock for a country that has taken massive steps to the right in the last year, but Jones was carried by a coalition of Black voters, who turned out in droves despite rampant gerrymandering, and affluent white, suburban voters, who turned their back on the increasingly belligerent GOP.

Jones said in his victory speech that Alabama has laid down a liberal blueprint for victory and shown that there is still hope for liberal causes,

“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified. This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law.”

To see a Democrat who leans solidly to the left win a Senate seat in the deep red state of Alabama is a beautiful thing for anyone that has been discouraged by the political trends in the country as of late.

After Donald Trump’s victory in last year’s election, it has been a pretty depressing 13 months for people of color, women, young people, and Democrats, as the Trump administration has targeted underrepresented populations both politically and rhetorically.

Doug Jones’ election should offer a glimmer of hope that the country is not so far gone that liberal policies and a unified Democratic party (carried by minorities and women) can still thrive successfully in America.

As for Roy Moore, honestly the less said the better. This is a man who thinks queerness is a crime, Jews are going to hell, and has spent decades preying on teenage girls. I, for one, am thrilled that we will no longer have to talk about this loser.

The real story in Alabama is that Black voters, and Black women specifically, carried Doug Jones to victory, despite the fact that Alabama’s districts are carefully drawn with the specific intention of suppressing Black voters.

In January, on the same day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a federal appeals court ruled that 12 of Alabama’s districts were drawn “predominately” based on race.

In fact, Alabama is so wildly gerrymandered that Roy Moore won a majority of districts and still lost.

98% of Black women showed up to the polls for Doug Jones, an extremely powerful voting bloc that offers Democrats a blueprint going forward.

Ultimately, this isn’t a political victory, but a social and human one. It’s curt to suggest that Black voters, specifically Black women “saved” Alabama, rather it was a firm rebuke of a man (Moore) and a party whose draconian policies would most affect these populations.

It’s now on the Democratic party to put forth an agenda that empowers people of color, women, and disenfranchised communities. It’s not enough to offer up the same centrist rhetoric of a bygone era and hope that Black people show up to the polls.

In the meantime, hire Black women. Support Black women. Vote for Black women. The future may not be as dark as we thought.

12 inmates escape Alabama jail by smearing peanut butter on cell, Twitter got jokes

Well, if you haven’t heard ’em all, Bob-Billy Jim and his pals let peanut butter defeat them again.

Late Sunday evening in Montgomery, Alabama, 12 inmates g’d the shit out of a novice prison guard by smearing peanut butter on a cell number allowing all of them to break free. According to the AP,

“The inmates changed the number above a cell to the number that identified the door leading outside the jail. So when an inmate asked a young, inexperienced jailer to let him into his cell, the jailer was fooled into opening the outside door instead.

“The group then fled, throwing off their orange uniforms and using blankets to climb over a fence topped with razor wire on Sunday evening.”

The prisoners range in age, from 18 to 30 years old, and charges, disorderly conduct to attempted murder. Within a couple of hours, 11 of the escaped criminals were caught but one still remains at large, Brady Andrew Kilpatrick.

According to Sheriff Jim Underwood, the inmates had the cunning of a fox.

It’s looking like Walker Co. could implement some peanut butter emergency training for their new guards.

“These people are crazy like a fox,” said Sherrif Jim Underwood. Like bro, your employee got played because of smeared peanut butter on a cell number. How the fuck did you get a job in a prison?

This is like some shit out of that Disney movie The Fox and the Hound.

To be honest, this is not (that) funny as there is a criminal on the loose but people following the story on Twitter were amused at the PB escape.

Savage AF

Definitely the inmates thinking the peanut butter would work

Bruh, I’m weak

Honestly, that’s not a bad guess

Get ready for the whack peanut butter jokes

Stay on the look out Jasper, Alabama. Hopefully, Kilpatrick doesn’t have any more peanut butter tricks up his sleeve.