YouTube stars celebrate 6 years with free BBQ party in Philly, address depression and Ferguson shooting

Kevin of the Skorpion Show

Kevin, founder of the Skorpion Show

I took a last-minute trip to Philadelphia on Saturday with a good friend to attend an annual barbecue hosted by YouTube stars Kevin and Makael who are celebrating six years of their Skorpion Show.

I had never heard of them before, but they have a large following, and the excitement that bubbled from the faces of the attendees upon seeing them in-person for the first time was amazing.

YouTubers are increasingly becoming the most influential people online with all of their tutorials, reviews, entertainment segments and more.

The pair, that has more than 135,000 YouTube subscribers, attracted a crowd of at least 100 people from all across the nation– places such as the Carolinas, Maryland, Chicago, Detroit, Texas and L.A– to indulge in food, dance and networking.

North Philly Stompers

The North Philly Stompers

Although the day was dedicated to showing their fans appreciation, the duo made sure to set aside some time to address some current issues: Robin Williams’ suicide and the fatal shooting of unarmed Ferguson teen Mike Brown.

The two topics especially hit close-to-home for Kevin who said he fell into a year of depression after his nephew was killed (by a black person).

“Depression is some real s–t! When my nephew passed away, I was depressed,” he said. “I moved back home, and I still ain’t move back out since he passed. And people might judge you, but they don’t know your story. I need my family more than anything.”

“If you see one of your friends slipping, talk to ‘em,” he continued. Don’t let nobody kill themselves. I say everybody’s life is a story.”

When addressing the Ferguson case, he noted that “a lot of us pre-judged.”

Emmanuel Zidor

American Idol contestant Emmanuel Zidor

Mike Brown, who was black, was accused of stealing cigarettes from a convenience store before being shot dead by a white police officer, and his death sparked racial tensions and protests all over the nation– there has been a awful history of young, unarmed black men who have been killed by white police officers.

“But nobody should die over cigarettes,” Kevin said to the Black crowd.

“As a race, I want us to do better,” he continued. “I want us to be outraged when somebody black get killed by a black man. Don’t just protest ’cause a white person killed a black person. Protest because it’s violence and we shouldn’t be killin’ nobody. We all deserve to live.”

The festivities resumed with a performance by this year’s Top 30 American Idol Contestant Emmanuel Zidor who was invited to sing at the gathering. He sang Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and an original track with a Caribbean undertone.

There was also a performance by the North Philly Stompers.

Check back for video.

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ALS awareness drenches the nation

You’ve probably witnessed what looks like a bunch of tomfoolery while scrolling down your social media feeds– people dumping buckets of ice cold water on their heads and challenging others to do the same.

But it’s nothing like the distasteful (and often harmful) cinnamon and fire challenges. It’s a much cooler and safer way to have fun while supporting a good cause.

The ALS Association is using the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The challenge went viral with the help of 29-year-old Beverly, Massachusetts, resident and former Division I college baseball athlete Pete Frates who has lived with ALS since 2012, according to alsa.org.

During the ice challenge, one gets a bucket of ice cold water poured over his or her head and then challenges a few others to do the same within 24 hours– if they fail to do so, they must donate.

I’m assuming the numbness one gets from pouring the ice cold water over his or her body is the same feeling those affected with ALS may experience on the regular.

The challenge has helped the ALS Association raise a drastic amount of money to support research and care for those affected by the disease. The organization announced yesterday that it has received $31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 20).

Some people have voiced concerns over wasting water to do the challenge, and the ALS Association has addressed this:

“Please be thoughtful about water usage! If you’re in an area of the country or world affected by drought, repurpose the water for later use or help spread ALS awareness by becoming an ALS advocate, joining the Walk to Defeat ALS® in your community, getting involved in our fundraisers, or sharing information about this disease via social media.”

Watch me take on the challenge below, and visit alsa.org for more information.

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PUSH: Protest Until Something Happens

“Hands up, don’t shoot!”

“I can’t breathe!”

These are just a few of the heartbreaking phrases that are echoing throughout the nation tonight as thousands join in on peaceful protests sparked from Saturday’s shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Emotions are at an all-time high because the killings of innocent, unarmed and often young, black males by authorities has become a haunting norm.

LA TIMES: DEATHS OF OTHER BLACK MEN AT HANDS OF POLICE

And people are comparing it to the Civil Rights Era.

NY TIMES: FERGUSON IMAGES EVOKE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA AND CHANGING VISUAL PERCEPTIONS

I wonder what’s causing this nation to go backwards? Or is it that we’ve never really moved forward since then?

Is it just that the wrong people are sliding into authoritative positions? Or have these feelings just been suppressed all along?

These are just a few of the things scrambling through my mind. It is quite overwhelming, especially for an individual, but something needs to change.

I suggest we continue to educate ourselves on our rights and join like-minded people to help PUSH (Protest Until Something Happens) because faith without works is dead!

And here are a few ways I’m keeping up with the case:

Chrisette Michele launches ‘Rich Hipster’ site, second home for fans

Chrisette Michele

Chrisette Michele performs October 12, 2013, at the Restoration Rocks Music Festival in Brooklyn, New York. (Vonecia Carswell/Pens and Pumps)

Chrisette Michele is changing the way she connects with her fans. The 31-year-old R&B singer has launched “Rich Hipster,” her online home for art, music and fashion– and it actually makes you want to sit back and kick up your feet.

I’ve been following Chris closely since October, when she performed at the Restoration Rocks Music Festival in Brooklyn, and I’ve always known her to be a pretty transparent artist. But on Rich Hipster, revealed yesterday, she really lets her hair down and gives us a front row seat to her heart. Here are what some people are already saying about it:

It is quite captivating. It has a very clean and delicate look and her every word hugs the screen.

“You probably know me as a singer songwriter, but I’d also like to introduce you to the flower child and kind rebel that has always resided inside of me,” she wrote on her “About” page.

She said it’s the place where she hangs her “art + heart” and the “intersection where you and I meet.”

She also plans to give readers a dose of everything that sometimes gets watered down within the hustle and bustle of the music industry (her diet, charity work, etc.) while spreading knowledge to debunk the misconceptions about the industry. She even has a tab for Rich Hipster TV (her behind-the-scenes videos are absolutely hilarious and heartwarming!). Check it out, and let me know what you think!signature

SoftSheen-Carson’s Hydra Steam treatment takes moisture to the next level

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a hair model for SoftSheen-Carson’s Hydra Steam Moisturizing System. My hair is extremely dry and coarse, so I was especially interested to see how the Aloe Vera-based mixtures would react on my hair.

I was impressed.

This is the softest and vibrant my hair has probably ever been, and I can’t keep my hands out of it lol.

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Johnny Wright and Mezei Jefferson discuss results of the Hydra Steam Moisturizing System to hair professionals on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

The system, presented by Mezei Jefferson, the brand’s Director of Education, and celebrity hair stylist Johnny Wright, is exclusively designed for stylists to use with steam treatments.

Wright, who treats Michelle Obama’s hair, said the primary goal of the Hydra Steam line is to combat dryness, first, and then shrinkage. It also helps to prevent breakage, which often stems from dryness, and to soften the hair cuticle and provide intense hydration.

Each model, all with different hair types and lengths, was paired with a team of three to four hair professionals from across the region who tried the four-step process on our hair:

  1. Sulfate-free cleanser. This cleanser got a lot of praise because of how a little goes a long way. It suds up well on the first wash and removes buildup without stripping the hair of its natural oils.
  2. Steam masque. After the wash, they applied this conditioning formula to my hair, and I sat under a steamer for 20 minutes (In the case a steamer isn’t available, a cap may be used).
  3. Sealing spray. This seals the cuticle, softening and detangling the hair, allowing for easier styling.
  4. Curl Designing or Refining Coil cream. These creams provide the finishing touch when styling hair, preventing frizz. One of them was applied while I received bantu knots and coil twists, and afterward, I sat under the dryer. The creams are very lightweight and don’t leave any residue, even if too much product is used.

This Hydra Steam Moisturizing System caters to natural hair, but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who experiences severe dryness and breakage. Let me know if this is something you would try!

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Homestretch To Boston: Get in the mix

073113_opening_ceremony_vc2027Hey guys! So if you have been following my blog throughout this countdown series for the NABJ convention, you have probably realized that I missed two days worth of posts (sowwy!).

I have been swamped with blessings these past few days (woop woop!), and I’m cutting this series short to take care of some personal business. BUT I won’t totally leave you hanging. I’m going to finish strong! This post will be a brief combination of my final tips, which pretty much go hand-in-hand.

Ready, set, leggo!

  1. Participate. So you’re a registered participant, but are you actually participating? To make the most of the NABJ convention, it is wise to take action (interact) to make sure you receive the information well, whether it be by  taking notes, asking questions or live-tweeting.
  2. Do it all. Conventions often expose us to new places and events that we may have never experienced before. Take advantage of all that NABJ has to offer! Tackle that 5k run, peep the authors showcasing their work, get down at the Sports Task Force Scholarship Jam, roam the town with your new friends. Do. It. All. If you can.
  3. Have fun. Run into a problem? Brush the dirt off your shoulders and keep it moving. You only have a few days to enjoy yourself. Don’t waste it.
  4. Follow-up. NABJ is a big family, and family cares for one another! Even if you weren’t fit for that position or didn’t hold a deep conversation with someone, it is still a great idea to follow up with that person. Let them know you appreciated meeting them! Now, it may not be possible for you to keep in touch with everyone (and that’s totally OK!), but start building some type of connections. Plant some seeds and watch the family grow!

Well, that’s all folks! If you have anything to add, feel free to sound off below!

And here’s a review of everything we previously discussed:

Stop 10: Win on the Web

Stop 9: Get your “stacks” right

Stop 8: Dress for success

Stop 7: Create job opportunities

Stop 6: Say “yes” to new friends

Stop 5: Early bird gets “dessert”

By the way, today, I’ll be participating in the Google for Media training in NYC. You can follow my experience on Twitter @v_well.

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5 Stops to Boston: Early bird gets ‘dessert’

early birdWe all want the “sweet stuff,” but we have to work for it, and this often means to be ahead of the game.

In this next part of my 10-day preparation series for the NABJ convention in Boston, I want to encourage you all to be on time early to sessions!

You shouldn’t do it just because it’s the right thing to do, but because you don’t want to rob yourself by missing out on valuable information and opportunities to grow. (You also don’t want to disturb anyone’s discussion.)

Of course, things happen that we have no control over– like my hunger that caused me to be late one time and I had to stand in the back (well, that’s not a real excuse, haha)– but to try to avoid things like this, plan ahead.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE NABJ GUIDEBOOK APP HERE. <–

Don’t wait on your friends either if you see that time is ticking down. And don’t be scared to sit in the front (if you want to chat with some of the panelists, you’ll be first in line to do so).

So are you excited for the convention yet? Then, tweet this! And feel free to join in on the conversation by sounding off in the comments below or by using the #NABJcountdown hashtag along with the official#NABJ14 hashtag.

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