VIDEO Discussion: A Caribbean Next Top Model contestant wants an apology from Wendy Fitzwilliam
Gabriella Bernard, a Trinidadian contestant on Caribbean's Next Top Model, found herself in a cultural dilemma when she was asked to chemically straighten her hair for a model makeover.
Ms. Bernard protested the need to chemically straighten her hair, but nonetheless, she relented to the demands of the CNTM producer, Wendy Fitzwilliam, whose position was straighten the hair or leave the show.
Ms. Bernard said she decided to straighten her hair because she felt she had come so far and if she had stopped at that point, she would never know what the outcome would have been for her on the show.
As it turned out, Ms. Bernard did not become the Caribbean Next Top Model. However, her natural hair is back and she did get to produce a documentary about her natural hair journey. She also wants an apology from the Caribbean Next Top Model producer, Wendy Fitzwilliam.
Do you think Gabriella Bernard deserves an apology?
WATCH VIDEO: NYC Gay Pride Parade revelers weigh in on a Trinidadian judge’s ruling that colonial-era laws banning gay sex are unconstitutional
The streets of lower Manhattan were turned into a beautiful mosaic of Caribbean flags, dazzling costumes and rainbow flags at NYC's pride parade this year.
While the Caribbean is famous for its diverse population and laid-back vibe, the region isn't that accepting of the gay (LGBT) community due to the strong influence of religion and culture. The prevailing attitude is that LGBT relationships should remain out of sight, if not banned completely. But revelers at this year’s pride parade affirmed their sexuality and their Caribbean heritage as they wined to hype soca beats in full carnival costume or waved their country’s flag.
Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders Showcasing Traditional Indian Wear. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud
Caribbean Equality Project's Members. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud
Hundreds of marchers came together under the banner of the Caribbean Equality Project, an NYC non-profit founded by Mohamed Amin to provide support, advocacy and asylum assistance for the LGBT community in the Caribbean diaspora. After Mr. Amin and his siblings were victims of a hate crime in 2013 in Queens, he realized LGBT people of Caribbean descent often persecuted by their communities or rejected by their families because of their sexuality, needed a safe space to be—so he created one.
Mohamed Q. Amin, a human rights activist and founder of the Caribbean Equality Project.
And because homophobia continues to be an issue in the Caribbean, the organization’s asylum work has become even more vital. “The need is there for queer Caribbeans who don’t have anywhere else to go in New York and who also don’t know how to access the different agencies in New York City that will be a support to them,” said Mr. Amin.
Anoop H. Pandohie (Trinidadian) and Partner, Mohamed Q. Amin (Guyanese), Founder of Caribbean Equality Project. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud
Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud
“I think what it does, it sets a precedent for all the other Caribbean countries you know like this is sort of like a step forward to say, ok here’s one country and if we’re all united under Caricom whether legally…or culturally under our history or whatever, we will move forward. So it really provides a sense of hope that we’re pushing the boundaries and just accepting people you know what I’m saying, so I’m living for it. I’m so happy,” said Kadeem Robinson who’s originally from Jamaica.
The final ruling on whether to remove the colonial-era laws from the books or simply change them is scheduled to happen later in July. But in the meantime, people like Monica Persaud, showed up at the parade with her grandchildren (one just 3 years old) to support her son, Marcus Persaud who works with Caribbean Equality Project.
Ms. Persaud and her family. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud
Ms. Persaud is well aware of the prohibitions against homosexuality in scriptures and the pressure to reject her child’s sexuality but had this message to share “You never know what that child could become so you need to show them love and focus on God who created them and you need to get that started from young—just show love,” she said.
Starbucks CEO demonstrates leadership in face of adversity; Tristan Thompson is in hot water; Kenya Barris gets a court date; Trinidad ends Buggery Laws
In this episode of What's The 411, journalist Kizzy Cox, and comedian Onika McClean, are talking about Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian's relationship, Mariah Carey reveals she is bipolar, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson takes action amidst unnecessary arrest of two Black men and the ensuing protests, Trinidad ending its Buggery Laws, and more!
Kanye West asks Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and Founder, to invest in Kanye West Ideas
In this episode of What's The 411, the panel of Kizzy Cox, Onika McLean and Courtney Rashon are talking about Kanye West's debt issues; Grammy Award winners, Kendrick Lamar, The Weekend, Bruno Mars, D'Angelo, John Legend, and Common; and the outcome of Kesha Rose Sebert's legal case to get out of her contract with Sony and her producer Dr. Luke.
In Memoriam: Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird; Prince protégé, Denise Matthews aka Vanity of the group Vanity 6; Reality TV star Angela "Big Ang" Raiola; and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Special guest this week is Natasha Leath, Motivational Spiritualist, who has a gift to read people's past, present, and future. Ms. Leath uses her gift to motivate, empower and inspire people to propel in life, to have clarity, to live a purposeful life and to be inspired.
Caribbean Cook-up: A Japanese pannist, Asami Nagakiya, dies in Trinidad during Carnival and Raymond Tim Kee, the Mayor of Port of Spain resigns his office because of his insensitive comment. Mayor Kee stated that the costumes, an international symbol of the festival, were to blame for a Japanese tourist's murder — along with "vulgarity and lewdness" displayed by women during Carnival.
Japanese tourist and pannist, Asami Nagakiya, found murdered in Trinidad during carnival. Photo Credit: Andrea De Silva/Reuters
VIDEO DISCUSSION: Power Soca and Trinidadian cultural integrity
Carnival season is quickly coming upon us! Trinidad's carnival is only 2 weeks and 5 days (but who's counting??) And masqueraders everywhere can't wait to jump and wave their way down the road and across the stage...but some are wondering where is the power Soca they're supposed to be wining to? Because this year's power Soca songs haven't been strong. Fay Ann Lyons, famous Trinidadian soca artist and 3-time winner of the carnival road march title (the only woman to have ever done so) called out those people who said that basically power soca was on its way out. Elaborating on her comments in an interview with looptt, Lyons said:
"my next point was that Iwer and Superblue are known for singing power Soca and you telling them that dead and don't bring no power and you telling younger artistes don't do power cause we are not playing it so you already blocking people cause you are telling them there is no market for it. I turned to the crowd and said fight for your artistes, fight for your music and your culture. After I said what I said, I said anybody who disagree that you should not support the art form could kiss my black ass."
FAY ANN is making a great point because, at the end of the day, groovy soca is great it's nice music to groove to: slow wine and chip but if you're about to cross that stage and get wassy (Trini slang for turn up and get wild) you want a power Soca song to get you there! And if you want to promote cultural unity, you need all the types of Soca music--you can't put down one and uplift the other.