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Ariana Grande Unfollows Starbucks and Promotes Black-Owned Coffee Shops

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  • Ariana Grande unfollowed Starbucks on social media after learning of its policy prohibiting workers from wearing Black Lives Matter apparel, a policy it later walked back on.
  • The star has instead shifted her support behind several Black-owned coffee shops in Los Angeles, like Nimbus Coffee, Undergrind Cafe, and South LA Cafe.
  • She posted Instagram Stories of her drinks to her 191 million followers, and South LA Cafe said it prompted them to receive a flood of love from her fans.
  • The shop called it, “an example of people with influence and privilege using it to forward the movement.”

Ariana Grande Unfollows Starbucks 

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have prompted people all across the country to fight harder against racial injustice and support the Black community. Part of that includes demanding that major businesses and public figures do more with their enormous power.

Now, many are praising Ariana Grande for being one of the biggest stars to user her platform for good. After Starbucks came under intense scrutiny for invoking a policy that prohibited workers from wearing Black Lives Matter apparel (a policy it later walked back on), the singer cut ties with the coffee chain by unfollowing it on social media. 

Fans saw that as a huge move considering Grande worked with Starbucks last year to create a custom drink: the Cloud Macchiato. 

Grande Supports Black-Owned Businesses 

After apparently pulling her support, Grande began purchasing drinks from black-owned businesses in Los Angeles instead. Earlier this week, she posted a drink of her Instagram story from Nimbus Coffee, a Harry Potter-inspired cafe. Another story post featured a beverage from Undergrind Cafe

Reports also surfaced claiming Grande even offered financial support to Heather Sanders’ business, Sorella, after it was damaged during protests. 

But on Wednesday, the full scope of what her support meant to these shops was made clear when South LA Cafe showed kind messages they received after Grande promoted the shop to her 191 million followers.

“Did y’all know that @arianagrande stands with the Movement for Black Lives and Black-Owned businesses like @southlacafe? We’ve been fortunate to win her over from Starbucks this past week, as well as her incredible #arianators,” the post reads.

The post also included screenshots of heartwarming messages from Arianators in places like the Netherlands and Uruguay.  

View this post on Instagram

Did y’all know that @arianagrande stands with the Movement for Black Lives and Black-Owned businesses like @southlacafe? We’ve been fortunate to win her over from Starbucks this past week, as well as her incredible #arianators. (Click the first pic) They showed up in full force for today’s live of the South LA Grocery Giveaway, sending big love for our mission. This is an example of people with influence and privilege using it to forward the movement. We welcome the support and are grateful to be recognized for our impact and community leadership. 🖤 . What a day! Whew! We’re about to unwind, celebrate, and sip on a margarita! 150 folks fed in the grocery giveaway in 29 minutes! One for the record books. If you aren’t up to speed check out all of our posts from today. We’re about to rest up and get ready for another big day tomorrow! Nite. Nite. . . . #southlacafe #southlamarket #southlagrocerygiveaway #arianagrande #arianators

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South LA Coffee, founded by Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace, focuses on creating “a community space to take pride in the history, legacy, and future of the South Central Community.”

Part of their most recent community efforts included giving out free food during coronavirus lockdowns. On Wednesday, the shop prepared 150 bags of groceries to hand out, and in their Instagram post about Ariana and her fans, they wrote, “They showed up in full force for today’s live of the South LA Grocery Giveaway, sending big love for our mission.”

This is an example of people with influence and privilege using it to forward the movement. We welcome the support and are grateful to be recognized for our impact and community leadership.

According to the post, all 150 bags of groceries were picked up in a record 29 minutes, and they plan to do it all again next week.  

In a separate post, the shop thanked all its volunteers, as well as “the super supportive @arianagrande fans who sent us love and support of the Movement for Black Lives in the comments the whole time!”

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It’s a wrap! 150 grocery bags from @southlacafe and @southlamarket which took two days to prepare were gone in 29 minutes flat! THANK YOU to the amazing army of volunteers led by @_miss_destinee, @elijahrashad__, @sssarahford, and @benjimarx, the sponsorship of @immanuelpresla, @cedarssinai & @oatly, and the super supportive @arianagrande fans who sent us love and support of the Movement for Black Lives in the comments the whole time! We will be at it again next Wednesday at 3, line starts at 2, hope we can serve you then. Have a beautiful & blessed day, we are so grateful for your support! 🖤🖤🖤🖤 . If you are inspired by this and want to support our mission, please consider becoming a $10 monthly member or sponsor a $35 South LA Grocery Box for a neighbor in need. You can do both at our website: www.southlacafe.com. . . . #southlacafe #southlamarket #feedingourpeople #fightingfooddeserts

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Fans are happy with Grande for swapping out Starbucks for these Black-owned shops, but that isn’t all she’s done. The music icon has also been very vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement online and was spotted at a protest herself. 

Because Grande is so massively loved, it’s unquestionable that her actions will inspire at least some of her fans to follow her lead in support of the Black Community. 

See what others are saying: (Daily Dot) (Insider) (CapitalFM) 

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Kings of Leon Will Become One of the First Bands To Offer an Album as NFT

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  • The band Kings of Leon will release its new album Friday as a non-fungible token (NFT), making it among the first bands ever to release a full album in such a format. 
  • The album will also be released on Spotify and Apple Music on the same day in a more traditional format.
  • In recent days, celebrities such as Grimes and Logan Paul have made headlines for multi-million dollar earnings from sales of digital art and video NFTs, which are increasingly becoming viewed as a new form of collectors’ items.

Kings of Leon to Release NFT Album 

Kings of Leon will soon become one of the first bands in history to release an album as a non-fungible token (NFT).

While controversial, NFTs are gradually gaining prominence as a new form of collectors’ items, and the band’s new album, “When You See Yourself,” is no exception to that. 

Once it launches on Friday, it will be available for purchase in NFT form for two weeks. After that, no more NFTs of the album will ever be made. 

The exact same album will also be released on Spotify and Apple Music the same day. Unlike the NFTs, these versions of the album will still remain available to stream and purchase even after two weeks’ time.

So What Is an NFT?

There’s been a lot of confusion around NFTs in recent days, especially as more and more headlines tie major celebrities to them. 

For example, Grimes recently sold $6 million worth of NFTs as digital art. Meanwhile, YouTuber Logan Paul first sold $5 million worth of NFTs last month before then raking in another $880,000 from NFT sales.

Think of it this way: Money is fungible, meaning if you trade $1 with a friend, both of you still have a dollar at the end of the day. Millions of other people across the country also own similar dollars that carry the exact same value (some even have millions of dollars each, and I’m very jealous).

However, something is non-fungible when it has a unique identity and can’t be replaced in a trade. For example, you buy a handmade ceramic bowl that your friend made in her art class. No one else in the world will have that exact same piece of art as long as you retain ownership.

NFTs work in a similar way, except they deal strictly with digital files. For example, Logan Paul’s NFT sales page is filled with clips of Pokemon card pulls. Despite those clips being readily available on YouTube to anyone with internet access, some of them have nonetheless sold for up to $20,000.

“Total mint of 3 NFTs for this moment,” the description for his NFTs reads. “This product represents digital ownership of the NFT video of this moment only. This does not represent ownership in a card, a physical asset or of the YouTube video.”

That’s where this gets tricky. Consumers are buying a “moment” but not actually the copyright of the video or even the card featured in it. As mentioned earlier, despite owning the digital file of that moment, pretty much anyone can find a way to access or view it, depending on what it is.

In that sense, NFTs aren’t quite like platforms such as OnlyFans where users pay to view hidden content. 

To put it in terms of physical art collecting: anyone can buy a Monet print. But only one person can own the original,” The Verge noted.

See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Rolling Stone) (The Guardian)

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Epic Games Acquires “Fall Guys” Maker Tonic Games Group

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  • Epic Games said Tuesday that it acquired Tonic Games Group, the parent company behind “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.” 
  • Under this deal, “Fall Guys” will have the backing to improve and potentially add cross-play features that exist in other games Epic owns, like “Fortnite” and “Rocket League.” 
  • For now, nothing in the game has changed, though the companies said they plan to bring it to Nintendo Switch and Xbox in the future.

Epic Games Buys “Fall Guys” Maker

Epic Games announced Tuesday that it acquired the parent company behind the popular game “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.”

That company is Tonic Games Group, which owns Mediatonic Games.

Epic Games did not release information about how much it paid for the deal when confirming it on its website.

As many online have noted, the family-friendly game seems like a good match for Epic, which has already had massive success with “Fortnite.”

The deal also adds to Epic’s growing portfolio of content. It already has its game-making software– the Unreal Engine as well as its own storefront– the Epic Games Store. It also has previous acquisitions including the video chatting app, House Party, and Psyonix, the game developer behind “Rocket League.”

What This Means for “Fall Guys”

Mediatonic, for its part, expressed excitement about having the backing to improve “Fall Guys” and bring it to more players. 

“Your gameplay isn’t changing and neither is our mission to bring Fall Guys to as many players as possible,” Mediatonic explained in a statement about the deal.

It also noted that the companies still plan to bring the game to Nintendo Switch and Xbox in the future.

For now, there’s been no word about whether “Fall Guys” will become free to play in the future, which Epic did with “Rocket League.”

Still, both companies have expressed interest in introducing cross-play and other features that “Fortnite” and “Rocket League” already have.

“Epic essentially becomes the equivalent of a digital theme park,” video game investor and start-up advisor Joost van Dreunen said in an interview with The Washington Post.

“It is developing a content portfolio that has an aesthetic consistency of bright, colorful, and fun online game play,” he added. “It stands to reason that large IP holders like Disney and others will want to explore releasing special events and activities.”

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Washington Post) (Variety)


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6 Dr. Seuss Books Won’t Be Published Anymore Because of Racist Imagery

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  • Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced Tuesday.
  • The late author’s company said the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field. 
  • However, many school districts and groups have moved away from Dr. Seuss for years because of racist stereotypes and insensitive imagery in some of his work.

Production of Six Offensive Books To End

Six Dr. Seuss books will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.

The list of books blocked from production are:

  • “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”
  • “If I Ran the Zoo”
  • “McElligot’s Pool”
  • “On Beyond Zebra!”
  • “Scrambled Eggs Super!”
  • “The Cat’s Quizzer”

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises wrote in its announcement letter. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”

Examples of Offending Content

A 2019 study published in the journal “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” looked at 50 books by Dr. Seuss and found 43 out of the 45 characters of color have “characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism,” or the stereotypical, offensive portrayal of Asia. It added that the two “African” characters both have anti-Black characteristics.

The study even pointed to specific examples. “In (“The Cat’s Quizzer”), the Japanese character is referred to as ‘a Japanese,’ has a bright yellow face, and is standing on what appears to be Mt. Fuji,” the authors wrote.

It also pointed to “If I Ran the Zoo” as an example of Orientalism and White supremacy.

“The three (and only three) Asian characters who are not wearing conical hats are carrying a White male on their heads in ‘If I Ran the Zoo.’ The White male is not only on top of, and being carried by, these Asian characters, but he is also holding a gun, illustrating dominance,” the study authors wrote. “The text beneath the Asian characters describes them as ‘helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant’ from ‘countries no one can spell.'”

The study also argues that since the majority of human characters in Dr. Seuss’ books are White, his works center Whiteness and thus perpetuate White supremacy.

Academic Groups Move Away From Seuss

The company told the Associated Press that the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field.

Still, it’s worth noting that it also comes a week after a school district in Virginia made headlines for allegedly banning books written by Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel.

The district eventually clarified that it was not banning his books. Instead, it said it was discouraging the connection between Dr. Seuss and “Read Across America Day,” which falls on the author’s birthday: March 2.

The decision to move away from Dr. Seuss books is not actually an uncommon move. School districts across the country have been doing the same.

The National Education Association, which founded “Read Across America Day” and deliberately aligned it with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, is included in that shift.

According to AP News, it’s been deemphasizing Seuss for years now and encouraging a more diverse reading list for kids.

While many have applauded Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision, others noted that it will continue to publish more popular books that have received criticism, including “The Cat in the Hat.”

For now, the company said it’s “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio.”

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Deadline) (AP News)

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