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Apr 16
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Grabbing back

Since the video for ‘PYNK’ — Janelle Monae’s joyful celebration of female sexuality and empowerment — dropped last week, it’s been viewed more than 4 million fun-loving times. Chitra Ramaswamy, in a column for the Guardian, calls it “a queer, arch and deliciously sexy ode to the vagina.”

Featuring Grimes and guest starring Thor: Ragnarok‘s Tessa Thompson, the music video and its stars are also being hailed for their inclusivity, having made it clear that not all women have the anatomy represented by the fabulous ‘pussy pants’ costumes that Monae and four of her dancers are wearing. (Two are not.)

“So this is what pussy power reclaimed by black women in the 21st century looks like: fun and inclusive,” writes Ramaswamy, herself a woman of color, who grew up when black artists were routinely expected to “cross over,” (that is, “be more white” if they wanted to be successful). The “unashamed celebration of black female sexuality” is progress worth celebrating, she writes. At one point, Thompson’s head appears in Monae’s frilly trousers, a glorious message Vanity Fair calls “very clear and very queer.”

Stylist Alexandra Mandelkorn also points out that each of the pairs of pants have been created in unique shapes and sizes. “[Designer] Duran [Lantink] chose fabrics in different textures and hues for each of the layers (or lips!) and it was so strangely yet beautifully realistic,” she said. “They really do belong in a museum one day.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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'Storybook'

Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon on Monday with a time of 2:39:54, making her the first American woman to win the iconic race since 1985, when Lisa Rainsberger broke the tape in the contest. Linden battled a driving rain, winds and cold temperatures — some of the worst weather in the event’s history — and overcame some feelings that she might not even finish the 26.2-mile race, she said afterward. She also almost completely gave up any chance to win or finish in the top 10 when she decided to provide moral support to another U.S. runner, Shalane Flanagan, who needed to make a bathroom stop along the way.

“Honestly, at mile 2, 3, 4, I didn’t feel like I was even going to make it to the finish line,” Linden said after the race, saying she let Flanagan know she was struggling too. “I told her in the race, I said, ‘You know, if there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know because I might just drop out.’ When you work together, you never know what’s going to happen. Helping her helped me and kind of got my legs back from there.”

What happened was: Linden battled back, finally taking the lead in Mile 22 and crossed the finish line, arms aloft, a decisive five minutes ahead of her closest competitor. That rally to victory led to an emotional moment in the chutes after she finished. Watch the video of her dramatic finish below.

Flanagan ended up pulling off a sixth-place finish. (Ahhh — women helping women. We love to see that.) And of the top eight finish places, six of them were claimed by American women.

Linden, an Olympian, nearly won the Boston Marathon in 2011, finishing just two seconds behind the winner. On Monday, the scale of her achievement was not lost on her.

“I love this city,” Linden told NBC Sports. “I love this race, this course. It’s storybook, so I’m thrilled to be here and to get it done.”

Read the full story at CNN.

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Horrible

The rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl has inflamed religious tensions between Muslims and Hindus in India, and sparked protests across the country.

According to CNN, the young victim belonged to a group of nomadic Muslims called the Bakarwals, who move between Muslim and Hindu-dominated regions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The girl was reportedly abducted in January while grazing cattle in the town of Kathua, where Hindus are the majority population. Authorities say she was then taken to a Hindu temple, drugged and raped repeatedly by several men who held her captive for five days.

The girl’s body was found in a remote forested region in late January. A police report says the child was strangled to death, and then bludgeoned with a large stone.

Eight men have been arrested in connection with the brutal crime, among them three police officers, a retired government official, and a temple caretaker. All of the accused are Hindu.

Though the Bakarwals have long traveled between Kashmir and Jammu, the number of Muslims in Jammu has increased recently due to an influx of Rohingya refugees in India. Hindu farmers reportedly claim that Muslim nomads are encroaching on their land.

According to CNN, police say that the accused “plotted the girl’s abduction as a means of scaring the predominantly-Muslim nomads into vacating the region.” But critics, among them legal professionals and Hindu nationalists, have questioned the impartiality of the investigators — who are Muslim. The Times of India reports that the Bar Association of Jammu claims “the probe by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police was done on questionable line amid threats and coercion by a team of officers from Kashmir Valley including one who served a jail term for alleged rape and murder of a minor.”

The state bar association and the Hindu Unity Council, a right-wing group, have called for India’s Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the investigation.

But others have accused local lawyers of trying to block the filing of the charge sheet in this case, with the intention of obstructing a police investigation. “An 8-year-old girl was raped and murdered and when the police tried to file a charge sheet, they were stopped by the Jammu Bar association coming together,” advocate Mihir Desai said at a Mumbai protest that drew hundreds. “I have not seen anything like this before, at least in India.”

Amid the heated atmosphere stirred up by the crime, the child’s family has asked that the trial be moved outside of Jammu and Kashmir. “We are apprehensive that the trial will not happen peacefully, seeing the condition in Jammu,” the family’s lawyer said, according to NDTV. For more on the story, watch the video below.

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‘Between two deaths’

Last week, a deadly chemical attack, allegedly launched by the Syrian regime, claimed the lives of more than 80 people in Douma, an enclave of Damascus. Among those who were able to escape were 7-year-old twins Masa and Malaz. A photo of a distraught Masa appeared on the cover of the April 15 edition of The Sunday Times of London under the headline, “The little girl who set the West on the path to war.” She has effectively become the new face of the tragic crisis that has been unfolding in Syria for the majority of the young twins’ lives. They were two months old when civil war broke out there and has devastated the country ever since.

Their mother described the horror of the attack in an interview with CNN, and how they made it out alive. Speaking from a refugee camp near Syria’s border with Turkey, Umm Nour, the girls’ 34-year-old mother, said the family was living in a basement and was underground when the chemicals hit. She has also been identified as Amani in other news reports.

“I felt my throat close, my body go limp as if I had just had everything sucked out of me,” she said. Umm Nour grabbed her daughters and dragged them up the stairs. But when they reached the fourth floor, the building was hit subjected to further assault, by either artillery or rockets. Malaz appeared shy on camera and, through an interpreter, told CNN, “We smelled something,” after the bomb hit. She and her sister both wore matching Minnie Mouse T-shirts and carried Dora the Explorer backpacks.

“It was like we were between two deaths,” Umm Nour told CNN. “The chemical attack on the lower floors or the other strikes hitting the upper ones.” She said family made it to a clinic in time to receiving antidote injections that proved life-saving, but many didn’t escape alive.

Now, CNN reports, the girls want to become doctors when they get older, so they can help children who have been wounded. Watch the interview with the girls and their mother below.

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#Beychella

Our queen Beyoncé wowed audiences at Coachella with a two-hour performance on Saturday night, making her the first woman of color to ever headline the famed music festival.

“Coachella, thank you for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline,” Beyoncé said before performing the anthemic “Run the World (Girls),” according to CNN.

The singer was scheduled to headline the festival last year, but had to back out due to her pregnancy. (She gave birth to twins, Rumi and Sir, in June.) During her return to the stage, Beyoncé sang hits like “Crazy in Love,” tracks from her most recent album Lemonade, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is often referred to as the “Black National Anthem.”

There were also some big surprises for the audience. Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z made an appearance, as did her sister Solange. The show also featured a much-anticipated Destiny’s Child reunion; Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyoncé to reprise a few much-loved hits: “Say My Name,” “Soldier” and “Lose My Breath.”

Below, watch a highlight from the powerhouse performance.

Read the full story at CNN.

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04.16.18

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